What is Curve?
Curve is UK fintech company started in 2015 that provides a smart card and app that lets you aggregate and handle all your bank cards in one place, making it easier to manage spending while also gaining various benefits. It is not a bank, but its service is based on an e-money background.
Wirecard and its effects on Curve
UPDATE, June 29, 2020: You might have read that Wirecard has been involved in a financial scandal and has filed for insolvency. In this section, we will try to assess what happened and how it relates to Curve.
What is the relationship between Wirecard and Curve?
Wirecard provides card and payment solutions to Curve.
What happened to Wirecard and how does it affect clients at Curve?
On the 26th of June, one day after the firm filed for insolvency, Wirecard's activities were suspended by the UK's top-tier regulator, the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority), following an investigation by journalists and the German regulator BaFin (Federal Financial Supervisory Authority) that found financial misdealings and irregularities at the company. Curve users have experienced a freeze in the digital bank's features and financial services.
As of the 29th of June, Curve is partly back online, with these features working:
- Payments with your Curve Card
- Curve Fronted
- Curve Cash Points and Balance
The features below however are not yet live, but will be soon:
- Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay
- Curve Send
- Go Back in Time
If you are a Curve user, your account might have been frozen. To re-activate your Curve card, update your Curve app, and re-verify your card (if needed).
Should I apply for a new card?
Based on the discussion within the Curve community, all existing and recently distributed cards will work. Curve is now looking at alternatives, like a new card issuer after Wirecard, or being their own card issuer, to be able to distribute and activate bank cards.
Below, you will find our Curve review from January. We will monitor the situation and update the review in the coming weeks.
Curve is an excellent choice if you use many different bank cards but don't want to carry all of them everywhere. It will not replace your bank, but could replace all your bank cards. Curve supports cards of many currencies and also follows fee-free foreign spending, while useful additional feature are being added continuously.
Curve Review 2020
Curve pros and cons
Unique services, like using all your cards in one, and going back in time
Premium subscription options with handy perks (e.g. travel insurance)
Easy-to-use app with good user experience
Monthly and daily limits on ATM withdrawals, spending
Lacks budgeting and savings features
Customer support is relatively slow, although helpful
Curve Review 2020
Account opening and maintenance fee
Opening a Curve account and maintaining your account is free, with no monthly cost.
In the basic free plan, you will get your Curve Blue physical card delivered for free.
The fees for withdrawing money using your Curve card vary according to which of your underlying cards your Curve is linked to and whether you are making a domestic (same currency as your linked card) or foreign (different currency) withdrawal.
- For domestic ATM withdrawals, there are 10 free withdrawals per month, after which it costs €/£0.50 per transaction, if the underlying card is a debit card. If it is a credit card, it is only free up to £/€200 per month, 2% after.
- Foreign ATM withdrawals are free up to €/£200 per month, but it costs a minimum of £2 after that, or 2% of the transaction, whichever is higher. There is also a weekend exchange rate surcharge, which is 0.5% for conversions between GBP, USD and EUR, and 1.5% if it involves any other currency.
There are two other things to keep in mind when using your Curve card to withdraw cash. One is that these fees are the ones charged by Curve, and they come on top of any other fees linked to the underlying card by its original issuing bank. So e.g. if your credit card company charges a 4% fee for ATM withdrawals, you will likely still be charged this fee, regardless of whether Curve charges any additional fee or not. There is also a standard cash withdrawal limit of £200 per day at Curve.
Curve is a payment and ATM card only, you cannot send money with it, therefore transfer fees are not applicable.
Currency exchange fee
There is no currency exchange fee for spending with Curve in a currency other than that of your payment card for up to £500 per rolling 30-day period. However, above this limit the fee is 2%. There is also a weekend exchange rate surcharge, which is 0.5% for conversions between GBP, USD and EUR, and 1.5% if it involves any other currency.
There is no account to top up at Curve, so these fees are also not applicable. You can just use your normal cards through the Curve app.
Curve Review 2020
Curve vs. N26
ATM withdrawal fees (standard account)
10 free per month in own currency,
€/£200 /month free in other currency,
Free in own currency*
*depends on card type and residency
|International transfer fee||
International transfer exchange fee
Curve Review 2020
Curve account opening
Opening an account at Curve is quite easy: it takes only a few minutes to download the app and sign up for the service, and you will receive your physical card about a week later.
Curve is available for residents of the 31 countries of the European Economic Area, which are AT, BE, BG, CY, CZ, DE, DK, EE, ES, FI, FR, GB, GR, HR, HU, IE, IS, IT, LI, LT, LU, LV, MT, NL, NO, PL, PT, RO, SE, SI, SK.
Since Curve is not a bank, there is no Curve bank account set up, with its own international bank account number (IBAN). Therefore, there are no currencies to choose from for your account.
Instead, you will be able to link all your existing Mastercard and Visa bank cards in the Curve app to the Curve card (called Curve Blue in the free starter plan) in whatever currency these cards are in.
Curve currently supports cards in the following currencies:
GBP, EUR, USD, CNY, JPY, HKD, NZD, SEK, ZAR, NOK, BRL, CAD, ILS, CHF, SGD, INR, RUB, AUD, BGN, CZK, DKK, HRK, HUF, ISK, PLN, RON.
If you select a currency which isn't listed here, your card will be charged in GBP. You can also change the currency your card will be charged in to one from the above list at any time, although this may result in you being charged with additional foreign exchange fees by your bank.
Since there is no separate Curve account that holds money, there is nothing to top up. Just use the funds on your underlying debit or credit cards that are linked to the Curve card.
How Curve works
So how does Curve work, what happens when you link one of your bank cards to the Curve Card and make a purchase? Here are the basics.
- Your Curve Card is linked to an account which stores e-money (issued by Wirecard Card Solutions Ltd), and your payment cards are used to load this e-money account.
- When you use the Curve Card, what actually happens in the background is that you are purchasing e-money for the value of the transaction using your selected payment card.
- This e-money is loaded onto the account linked to your Curve Card and then immediately used to pay for the transaction.
- The transactions made by Curve on your card are classified as eCommerce (online) transactions, with "Curve" as the merchant. Transactions will appear on your statement as 'CRV - Merchant Name.'
- Your card issuer will also receive the MCC (merchant category code), so they can identify your spend categories, and they will also see if the transaction was a cash withdrawal.
- There is no direct arrangement between Curve and any of the issuers/banks, your relationship with your banks and credit card providers remains the same.
Curve is not a bank, and there is no Curve account where you need to load any of your own money to. Therefore, in one basic aspect, your money stays protected through the protection schemes of the banks where your money is actually held and whose cards you link to Curve. Curve does not store your card numbers in the app, your information is encrypted. It also does not share your information with retailers.
The Curve Card is issued by Wirecard Card Solutions Ltd, which also provides the related e-money services. This company is authorised by the UK's Financial Conduct Authority. Wirecard also has an EU-regulated and licensed bank called Wirecard Bank AG based in Germany.
Curve also provides customer protection on all purchases up to £100,000 and users are protected by Mastercard chargeback rights as well.
Curve cards overview
Curve cards are available from Mastercard.
Cards you can link to your Curve
You can add most Visa or MasterCard credit or debit cards to your Curve account. However, Curve does not support other cards like American Express, Maestro, Diners Club, JCB or UnionPay.
Curve also supports a selected list of prepaid cards, including ones from digital banks like Revolut, Monese and Starling.
Curve Premium account benefits
Curve comes with two premium tiers. The first is called Curve Black and it costs €/£9.99 per month. Benefits include using the Curve Cash rewards program, with 1% cashback from 3 selected retailers for an unlimited time, unlimited free foreign exchange spending, and a higher monthly limit of €/£400 on free foreign ATM withdrawals. Curve Black member also get worldwide travel and gadget insurance from AXA.
The higher tier, called Curve Metal, is available only for UK residents and costs £14.99 or £150 annually if paid in advance. The additional benefits here are a selection of 6 retailers for the rewards program, a €/£600 limit on free foreign ATM withdrawals, car rental insurance and access to some worldwide airport lounges at discount rates. Cardholders can also choose from three unique metal colors (Blue Steel, Rose Gold, and Limited Edition Red) for the physical metallic card.
Curve top-up methods
There is no separate Curve account that holds money, thus there is nothing to top up.
Curve Review 2020
Curve banking features
Since Curve is not a bank, but an app and a spending/ATM card that lets you handle all your cards in one place, it does not offer many banking features available at other digital banks, only some limited ones, although it is working on adding various features:
You can see your spending categorized by the type of transaction (e.g. shopping, restaurants).
Currently, you cannot send money to other Curve users instantly and for free or send money requests, but Curve is working on this feature (Curve Send) in beta.
You cannot set monthly budgets and spending goals, but Curve is working on linking your account to some budgeting tools.
You cannot set up Apple Pay or Google Pay, but Curve is also currently working on this development.
In many aspects, Curve lacks features that are common for its competitors:
Smart savings are not available, for example where your spending is rounded up and the difference stored as savings.
You cannot store savings separately for easier overview and management.
Direct debits are not supported.
3D Secure online payments are not supported.
Curve offers no interest on your savings.
Overdrafts are not possible.
Joint accounts are also not available.
Curve Review 2020
Curve additional features
While you can only use Curve through your mobile app and it is not available on a desktop computer as a website, it does offer several additional and unique features:
All your cards in one: the main advantage of Curve is that you can add many or all of your existing debit, credit or prepaid cards to the app, and leave them all at home and only use your Curve card. Before each transaction, you can switch in the app which underlying card is used.
Go Back in Time: another unique feature provided by Curve is that you can change which card was used for a transaction even after the fact. You can move transactions made using your Curve card from one funding card to another in your Curve app, for free, for any purchase under £1000, and for up to 14 days after it was made. E.g. if you decide that you want to put a purchase you made with a debit card on your credit card instead, you can do that.
Curve Cash rewards program: Curve also offers a rewards program, giving 1% cashback after purchases made with the Curve card at selected retailers. These funds are collected in a separate Curve Cash virtual card in your wallet in the app. To spend this money, just select this card before a purchase. The 1% cashback is available only for 3 months for Curve Blue card holders, who can select 3 retailers of their choice from the available partners. For premium clients, there is no time limit, and Curve Metal clients can select 6 retailers.
Linking to other tools: In addition to the Curve loyalty program, clients can also link their Curve accounts to the Xero small-business accounting tool. Curve is also working on adding new connections, such as other accounting, budgeting and expense-tracking tools.
Insurance: For Premium clients, Curve offers travel, electronic gadget and rental car insurance included free with their cards.
LoungeKey airport lounge access: for Curve Metal clients only, this allows access to hundreds of airport lounges around the world at discount prices.
Curve Review 2020
Curve customer service
You can contact Curve via:
Chat: You can send a message via the app or the website. We got a response with useful answers within a few hours.
Email: You can also send an email, although it runs on the same system as the app, i.e. we sent an email, and received the response via email and in the app chat as well.
Phone: There is only an emergency hotline to call in case you want to lock your lost or stolen card, and don't have access to the Curve app.
Curve also has a comprehensive Help Center and FAQ section on its website, and there is a useful Curve Community site where Curve users and team members provide information on current services and upcoming developments.
Customer service is not available 24/7.