a credit card next to a piece of wood

From hobbyist to essential list, overnight…

It’s been called the “swiss army knife” of the banking industry – by us. And now, with today’s news, it may just be an essential part of every points obsessed travelers strategy. Curve card is the best not so secret trick to maximize points and eliminate idiotic fees while traveling, and today the card just took a major leap into the category of “essential” for UK travelers…

a colorful tiled rooftops with Park Güell in the backgroundWTF Is Curve?

Curve is an electronic payment card, which allows you to put all your Visa and Mastercard credit and debit cards onto one card, and use their easy app to switch between cards. Think of it like a wallet, with all your cards loaded onto one. In itself, this is a fun little party trick, but not all that useful unless your wallet is insanely large. What is useful however is that all Curve transactions are Mastercard debit transactions, so even if you’re really using a credit card, you’ll be able to use it, because it’s technically a debit card. It’s not as confusing as it sounds.

a credit card next to a piece of woodCurve Magic

Most points earning credit cards in the UK, such as the IHG Hotels Mastercard, or Virgin Atlantic Premium Mastercard charge 3% fees when you use them abroad. That just seems silly, and keeps people from ever actually using them. One of Curve’s most useful previous features was that you could use these cards abroad by loading them onto Curve, and pay just a 1% fee, rather than 3% fee, because Curve charges all transactions as if they’re local – rather than foreign. But now, the big news today is that Curve card is moving to 0% foreign transaction fees, so you can use credit cards that earn points abroad, without paying any foreign transaction fees whatsoever, even if the card would usually charge them!

If it’s not already abundantly clear: other UK cards offer no foreign exchange fees, but no other card than Curve offers no foreign exchange fees WITH the ability to earn points from a top UK points earning card that would charge foreign exchange fees. There’s no other way to earn Virgin, IHG, etc points via credit card spend abroad, without incurring fees. 

inside a plane with rows of seatsHow It Works

You load your credit card details into the Curve app. You then can select that card whenever you want to use your shiny black Curve card abroad. Like swiping on social media, you can switch between your linked cards in the app with a single tap. Whichever one is selected in the app is the one that will get charged when you swipe your Curve card.

Because Curve processes the transaction, it doesn’t trigger the 3% fee from your credit card, and allows you to earn points without incurring the pesky transaction fees. If you have the “free” Curve card, you can do £500 a month in 0% fee spending, after which you pay 2%. If you don’t already have Curve, promo code C5CFD will get you £5 off your first purchase made with the card. You can sign up here

If you go for the £50 a year Curve card, you can spend abroad with unlimited 0% foreign exchange. The “free” Curve card would allow you to earn at least 6,000 points per year abroad if you earned 1 point for every £1 spent, without any fees to earn the points, whereas the £50 version would allow for limitless points earning with 0% in foreign exchange fees. Without Curve, someone paying 3% foreign exchange fees would’ve paid £180 to earn those 6,000 points – which cuts into the whole “free trip” thing.  

a cellphone and a credit cardOther Uses

There are lots of things which make Curve intriguing to points hobbyists, like paying tax bills via the card to earn points from paying taxes! It’s not hard to see how lucrative that can be. You can learn about many of these here. With the move to offer 0% foreign exchange fees, this card now just is as a must for anyone who spends on a non Amex credit card to earn points, who also travels abroad. If you’re reading this, we’d have to assume that’s most of you…

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Very interesting…and appealing…development. Do you have any idea whether Curve will be offered in the U.S. any time soon?

  2. I’m pretty sure the black card is 1 time fee (no recurring charges), and the 1% cashback is only for select merchants within the first 3 months

    1. I didn’t say anything about cash back in the article. Merely that you can link cards that earn points, which depending on the card may offer better than 1% cash back rates.

  3. Bear in mind if you use curve and are a UK resident you are not
    Protected under sect 75 of the consumer act of those purchases go wrong or in the case of a shop going bust you wouldn’t get any money back.

  4. The curve debit card is not recognised as a debit card by every company.
    National lottery don’t recognise it as a debit card and neither does so expressly other site I tried to use recently.

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