How to save money whilst earning miles/points abroad and even time-travel with Curve!

I admit I have read about Curve card a few times but I had been resisting using it. That was until the recent new terms and conditions for the Lloyds Avios card were published by mistake on the internet ahead of any announcement. Although these have now disappeared, we already knew that the American Express card would disappear and any subsequent MasterCard or Visa was unlikely to be as generous. It is also rumoured that the upgrade voucher and/or 0% foreign exchange fees may also disappear. So I decided it was time to investigate the Curve card a bit more as a potential replacement.

Apart from the upgrade voucher, my main reason for having the Lloyds Avios card was for spending abroad whilst still being able to earn miles. Although you can use your miles-earning credit cards abroad most credit cards charge a 3% commission on any foreign currency transactions. So even if you were paying for a hotel in foreign currency from a UK website you would still pay the 3% fee. However, if you can use a 0% commission card you are usually getting a better deal than using cash. The exchange rates are based on the bank rate, not the consumer rate. There are plenty of 0% commission credit cards such as Post Office Money Platinum, Virgin Travel Money card and Santander’s All in one. Unfortunately, these cards don’t allow you to earn miles as well.

With the Lloyds Avios card closed to new applications, is the Curve card the best alternative?

 

How does Curve card work?

Curve is a new app that connects your debit and credit cards to one Curve Mastercard which works like a debit card. I downloaded the app, filled in a few simple details and then registered my Virgin credit card. It took about 3-5 minutes in total. Once you have registered your first card, you will then receive your physical Mastercard. You can link all your Visa and Mastercards to the app. This can be done using your phone camera so no tedious numbers to type in – it takes just a few seconds to load a card. You then set a default for which card you want as your main one, but you can change it any time with a swipe in the app.

The Curve card works like a normal debit bank card anywhere in the world that accepts Mastercard cards – for contactless, chip & PIN, magstripe and ATM withdrawals. The good news is that it allows you to earn miles even in places that only accept credit cards. The Curve card simply charges your transaction back to your credit card of choice – for free.

The benefits of Curve Card

I can see a number of benefits for the Curve card:

  • Get £5 free – if you apply using the code VIMI4 you can get £5 of credit to spend as you wish on your first transaction with the card
  • You can see all your credit card spending in one place on the app instead of over several
  • You don’t need to carry all your cards with you – just the Curve card and perhaps a spare
  • You get notifications of any spending and if your card is lost or stolen you can instantly lock your card (or unlock again) from the app
  • It only has a 1% foreign exchange fee
  • For a business account, you can connect all your cards to Xero accounting software through Curve, and completely automate the job of managing business expenses.
  • For the first 90 days you will also get 1% instant cashback on your purchases with Curve at 3 of your chosen shops including Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Trainline, Booking.com, Zara, Caffe Nero, Nandos, Pret A Manger, Starbucks and many more
  • You can use it to store receipts. It will email details of your purchase to you and if you take a photo of your receipt it will magically update the email with the receipt!
  • You can withdraw £200 cash a month which will be charged as a purchase to your credit card thereby earning miles or points!

Which leads me onto to time travel….

If I could turn back time…..

Curve’s ‘Go Back in Time’ feature allows you to switch the card you pay with, up to two weeks after a purchase. This can have a lot of benefits. For example, if you used the wrong card by mistake (sometimes I forget which is my card of the moment to get a bonus, voucher or a certain number of miles), or you were waiting for a new card to arrive and want to switch it over to count towards your initial minimum spend bonus when it arrives.

What are the potential drawbacks of Curve?

There are 2 potential problems with it:

  • You can’t use it with American Express Cards
  • You won’t be covered by section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act if the company you buy from goes bust. You will still get the Mastercard Chargeback scheme.  This means if something goes wrong with a purchase and you’re unable to resolve it with the retailer, you may be entitled to your money back. Curve can submit chargebacks on your behalf to refund eligible purchases made with your Curve card. This should still cover you if the company you have bought from goes bust as was the case with Monarch customers last year. The type of problems covered are:
    • Goods that arrive fake, faulty, or broken.
    • Goods that you’re charged for due to card fraud.
    • Goods that you’re charged for more than once.
    • Tickets from a company that stops trading before an event, a flight etc.

Conclusion

To be honest there is little to lose by getting the card, even if you just use it to withdraw £200 cash a month and get your free £5!

The app is available for Android and iOS. The Curve website is here. Don’t forget to enter code VIMI4 to get your £5. 

5 Comments on "How to save money whilst earning miles/points abroad and even time-travel with Curve!"

  1. You cant use it with AmEx and the 1% foreign currency transaction fee have made it a no no for me. Points or no points.
    Instead i have gone for the Tandem mastercard which has no foreign currency transaction fees and gives 0.5% cashback on foreign purchases. This card is also without any annual fee.
    As for ATM’s abroad…..open a Euros account with the Bank of Ireland, topping it up when the £ is “strong” and then you can get Euros without foreign transaction fees in all those countries on demand with just the fee BoI charges like other destitute countries banks on a per use basis.
    Likewise $US buy them on either your Fairfx card or cash when the £ is high and use as required.
    You wont go far wrong with £ and $ when changing cash for local currency at airports etc.
    I hope in this day and age, most readers would know how to look after cash! Any leftover local currency can be used to part settle your last room bill!

    • Yes I always use the cash to pay my final bill though I do always keep a bit spare for the airport just in case. That usually ends up in BA’s change for good envelope if it is somewhere I am not likely to revisit soon. You would be surprised how many people that are frequent travellers have no idea of some of the extra charges with forex.

  2. I guess it’s worth it if the value of the points you’re receiving is greater than 1% of your spend, which, if you are not spending on an Amex, is unlikely. However, if you’re trying to reach a certain spend target to earn a valuable bonus then it’s worth considering.

    • For me the new Virgin cards have a decent earning rate at 0.75/1.5 mile per £1 so I don’t mind paying the 1% fee if I need the points. We can only hope that there will be a similar Avios/BA mastercard or visa in the future but doesn’t look like it at present.

  3. Robert Phillips | 9 August 2018 at 6:25 pm | Reply

    So far so good, I have a lot of cards and no problems adding any (except unsupported Amex).

    Great app, very helpful customer service!

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