Curve's Smart Card - Good For Your Finances?

The UK has recently experienced the release of the new, innovative Curve smart card, which aims to combine credit and debit card payments into one card, allowing users to seamlessly switch between the two types of payment without having the management of many different cards.

Through managing the card is done all through the Curve App, which allows you to add an unlimited number of debit, credit and even pre-paid cards. The idea is to make financial management easier as all the inflows/outflows of your personal finances are done through the same card and are consequently all manageable in the same app (even with different banks providing the different cards). 

The smart card could, therefore, reduce the confusion many associate with the endless paperwork of different financial accounts, but is it really a secure way of managing your personal finances?

Along with the very popular contactless payment cards, the Curve smart card also allows for contactless payments for small amounts while also being secured by a 4-digit pin for larger payments and for withdrawing from ATMs. In this sense, the smart card has the same level of security as bank provided debit and credit cards. 

Furthermore, if you lose your Curve card, there is an app function that allows you to instantly shut off the card from your phone, allowing for instant peace-of-mind. Furthermore, the details entered in the app (such as the card number) are not stored on your device, meaning that a stolen device will not be compromising your financial security. In the case of your phone being compromised, there is also a 24-hour phone service run by Curve that allows you to disable the app and the card instantly, once again providing good security. 

However, where Curve may not have the secure protection you may need is in the case of fraudulent behavior happening with you card. Unlike with a card provided by your bank, if the fraudulent behavior is happening using the Curve card, then your bank will take no responsibility and will not compensate any losses you endure. Curve have claimed that after investigations they will always refund the money lost, however the real-life application of this is yet to be seen – the great financial powers of banks will be hard to match by Curve in terms of the ease of financial compensation.

Despite this, there are numerous great benefits from adopting the use of the Curve card. One is that payments made using the curve card using one of your cards on the app can be transferred to another one of your cards up to two weeks later using the app – allowing overdrafts to be settled or avoided much more easily and quickly. This is a big part of how the Curve card allows for more effective management of your personal finances – all while remaining easy to access and easy to understand.

If you travel abroad a lot, the Curve card also has the benefit of being comparatively cheap to use abroad, allowing for the potential for very large annual savings on foreign transaction fees.

Returning products to shops is also far easier when using the curve card because it removes the issue many face of not knowing what card they used for the original purchase. This issue is removed when using the curve card because, as long as you used the curve card, the return will be functional using the curve card regardless of what card is selected on the Curve app. This is certainly an enormous benefit for the ease of returns.

However, despite the apparent success of Curve cards in many areas, there are also various issues with the card.

One major issue is that there is a compatibility issue for Curve and some cards, including the widely using American Express cards, which you currently cannot link with Curve (it is unclear whether linking the two will ever be possible).

Another major issue to consider is that payments using the Curve card are not protected by the Section 75 legislation (Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, your credit card firm is legally obliged to pay you back if anything goes wrong on purchases worth between £100 and £30,000). Unfortunately for Curve card users, there is a loophole in the legislation, which means that it has no precedence for purchases made using your card through a third-party platform, which Curve is. Consequently, you may face having practically no protection on your purchases or surrounding fraudulent activity if you use the Curve card.

The Curve card also has rather stringent limits on the magnitude of its use – including a cash withdrawal limit of £200 and an overall spending limit of £10000 a year, which for many high-earners will make the Curve card an unsuitable option for their spending habits. 

Overall, the Curve card does, undoubtedly, have large benefits in terms of easier and more effective financial management, potentially helping millions get greater financial stability (e.g. if they can avoid/resolve withdrawals more quickly and easily). However, the Curve card does still have major protection and compatibility issues – issues which Curve have not yet said will change. The attractiveness of the Curve card may be great but its young age means that many issues are unknown – the safest option is to wait for its use to become more mainstream and its faults better known before risking moving your financial management to Curve.