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Review: How Does Curve Reduces Travel Costs?

Curve Mastercard

Curve is a modern payment card that is managed by Curve application. Payment transactions are forwarded to a linked payment card preselected by the user.

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Table of Contents

  1. Is Curve a Credit Card?
  2. What Are the Benefits of Curve?
    1. Benefit 1: Multiple Cards Management by Curve
    2. Benefit 2: Debit Fronted Credit
    3. Benefit 3: Clear Spending Statistics
    4. Benefit 4: Currency Conversions
    5. Benefit 5: Free ATM Withdrawals
    6. Benefit 6: Sending Money
    7. Benefit 7: Curve User Protections
  3. Curve Subscriptions
    1. Curve Blue
    2. Curve Black
    3. Curve Metal
  4. Curve Cashback
  5. Curve Protections
    1. Curve Customer Protection
    2. Travel Insurance
    3. Electronic Gadget Insurance
    4. Rental Car Collision Damage Waiver
  6. Our Linked Cards
  7. Frequently Asked Questions
  8. Where to Order Curve?
  9. Bottom Line

Is Curve a Credit Card?

Curve is not a traditional credit card. You can't buy or pay anything with a Curve card alone, instead at least one right credit or debit card is needed to be linked with it. Curve (Blue) is a free virtual payment card that conveys a payment transaction to another card set in advance by the card user. For example, with the combination of Curve and Bank Norwegian credit card, the transaction is executed in Curve, which forwards the payment in real time to Norwegian's credit card.

Since Curve is not a traditional credit card, almost anyone living in the European Economy area (EEA) can get it by ordering online. A London-based company is behind this card, but Curve card is marketed in the EEA. Curve is a genuine plastic or metal card bearing the same features as all bank cards have, it is PIN-code enabled and it has contactless payment feature. All the settings of the card can be managed easily thru an application installed to a mobile phone. The card can be used physically and on the internet in almost any Mastercard approved shopping sites just like a regular card.

Curve is based in London, thus it declares some of the fees and limits in British Pounds. However, a user may select his/her card's transaction currency from more than 20 options. For example, residents within the EEA can set Euros as their payment currency which can be easily customized thru the Curve app.

What Are the Benefits of Curve?

Some might be wondering what are the additional benefits given by this card. Transferring a payment to another card is not in itself an added value, but benefits come from Curve's other features. We have been using Curve card now for long time and based on our experiences, we will tell you about Curve's benefits in this review.

Benefit 1: Multiple Cards Management by Curve

To holders of multiple payment cards, Curve is an excellent payment tool. A card user can pay all purchases with Curve card and choose from the application to which preferred card should the transactions be sent. The selected card can still be changed or customized later in a case of change of mind or an honest mistake for choosing the wrong card while paying. The correction can be made within 14 days after the payment transaction. Let's simply put into this, you have set in your Curve application, that you have 3 payment cards, cards A, B, and C. You made a transaction that is supposed to be billed to Card C instead of Card A. No worries about this, you can still make corrections by simply using the Curve app. You have 14 days after the time of the purchase to make such a correction.

This feature of Curve card is useful especially for those who have their own credit cards, work cards and perhaps a common card among couples. You can always pay for a purchase with Curve, and choose from the application beforehand or afterwards to which card it will be charged. The cards you want to use with Curve must be added using the Curve application.

Benefit 2: Debit Fronted Credit

With Curve, you can pay with a credit card even in stores that accept only debit payments. Curve itself is a debit card which is able to forward the transaction to an underlaying credit card.

This feature comes with an extra 1,5% charge when you used to pay government fees. See the latest information on Curve website.

Benefit 3: Clear Spending Statistics

The Curve app provides clear statistics as to where money was spent. By using categories, the app shows how much money has been spent on, for example, travel, entertainment, groceries or food and drinks etc. At the point of purchase, the retailer will forward the information to which category the purchase belongs. Using this information, Curve knows how to make statistics about money spending by a particular card user.

Curve spending statistics

The Curve app gives a clear picture on money spending using different categories over the month.

Benefit 4: Currency Conversions

Curve promises free currency conversions. Normally, for purchases either with a debit or credit card, paying with a currency outside the card's home currency, the bank converts the amount into the currency of your bank card using the average exchange rate of the currency involved and the bank also charges a conversion fee of about 2%. Curve handles the conversion on behalf of the bank without any reward.

In our case, we are using cards issued by banks in Finland having euro as the home currency. When we travelled to Israel where the currency is Israeli New Shekel (a non-euro currency), Curve converted this foreign currency into euros using the current exchange rate and transferred the payment to the selected card in euros. No service or conversion fees were added to our bills from purchases made with the card.

It should be noted, however, that Curve's terms and conditions stipulate that the conversion is free only within bank hours. In late evenings or during weekends, Curve uses the last available exchange rates and adds a 0.5% premium to cover the currency risk. The reward is still comparably lower than credit cards in general.

We had Curve as our payment card during our travels recently in Croatia, Turkey and Israel. The application tells you how much money was saved through free currency conversions. During our travels abroad, we have saved easily 2% of our travel budget without having to pay for currency conversion. This, of course, only applies to purchases outside your local currency.

We made a test at Split Airport in Croatia to see if Curve will not charge for the currency conversion. We picked up 300 Croatian Kuna from the same slot machine, first using the Bank Norwegian card and then the Curve card that redirected the charge to Bank Norwegian.

  • Bank Norwegian: 300 Croatian Kuna -> 41,34 euros
  • Curve: 300 Croatian Kuna -> 40,44 euros

Savings from above withdrawal transaction was 0.9€ or 2.1% of the amount involved in this transaction. In other words, Curve produced more savings than we had expected during this test.

However, the free Curve (blue) card has usage limits: Within one day, you can use the card for payments up to £2000 only and during the 30-day time window, you can pay for a maximum amount of £5,000. The maximum withdrawal amount from ATMs is about £1,000 a month. In addition, the limitations set in the payment cards are naturally valid.

Spending limits are only estimates and new users may have lower limits. After Curve knows more about your card usage, the limits may increase.

Benefit 5: Free ATM Withdrawals

With the free version Curve card, you can withdraw money from ATM machines at least £200 within a month period without costs.

However, this advantage can be a trap. Although Curve does not charge ATM withdrawal fees, some ATMs may ask for withdrawal fees. Therefore, it is important to check carefully whether the withdrawal transaction is free or not before proceeding from such ATMs. If you want to avoid withdrawal fees, be patient to check other automated teller machines that allows free withdrawal as you will always find them quickly from place to place.

Since Curve needs to transmit the transaction details to another card (linked to your Curve account), the issuer of this card may charge for withdrawals. When you use ATMs with a Curve card, it is important to direct the transaction to a card that does not ask for fees when using ATMs. A good choice is, for example, a credit card from Bank Norwegian that does not charge you for using the ATM.

Benefit 6: Sending Money

With Curve, you can send or receive money from/to any linked credit cards. You can send money in more than 20 currencies maximally £500 per day. The currency conversion from you card's home currency is free.

Money can be sent to anyone: To Curve card users and also to non-users of Curve card. Curve users will get the money to their Curve account. Non-users will get a notification by email about the received remittance. They can sign up to Curve or alternatively give card details to accept the payment to a payment card.

Benefit 7: Curve User Protections

Like every existing credit card, Curve card offers protection to its card users. For example, when we travelled in Krakow, Poland, we had a small problem while paying for the dining. Ceasar made it clear twice to the restaurant staff that he pays in Polish currency, Poland zloty. Thanks to the real-time report of transactions, Ceasar got directly a notification from such payment thru the Curve app. We approached the cashier and asked her to kindly correct the payment, by shifting the chargeable amount to local money instead of GBP. She repeatedly said, she can't do anything to make changes to this transaction. Ceasar then contacted Team Curve via email. After few conversations, we were happy to get a positive response from Curve:

...Thanks for sending this through.

The dispute process is quite lengthy and not always successful. Due to the value of the transaction, we would like to refund you as a gesture of goodwill.

We can see that without the merchant's exchange rate, the 110 PLN would be 23.08 GBP. We would, therefore, like to refund you 1.85 GBP directly...

From such quick and helpful response from Team Curve not forgetting their friendly communication with us, we felt like they value every single customer they have. Other benefits of each Curve card are found below. Continue reading to find out what are those other card benifits.

Curve Subscriptions

Curve Blue

The features we mentioned above are included in the free Curve Blue card. It doesn't cost anything to avail this card, and there is no monthly charge for the card usage. Curve Blue is a perfect choice for budget travellers.

Curve Black

There is also a paid version of Curve: Curve Black. The acquisition of this card does not cost anything, but there is a monthly fee of €9.99. The card has the same features as the Curve Blue card and a few extra features:

  • Higher ATM withdrawal limit up to £400 per month
  • The card includes a travel insurance.
  • The card includes an electronic gadget insurance.
  • 1% Cashback at 3 selected retailers

Curve Metal

Curve Metal is the best subscription in terms of card benefits. It costs £14.99 month but so far, it is available only in the UK. In 2020, the Curve Metal will be available in the European Economic Area.

Curve Metal has a few more extra perks.

  • As the name says, the card is made of metal.
  • Spending limits are even higher.
  • The card has a travel insurance, an electronic gadget insurance and a rental car collision damage waiver.
  • 1% Cashback at 6 selected retailers
  • Visits to LoungeKey airport lounges for £20

Curve Cashback

Curve Black and Curve Metal are giving 1% Cashback from the purchases made at selected retailers. Curve Black users may select 3 retailers and Curve Metal holders 6. The list is long including for example Amazon, Shell, Lidl, Booking.com etc. The payback is paid by Curve and you will still get possible bonus points from the underlaying cards.

Free Curve Blue users may test the Cashback feature for 90 days.

Curve Protections

Curve subscriptions have safety features, insurances and protections. In the Curve App, you see all transactions in real time. The card can be temporarily locked on the application and opened as easily. Therefore, following your transactions and spending in real time is easy with the Curve App.

Curve has also a few other protective features.

Curve Customer Protection

Curve Customer Protection protects you against unsuccessful or fraudulent purchases. Fraudulent or otherwise unauthorized transactions will be refunded. You may also ask for the refund if you have not received the purchased item or service or there have been some quality issues. The exact terms are complicated and we recommend you to check them on Curve´s website.

For example, if you have booked flights but the airline goes to bankrupt before the travel dates, you may be allowed for a refund.

Travel Insurance

Curve Black and Curve Metal include a travel insurance provided by AXA Travel Insurance. So far, the service is only available in the UK, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Ireland and Germany.

The travel insurance covers medical expenses and your belongings with a small excess. Check carefully the terms to find out if the insurance is good enough for your travelling habits.

Electronic Gadget Insurance

Curve Black and Curve Metal include electronic gadget insurance. The insurance covers for example tablets and laptops. The maximum coverage is £800 and the excess is £50.

Electronic Gadget Insurance is a part of the travel insurance.

Rental Car Collision Damage Waiver

Curve Metal´s travel insurance has also a cover for a rental car collision, a damage or a theft. The cover is up to £25,000 with £50 excess.

Usually, insurance terms are complicated so you must read them carefully. We are not giving you any advice if these Curve insurances are suitable for you.

Our Linked Cards

You may have been wondering, which payment cards we have linked to Curve. The optimal combination depends on your location and most likely, our model does not work for you. Anyway, we tell it briefly.

We pay almost all our daily spending and purchases with Curve. We have linked Bank Norwegian Visa Credit and Nordea Mastercard Debit/Credit to our Curve Apps. Bank Norwegian Visa is especially a good choice, because it gives 1% Cashback usable for Norwegian Air Shuttle flights, it has free ATM withdrawals and no monthly fee. Nordea's Mastercard does not have similar perks, but as our main bank provider, it is a good backup card.

Where to Order Curve?

It is really easy to order Curve. You need to install Curve App to your phone. The card can be ordered via the app and it will be delivered to your home in 2 weeks.

Curve Blue offers a 1% bonus on purchases from three selected merchants for 3 months. Curve Black and Curve Metal do not have any time limitations for this feature. The merchant list includes among others: Lidl and Shell. In other words, you get one percent bonus for all Lidl purchases. The bonus accumulates in the Curve application, from which it can be used later.

Download Curve App via our referral link and you (and we) will get £5 welcome bonus.

Bottom Line

According to our Curve review, Curve is an excellent virtual payment card among travellers whose destinations are using a different currency from one's own home currency. As a free card, Curve Blue brings clear savings in currency conversion costs. The card is also suitable for those who travel for work with credit cards from different banks. As a basic rule, when using credit cards, one needs to spend wisely when using Curve card too.

Since Curve Blue is completely free, trying it yourself is the easiest way to find out the suitability of this card for yourself.

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