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Curve Card Review

Curve Card Review: The best Card To Rule Them All!

Last Updated on January 28, 2022 by Mr. FightToFIRE

My Curve Debit MasterCard is in my possession for over a month now, so I figured I’d share my experience with everyone having it used both in Belgium and abroad (in South America). Eventhough it’s only been 1 month, this card has been impressive, to say the least. Thanks to unique features and ease of use it’s a must-have for everyone!

Where does Curve come from? It’s a British company founded in 2015 by Shachar Bialick trying to simplify banking on a whole new level. Curve connects all your cards in one smart card and one smart app with an extra layer of goodness on top. This is only the start of their plan. Expect more to come in the future.

How to get started with the free Curve card

After I upgraded to Jade Green with Crypto.com, I decided to follow through on my own advice in the review I wrote and start using Curve. The process is straightforward and doesn’t take much time. Provide the basics KYC information and your card is on your way right away:

  1. Download the Curve app, and choose which card you want to order. There is a free card that’ll give you the basics and one month of 1% cashback!
  2. Add all your credit and debit Visa and MasterCards in the app so you never have to carry them physically. Don’t forget to choose a fallback option using the ‘Anti-Embarrassment Mode’. Go to ‘Account’ -> ‘Settings’ -> ‘Anti-Embarrassment Mode’ where you can choose up to two backups.
  3. Use the camera to scan and upload your card details (e.g. Belgian id) automatically or enter them manually.
  4. Activate your physical Curve Debit MasterCard in the app once you receive it. Go to the “Account” tab and tap “Activate your card”. You’ll be asked to enter the last 4 digits of your Curve card, and that’s it.
  5. Once you activated the Curve card (step 4) and added your other cards (step 2), you’re ready to pay. To choose which card you want to pay with, just swipe through your digital wallet in the app and tap the card you need. Then, you can use your Curve card like you would any other card in your wallet.
  6. You can go card-free by hooking up your Curve card to Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay. Any card you add to Curve will work with them, even if your bank doesn’t.
Curve tiers
You can get Curve for free and enjoy the major benefits for free. If you wish to get some other extras such as insurance you can opt for the higher tiers.

(First) Uses

Once received, the first thing I did was leave my Visa and Mastercards at home. It was one of the main perks: pay for everything with one card.

Except one. My crypto.com Jade Green card stayed in my cardholder. I’m abroad and the Crypto.com card itself has no exchange fees when purchasing goods in a foreign currency which is exceptional, I don’t know how long they will keep that up.

Having linked my cards, I was getting 1% Curve cash for purchases that I had to do anyway. My spending didn’t change, but I was now getting 1% Curve cash and crypto for doing groceries and the like.

At the moment I’m abroad and used the card till I reached the 200-pound exchange limit. It really served me well, as I had two occasions already where my crypto.com card got refused for some reason and once because I didn’t top it up enough.

Lots of support, but not all!

While doing step 2. when requesting the card, there are a few limitations to which cards you can add. All of your virtual or physical Visa, Mastercard, Diners Club, and Discover debit and credit cards can be added to Curve. But there is no support for American Express, Maestro, JCB, or UnionPay cards. It doesn’t matter if the card is virtual or physical.

American Express is a big one but apparently, Amex doesn’t want to hand over control of their user experience to another party.

Fees

As visible in the image above, there is a fee-free limit for each tier and above that, the fees are a market conform 2%. For reference, my Beobank Credit cards charge 2.10%.

Upgrading the card is needed if you want to make use of the perks such as lounge access increase your limits and thus have a lower chance of paying fees or want their travel and mobile insurances.

A deeper look at Curve’s main selling points

The Curve card has multiple selling points:

  1. Linking cards
  2. Back in time
  3. Anti-embarrassment mode
  4. Cashback (unlimited as of the second tier) and Curve Cash
  5. Tracking expenses

Each feature in itself is not always as useful, but you will see that combined they make Curve the perfect card to use on a daily basis.

Linking your cards with Curve

Probably the most unique feature of Curve is that you can use this card as your only card and still pay for expenses with other cards because of the

all your payment cards in one
On the main screen of Curve you see all your linked cards and the corresponding transactions.

linking. In practice, this truly is very useful at times, though not as much as Curve likes you to believe. The other features are arguably more useful although it is linked to this feature.

Back in time

Paid on the wrong card? No biggie just rewind. Switch payments from one card to another, up to 30 days after the payment was made up to €5,000! Simply tap the transaction you want to move, click “Go Back in Time” and swipe to the card you’d like to pay with instead. You just traveled back in time with your MasterCard!

Anti-embarrassment mode

Arguably the best feature with Curve is the fact that if you have a debit card -like a lot of crypto cards are- you don’t have to worry about having enough cash on your account. Curve will switch to your backup if that happens. You can then use the go back in time feature to still use your favorite crypto card to pay for the expenses you want to pay with them.

Cashback and Curve Cash

Curve cash on phone
With curve cash, you can pay for any transaction using your cashback.

This is a virtual card in the Curve app. Your balance is made up of money earned through cashback, promos, or referrals, and any money sent to you from other people on Curve. On rare occasions, Curve isn’t able to process a refund to your bank account, it’ll land in here where you can then spend it.

With Curve, you’ll earn 1% cash back for your first 30 days, and get regular one-off cashback offers of up to 20% from brands like Amazon Fresh, Just Eat, and many more. If you go premium, the cashback rewards are even better. Curve Black customers also get 1% cashback on three selected retailers for an unlimited time. And for Curve Metal customers, that doubles to 1% cashback on six retailers.

Tracking expenses

Less talked about but just as useful, seeing all of the expenses you made with the different cards you have linked. You have two tabs:

  1. Timeline
  2. Insights

Curve timeline will show you what you’ve spent when you’ve spent, and where you’ve spent it. You’ll get (optional) notifications every time you spend.

Insights gives you a breakdown overview per card and per category of your spending across all your cards on Curve.

Is the Curve Debit MasterCard worth it?

If you have multiple credit or debit cards, then this is your card as it effectively replaces a large part of your wallet.

On top of that, you get 1-month cash back welcome bonus on all your purchases, not just selected retailers.

Higher-level cards depend on your spending and if you will use the added extras. On top of that depending on which retailers you select and how frequently you use them, you can get your monthly fee back faster or slower. Besides the monetary benefit, there are a number of other benefits and downsides to point out as well.

Pros of the Curve Debit MasterCard Key points

  1. 1% cashback on all purchases for one month when you register above or go to their page.
  2. No hidden costs and high cashback. With a clear fee structure and only three tiers to choose from you won’t get lost in all of the extra terms and conditions.
  3. The app and exchange are user-friendly.
  4. Excellent exchange rates when traveling abroad and never any problems internationally. With a $200 limit for the free tier, you should be able to spend abroad fee-free for about two weeks.
  5. You only need one card to cover all your expenses. Thanks to the linking of your cards, if you reach the limit of one card, or you forgot to top up your crypto.Com card. you can easily switch cards or automatically get covered by the anti-embarrassment mode. You can add both virtual and physical cards of the major networks, the biggest exception being American Express.
  6. Customer protection up to £100,000. In case of a dispute, Curve will offer assistance to recuperate a bad transaction. There are of course limitations, but normal transactional issues are covered. You can find more info on their page.
  7. Go Back in Time: You can Move 30-day old payments, up to 5,000€ once. So if you really wanted to pay something with a specific card but you can’t in the moment, for whatever reason, you have 30 days to change that.

Cons of the Curve Debit MasterCard Key points

  1. Your purchase goes through Curve, so any insurance linked to your credit card(s) probably doesn’t apply. So if you buy plane tickets and have a dedicated credit card giving your miles, the best is to use that card directly.
  2. The limit of the free card is relatively low for the longer term. If you stay abroad longer than a week or two, the 200 fee-free limit won’t cut it.
  3. Cashback on the paid tiers is also rather limited. 1% itself is maybe ok, but it’s limited to specific retailers. This is probably done to accommodate the credit card networks (Visa and Mastercard).
  4. You STILL need a backup card (in Belgium) since not all stores accept MasterCard. A big one is Colruyt for example.
  5. Next to that, you also need a real credit card for cases where companies need to block an advance payment. Think rental companies and hotels.
  6. It’s a ‘start-up’. The structure and benefits can change rapidly as is evident from the Amex debacle.

Conclusion

How do I summarize my first month of usage?

While I haven’t used the Curve card that long, I enjoy it every day thanks to it being free. The first month was also exceptionally good thanks to the 1% cashback and the fee-free transactions costs while abroad. Because I have my crypto.com card that atm has unlimited free foreign transactions I use that instead of Curve. Once back home I’ll switch back.

As I’m not sure how many times I’ll be abroad per year, I’m not getting the next tier just yet, though I might in the future. It will depend on the new limitations crypto.com will definitely put in place later this year. Travel insurance is moot for me as I have dedicated travel insurance plus insurance on my FlyingBlue MasterCard.

With that all said, All in all, I’m a satisfied Curve Debit MasterCard and can recommend at least the free level to everyone.

Curve Black
€9.99month
Next up is the ‘premium’. The main differences from free are the 1% cashback from 3 select retail stores and better rates for transactions and withdrawals.

You now also get travel insurance. This may or may not be useful if you have a credit card that has this as well.

Get this card if you don’t have travel insurance. Though decent it’s not as good as those from a (paid) credit card or dedicated insurance.

Curve Metal
€14.99month
Unless you will really use all of the extra benefits of Curve metal, meaning you travel abroad frequently, it’s not interesting to get this tier. Other credit cards are more interesting.

I'm a developer for a major financial institution in Belgium that is present in over 40 countries. I have over 8 years of working experience in the development of customer applications focussing on all aspects of banking. This helped me gain a deep understanding of the inner workings of a commercial bank. All of this experience in both banking and life culminates in this blog about personal finance and my fight towards FIRE.

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