The good and the bad from fintech app and card Curve.
The curve smart card and app promises to let you take just one debit card out with you and leave all your other debit and credit cards at home.
But it’s not a bank. Instead it’s a middleman a bit like using Apple or Google Pay but with added features.
I’ve taken an in-depth look at how to get Curve, how to add your cards and explained some of the pros and cons. Plus the difference between the free Curve Blue and paid for Curve Black and Curve Metal.
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Further links, reading and videos
If you want to jump ahead then click the times below to move to different parts of the review (this will open in YouTube so please click the thumbs up).
0:00 Intro to Curve
1:05 Different types of Curve (Blue, Black & Metal)
3:00 Applying for Curve
3:30 Adding a card to Curve
4:30 American Express and Curve
5:10 Selecting a card to pay with
6:00 Spending on Curve
7:00 Losing out on offers on connected cards
8:15 Consumer protection, Section 75 and Curve
9:30 Curve’s Back in Time feature
11:03 Curve’s security features
12:05 Overseas and holiday spending with Curve
15:17 Curve’s cashback offer
19:31 Spending limits
20:15 Using Curve to pay off credit cards and tax bills
21:15 Should you get Curve Blue?
22:31 Should you get Curve Black or Curve Metal?
Subtitles & transcript
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Hi, I’m Andy Webb from Be Clever With Your Cash.com. Welcome back to my channel. If you haven’t already, please do hit that subscribe button. And if you find this video useful as you’re watching it, that little thumbs up icon will be fantastic to just click that like button. It helps YouTube know that what I’m telling you is kid stuff is useful, and it will show it to more people and they in turn are going to benefit from what I’m saying.
And what I want to talk to you about today is this – this is my curve card. It’s not a bank card. It’s sort of a special card, a sort of super card if you like it, where you can attach loads and loads of different bank accounts. Credit cards also links to a single card, it works a little bit like if you’re familiar with Apple Pay Google pay Samsung Pay whatever it might be with your phone where you can have multiple cards all showing there and to pay you just tap your phone. Well rather than using a device it uses. This debit card is MasterCard here. Now it’s I think it’s pretty pretty good in lots of ways. But there are some downsides. So what I want to do is take you through how it works. The kind of things you can do with it. And again, point out some of those pros and those cons. Before we get started, let me just quickly show you though there are three different types of curve.
Here’s the curve website. And if we go into this little tab here, we’ll see that our three different options. So we have got the blue, the black, and the metal. Now, the blue one is absolutely free, it’s not going to cost you anything at all. And there are certain standard features you get with that was the main ones I’m going to focus on right now.
The next one up this black one, that’s gonna cost you £9.99 a month. And there are a few extras on there on top, just a couple of things, mainly, this one here down the bottom, that worldwide travel insurance but if you get a few little extras as well, a few increased allowances. And the final one is £14.99. And it is curve Matel. We can get more insurances here, a few extra features and benefits and you also get this premium at Grandma’s to college and a choice of three colours.
Now, personally, I think that’s a bit of a stupid thing to be sort of taken on by I know lots of people like this. I like having that premium card. But you’re paying a lot of money for it. But I will go through all those different cards, what they essentially do offer how they differ at the end. So you get an idea of which one, you should be going for which one might work best for you.
So let’s just go back very simply to how this works. As I say you when you apply and it is only via the app, you have to have a smartphone most you’re going to have that that’s fine, you download the curve app.
And then what you do is you apply there and then now there is actually a bonus code you can find different ones for this at different times. I’ve got one which I will share in the links below. So if you want to get that free five pounds right now it does sort of change from time to time you enter that code when you apply for five pound credit applied to your account when you make your first purchase with your curve card and you need to do it within seven days of applying. Okay, so it’s not long but you can get a free five pounds anyway. So you open up the app, make your application really simple. And because this isn’t a bank account, you’re not gonna be sort of credit checks or anything.
Okay? you are applying to get your hands on the app and to get your hands on one of these cards. When you’ve got that, done all that so the card will come in the post I say should only take a few days that will come to you and you can start using then you actually can view your card on the app it has a feature on here where you can see the long number. You can see the expiry date and you get those three digits from the back as well so you can start using it digitally straightaway.
But to use it you’ve then got to add your cards. And this is the real kind of trick that you get with curve what makes it I think stand out makes it pretty special. You can add any Visa or MasterCard to the app. You do that very simply. Most of time you can take a photo you hold your phone, over your banking card, and it will kind of pick up all the data and bring it through put it all through. Sometimes you have to manually enter it and it does work with pretty much most Visa and MasterCard it should work with all of them at Now, that means you can add your current account if you’re like me.
And you have got multiple cards for different reasons. Again, that’s another video for another time, I have got an article about why I’ve got so many different bank accounts over on the blog, which I will share a link for you to. But if you’ve got lots of cards, you can have them all on the app. And that means you can use this single debit card to use them. So you don’t have to carry around with you so many different cards in your wallet making it really unusable. You can have it all on a single card.
I think that’s really, really handy for lots of reasons, which I’ll get to in a minute. But you might have noticed one thing I didn’t say is you can’t use American Express when it first launched, you could use American Express and that was great and I used it a lot more when I could have Amex on there.
Unfortunately, Amex decided they didn’t want to be part of curve and they withdrew all the support. Now that was over a year ago now. curve are still I’m sure in the background trying to get annex onyx they know that will be great for their business, but at the moment as it stands, just Visa and MasterCard
You can also add your curve card by the way to your phone as well. If you want to, you don’t even have to carry it around with you, you can have it just there on your phone as long as it’s Apple Pay Google pay Samsung Pay. Now when you go to spend with with your curve card, whether it’s on your phone or with the card itself, and you have to obviously make sure you activate a card in the background on the app.
Now, I’ll show you quickly here how that kind of looks in your wallet. And so you had a bit of scrolling the lay of focus for you. There I’ve kind of got my nationwide sort of flicked in, but you’ve got other cards as you go along. So that was a bit blurry. I put a little cutaway and you can choose the first time you pay, you can click down and that is your default card. And that means you’ve always got a card connected to your curve when you go to spend. If you want though, you can change that before you make that transaction.
So it’s really quick it’s instant. So I’ve done it for at the tail. I’ve gone in and I flick through, select the card I want to pay with then got my curve and swiped it or tapped in the pin whatever it might be. And the transaction has gone through to the right card behind it. Essentially what it’s doing this is acting as kind of like a third, and a middleman between the bank, your banking card and the retailer who you’re spending the money with.
So that means when you are looking at your bank statement, all the transactions come up, I see our visa short for curve, then the name of the retail, then the normal transaction, you’ve seen your statement. So that’s how you know on your normal bank statement or credit card statement you spent with curve within the app, you will see all those transactions appear underneath each individual card.
So if I’ve got my nationwide current account, for example, it’ll appear there. If I use my john lewis credit card it will appear there if I use my business, debit card, it will appear there. And really, really easy, really simple to see individually under each card. If you want to within the app, you can also just see all your transactions from all your cards in a single timeline, which is quite handy if you want to just see all your spending in one place if you do use it.
So For all of your spending and now one thing is just a couple of things important to point out there about that kind of idea of being a middleman. There are a few sort of downsides that come with that one of them is that if you are using a specialist credit card so I mentioned that I’ve got a john lewis and partners credit card. Now this he offers me half a percent cashback at pretty much anytime I spend a couple of quid but at john lewis and partners it will give me 1% back or Waitrose it will give me 1% back.
Now if I use my journalism partners card at john lewis or Waitrose via the curve card, it won’t necessarily know that I’m shopping in those shops, so actually would only give me that half a percent. He won’t give me that for extra bonus of half a percent. Similarly, you know, sometimes you get your credit cards your banking cards have special cashback offers.
So recently, I got a beers from beer 52 via my NatWest account, my networks current account and it was a massive sort of 75% off or something like that. If I use that, from my curva card, even though the underlying card was not West, I wouldn’t get that offer at all. So you got to be careful there about missing out on sort of benefits that you get specifically with your underlying card that you attached your curve card to.
The other thing that’s important to realize having that intermediary is you don’t get if you’re using a credit card, you don’t get section 75 consumer protection, which can be really, really, really important. Now, this is where if you spend at least one pound on your credit card for something that costs 100 pounds, or more than you are by law, your purchase is equally protected by your credit card company as it is by the merchant. So if something goes wrong, and you need to make a claim that has this problem, we had a sofa earlier this year, I could go to the credit card company if I’m not having any joy with the sofa company and get the money back that way.
If you do this, there has to be a direct relationship between the card provider and the retailer. Hundred percent has to be them to them. They can’t be anyone in between. There are lots of gray areas. Hear such as booking sites, how do they factor in but but curve absolutely breaks that chain. So you do not get section 75 protection, they do have their own increased curve consumer protection scheme which offers protection up to 100,000 pounds, however you spend your money.
So there is some protection if things go wrong. However, again, that is not a legal protection. So I haven’t used it myself, I don’t know how good that is just something to bear in mind. So personally, I would be using my credit card directly if any of those expensive products rather than using curve.
Now one feature that I really, really, really, really like with curve is the ability to something called go back in time and he’s even got a little sort of DeLorean flux capacitator style graphic that comes with this. The idea here is I said you can choose in before you make a purchase which card you want to spend with Yes, I’m gonna spend it on this card, tap it on the app, and that’ll be the one that your money goes on.
Now, if you forget to do that before you make a purchase, or you want to say move it around at a later date, then you’ve got 14 days to do that. Go into the app and go hit go back in time and it will move it to a different card, you have that option to do that. Now you can only do this once per transaction. So you got to make sure you move it, you do want to move it and you’re moving it to the right card. And but I love this little feature, I mainly use it for business purchases.
So obviously you guys know, I’m self employed, I run my own business here with a blog and a podcast in the YouTube in the freelance work. So I have a lot of purchases, expenses from out and about which are limited to the company rather than to my personal stuff. And this is really good. So what I can do here, I buy something, it doesn’t matter if I’ve selected in advance and go back and I can move it to my business account just in a couple of clicks. Really, really nice feature. And obviously you can do that as well. If you’re finding your balances a bit low on one account, you want to move it around.
Now obviously if you do use your curve card, it does make you overdrawn underneath, that could well bring in some charges. So I wouldn’t necessarily rely on this go back in time feature. You want to make sure you have enough money in those accounts to pay it off. If you don’t have enough money in those accounts, you might even reject the payment. Now there are a couple other little features it’s worth telling you about you can get in curve. And you get these a lot of the kind of mobile digital banks like munzo. And Starling, I’ve got a whole video about comparing them that you might want to check out if you haven’t seen it already. But great features such as freezing your card, so if you do lose it, you can freeze it, it means no one can use it. And that’s actually quite handy. If you think about it. The idea that if you’ve got lots of different cards attached to this and this goes and you freeze it, that’s all sorted, you’ll need to get a new one of these you don’t actually have to worry about those underlying bank accounts and credit card accounts.
Those cards are still fine to use. No problem at all. But that’s great. I love that freeze your card feature again you do see that a lot more places now. You can check your pin in the app as well. So if you forget it, I’m not sure what it is just open it up and check it that’s fantastic little feature. You can also as I say you can get that digital card on there. Just check it out any time if you don’t have your card haven’t called on you. But you’ve got your phone, you can still make payments by getting I say the longest But the three digits and the expiry dates or lovely little extra things that you can do.
Now another really good feature of the curve is its ability to help you save money when you’re spending in a foreign currency really cut down on those FX transaction fees. Now I’m sure most of you know this already. If you are abroad or spending money in the UK online in a different currency, euros dollars, whatever it might be, or you’re using your normal debit or credit card, you are going to get charged extra fees on top of that MasterCard or visa or whatever exchange rate the base exchange rate that they are using, they will add money on top and that can be really expensive.
Now, the best way to avoid those fees particularly if you’re going to go abroad more than once a year go you know quite often can’t do it right now but hopefully when things go back to normal, you go abroad, you spending money on your card rather than getting cash out often is the cheapest way to get your to spend when you’re on holiday is to look at especially scarred from the likes of Starling or munzo banks or gets a counter credit card from Halifax, they’ve got the clarity credit card, which is really good. They don’t charge you anything for spending abroad. And there might be some limits on taking money out of an ATM, but there are no limits at all for your spending. And that’s every day of the week, whatever day you spend money, you will get the correct exchange rate which is fantastic.
However, curve is a really, really good backup. So I would have one of those cards or both two of those cards as your main Spending Accounts abroad, but then I would take your curve with you and that because what they do, if you are spending on your curve card, even if it links through to one of those expensive underlying accounts, you Santander, your NatWest, your Barclaycard, whatever it might be, you will not get charged any FX rates any of those extra charges on top of the currency conversion. So that will save you a decent bit of cash now, it’s not perfect.
So for example, if you’ve got that free blue version, you can only spend 500 pounds in a foreign currency every 30 days is a rolling 30 days. There’s a 500 pound limit. Most people I think are 100 There’s a good chance eating out taxis whatever it is if you’re mainly using cards and I tend to mainly use cards when I go on holiday now, you could probably very easily hit that 500 pound limit just on a kind of a, you know, three, four day holiday. So there’s also a 200 pound limit on the ATM with that blue card which is free which is why it’s a is a good backup I think it’s difficult
to use that for your whole holiday spending. And there’s a better options like Starling or Halifax clarity instead, if you upgrade and get that black card the 999 every month then there are limited transactions you can make with the car by tapping it or using your pin. You can use it as much as you want. So as you would were starting on so and so wants to know limits there. And there’s a 400 pound rolling 30 day limit on cash machine withdrawals in a foreign currency. The metal version that really expensive 15 pound one, again, unlimited spending with your card and you get a 600 pound ATM allowance so they make it much more realistic to use those kind of more premium levels when you go on holiday.
So bear that in mind if you do want to spend more, that’s an extra benefit you have but again, later on I’ll break down what I think the difference is whether you should stick with the blue one or the others, but again, really helps you spend money overseas at no extra cost. So a big thumbs up the curve there.
Another nice little feature is an extra cashback you can earn. So if you get the blue version, you get three months of 1% cashback at three selected retailers you can choose from a long list so they’ve got some supermarkets Sainsbury’s, tescos, Waitrose, Ocado they’ve got various shops, Amazon, apple, a sauce, IKEA boots,
they’re on their travel people like TfL quite useful if you are commuting in London, there’s some petrol stations, it’s booking calm, there’s EasyJet, and there’s lifestyle kind of benefits. So Netflix, there’s every man cinema, there’s Spotify, there’s cow shed, which is like a sort of a nice sort of beauty and therapies, retailer. Lots of lots of lots of retailers to choose from.
As I say that first three months with a blue version, you can get one cent back every time you spend money and that is added to your account in a kind of little rewards folder. To use those rewards folder, you do have to manually go through select you want to pay with those rewards, and then the money will be taken out, you can’t go back in time to use that rewards sort of fund that you’ve accrued from cashback. The other problem you have with this as well is that you have to have enough rewards in your account to cover the total cost. So you’ve got five pounds of rewards, but you want to spice them at six pounds. No Go.
You can only buy five pounds or less purchased with air which is a little bit annoying. But you can sure there’s enough things you can find which are pretty cheap to sort of bring that down can make it I guess a little bit trickier when you’re down to the last sort of pennies and things but that’s a nice little feature and you get it for free for the first three months of blue.
Now if you upgrade and you go for the black card again, that’s the 999 a month card. Then you get still three retailers that you can cashback is still 1% but it’s for the whole year, it’s continuous, as long as you’re paying for that, every month that 999 you get that 1% cashback at those three different retailers. If you upgrade to that metal, again, a very expensive 15 pounds option, and then you actually get six different retailers you can earn that 1%. Now, I think is nice to have that first three months for free, which is lovely.
But I don’t think is worth getting the extra different types of cars, the higher levels of card just for this cashback feature because it’s gonna take you a long time to justify that money you’re getting back, because a lot of these retailers are listed there. For example, if you go to McDonald’s, but how much you’re gonna spend at McDonald’s realistically in a month 1% of that over, you know, can be nowhere near that 10 pounds, you’re never going to get nearer.
Maybe if you’re going to buy something really big. Let’s say you’re spending a grand or laptop or Apple or you’re buying a sofa or john lewis or something like that. Then you know 1% can be sort of quite, quite hefty. And maybe it’s worth thinking about doing it there. But again, their singular one off kind of purchases. And maybe you can just time when you get your curve card for that. So you get that free card and you get those three months of that 1%.
It’s also worth bearing in mind as well that
you can sometimes get 1% a better rate than this using a different cashback card. At the top I mentioned you can’t use American Express, we’ve heard now my curve card give me 1% up to 1.25%
all throughout the year as long as the retailer takes it. So the fact that I can’t attach my curve to it means I’m probably going to lose out on the whole using those different retailers. Now if I do attach to say that my john lewis and partners credit card which gives me half a percent, and then I use that we’ve selected let’s say a retailer, IKEA is on there, so I chose that and I paid with that I would get 1.5% So yes, I would increase how much cashback I get from the retailer by using the underlying MasterCard with my curve, I get 1.5% rather than 1% or 1.25%.
However, it is limited just to those retailers. And it’s not I don’t think it’s worth, I think if you’re happy to use cash back reward cards, you’re going to get a better rate of return just by using those cards. Yeah, absolutely, of course, why not knock. If you can take advantage of it to get that little boost to 1.5% with something like the john lewis carding curve, great, but it’s not a deal breaker. So it’s a lovely feature to have. But don’t expect to get a huge amount of money for it. Don’t get a curve card, just with a cashback feature is what I’m saying. Now there are a few other restrictions it’s worth telling you about as well. When you first get your curve card. You can the blue card, at least
Anyway, there was a maximum speed of 2000 pounds in a day, 5000 pounds in a month and 10,000 pounds in a year. And there was a maximum of 200 pounds 200 pounds that you can withdraw from an ATM. Now these can change and the more you use your card and the longer you’re within those limits can increase. But it’s worth bearing that in mind, some people if you put all your spending through a curve card Are you have some particularly hefty ones, you could very quickly get to that five grand in a month, particularly use it for business purposes, and 10 grand within a year, my ones have been with curve for a long time. Now, there are a fair bit higher than that. And I don’t seem to have any problems at all.
One last feature to tell you about something called curve fronted, now this is where you can use an underlying credit card attached to your curve to pay off perhaps another credit card, perhaps it’s a tax bill, or anything where there normally would be a charge for using your credit card.
Now, they charge you one and a half percent for this feature, and I don’t think it’s worth it. It’s there if you want to personally I’ve gone in I’ve made sure that feature is turned off so I can’t accidentally get charged that one and a half percent because I don’t need to pay for anything in that way. It’s not going to benefit me. I guess potentially if there’s something you want to spread out a payment over a longer amount of time, but you want to look at a balance transfer credit card, you could be much better option for doing that instead. And if there is a really, really big tax bill or something that you can’t afford, you don’t have the money, your debit card. Maybe you would consider that one and a half percent fee as a loan costs but again, I don’t think it’s worth it.
So just bear in mind that there is automatically toggled off just make sure it is when you go into your settings if you don’t want to have that as a, an accidental extra charge to your account. So they’re the main benefits are and I think for those features is well worth having a curve card and using it when it suits you.
The big big downside for me is lack of American Express support. That is my number one card for making purchases because it earns me the most money back in cashback every time I use it is the best rate out there. So it’s the best return now obviously you can’t use it in every single retailer.
And I do have to say that john lewis and partners credit card cash back credit card as the my backup for when I need to use MasterCard and that is attached to my curve card. So unless I’m shopping in john lewis or Waitrose go get that boosted amount of money. I will use my curve card to to make purchase attached to that john lewis card just to get that cash back where I can but others Is not that often because of Amex not being on that now that might come back it was there in the past. And I know curve I’ve been keen for a long time
Well, since they started to get Amex onyx they know it’d be good for their business. But it’s been well over a year since it was last on there. And there’s been no sign of it returning just yet but do keep an eye out because it will be a big game changer if Amex was on there. I’m also not that bothered as I said about the cashback feature. It’s nice to have but is not fundamentally that important.
So I wouldn’t go over go out of your way to get hold of that. Anyway. So that’s the blue card I think the blue card is well worth getting. When we look at those black card at 10 pounds a month and the metal card at 15 pounds a month. I think you’ve got to weigh up what you get for it. So the big difference with the say the black card is that you do get some travel insurance on there.
Which is okay. And important thing with any packages account when you get travel insurance is you need to make sure that it covers you for what you need. Now at 10 pounds a month that’s 120 quid a year. You got to ask yourself, could you get an annual travel insurance policy for less elsewhere? And I think the answer is going to be yes. Which means even if you let’s say you’re paying 60 7080 quid for the annual travel insurance, even if you’re paying 90 quid, you’re still overpaying 30 4050 quid for that feature. The extra thing you get that all year, cashback, okay great.
But you’ve got to make sure you choose those retailers wisely the ones where you are going to spend a lot of money. So maybe it is the supermarket you use maybe it’s somewhere where you’re going to go for a big purchase, you know, you’re going to go and buy something very expensive, but not the smaller stuff because you’re not going to get your money back at all. You know, Netflix 10 pounds a month. That cost you so you’ll be getting 10 p one pound 20 over a year.
Again, that’s a long way isn’t it to cover that big difference between buying things separately. The next one that metal one at 15 pounds, you do get some extras on top of that. So you do get your phone insurance. You get a rental car collision waiver insurance. You get airport lounge key access, as well as I say that double the number of retailers, you can get cash back within three to six. And obviously you get that metal card. Again, I’ve got the cheap blue version.
I don’t think it’s worth paying extra for those things because I’m confident I can get
them cheaper elsewhere and I’m not worried about getting a metal card. But have a look. Just check the terms conditions with those insurance policies, see what you can get. And if you’re looking elsewhere, see how much they cost. And you might find it’s worth putting the upgrade in to get some of those extra features. But fundamentally, I think,
don’t pay for them. They’re not worth it.
Get a blue card, keep it in your wallet at all times. I’ve used it a lot just when you go traveling. It’s a very, very handy addition to have. I’m Andy Webb – Be Clever With Your Cash calm as I said, thank you so much for watching. I hope you found this useful. If you have found it interesting, please do make sure you hit that subscribe button and that like button as well. Just below this video to make sure that other people also get to find the stuff that is just told you about hear about all these bits and pieces as well. Let me know if you’ve got a curve card, how you use it in the comments, be really, really keen to find out about that as well. Until next time, cheers.
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