If like me you carry several credit/debit cards around with you, you’re always looking to simplify and carry less. The Curve Card aims to do just that letting you carry a single card linked to all your existing cards and managed from your smartphone.
Curve was founded by Shachar Bialick, a serial entrepreneur passionate about using technology to solve problems. Business Insider recently named Shachar one of the ‘coolest people in fintech’.
The Card Problem
Cards are the bane of travelling lite. May people have a personal debit card, a couple of credit cards, a business card, sometimes a joint debit and credit card. You can end up with a bulging wallet which is shown to actually affect your posture and can lead to a bad back. I’ve seen several attempts at this before, mainly crowdfunding projects such as the Fuze Card, but they all clone your cards on the device leading to electronics and batteries and ultimately cost – Fuze for example is $129 up front.
The Curve Card eliminates carrying multiple credit cards, replacing them with a single card that mirrors them all and is managed from your smartphone.
A Curve Card is a single card, that you link all your existing credit and debit cards to. It “becomes” those cards virtually. You control which card your Curve Card is “being” from the smartphone App. Swipe between cards, select it and once the Curve logo appears your Curve Card is then acting as that card. Its so simple I literally couldn’t believe that was all there was to it.
Importantly, the Curve Card is free. There is no up front cost. Its a regular card, so it has no complicated on board electronics to drive the cost up. Curve also supports a list of specific prepaid cards if you use those.
The Curve App works on both Android and iOS. Once installed you go through the setup process and order your card. Mine arrived in about 4 days and once activated I was able to start adding my cards. All the UK Visa/Mastercard cards I tried worked successfully. Curve say that they cover most Visa or MasterCard credit or debit cards, but currently don’t support American Express, Maestro, Diners Club, JCB or UnionPay. If you lose your Curve card, you can instantly lock it from within the App which will decline any further transactions. You can also lock individual bank cards if you need to which will stop Curve making any transactions on them.
PIN – you get a PIN with your Curve card. Something that caught me out is when you’re paying for something using Chip and Pin (not Contactless) you don’t use your “end card” PIN, you must use your Curve PIN. Curve verifies its you with the Curve PIN and then authorises the merchant transaction with your currently selected debit/credit card.
Every time you make a transaction with Curve you get an instant alert on your phone for verification. You can optionally also have an email for each transaction you make. In the Curve App you get a summary of all your recent transactions, and they’ve also added in an Insights tab giving you an overview of your spending by Categories. I currently do this via Money Dashboard but having it all within the Curve App is still useful.
Curve doesn’t currently work natively with Apple Pay or Google Pay yet, but they’re working on it.
Another interesting feature is “Go Back in Time” where you can move a purchase from one card to another retrospectively if you need to. Accidentally bought something for your business on your personal card? No problem. I assume this applies a refund to the wrong card, and duplicates the transaction to the new one all seamlessly in the background. Handy for tidying up your spending habits!
Benefits over Contactless
A lot of people can combine their cards on their phones already via Apple Pay or Google Pay. Why do you still want a Curve Card? Simple – firstly Curve still allows you to make transactions over £30 (the Contactless limit) by using Chip and Pin – on any card. Secondly Cash – you can’t withdraw cash with the above methods. Curve lets you withdraw Cash from any cashpoint, at home or abroad, whenever you need it. Curve has also removed the travel fees from all your debit and credit cards.
You can earn cashback with Curve to. A wide range of retailers are supported, and with the free Curve Card you pick 3 retailers from which you can earn cashback. For cashback across all retailers you can opt to pay £50 / year for a Curve Black card. It looks like Cashback is only valid for the first 90 days after activating your card and selecting your retailers though.
I’m really enjoying using Curve, and so far its working really well for me. There are no drawbacks, only the benefit of greater flexibility and convenience, and the very real benefit of 1% cashback on your transactions.
>> If you’re interested, sign up for Curve yourself and give it a try.