2021 Review: Curve Card – Connect Your Payment Cards
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The Curve card connects your credit and debit cards to a single physical card. It has some useful features, like Go Back in Time, anti-embarrassment mode, and no foreign transaction fee, but in most cases a mobile wallet would probably be quicker and easier.
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Our Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars
We give the Curve Card 4 out of 5 Stars. It has some handy features that can be extended to your connected cards, but for many people a mobile wallet will serve just as well or better.
Why We Like It
- Connects your payment cards in one place — useful if you have a lot of cards you don’t want to carry around
- No foreign transaction fee, so your connected cards effectively have no foreign transaction fees — extending the reach of basic cash back credit cards
- Contactless technology, so your connected cards effectively become contactless
- Go-Back-In-Time feature lets you pay with a different card for past purchases
- Anti-embarrassment mode helps prevent declines
- Allows you to add cards to mobile wallets when you otherwise wouldn’t be able to
- Eligible Curve users earn some extra cash back on top of credit card rewards, for a limited time
Why It Could Be Better
- Connects all your payment cards in one place — if you rely solely on the Curve card and it fails, you’re left without a payment option
- Currently only allows you to connect Visa, Mastercard, and Discover cards — not American Express
- This is a credit card, so it requires a credit application/hard inquiry
- It may not provide much value for the trouble, for most people — it might just mean more work for some purchases
There have been several attempts to get U.S. consumers to use all-in-one cards — Coin, Fuze, Plastc, Stratos, etc. They promised to simplify your life by consolidating all your bank cards in one easy-to-use package. But most people have never heard of them, and that’s telling. Most people don’t need or want another card to manage their cards, it seems.
But now it’s Curve’s turn to give it a shot. Curve, a London-based fintech, has seen quite a bit of success in the U.K. After recently securing $95 million in investments, it wants to bring the Curve card to the U.S. and other countries.
Connect your payment cards in the Curve app, and select the card you want to use. Then pay with the Curve card, and your chosen payment card will be used for the purchase.
You could argue that an all-in-one card made of plastic is behind the times, now that mobile wallets, which give you access to all your cards for quick payments, are common. But there’s no denying that Curve offers some interesting features, and there are several situations where the Curve card could definitely be useful.
- You make purchases in foreign currency, but all your best credit cards have foreign transaction fees (perhaps the best reason to get a Curve card).
- You’re the type of person who often pays with the wrong card (missing out on rewards, credits, etc.).
- You carry a minimalist wallet and you need to cut down on the number of cards you carry.
- You don’t use a mobile wallet, or your cards can’t be added to one (we recommend using one if possible).
So, would a Curve card work for you? Would it save time and hassle, or is it more trouble than it’s worth?Read more Mobile Wallets vs. Digital Wallets: What’s the Difference?
- Go Back in Time: Allows you to switch the payment card for purchases made in the last 30 days. If you paid with the wrong card, you can fix it.
- Anti-embarrassment mode: If your primary connected card is declined for a purchase, Curve will try your selected backup.
- No foreign transaction fee: Curve doesn’t charge extra for purchases in foreign currency. So, your connected cards effectively have no foreign transaction fees, either.
- Contactless: Contactless cards allow you to tap to pay at eligible terminals; Curve gives you a way to make contactless payments with cards that don’t feature this tech.
- Mobile wallet acceptance: The Curve card can be added to mobile wallets — Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay.
- Spend monitoring features: See an overview of your spending with connected cards.
- Bonus cash back: Beta users who joined the waitlist will earn 1% cash back on eligible purchases for the first six months. Users who were in the top 100 of the waitlist on 9/6/21 will earn 10% cash back instead.
How Does the Curve Card Work?
The Curve card isn’t available in the U.S. yet, and neither are full details about the card features and terms.
What kinds of cards can be connected to Curve?
As of September 2021, Curve says you’ll be able to connect Visa, Mastercard, and Discover cards. It appears to support credit cards, debit cards, and prepaid cards. Curve will need to support American Express cards before it can claim to be a true all-in-one payment solution in the U.S.
Does Curve make card payments quicker and easier?
“Oh crap, I forgot to switch my card,” you say to yourself, reaching the head of the checkout line.
How long will it take to pick the right card in the Curve app? You could always pay with the wrong card, and then use Go Back in Time to change it later, if you remember (Curve provides a solution to a problem it helps create). But would it be easier to just carry a few different cards, and grab the one you want, instead of taking out your phone and then the Curve card? And if you’re taking out your phone anyway, why not just use a mobile wallet and skip a few steps?
Will you still earn regular credit card rewards?
Curve says you’ll earn regular credit card rewards from your connected cards, just like you always do. So if you pay for a direct hotel booking with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (Review), for example, you should still earn 2X points per dollar.
Does the Curve card offer rewards?
Not usually, but Curve is offering 1% bonus cash back on eligible purchases for beta users for the first six months of card membership. That’s on top of any regular points or cash back you’d earn from reward credit cards.
If you happened to be in the top 100 of the waitlist on September 6, 2021, at 11:59pm EDT, you’ll earn 10% back from the Curve card for the first six months instead. You can check your position on the waitlist on Curve’s site.
After that, and for other users, the Curve card does not provide rewards. The U.K. version of the Curve card does earn rewards in some cases, including on retailer-specific offers, so perhaps the U.S. version will too, eventually.
Does the Curve card require a credit check?
Previously, it looked like the U.S. version of the Curve card would be a debit card. But now it appears to be a credit card, which will require a credit check. Read the terms carefully, especially if you thought you’d just be applying for a debit card.
Mobile wallets vs. Curve — which is better?
Mobile wallets, like Apple Pay and Google Pay, allow you to store payment cards from every network, along with certain membership/loyalty cards. Payments with mobile wallets are fast and easy, with relatively good security. It only takes a few seconds to grab your phone, tap, and be on your way.
But what about Curve? It doesn’t currently work with Amex cards.
When it comes to speed, if the card you want to pay with is already active, it’ll take just as long as any other physical card transaction. If you need to switch cards in the Curve app, that’ll add some undetermined amount of time, depending on your phone and your phone skills. The Curve card is chip-enabled so it has good security (as good as any other EMV chip card), although not quite as good as a mobile wallet, which adds an extra layer of protection.
Unless you need a specific Curve feature, for most contactless purchases, for most people, a mobile wallet is probably the way to go.
How Does the U.K. Version of the Curve Card Work?
Most of the features and terms of the U.S. version of the Curve card also apply to the U.K. version. The main difference is that there seems to be only one Curve card in the U.S., while the U.K. has three Curve card tiers. Those U.K. cards also provide cash back in some cases, fair exchange rates, and fee-free ATM withdrawals:
- Curve Blue: Free; Up to 500€/month in fair exchange rates; Up to 500€/month of fee-free ATM withdrawals
- Curve Black: 9.99€/month; 1% cash back at three selected retailers; Unlimited access to fair exchange rates; Up to 400€/month of fee-free ATM withdrawals; Travel Insurance
- Curve Metal: 14.99€/month; 1% cash back at six selected retailers; Unlimited access to fair exchange rates; Up to 600€/month of fee-free ATM withdrawals; More shopping and travel protections; Metal card
The U.K. cards allow free peer-to-peer payments between Curve customers. The company is also branching out into lending in the U.K., allowing customers to join a waitlist for Curve Credit.
Does the Curve Card Solve a Real Problem?
The average American consumer has nearly four credit cards. Some people have more, of course, but does the average person need yet another card and app to manage his or her four cards?
Putting aside the card consolidation, consider the checkout lane. That’s where the real action happens. Using Curve could be more cumbersome than just using a regular card. And how does it compare to the few seconds it takes to pay with a secure mobile wallet? Do you want to rely on just one card and company when you go out, or would you want a backup card for your Curve, which starts to defeat the purpose?
But some people could find a lot of value in Curve. Perhaps you like the idea of an app to manage your cards, letting you pay with one card and one number everywhere, and coordinating the details on your phone. The Go Back in Time feature could definitely come in useful now and then, as could the anti-embarrassment mode, but they probably aren’t good enough reasons to get the card on their own (unless those problems are always happening to you).
Or maybe some of the situations outlined above appeal to you. If you don’t have a travel card with no foreign transaction fee, Curve can help by turning any card into a nice traveling companion. This may be Curve’s most valuable feature.
And, although this is uncommon, if your regular payment card can’t be added to mobile wallets, Curve gives you a way around that.
How Do I Apply for the Curve Card?
You can’t yet apply for the Curve card, but you can join the waitlist on Curve’s site.
What Credit Scores Do I Need To Qualify for the Curve Card?
As of September 2021, we have no information about which credit score range the Curve card is designed for. We suspect it’ll accept people in the fair credit range (FICO score of 580–669).
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Curve card available in the U.S.?
The Curve card is not yet available in the U.S., although you can join a waitlist. Curve is currently available in the U.K.
Is the Curve card legit?
Yes, the Curve card is a legitimate product, although information about it is currently limited. It’s not a scam.
Learn how to protect yourself from credit card scams and fraud.
Is the Curve card a bank?
No, Curve itself is not a bank or card issuer. Curve works with an issuing bank — a lender — which is not yet disclosed. If you apply for a Curve card, you’ll be applying with that lender, not Curve.
Is the Curve card free?
The Curve card has no foreign transaction fee. But it’s not a typical credit card, and it’s currently unclear if there are any other potential fees, like an annual fee.
Brendan has been writing about personal finance for over eight years, and is now taking on the challenge of bringing high-quality credit education to the masses. He makes sure that Credit Card Insider is covering the most important credit topics transparently and precisely, and that we have up-to-date reviews of credit cards so you can find cards that are right for you.
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