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AVOID Charges On Your Travel Money With One Easy Solution

Save money overseas with the Curve card

The new way to save on your travel money

The Curve Card is a new generation way to make handling overseas payments better value.

Use it instead of your credit or debit card and save on transaction fees applied when overseas. Who hasn’t come back from vacation to discover statements peppered with charges for overseas transactions? Those £1.25 fees and 2.99% charges soon add up and honestly, don’t you find them really bloody annoying?!

So how does it work?

You simply connect it to your existing credit and debit cards and then pay for overseas transactions with the Curve card instead. Payments appear on your normal bank or credit card statement but without paying the usual overseas fee. In effect the card is tricking your bank or credit card company into believing the payment took place in the UK.

You can see a convenient summary of payments on the online app and you still earn any airmiles you would have earned had you used the relevant card itself. Using the Curve Card also has no impact on your credit card insurance which continues to apply.

You can connect an unlimited number of cards and then only need to carry the Curve card (perhaps with one back up just in case!) meaning your plastic is more secure.

When you add each card, you can pick the design to make it easy to find the card you want to use. You may find that the skin it automatically applies is not correct and if so you can change the card image by tapping on the card in your app. Select ‘i’ and then ‘edit’, tap on the card itself and it asks if you’d like to change the image. You can then select from a variety of images to avoid any confusion when deciding which linked account to charge to.

Why bother when my bank doesn’t levy overseas charges?

Now I appreciate some of you may well have one of the Santander or HSBC cards that allow you to make overseas payments without fees but the downside to these is that you miss out on those ever so valuable airline or hotel rewards that we love to earn in exchange for using a credit card.

With the Curve Card, you truly can have your cake and eat it.

Lemon meringue cake

Which cards can I connect?

In a sorry turn of events, AMEX withdrew from working with Curve (for reasons unknown!) but you can add MasterCard or Visa cards to the account and all payments are converted using the Mastercard exchange rate.

You can also connect the card to your Paypal account but cannot use it with Apple Pay (yet!).

How do I use it?

When you come to withdraw money or make a purchase overseas, you simply present your Curve card instead of your normal credit card. The payment will be billed to your linked credit card account in real-time avoiding many typical overseas charges.

It works the same as your usual cards with chip and pin or Contactless and, if you hate the PIN number provided, just pop to the bank and change it in the usual way.

I used both Contactless and an ATM to change my pin in Romania and everything worked fine. I also didn’t experience any issues with payments being declined which I did occasionally with the Supercard.

What are the charges?

You don’t avoid all charges with the Curve card but you sure avoid most of them so here are the typical charges which apply to a number of payment methods and a comparison with the Curve card.

Payment Options Fixed Fees % Fee Total costs Fees as % of amount
Santander cash withdrawal £7.50 2.75% £21.25 4.25%
Santander debit card purchase £1.25 2.75% £15.00 3%
Miles and More credit card cash withdrawal £5.00 2.99% £19.95 3.99%
Miles and More credit card purchase £0 2.99% £14.95 2.99%
Curve card ATM Withdrawal £2 + 2% on the excess over £200 a month 1.00%  £13.00 2.6%
Curve card purchase £0 1.00% £5 1.00%
Supercard ATM Withdrawal £0 2.99%  £14.95 2.99%
Supercard purchase £0 £0 £0 0.00%

*Based on £500 withdrawal or purchase for all transactions as at 19th September 2016.

Watch to find out more about Curve

Here’s a few other things you need to know about the charges on the card too.

Feature Curve Card
Charges for use in the UK Free cash withdrawals
Card Fee A one-off fee of £35 for the Blue card and £75 for the Black card. The only difference is that the rewards program (soon to be launched) is slightly more attractive on the Black card.
Refer a friend You can sign up using Promo code 7BF5Y and earn a credit of £10*. You will then be able to earn a referral bonus of £10 for anyone that signs up using your Promo code.
Eligibility Curve is currently targeted at the business market and you will be asked to confirm if you operate your own business, are self employed, or earn any funds aside from a regular job.

*Correct as at 1/9/16

How much could you save?

So the burning question really is how much can you save, which of course is almost impossible to answer as much depends on how much you spend and how you prefer to pay for entertainment and purchases.

We have however just returned from a weekend in Romania, where we put the Curve card to the test, and have shown the charges that applied to our purchases below. For comparison purposes, I have also done the same calculations for the Supercard which I recently reviewed.

Curve Card Supercard
Date Purchase Saving Cost in Romania Leu Exchange Rate applied Cost in GBP Exchange Rate applied Cost in GBP
16/9/16 Car hire £0.48 167.83 5.17 £32.44 5.25 £31.96
17/9/16 Drinks £0.47 99.83 5.12 £19.48 5.25 £19.01
17/9/16 Dinner £0.34 72.50 5.12 £14.15 5.25 £13.81
17/9/16 Drinks £0.28 60 5.12 £11.71 5.25 £11.43
18/9/16 Dinner £0.45 94 5.12 £18.35 5.25 £17.90
18/9/16 Drinks £0.19 40 5.12 £7.81 5.25 £7.62
18/9/16 Drinks £0.26 55 5.12 £10.74 5.25 £10.48
Total Savings £2.47  589.16  £114.68   £112.61

If I had used my Miles and More credit card (which I have linked to the Curve card) to make these purchases directly, a 2.99% fee would have applied and according to the Visa Exchange site on 9/9/16 this would result in a charge of £116.04, a saving of £1.36 for the Curve card and £3.43 on the Supercard. These savings may seem modest but as you can see, we didn’t spend a fortune in Romania. The charges soon start to escalate in more expensive locations.

I didn’t withdraw any money during our visit, preferring instead to pay with card (and my husband has an account which levies no charges on overseas withdrawals). All of these transactions were therefore purchases including the 1% charge but as you can see, had I withdrawn cash, the Curve card compares exceptionally well.

For purchases, because Curve levies the 1% charge the card works out slightly more expensive to use than the Supercard so how you plan to use the card determines which might be most beneficial for you. Even if, like me ,you will only use Curve for purchases then it may still be worth that small charge for the convenience of having your own pin and being able to use Contactless.

How does it compare to other options?

Wow factor

The Curve card really packs a punch when it drops through your letterbox. Packaged in a stylish, black box, you open it to find a vinyl disk inside (clearly a seventies child came up with this idea!!) reminiscent of my teenage years listening to Duran Duran. Slide the disk open to reveal your Curve Card. Now perhaps I am easily pleased, but that is the best damn packaging for a card I have ever seen (and I have seen a few!).

Customer care

Of course, I was so intent on admiring the packaging that I neglected to go ahead and activate the card. Within a day, I was receiving personalised emails from Arthur asking me if I needed help and inviting me to go ahead and activate. I understand there is a strong corporate motivation for the message but nice touch nevertheless.

When I do eventually get around to activating the card, it is less than a one minute job. I immediately receive a further email explaining what I need to do next so the customer journey to this point has definitely surpassed my expectations!

The app

There are pros and cons to this app. On the plus side, transactions are super quick to post and we had no issues with acceptance of the card even in some of the Underground stone caverns we dined in. You can also add notes to transactions, tag them as a particular type of spending or even add your receipt (ideal for those who may be travelling for business) all of which are nice additional features.

On the downside, the app shows you the price in the local currency and in GBP only. It doesn’t show you the conversion rate used so if you would like to know, you will have to calculate it yourself which is a shame as I really like that feature on the Supercard. Also, unlike the Supercard, it doesn’t show you your potential saving against a basket of other payment options overseas which is another feature I really like.

Other cool features

You can see a much more detailed review of how this card compares with the Supercard here but it certainly packs a punch with other added features such as:

  1. Contactless which worked perfectly and saves time.
  2. Paypal connectivity which works like a dream and is quick to add.
  3. The ability to add unlimited cards compared to a maximum of five for the Supercard.
  4. The ability to change the PIN number to something more memorable which worked a treat for me even though I changed it at an ATM in Romania. I certainly prefer selecting my own pin which isn’t possible using the Supercard.

Here’s a taster of the cool design

Want to sign up now?

So if you like what you see and want to have your cake and eat it, why not download the app using this Curve link and follow the on-screen instructions to get started. Enter my promo code 7BF5Y to earn that credit of £10 and add your cards. You can then head off on your holidays knowing you won’t be paying rip off charges.

Dessert cakes
Source: Pixabay

What are your top tips?

Maybe you already have signed up in which case I would love to know what you think. Or maybe you have some other top tips for making payments overseas? Let us know in the comment box.

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Curve Card review
Source: Pixabay

Disclaimer: Please note I received my Curve card free of charge in order to conduct this review however all views are my own and unedited.

About Anne

Anne is the founder and editor of Frommilestosmiles. If she isn't travelling, she is thinking of travelling or planning her next trip. She has visited over 90 countries on six continents and sampled everything from backpacking to bank bursting travel. Her mission is to help you enjoy more luxurious travel without the luxury price tag through the use of airline and hotel rewards and other money-saving travel tips

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  1. Excellent tips, Anne! Your posts are so helpful and useful for budget travels!

  2. A very safe way to use your money abroad. This will definitely solve those troubles about spending and paying something when you travel. Great idea and it works very simple.

  3. Nice article, but why is it all focussing on Curve when your table shows Supercard being the cheaper option? There’s no fee for getting a Supercard, whereas Curve costs at least £35.

    You don’t mention that Curve can only be used for business expenses – if you aren’t self-employed or freelance, then you’re not allowed to take out the card. Curve’s business model forces it to issue business Mastercards – using it for personal items is not allowed under the agreement you have (and curve have been auditing customers, but not too severely as it will cause their company major problems as they turn a deliberate blind eye to misuse)

    Your table has some errors in it too – Curve adds a fee to ATM withdrawals when you use a credit card to fund it (2% after the first £200 each month) and even it was just a £7 fee on a £500 withdrawal this is not 0.0014%!

    • Thanks for commenting Bob and for pointing out those discrepancies. As the article mentions, I compare with Supercard because I reviewed that card recently and it makes a good reference. Funnily enough, the extra 2% is not overly obvious on the website and so I queried this just yesterday and have now changed the post to reflect the extra £6 charge which would apply on the excess £300 (as well as the decimal point!).

      You make a valid point about the business card use but likewise I have not found Curve to police that massively although it is something to be aware of. Are you using the Supercard as your preferred means of payment overseas?

      • Yes, I’ve stopped using Curve now as it was too expensive and risky. It was much better than Supercard when it had Amex compatibility, but Amex pulled their support after they saw how the card was being advertised.

        You can get more cash out with Supercard at an ATM and it’s generally cheaper (Curve limit you to £200 a time so if you add in Curve’s fixed fees on the table above, Supercard is cheaper on all counts).

        Curve suggest that you only need carry their card – but this is too darn risky for me as the card I got said it was a ‘beta’ card (not mentioned anywhere at all when I signed-up + paid!) and there’s a risk that Mastercard pull their support overnight if they find out that they have a load of personal users using a business card to increase merchant fees.

        I’m thinking about moving to Santander’s fee-free credit card as it’s a reliable name, though right now I can’t see why anyone would get a Curve card when the free Supercard exists – suggesting otherwise just seems bad advice.

        • Bob I think I am probably coming to the same conclusion. If it is a case of the Curve versus a high charging bank card then it wins but Supercard seems to be edging ahead for me. That said I am in Macedonia at the moment and have used the Curve to withdraw cash (although with hindsight Supercard would still probably have been slightly cheaper for the amount we withdrew). I then am using Supercard for purchases and although I found in Bahrain recently it was declined a few times, I have had no such problems here. I am the same as you and would never rely on one card (I would always have a back up but at least I have left the rest of my cards at home).

          My husband has the Santander fee free card and if we was travelling with me we would use that for cash and Supercard for everything else. Have you heard of Revolut or Monzo as another reader mentioned those to me too and I plan to check this out in due course?

          Thanks for checking back in.

  4. This is really helpful, I haven’t tried traveling overseas, but 2 weeks from I’ll be flying to Hongkong as my first out of the country trip. This would be a big help for me. Thank you so much for sharing about this.

  5. I like the amount of detail you’ve provided here. This is very useful. It just shows you how much you can save in fees by using the right card while overseas. I’ll bookmark this for when I next travel.

  6. Wow this is actually a really great idea! I feel like I am always racking up foreign currency fees (so much that I try not to think about it!!!). I was surprised that there is only a once off fee – which is really quite low considering. I will have to check this out.

  7. This sounds like perfection. I’m the person who gets annoyed by those ATM charges allllll the time, so this looks like a good alternative!

  8. This is really interesting and I hadn’t heard of it. Luckily, I usually use fee-free cards. Curious though — do credit card users still get their points?

  9. A nice alternative for most cards. I still use my AMEX as my primary card (domestic and overseas) since it oiffers the best benefits and exchange rates.

  10. Interesting concept! I’ve never heard of it but seems neat. So many credit cards are so complicated that to have it all in one place could be really handy.

  11. This does look interesting. I will have to go back and have a closer read of all the details.. Thank you for sharing!

  12. Wow, this sounds almost too good to be true! We actually have been looking around for something like this because we are so sick of ATM fees with our current banking cards. We have been using our Chase Sapphire card for some purchases but we still need to withdrawl money from time to time. We will consider using Curve! Thanks for sharing!

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