The new way to save on your travel money
The Curve Card is a new generation way to make handling overseas payments better value.
Use it instead of your credit or debit card and save on transaction fees applied when overseas. Who hasn’t come back from vacation to discover statements peppered with charges for overseas transactions? Those £1.25 fees and 2.99% charges soon add up and honestly, don’t you find them really bloody annoying?!
So how does it work?
You simply connect it to your existing credit and debit cards and then pay for overseas transactions with the Curve card instead. Payments appear on your normal bank or credit card statement but without paying the usual overseas fee. In effect the card is tricking your bank or credit card company into believing the payment took place in the UK.
You can see a convenient summary of payments on the online app and you still earn any airmiles you would have earned had you used the relevant card itself. Using the Curve Card also has no impact on your credit card insurance which continues to apply.
You can connect an unlimited number of cards and then only need to carry the Curve card (perhaps with one back up just in case!) meaning your plastic is more secure.
When you add each card, you can pick the design to make it easy to find the card you want to use. You may find that the skin it automatically applies is not correct and if so you can change the card image by tapping on the card in your app. Select ‘i’ and then ‘edit’, tap on the card itself and it asks if you’d like to change the image. You can then select from a variety of images to avoid any confusion when deciding which linked account to charge to.
Why bother when my bank doesn’t levy overseas charges?
Now I appreciate some of you may well have one of the Santander or HSBC cards that allow you to make overseas payments without fees but the downside to these is that you miss out on those ever so valuable airline or hotel rewards that we love to earn in exchange for using a credit card.
With the Curve Card, you truly can have your cake and eat it.
Which cards can I connect?
In a sorry turn of events, AMEX withdrew from working with Curve (for reasons unknown!) but you can add MasterCard or Visa cards to the account and all payments are converted using the Mastercard exchange rate.
You can also connect the card to your Paypal account but cannot use it with Apple Pay (yet!).
How do I use it?
When you come to withdraw money or make a purchase overseas, you simply present your Curve card instead of your normal credit card. The payment will be billed to your linked credit card account in real-time avoiding many typical overseas charges.
It works the same as your usual cards with chip and pin or Contactless and, if you hate the PIN number provided, just pop to the bank and change it in the usual way.
I used both Contactless and an ATM to change my pin in Romania and everything worked fine. I also didn’t experience any issues with payments being declined which I did occasionally with the Supercard.
What are the charges?
You don’t avoid all charges with the Curve card but you sure avoid most of them so here are the typical charges which apply to a number of payment methods and a comparison with the Curve card.
|Payment Options||Fixed Fees||% Fee||Total costs||Fees as % of amount|
|Santander cash withdrawal||£7.50||2.75%||£21.25||4.25%|
|Santander debit card purchase||£1.25||2.75%||£15.00||3%|
|Miles and More credit card cash withdrawal||£5.00||2.99%||£19.95||3.99%|
|Miles and More credit card purchase||£0||2.99%||£14.95||2.99%|
|Curve card ATM Withdrawal||£2 + 2% on the excess over £200 a month||1.00%||£13.00||2.6%|
|Curve card purchase||£0||1.00%||£5||1.00%|
|Supercard ATM Withdrawal||£0||2.99%||£14.95||2.99%|
*Based on £500 withdrawal or purchase for all transactions as at 19th September 2016.
Watch to find out more about Curve
Here’s a few other things you need to know about the charges on the card too.
|Charges for use in the UK||Free cash withdrawals|
|Card Fee||A one-off fee of £35 for the Blue card and £75 for the Black card. The only difference is that the rewards program (soon to be launched) is slightly more attractive on the Black card.|
|Refer a friend||You can sign up using Promo code 7BF5Y and earn a credit of £10*. You will then be able to earn a referral bonus of £10 for anyone that signs up using your Promo code.|
|Eligibility||Curve is currently targeted at the business market and you will be asked to confirm if you operate your own business, are self employed, or earn any funds aside from a regular job.|
*Correct as at 1/9/16
How much could you save?
So the burning question really is how much can you save, which of course is almost impossible to answer as much depends on how much you spend and how you prefer to pay for entertainment and purchases.
We have however just returned from a weekend in Romania, where we put the Curve card to the test, and have shown the charges that applied to our purchases below. For comparison purposes, I have also done the same calculations for the Supercard which I recently reviewed.
|Date||Purchase||Saving||Cost in Romania Leu||Exchange Rate applied||Cost in GBP||Exchange Rate applied||Cost in GBP|
If I had used my Miles and More credit card (which I have linked to the Curve card) to make these purchases directly, a 2.99% fee would have applied and according to the Visa Exchange site on 9/9/16 this would result in a charge of £116.04, a saving of £1.36 for the Curve card and £3.43 on the Supercard. These savings may seem modest but as you can see, we didn’t spend a fortune in Romania. The charges soon start to escalate in more expensive locations.
I didn’t withdraw any money during our visit, preferring instead to pay with card (and my husband has an account which levies no charges on overseas withdrawals). All of these transactions were therefore purchases including the 1% charge but as you can see, had I withdrawn cash, the Curve card compares exceptionally well.
For purchases, because Curve levies the 1% charge the card works out slightly more expensive to use than the Supercard so how you plan to use the card determines which might be most beneficial for you. Even if, like me ,you will only use Curve for purchases then it may still be worth that small charge for the convenience of having your own pin and being able to use Contactless.
How does it compare to other options?
The Curve card really packs a punch when it drops through your letterbox. Packaged in a stylish, black box, you open it to find a vinyl disk inside (clearly a seventies child came up with this idea!!) reminiscent of my teenage years listening to Duran Duran. Slide the disk open to reveal your Curve Card. Now perhaps I am easily pleased, but that is the best damn packaging for a card I have ever seen (and I have seen a few!).
Of course, I was so intent on admiring the packaging that I neglected to go ahead and activate the card. Within a day, I was receiving personalised emails from Arthur asking me if I needed help and inviting me to go ahead and activate. I understand there is a strong corporate motivation for the message but nice touch nevertheless.
When I do eventually get around to activating the card, it is less than a one minute job. I immediately receive a further email explaining what I need to do next so the customer journey to this point has definitely surpassed my expectations!
There are pros and cons to this app. On the plus side, transactions are super quick to post and we had no issues with acceptance of the card even in some of the Underground stone caverns we dined in. You can also add notes to transactions, tag them as a particular type of spending or even add your receipt (ideal for those who may be travelling for business) all of which are nice additional features.
On the downside, the app shows you the price in the local currency and in GBP only. It doesn’t show you the conversion rate used so if you would like to know, you will have to calculate it yourself which is a shame as I really like that feature on the Supercard. Also, unlike the Supercard, it doesn’t show you your potential saving against a basket of other payment options overseas which is another feature I really like.
Other cool features
You can see a much more detailed review of how this card compares with the Supercard here but it certainly packs a punch with other added features such as:
- Contactless which worked perfectly and saves time.
- Paypal connectivity which works like a dream and is quick to add.
- The ability to add unlimited cards compared to a maximum of five for the Supercard.
- The ability to change the PIN number to something more memorable which worked a treat for me even though I changed it at an ATM in Romania. I certainly prefer selecting my own pin which isn’t possible using the Supercard.
Here’s a taster of the cool design
Want to sign up now?
So if you like what you see and want to have your cake and eat it, why not download the app using this Curve link and follow the on-screen instructions to get started. Enter my promo code 7BF5Y to earn that credit of £10 and add your cards. You can then head off on your holidays knowing you won’t be paying rip off charges.
What are your top tips?
Maybe you already have signed up in which case I would love to know what you think. Or maybe you have some other top tips for making payments overseas? Let us know in the comment box.
Disclaimer: Please note I received my Curve card free of charge in order to conduct this review however all views are my own and unedited.