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Review: How Does Curve Reduces Travel Costs?

Curve Mastercard

Curve is a non-traditional bank 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: Clear Purchases Statistics
    3. Benefit 3: Currency Conversions
    4. Benefit 4: Free ATM Withdrawals
  3. Free and Paid Version
    1. Curve Blue
    2. Curve Black
  4. Frequently Asked Questions
    1. How does a payment transaction appear on the underlying card?
    2. Is the underlying card's insurance valid?
    3. Does Curve have security features?
    4. Who is responsible for the misuse of the card?
  5. Where to Order Curve?
  6. Final Words

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 can get it by ordering online. A London-based company is behind this card, but Curve card is marketed internationally. Curve is a genuine plastic 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 on the phone. The card can be used physically and on the internet in almost any Mastercard approved shopping sites just like a regular card.

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 over 2 months 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 credit 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 bills 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 Card application, that you have 3 payment cards, card 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 to Curve application.

Benefit 2: Clear Purchases 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 3: 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 fee 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 euroa
  • Curve: 300 Croatian Kuna -> 40,44 euroa

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 £2,000 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 £200 a month. In addition, the limitations set in the payment cards are naturally valid.

Benefit 4: Free ATM Withdrawals

With the free version Curve card, you can withdraw money from ATM machines the maximum amount of £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 chargeable 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.

Free and Paid Version

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:

  • No fees for ATM withdrawals for a maximum amount of £400 a month.
  • The card includes a travel insurance.
  • The card includes an insurance for electronic gadgets.

We are not more familiar with Curve's paid version and we recommend that you start with Curve's free version, which is enough for most.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following questions can be addressed to the person considering the card, for which we have clarified the answer. We were also discussing these things at the beginning of using the card.

How does a payment transaction appear on the underlying card?

When Curve transmits a payment to the linked card, the name of the merchant for the made purchase is displayed in the account's transactions, but the information also shows that the payment transaction has arrived via Curve from London. See an example below.

CRV*KFP MYYRMAKI OY -9.90

Is the underlying card's insurance valid?

Many credit cards have a valid travel insurance when you pay the majority of the travel costs with the said card. We do not see any reason why these insurances would not be valid if the payments have been redirected to the cards via Curve. We are still investigating this topic.

Does Curve have security features?

We think Curve's biggest shortcomings are its low security features. With Curve you can make internet purchases without any identification. However, when making purchases physically, you need to know the PIN code of the card if the purchase exceeds the nearby payment limit. The Curve card can always be blocked from the application in a case of theft or lost of the card. Curve's customer service confirmed us that the security features will be improved soon.

Who is responsible for the misuse of the card?

If your card has been misused or there appears a wrong charge, you need to make a reclamation to the card's issuer: The question is whether to direct it to Curve or to underlying card's issuer.

We asked this from Curve's customer service and they replied that Curve will be the first contact point in the case of any Curve's payment issue.

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 offers a 1% bonus on purchases from three selected merchants for 3 months. The list includes among others: Lidl and Shell. In other words, you get one percent bonus for all Lidl purchases during the campaign. 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 Pounds welcome bonus.

Final Words

According to our Curve review, Curve is a good virtual payment card among travellers whose destinations are using a different currency from one's own home currency. As a free card, Curve 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. We recommend you to read a broader article about traveller's credit cards written in Finnish.

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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