The Curve card (and app) is one of my most used financial products, and I’ve wanted to put this review on paper for some time now.
I’ve been daily driving Curve for more than a year, and although my experience with it has been mostly positive, there were some hiccups along the way - things that could be better and things that could improve the overall user experience.
If you’re considering signing up with Curve, or just looking for some information on how to better use it and if the premium plans are worth it, then I’ve got just the thing for you - my full review of the Curve card, focused on my own personal experience using it.
The best, the worst, the stuff that matters most when integrating Curve into your financial life.
Let’s get this party going!
- What is Curve?
- Who are they (a touch of history)
- How safe is Curve?
- Curve products and features explained
- Pricing of their plans (free & premium)
- Does Curve have apps (which OSs, are they good)?
- Does Curve have Apple Pay / Google Pay integration?
- How is the customer support for Curve
- The Good
- The Bad (what they can improve on)
This should give you a comprehensive look at all things Curve - if you’re more interested in getting an answer to a question, feel free to skip directly to that section using the menu above.
What is Curve?
I always find it easier to just give you their own explanation of the service, and then expand on that by explaining in simpler terms what it actually means.
So here’s what Curve says about Curve: “Curve is an over-the-top banking platform, consolidating multiple cards and accounts into one smart card and app. The unique Curve card allows customers to supercharge their legacy banks to the 21st century without leaving their bank or topping up.”
What does this mean exactly?
Curve offers a card that aims to integrate all your cards into one. Instead of carrying a bunch of different debit and credit cards, you just add them in the Curve app, verify them, and then you can simply carry around the Curve card and have access to spending from any of your other bank cards.
That’s the main idea behind this fintech app - of course, there are many other features, which we’ll get into more detail in this review and explain how you can benefit from them, but this one card to rule them all idea is the foundation of Curve.
Don’t get me wrong, things like cashback, loyalty cards, free ATM cash withdrawals, Go Back In Time option, etc. are like icing on the cake and they enrich the whole experience of Curve - but the killer feature that drew me to this app was its card combining one, and I’d be happy just using that one.
I’m always looking to know a bit more about the companies behind the services I use, so let’s get a quick glimpse into how Curve got started.
Who are they (a touch of history)
Curve got founded in 2015 by Shachar Bialick, a former Israeli special forces soldier, born in Tel-Aviv - he’s also currently the company’s CEO.
“After leaving the army Shachar successfully founded and then sold a string of companies, including a door and windows business, and a recruitment firm. He also made time to get the top master of business administration qualification.” - BBC
Curve secured a seed funding of $2 million in December 2015 and followed with an open beta for iOS users in the "business community" in February 2016. It officially launched in Ireland, in January 2018.
Right now, Curve is live in 31 markets across the European Economic Area (EEA) and has offices in London, Bristol, Brooklyn, and Vilnius. They’ve got 2,000,000+ users, with 30k+ monthly added sign-ups.
Having started as a London-based company, after Brexit to continue serving EU customers they expanded to Vilnius (Lithuania), where they got their electronic money institution license, to use for all clients outside the UK.
All and all, a pretty normal path, from idea to raising financing to launch a product that works and solves an actual problem. They seem to be growing at a decent rate, and constantly expanding their market and product line.
But enough history, let’s get back to the present and see how they stack up when analyzed more closely.
This history bit is definitely the most boring part of the article, and if you’ve actually read it, wow, and congrats! Here’s a picture of a cute bunny as a reward:
How safe is Curve
In this section, I’ll show you all their security features, but also a quick summary of the controversies they’ve been touched by along their way (as any new startup has) - just to give you a fuller picture of Curve as a public company.
So, on the legal and regulatory side, this is how Curve operates:
“The Curve Card and e-money, related to cards issued in the UK, is issued by Curve OS Limited, authorized in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority to issue electronic money (firm reference number 900926). The Curve Card and e-money, related to cards issued in the EEA, is issued by Curve Europe UAB, authorized in Lithuania by the Bank of Lithuania (electronic money institution license No. 73 issued on 22 of October 2020).”
Obviously, they’ve got financial operating licenses for both UK and EU, so nothing out of the ordinary here.
What I find usually listed as a matter of concern (and this only applies to UK customers) is that Curve card purchases are not covered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act (which protects anything you buy over £100 with a credit card, in case the package goes missing or arrives broken, or the retailer you bought it from goes bankrupt before delivering it, stuff like that).
Curve card doesn’t fall under this protection mainly because they act as a middle-man between your bank (and your money) and the retailer you buy the product/service from.
However, Curve has got you covered here with their “Curve Customer Protection” feature, which basically means they’ll raise a dispute on your behalf if you have a problem with a purchase from a retailer (up to £100,000).
And since their card provider is Mastercard, you also have Mastercard chargeback rights (basically another layer of protection, in case your order goes missing or arrives damaged).
One other problem that Curve faced is their ongoing cat-and-mouse match with American Express. In short, they initially had support for Amex cards (from January 2019), then Amex blocked several thousand customers from using Curve's services that week; Curve was reported as trying to sue American Express on account of anti-competitive practices.
The result today is that Curve does not have support for American Express cards, and probably never will. So if that’s something that would affect your workflow, keep it in mind when considering Curve.
On a side note, this might also be one of the reasons for their delayed expansion into the US market, which they had planned since December 2018. They have renewed their US launch interest in the latest months, so we might see them this year expand into the American market.
Another controversy came in November of 2019 when “Business Insider reported that Curve had failed to disclose to crowdfund investors that just 14% of its customers were using Curve once a month or more. According to the article, only 72,000 of Curve's stated 500,000 customers were using its product even once a month.”
The Wirecard problem: when the card & payment solutions company Wirecard, which Curve had partnered with, went under, Curve services were affected, between 26 - 29 June of 2020. They moved their card issuing relationship to Mastercard and their e-money operations in-house.
There are growing pains with any startup, and Curve hasn’t been spared, but they also seem to have handled these issues and moved forward, so I feel we can give them a pass here.
Curve products and features explained
You probably understand by now the gist of how Curve works: they have a card attached to their app, and in the app you can add your other cards, condensing your whole financial accounts into one card.
That’s really the simplest way of explaining Curve’s focus, but they offer many other features that can benefit you, and in this section of the Curve review we’ll get into each one of these options, everything you get with a Curve account.
1. The Curve card
Their Mastercard-issued debit card is the pillar of the whole Curve experience. You sign-up for an account and then you can order the card to your desired address.
While your physical card is being delivered, Curve will issue you with a virtual one, in the app, so that you can start spending with it right away. Once the physical card arrives, you can activate it from the app and that’s the one you’ll be using from then on.
The card is sent free of charge, and keep in mind that your physical card will have a different CVC code and expiry date than the virtual one; so if you input the details of the virtual card somewhere (like ad it to your Amazon account or something), you’ll need to update that info once you receive and activate the Curve physical card.
To fund your Curve card, you’ll need to add & verify your other debit or credit cards, which is easy to do from the Curve app. After this, if you added multiple cards, you can select the one you want to be used as the source of funds by clicking on it in the app.
“This applies to any Visa or MasterCard debit or credit card you may own. However, if you use an American Express, Maestro, Diners Club, JCB, or UnionPay card, Curve will unfortunately not support it.”
Each time you add a card, you will have to verify it, which involves Curve charging and then refunding a small amount.
Once you have multiple cards added, you can swap anytime the source of your funds when you want to pay for something (and even go back and change the source of funds, with a “Go Back In Time” feature from Curve, which we’ll detail a bit further down).
There are a few ways you can use to personalize your linked cards: you have the option to change their card image, their name, and their currency. This last one is especially useful, if you know exactly your card’s currency and want to avoid being asked when paying at a POS which currency you prefer, the local or your bank’s.
2. Curve Cash card
This card is a virtual one you have in your Curve app, and it’s funded by your cashbacks, promos, referrals, or money other people using Curve send to you. Once you accumulate some money in here, these funds are used automagically by Curve to pay for purchases.
The trick is that the purchase amount has to be smaller or equal to the amount you have in your Curve cash account. You can’t use this cash for the partial payment towards a purchase, with the rest being paid with another linked card, it just doesn’t work that way.
3. Curve Cashback rewards
The cashback you can get by using Curve is one of its main selling points. You can get 1% back from the amount of your purchases, the period of time, and retailers available for cashback varies between Curve’s pricing plans.
Curve has 3 pricing plans (which we’ll talk about in more detail later): Curve Standard (which is free), Curve Black (9.99€/month), and Curve Metal (14.99€/month).
For the premium plans, the way cashback works is pretty simple: with Curve Black, you get 1% cashback for 3 selected retailers (unlimited time), and with Curve Metal you get 1% cashback for 6 selected retailers (unlimited time). Keep in mind that once you confirm your choice of retailers, you won’t be able to change them (which kind of sucks and I hope they’ll reconsider this in the future).
As far as the Curve Standard free plan goes, they seem to keep changing the cashback option. When I first signed up, a few months ago, they gave me 1% cashback on 3 retailers of my choice, for a limited time (I think it was 3 months, but I honestly cannot remember exactly).
The current Curve Standard cashback option, for customers who signed up on or after 28.06.2021, is an introductory 30-day Welcome Cashback offer of 1% on (almost) all transactions. After this period, if you want to still enjoy these cashback perks, you need to sign up for one of their paid plans.
In my experience, this Curve cashback worked perfectly - one of my retailers of choice was Amazon, and I got 1% back with no hitch, for all purchases made in the eligible period. Occasionally I would pay for something small with my Curve card, and get that satisfying notification of paying for it with free money, that is the funds accumulated in my Curve cash account.
With European cards rarely offering a cashback feature on purchases, Curve really has a chance here to carve out a good piece of the market with this option.
And best of all: this Curve cashback work on top of any other cashback option you might have from your linked cards in the app. For example, at times I use a Wirex card, connected to Curve, which also has a cashback option. And this way I get cashback from both these cards, for the same purchase. Pretty sweet deal, if you ask me!
As far as the choice of retailers, there’s a pretty comprehensive list available (you can check it out on their website) and I think they’re constantly working to expand it.
But even now, there’s a pretty good chance you can find your favorite ones there and pick them for that 1% cashback on purchases.
4. Anti-Embarrassment Mode
A fancy name for a simple feature: essentially, you can choose in the Curve app a backup card, to be used in the event your main, selected one, fails during a transaction. This way, you’ll get no more rejected transactions, as the backup one is automatically used in such a situation.
Seems like a small feature, but it’s something almost impossible to replicate by other banking cards & apps since they don’t usually have access to your other cards or accounts.
5. Loyalty Cards
Alongside your other cards (cash card & link local cards), Curve also lets you add your various loyalty cards and have them easily accessible within the app.
You can choose from a list of available retailers and scan your loyalty card. If the retailer you’re looking for isn’t in the list (as was the case with Carrefour, when I tried adding my card) you can simply click “add a different card” and scan or input the card number manually, choose a name for it and you’re good to go.
From the loyalty cards I use, Ikea was listed as a retailer in the app, and the Carrefour one I had to add manually, but in the end, they both work as intended. Nice little way to clear out your wallet or use one less app (I used to have all my loyalty cards in an app called Stocard, but since I got Curve I switched the cards and put them in their app).
6. Go Back in Time
Now, this is another feature that only Curve seems to be able to implement, due to its unique nature in the financial field of apps: the ability to switch payments from one card to another, up to 30 days after the payment was made (up to 5,000€).
If you paid with the wrong card, or simply realize that you’d prefer to use the funds from a different card after you already made a purchase, this Back In Time option becomes really useful.
This is how it works: each transaction has this back in time feature on its details page, you can click it, choose a different card for it and the transaction gets charged on the new one. The transaction from the initial card gets refunded and you get those funds back in your account.
Mind you, this refund isn’t instant and when I’ve used the feature it took a few hours to see it on my card, but it can also take up to a few days to see the refund processed. But in my experience, it worked as advertised.
This is another cool feature that you’re probably not gonna use daily, but that can be a lifesaver in certain situations (think xxx subscriptions that get charged to the wrong card *wink *wink).
7. Curve Fronted
This is mostly interesting for UK customers, and it basically offers the ability to pay your UK taxes or credit card bills with another credit card. This feature incurs a 1.5% fee per transaction for Curve Standard and Curve Black customers, and it’s free for Curve Metal clients.
If you’re someone who needs this, it can actually make a lot of sense and help you maximize your Curve rewards, but for someone like me, who doesn’t live in the UK, it’s probably something I won’t ever need for.
8. Curve Flex
This is a recently added feature (launched in September 2021), and it's pretty cool on its own: leveraging the Go Back In Time function of Curve, it lets you "convert almost any purchase made on any card linked to the Curve platform in the past 12-months into an installment plan". It works for almost any purchase made at any merchant, from any card, up to a year ago.
In essence, you can go back and look through your transactions, pick a substantial one, choose the number of installments (3, 6, 9, or 12 monthly installments) and that's it! Curve refunds you the original amount paid and you have access to that money right away.
The first installment payment is due in 30 days, and Curve Flex also gives you 7 extra days to pay – no fees added.
This essentially turns the Curve card into a credit card, with powers beyond the normal credit cards, since it allows for past purchases to be also split into installments.
9. And all the other cool stuff
⁃ Fair exchange rates: Curve says their foreign exchange rate typically offers a lower markup than the big banks (up to 500€/month for the Curve Standard free plan, unlimited access for the other premium plans)
⁃ Free ATM cash withdrawals: the sum here differs with the Curve plan you’re on (Curve Standard gets 200€/month, while Curve Black and Metal customers get 400 and 600€/month, respectively). For ATM withdrawals, keep in mind that the Curve fees are added on top of your card fees if you have any for withdrawals.
⁃ Spending insights: see what you’re spending on your accounts at once with Curve insights. Nothing special here, most banks and fintech apps offer this. The advantage Curve has is that you can see the spending centralized for all your cards & bank accounts that you have linked in the app, so you get a much better overview of your financial habits.
Speaking of spending insights:
“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.” - this is great since I can still track and analyze my expenses in the Revolut app, as my Revolut card is my daily driver right now.
The Curve features and products I’ve detailed here are all available for both free and paying customers, but there’s also some stuff only available for the premium plans.
Let’s take a look at those plans and see if they can benefit you more than the basic Curve Standard one.
Pricing of their plans (free & premium)
Curve offers 3 tiers for their customer accounts: Curve Standard (which is FREE), Curve Black (which is 9.99€/month), and Curve Metal (costing 14.99€/month).
Naturally, the premium plans offer a wider variety of features, here's a visual comparison between them:
As you can see, one of Curve’s main features, the cashback on purchases, looks very different based on what your customer plan is.
It’s the same percentage of 1% cashback across the board, but the way you get it differs: the free Standard plan gets you only a time-limited taste of cashback, while the premium plans give a choice of 3 (for Curve Black) or 6 retailers (for Curve Metal), for as long as you are a paying customer on these plans.
Two other areas where the plans have different amounts of the perk are the exchange rates and free ATM withdrawals. From 500€/month to unlimited for great exchange rates, and from 200 to 600€/month for the free ATM withdrawals.
The two paid plans also come with worldwide travel insurance, and the top Metal card also gets things like mobile phone insurance, worldwide airport LoungeKey access, rental car collision waiver insurance and, of course, its premium metal debit card.
Are the Curve paid plans worth it?
Now, this here is more of a personal choice question, where the answer lies within your own financial life.
Do you use your cards a lot in a different country, paying in a different currency? Then the paid plans help you here, with their access to unlimited great exchange rates.
Do you need to withdraw a lot of cash each month? Then maybe you can benefit from the higher free withdrawal limits, offered by the premium Curve cards.
You probably don’t need all the extra stuff that the Metal plan exclusively has, but if among them there are things you regularly use (maybe you’re a frequent flyer and access to an airport lounge is high on your list), then paying for Metal might make sense for you.
Personally, for me the key difference between the plans boils down to the cashback option: I have the Standard card now, it’s free and it gives me 1% on my chosen retailers. I buy a lot of the stuff I need on Amazon, and being able to get some of that money back is pretty sweet. But it’s time-limited and will soon end for my free plan.
So, how would I go about figuring out if I want to pay for the Curve premium plans?
First of all, take a good look at the list of retailers available for cashback and see if they're ones that you use in there. Then pick your top 3 (or 6) and calculate on average how much you spend at those retailers each month. Then do some more math and see what 1% of that total sum is.
If that 1% is more than what you would pay for a Curve Black or Curve Metal plan, there you have it! That’s your answer, it makes sense to upgrade and get the difference between that sum and the price of the plan back. Obviously, alongside the other premium perks offered by those plans.
If the number you come up with doesn’t get higher than the price of the premium plans then just stick with the Curve Standard free plan. Enjoy the limited cashback, and afterward just use the other Curve features, like their main one that helps you get rid of the rest of your credit and debit cards and carry only one. The Curve card.
Does Curve have apps (which operating systems, are they any good)?
The Curve app is currently available across three major platforms: App Store, Google Play Store and HUAWEI AppGallery. So both iOS and Android users are covered here.
In terms of the quality of the apps, I think the Curve app is pretty good. I’m only talking here about the iOS one, as the phone I use is an iPhone, but I see the Android one has a 4.4 rating in the Playstore, so it’s probably on par with the iOS version.
If I were to be nitpicking here, I’d just list a design thing that rattles my OCD when starting the iOS app:
Why, oh why, can’t they just center that text? Or do something with those dots for the PIN code. It just seems…unfinished, and a UI faux-pas. But hey, maybe that’s just me.
Other than that, the app offers easy access to all the Curve features, it’s intuitive enough that you can discover pretty much everything by clicking around in it, and gets constant updates, which is always a good sign.
Does Curve have Apple Pay / Google Pay integration?
In short, YES! The Curve card works with Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.
To be honest, I haven’t used a physical card for paying for a few years now, I just use Apple Pay on my phone and watch, so Apple Pay support is the one thing I look for in any card or financial app I sign up for. And now, using my Curve app, I can pretty much add any card here and use it in my normal payment flow, without a hitch.
As a side note, it always makes me crack a smile when I see all these fintech apps coming up with newer, fancier, cooler designs for their debit cards, every month almost.
Case in point: these Revolut cards, with whale and lambo; look, I get it, it’s another marketing weapon, another content provider thing. But come one, let’s actually focus on something useful.
I keep all these physical cards in a cardholder, all stacked together, until they expire, and just use them in Apple Pay (and Curve, when needed), so these designs don’t actually do anything for me.
But I digress.
One point to also add to the scoreboard is the Samsung Pay integration. Most fintech cards focus on Apple Pay and Google Pay solutions, but Curve went above and beyond here.
They also offer smartwatch integrations, with FitBit, Garmin, or Sony Wena. Pretty cool stuff!
Needless to say, you should be well covered by Curve regardless of the payment ecosystem you live in.
How is the customer support for Curve
As far as offered support options, Curve has its customers pretty well covered. There’s the support chat option in the app, and you can also submit a request for any issue you might encounter; there’s a comprehensive Help section with FAQs, and there’s also a community forum.
They've got a Twitter handle, @AskCurve dedicated to Customer Support queries, and @ImagineCurve (their main Twitter account), and you can also interact with Curve staff over on their Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook profiles.
I’ve had some experience with the Curve support team, trying to solve issues I’ve had with the app, and they seemed knowledgeable and pretty fast to respond to my queries.
To name just a few issues and how they were handled:
Issue No 1: Cashback is not instant, takes a few minutes to show in the app.
I thought it was instant at first and that it didn’t work, I even created a ticket to support to ask about it. By the time they got back to me, which was pretty fast, like 1 day, this was already solved. Side note here, this cashback delay should be featured more prominently on the website.
Issue No 2: Getting a card declined error when paying with the card at Amazon.
I had put in my virtual Curve card details on my Amazon account, purchases went without a problem, but when my Curve physical card finally arrived, I tried using it and it got constantly rejected by Amazon. I contacted support, and this was the apparent culprit:
Yup, the expiry date on the card was wrong. They solved pretty fast, issued me with a new card which arrived a few days later and I had no problem using it on Amazon. So, five stars here for the problem-solving skills!
Issue No 3: Not receiving the verification code for adding the card to Apple Pay.
This is something that happened for my second physical card when it arrived. The Apple Pay integration worked perfectly with the virtual card, but when I switched to the physical one, there was a step where Apple Pay was requesting a code sent by message for verifying the card, a code which I never received.
This also got resolved by Curve support, and I was able to add & verify the card in Apple Pay afterward.
These are the only issues I had with Curve, and the interactions with their Customer Care team were very good, they actually solved the problems speedily. So, I would give their support team-high marks, based on my own interactions with them.
The Good Stuff about Curve
There’s a lot of cool stuff that Curve brings to the table, and theirs is definitely a different spin on the topic of fintech apps.
Almost all these new financial apps basically ring the same bell: multiple currency accounts, decent exchange rates, analytics, managing your card on your mobile, and so on. Just a play on the weaknesses of the traditional banking system.
Curve has carved itself a special niche inside this field of fintech apps: they’re not a virtual bank, they’re an aggregator of banking services. They don’t offer bank accounts and IBANs, just an e-money account linked to your previous banking accounts & cards.
So far, seems like the only startup (or the best-known one) that has taken this route, and it’s working well for them.
Among their features, a few stand out, things that made me sign-up for a Curve card, which makes the most sense for my own finances. Here’s my top 3:
1. The one card to include all my cards
That’s pretty obvious, but it’s such a delight to compress all your cards into one (especially if you have a ton of them). No more carrying them around, no more adding a multitude of them to Apple Pay, keeping track of expenses and analytics on each one of them, in their own apps. Poof! All those struggles were gone, replaced by one app connected to one card, added to Apple Pay. Simple, minimal, the stuff of financial dreams.
2. Enables Apple Pay for non-Apple Pay cards
As I’ve mentioned before, I have a few cards which are not Apple Pay supported, and Curve made it very easy to use them with Apple Pay (I’m talking about my Wirex, Nuri and Crypto.com debit cards). Cannot overestimate how much this solution has helped with having a more organized financial routine.
3. That 1% of sweet, sweet cashback
Not many cards on the European market have this cashback option and most of the ones that do have it give you that cashback in cryptocurrency (like Wirex or Crypto.com). Curve gives you back that cash in traditional, fiat currency (in British pounds).
Now, I know that it’s time-limited for the free plan, but think of it as a free trial: you can test it, see in the app's analytics how much you get back from your purchases each month, and if it makes sense for you just pull the trigger and go for one of the paid plans. It’s that simple of a decision.
A special mention here for a feature I’ve never seen elsewhere, the Go Back In Time feature, that lets you change the source of funds after the purchase. This is such a clever trick, and the only reason I’m not ranking it higher is that I don’t see myself using it that often. But it’s definitely something nice to have.
The Bad things about Curve
Look, I always have this section in my reviews because there’s always stuff that goes wrong in their usage, or stuff that doesn’t work well enough. But in this case, to be honest, there’s nothing inherently negative I can say about Curve. So let’s turn this into something a bit different:
Stuff that Curve can improve on:
⁃ In the section about their customer support I’ve mentioned some issues that arose and got solved by Curve. The good thing is the speedy and helpful support. The thing that could be improved is lowering the number of issues. I’ve only been a client for like half a year, and still experienced several issues that is kind of high for such a short period. Curve should improve its internal systems and procedures, to avoid these issues from happening in the first place.
⁃ Give me back cashback in EUR, not Pounds - look, I get it, Curve’s a British company, but since all my accounts are in EUR, all my spending is in EUR, why not have my Curve Cash account also in EUR, and avoid the constant currency exchange when paying with it? Seems to me like something they can introduce in the future.
⁃ Give some sort of cashback on the free Curve Standard plan, for an unlimited period - I get that they’re trying to have you sign up for the higher tier plans, but other cashback cards providers manage somehow to also give something back on the free plan (again, like Wirex or Crypto.com). I’d say a 0,5% on one retailer should do it, or something similar.
I’m gonna come right out and say it: I’m a fan of the Curve card. It has a unique take on the fintech genre, and it’s genuinely useful for getting rid of the clutter that can become your daily financial life.
I’m using my Curve card every day, basically, all my purchases run through their system, and are funded by my other cards, which I can rotate as a money source in whatever way I might need.
The cashback is a real perk, and I’ll probably upgrade to the Curve Black tier once my cashback period on the Standard plan ends. Hello, Amazon Prime day!
And I’d love to hear how you use it if you do end up as a Curve customer!