Curve Review - August 2019

By David Stevenson on 1st August 2019

Challenger Banks

A lifesaver for those living the multi-card life.

Curve Review - August 2019
Image source: Curve.

Woke👌 Cool features such as fee-free FX transfers and the Go Back in Time tool. Most importantly allows you to carry around just one card instead of a wallet full. The Rewards programme is also useful.

Broke🙁 Not cheap for all the extra features, many of which I’m not sure are worth the extra expense. Pity about the lack of Amex card exposure, but not their fault.

Snapshot Verdict:

Curve has been lumped in with all the other millennial-focused digital money propositions but in truth, Curve is a lifesaver for the older client with a bunch of different work and personal credit cards who want to take just one card on the road, and benefit from cool features like Go Back in Time and the Rewards programme. I’m not entirely sure the premium features are worth paying for, but Curve overall has been a real lifesaver! Highly recommended. 

Full Review

Arriving/Unboxing (4/5)

It’s important to say that I’ve been running the Curve card for over a year now and so this isn’t orientated at those who have just received their card. Regard this as a one-year road trial. That said your first key decision is to work out which kind of card you want to pay for – or stick with the free one. I have the Free Blue Curve card which has served me well.

The table below lists all the different versions of the card. If I had to pay for a card I’d probably opt for the Black card.

Blue

Black

Metal

Free

£9.99 a month

£14.99 a month of £150 annually

Fee free spending abroad up to £500 a month

Unlimited in 200 currencies

Unlimited in 200 currencies

£200 fee-free foreign ATM withdrawals

£400 per month fee-free withdrawals, then max of 2% or £2

£600 per month in fee-free cash withdrawals then max of 2% or £2

1% instant cashback at 3 retailers on a 3-month intro offer

3 premium retailers

6 premium retailers

Go Back in Time up to £1000 within 14 days

Go Back in Time up to £1000 within 14 days

Go Back in Time up to £1000 within 14 days

No worldwide travel insurance

Worldwide travel insurance for residents of the UK, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Portugal

As with Black but also Lost Luggage 

No electronic gadget insurance

Electronic Gadget insurance

Electronic gadget insurance

   

Rental Car Collision damage waiver, airport lounge discount access with LoungeKey (up to 60% discount)

   

18 grams Metal Card in Blue Steel, Rose Gold and Red

Available in 27 countries

Available in 27 countries

UK only

 

Once you’ve received your Curve card through the post after signing up for the app, you then need to add your existing cards. You should head to the bottom tab marked wallet where you’ll be presented with the chance to add a new card. You do this by either typing in the card details or taking a photo of the card (and then manually add a few other features).

Curve then seeks authorisation from the existing credit/debit card issuer either by making a tiny transaction – which gives a code on your statement – or by going through online security authorisation. With your card now secured, you can add other cards. As you add other cards you begin to see a carousel of the cards added to the account. I currently have about a dozen personal and work cards (I know!). 

When you want to select an existing card to use you simply tap the card on the carousel. After a few seconds, the Curve logo will appear on the card, signifying it is active and being used by Curve. Next to the image of the card in the carousel in the wallet you’ll also see a little i symbol – this opens up a menu where you can edit the cards information. You can edit the base currency, turn on email receipts and change card image. You can also delete the card. As for adding or deleting a card – swipe to the right of the card selector and tap +.

Spending/Payments (5/5)

As you spend money using Curve on your existing cards you’ll start to see a list of transactions below the card. Click on one of those transactions and you’ll see some key features of that transaction. A new page appears and you’ll see the name of the business, along with categories defining this spending. You’ll also be able to add a receipt by taking a photo plus you can add a note (and classify the spending as a business purchase – useful for expenses).

As you swipe down the page giving the transaction details you’ll also see two very cool Transaction Features. The first is Go Back in Time. With this, you can switch the charge to another card but only within the past 14 days. There are also total spending limits on this ace feature but this is very useful. You might, for instance, want to charge the spending back to your work card even though you used your personal card. Or maybe you just want to switch from a debit card to a credit card purchase. Whatever the reason Go Back in Time is hugely useful.

You can also select the option to send an email receipt – another very useful feature for expenses.

One last feature – sticking with the carousel of cards you’ve added, if you keep swiping right (and the carousel goes left), you’ll eventually come to Curve Rewards Cash card. Curve offers rewards points worth 1 per cent of what you spend on chosen retailers – these include Amazon. You need to nominate these Rewards retailers and how much and for how long you get these rewards depends on your kind of card. See the table above. This could be a great feature if you are planning to spend a bundle of money on say some expensive equipment at Amazon. The cash card totals up how much you’ve earnt so far.

Monitoring your spending (4/5)

At the bottom of the Curve main page you’ll also see a tab with the timeline. This gives you, guess what a …timeline of your spending. You’ll also see another tab with Insights which builds on the classification system and adds up what you’ve spent in any given month. Crucially, for the expenses based road warrior you can then export any information into a CSV file (via the timeline tab – look at the top of the page and you’ll see a classic share box with an arrow pointing out of the top).

Customer service (3/5)

I’ve not had much dealing with customer service, but what little I’ve had hasn’t been terrifically speedy if I’m honest. They’ve tended to take a few days to come back to me with not particularly helpful answers.

Grab Bag

The Grab Bag is stuff that doesn’t quite fit anywhere else in our review.

  • One big positive for me is the ability to use the Curve Card for foreign transactions at fee-free rates. That means you can make “purchases in foreign currency converted at the real exchange rate i.e. the rate at which banks exchange money, also known as the interbank rate or mid-market rate. There are certain limits on the amount up to which you can make fee-free transactions or ATM withdrawals, after which charges will apply….Please note, if the currency of your transaction and the currency of the underlying payment card used with Curve is the same, Curve will always pass through the transaction with no additional fees.”

  • This fee-free process is subject to certain limits. At weekends the UK FX markets are closed so Curve makes a 0.5% for the main currencies. Also the FX offer is subject to the kind of card you use. According to Curve (free) customers can spend £500 per month - no currency conversion fees will be charged. From £501 and above (cumulative) a month, you will be charged an additional 2% as currency conversion fees. For Curve Black customers: Unlimited free currency conversion (subject to their fair use of £15,000 a year, beyond which they charge 2% of the amount of the transaction as currency conversion fees).

  • The card design is quite cool and to be fair the metal version of the card (in all its pretty designs) is really very cool. I’m just too mean to pay for that

  • Insurance. As you’ll see from the earlier table if you buy into the more expensive cards you also get travel insurance (from AXA), and gadget insurance (up to a limit of £800 for laptops and phones). The Curve metal card also comes with rental car collision insurance which can be really very useful for the frequent traveller. These features could be very useful for business-orientated travellers BUT I would suggest that Nationwide’s Flex Plus account offers nearly all these features and more for £13 a month, less than for the Curve Metal option

  • I’ve slightly struggled to work out how you change/edit the retailers you nominate for the rewards feature. For the life of me, I haven’t been able to change them around. If you want a full list of these retailers go here.

  • Some debit and credit card issuers can be pernickety about Curve Card forcing you to reauthorize after a period of time which can be a hassle.

  • Curve works well with every Mastercard and Visa card I have thrown at it BUT it does not include Amex which would be a great addition. Curve did include Amex for a short while but from my understanding, Amex pulled the authorisation. My guess is that it saw Curve as a threat to its own proposition as well as eating into its own card usage transaction fees. That’s a real pity and it would be great to have Curve back again.

Conclusion 

A rate Curve highly and think it’s a great proposition. I use it regularly and I think it is ideally suited to the road warrior who travels on business. There are lots of great features for this crowd and I would heartily recommend it. For everyone else, the features are probably less essential and I’m not entirely convinced that the paid-for versions (Black and Metal) are worth it for most people. It’s also great news that Curve has secured a big wodge of new venture capital support which should help it provide new features, improve customer service and build an international customer base.

 

Arriving/Unboxing (4/5)

Spending/Payments (5/5)

Monitoring your spending (4/5)

Customer Service  (3/5)

Overall score: 4/5

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Companies in this Article:

Curve

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