A Bit of a Curve Ball

Much of the banking system is still based on procedures and practices from the 20th century and so, like many other areas of life, is ripe for modernisation through technology.  One company trying to bring some innovation in this space is Curve.

Curve is billed as the one card to replace all your cards and feels a little bit like Apple Pay in that you scan your existing cards into their (iOS only) app and then swap between them when making payments.

The Curve is currently in “beta” and only available to those working for small businesses. There is an entrance fee of £35 for the basic card and £75 for the black card which earns double points on Curve Rewards, a programme that doesn’t actually exist yet.

I signed up and a few weeks later a padded envelope popped through the letter box. I have to say that the Curve is beautifully packaged looking like something Apple might have released.

IMG_8816One of the things that initially attracted me and many others to the card was the support for American Express meaning that, as the Curve is a Mastercard, you could charge things to your Amex that wouldn’t normally have been possible. This joy was to be short-lived however as Amex quickly stomped on this and support was withdrawn. To be fair Curve did offer to make up for this by adding £35 to everyones rewards account albeit with caveats (min £1,000 spend on the card).

I decided to stick with it and see whether it truly could replace all my other cards meaning I only needed to carry the Curve. Unfortunately we got off to a bad start when my very first transaction in my local Asda was declined. A quick call to support told me that this was probably just a timing issue and shouldn’t be an issue going forward.

I hoped that this would be a one off but it wasn’t. Over the next couple of weeks the card was rejected a further number of times. These rejections were seemingly random in a mixture of shops and cashpoint machines where my usual cards worked faultlessly. The frequency of the rejections made me not trust the Curve and led to me having to carry it and my ordinary cards which somewhat defeated the object of it. I decided to give the Curve one more go but when it failed a further two times out of three in one 24 hour period I gave up.

What was most disturbing about this was not the failures themselves but the responses from support when I questioned why I was seeing so many problems. Almost without exception the response was “it’s probably a connectivity issue” which is a little strange given that I have never experienced such a thing in the many years I have been using “normal” cards.

Curve is labelled as “beta” and worthy of the tag. I might also be tempted to say it is more alpha than beta in my experience. I have to say that a friend who also has the Curve has far less issues than myself so maybe it’s just me. However, one of the major selling points for me was the ability to leave my other cards at home and only carry the Curve but that’s just not possible as it is not reliable enough to guarantee that it is going to work.

I’ve kept my card in the hope that in the future it will prove more reliable but for now I won’t be carrying it.

  • Bob Jouy

    Hello there, I saw your article on Twitter, and was really curious about your declines.

    At least we agree on something : “I have to say that a friend who also has the Curve has far less issues than myself so maybe it’s just me”. It *might* be just you indeed. Me and 3 friends have Curve, and no one is experiencing so much declines.

    I use mine on a daily since march, and I have to say I had 5 declines tops, for around 300 transactions so far.

    The declines I had were somewhat random : in my usual bakery for example, where I always use Curve, 2 days in a row it wasn’t working. I tested the same day with another prepaid card issued by wirecard, and it was also declined. So the issue on this day might have been from wirecard.

    But, as you say the support told you it probably was a connectivity issue, it could very well be : as a matter of fact, countless tills around the world are not connected to the network. So if the merchant has a till that isn’t connected, you will probably get a decline. The workaround is often to reboot the till. And unfortunately for those kind of declines, Curve can not be the one to blame.

    The very way Prepaid cards work makes them more prompt to be declined than other “regular” cards.

    I don’t work for Curve, I just enjoy my card and wanted to give you a little bit more insight/information as another Curve user.

    All the best,

    Bob

    • Bob,

      Glad that it is working out for you but at the level of rejections I was getting it meant carrying it and my other cards so wasn’t adding any value. Given that I have been using credit and debit cards for the best part of thirty years I have quite a bit of data stored up about failures on cards and I can honestly say, for example, I have had no failures this year on my “normal” cards.

      So, as I say, I’m glad that it’s working for you but for me there is no advantage in carrying the Curve and all my other cards.

      Neil

      • Bob Jouy

        I assume you don’t have any other prepaid card to compare (like Revolut/Mondo for example)?

        • I don’t have any other prepaid cards so I cannot say if those are the issue but that isn’t really the point. The Curve website states “leave your existing cards safely at home.” I cannot do that as I risk not being able to make a payment. I don’t want to be stood in the petrol station with only my Curve to find out that it gets rejected.

          I want Curve to work which is why I am taking a break rather than asking for my money back but right now it is not fit for purpose in my opinion.