What if you could get rid of the pain of managing both a debit and a credit card whilst travelling? You can do this with a Curve card.
But is a combined debit and credit card too good to be true?
Is it actually useful for travellers?
Lets find out.
Ultimate Travel Money Guide
We’ve compiled a whole load of comprehensive blogs focusing on travel money. What are the best travel debit and credit cards? How do I avoid money changer scams? What are these international bank fees I keep getting on my card whilst travelling? We are here to offer tips and guidance on managing your money whilst travelling.
In this blog we look at whether you really can have the best of both worlds – your credit and debit cards combined into one place!
Curve Card: The Best of Both Worlds?
Curve is a challenger bank which is app based, like Monzo or Starling.
A Debit And Credit Card In One
Curve lets you add all of your debit and credit cards to one account and gives you one card (a Mastercard debit) to use. You can then select which card you use each time you buy something or take out cash.
Go Back In Time
Like a card version of the film Back To The Future, you can even backdate this by 2 weeks if you accidentally put something on the wrong card or you are getting a little bit too close to your credit limit. This can be done with the ‘Go Back in Time’ feature.
Less Card Juggling
A Curve card means that you don’t have to carry all your cards around. Curve also makes things simpler. When you’re at the till paying, you don’t have to dig about in your wallet to find the right card which gives you a far better rate on purchases.
Although you’ll still want your other cards at least back at your hotel in case you lose your Curve card!
Curve Card Options
With Curve there are 3 account options:
- Blue: A free option
- Black: £9.99 per month
- Metal: £14.99 per month
Can I Get A Curve Card?
Curve is available to almost all European Economic Area (EEA) residents and they are looking at expanding this to Croatia, Greece, Cyprus and Slovakia this year.
Gambling, cryptocurrency trading and purchase of currency at foreign exchange bureaus are all prohibited when using Curve.
The Confusion With Curve Card Fees
Curve allows a certain amount of fee free purchases and withdrawals a month.
Fee Free Foreign Purchases (Up To A Point)
Foreign purchases are fee free (after the usual Mastercard mark-up) on Curve up to £500 per month. This is £15k and £60k for Black and Metal and 2% thereafter.
Fee Free Cash Withdrawals (Up To A Point)
Cash withdrawals are fee free (after the usual Mastercard mark-up) up to £200 per month. £400 and £600 for Black and Metal paid for accounts and 2% (or a minimum of £2) thereafter.
You get 10 free domestic ATM withdrawals per month, then you need to pay 50p for all others.
The Trouble With Weekends
There is a weekend mark-up of 0.5% if your underlying card currency is GBP, EUR or USD and up to 1.5% for others.
More Fees: Underlying Cards
The confusion comes in with your underlying cards e.g the cards you use with your Curve account.
The limits from your underlying cards and Curve are not added together. You will get the Curve limit (for all your underlying cards combined), but you will still be charged if you go over your underlying card limit but not your Curve limit.
For example the limit for HSBC is £0 for foreign transactions. So HSBC will still charge you a fee if you select their card to use abroad in the Curve app. If a credit card provider you use charges for cash withdrawals then this will still be charged when using Curve.
And using the ‘Go Back In Time’ feature can still cause you to be charged foreign transaction fees on your underlying cards.
The ‘Go Back In Time’ Feature
The ‘Go Back in Time’ feature can be pretty handy, but you may still incur fees on your underlying cards. It is only there because of the complexity in selecting the right active card underlying your Curve card in advance of your purchase.
Other Curve Features
There is 1% cashback for some retailers as an introductory offer. The paid for Curve accounts also offer features such as travel insurance, gadget insurance, car rental insurance and discounted lounge access. But, you will have to make your own judgement as to whether these are worthwhile for your needs.
With a Curve card you get the usual swanky features offered by app based banks, such as in-app chat support.
Traveller Nightmare: Up Sh*t Creek
Oops, you drank too much, partied the night away, stole a llama from the zoo, took it on a tram ride AND lost your Curve card.
Replacement Curve cards are free, but it looks like they are only posted to your home address. So if you are travelling you’ll have to beg a family member to send your card out to you!
Is My Money Safe?
Curve provides protection on your balances of up to £100k. You’ll need to read their T&Cs to see what situations this would kick in for.
Curve Card Verdict: The Best Of Both Worlds?
Should I get a Curve card? At first glance it sounds like a great idea.
But in my view, this just adds a layer of complexity as you have to select in advance what is your active card when making a purchase.
The ‘Go Back in Time’ feature, whilst helpful, can still mean you end up stuck with unexpected underlying fees.
Major Downside Of The Curve Card
If you have a number of different foreign fee free limits on your underlying cards and you only use Curve then you will lose the cumulative effect of these limits. This is pretty pants!
Let me explain. For example, you can use your Monzo card to withdraw up to £200, then you can use your Revolut card to do the same. If you just use the Curve card you will only get ONE £200 limit. Which if you go over, you could be paying 3% on Monzo plus 2% on Curve. This really increases the amount you end up paying.
The same is true when it comes to using your Curve card abroad at weekends, especially if the active underlying card is Revolut, which has weekend mark-ups. You’ll get hit with 2 underlying weekend mark-ups.
Other Cards Are Just Better
No card we looked at in our best travel credit and debit cards has a limit on fee free foreign purchases. But Curve does. The paid-for options also aren’t as good as other paid-for accounts.
I’d Only Recommend A Curve Card If…
I would only really consider this card if you really struggle to know what card to use when. But if this is you, then you may also lose track of the Curve plus underlying card limits and end up paying more in foreign transaction fees.
Sign Up To Curve
If the Curve card is of interest to you then find out more.
Explore More In Our Ultimate Travel Money Guide:
7 Travel Money Mistakes You Are Probably Making
Credit Card Or Debit Card: Which Should I Take Travelling?
Travel ATM Fees: Stop Wasting Money At Foreign ATMs
7 Fees Banks Charge You When Travelling (And How To Avoid Them!)
Best Travel Debit Card UK: Don’t Waste Money Whilst Abroad
5 Best Travel Credit Cards UK: Stop Throwing Your Money Down The Drain
Best Travel Debit and Credit Cards USA: Are You Focusing On The Wrong Thing?
A Debit Card & Credit Card Combined: Honest Review Of Curve Card
Travel Money: Are Credit Card Reward Schemes Worth It?
Be Travel Money Savvy: Pre-Paid Travel Cards and Travellers Cheques Aren’t Worth It
This post is up to date as of March 2019 and will be updated periodically. Always check with the companies mentioned below and keep an eye out for new ones I haven’t mentioned. I’ve mostly focused on the UK context. Feel free to get in touch with me if you have any tips from your country you would like me to include.
This is what I’ve found to be suitable for our needs. Yours may differ and so the Ultimate Travel Money Blogs can only be taken as a guide rather than constitute personalised financial advice. Please get in touch if you have any specific questions and I will do my best to answer them.
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