Nothing is more frustrating than wanting to get rid of your bank card in favor of your smartphone and find that your bank does not allow it. There are however solutions to work around the problem and one of them is called Curve. We tried the service for a few weeks and here’s what we think.
You have finally built up a complete Google Wallet including your transport card, your loyalty cards and even your gift cards from your favorite stores, but your bank card is missing. Yes, we know, there is nothing more frustrating than finding that the latter is not compatible. It must be said that Google’s card approval system is still not widely used among banks, especially in France.
However, there are a few solutions to get around this problem to finally do without the eternal plastic card and one of them is called Curve.
Curves, what is it?
Like Revolut in its day, Curve is a FinTech company founded in 2015 and based in the United Kingdom. The difference is that the company was not intended to become a full-fledged online bank. Basically, it is a mobile application (and later a payment card) that aggregates several debit and credit cards into one, then offering a simple solution to consolidate all its means of payment into one. In the same genre, we can cite competitors such as Aumax, but some online banks offer this type of service such as Boursorama Banque or Hello Bank.
It is not uncommon for an individual to have several bank cards, whether for work or for all types of specific needs, often in different banking establishments. Some even have several bank cards to benefit from the generally generous welcome offers from online banks. This is where Curve comes in, since it becomes complicated to have to carry with you a lot of debit or credit cards. The offer is now present in 31 countries, including Germany, France, Italy and Poland, which are its biggest markets.
What is an account aggregator?
Not to be confused with budget management tools like Bankin, Budgea or Linxo, account aggregators will directly tap into banking APIs (mandatory open since 2018) in order to enter a user’s banking information and integrate it into their platforms. The idea is not to replace your bank, but to offer additional services such as budget management and optimization or to trigger bank transfers, which is the case here.
An ideal solution for carrying all your cards in one
Like the example cited above, I had this problem of accumulating accounts and it was not uncommon to waste time at the checkout during a payment while looking for the card I needed. I could have turned to Google Pay (or Samsung Pay via my Samsung smartphone), but my main bank, SG in this case, is still not compatible.
Once the application is installed, we are surprised by the start-up that can be likened to that of a neobank or an online bank. Once your account has been chosen (I opted for the Curve X account), you must then provide usage information such as proving your identity and giving a delivery address to receive your card. Only problem with the current application: it is only available in English for the moment.
From then on, it is possible to link your regular bank account to your Curve card and already start using it. I was surprised by the ease of the procedure and to see that it works with any bank in France. It should however be noted that Curve only accepts Visa and Mastercardexit the Maestro, American Express, Diners Club, JCB or Union Pay cards.
The Curve offer is based on four formulas :
- Curve (OG): a free account with or without a card, no fees abroad (with a limit), possible withdrawals abroad for free up to 200 euros per month.
- Curve X: an account at 4.99 euros per month with card, no fees and unlimited abroad with possible withdrawals of up to 200 euros per month and free international travel insurance.
- Curve Black: an account at 9.99 euros per month with card, no fees and unlimited abroad with possible withdrawals of up to 400 euros per month and free international travel insurance.
- Curve Metal: an account at 14.99 euros per month with the card, no unlimited fees abroad, free withdrawals abroad up to 600 euros per month, free international travel insurance. This card also gives access to privileges such as mobile phone insurance, access to airport lounges worldwide, collision damage waiver specific to rental cars.
All three cards work with Google Pay, Samsung Pay and Apple Pay. They also offer customer protection up to 100,000 euros.
The Ultimate Feature: Rollback
Another surprise in the galaxy of features specific to Curve, the option “Go back in timeor Backspace. This allows a payment to be traced within a maximum of 90 days (depending on the offer chosen) and to be transferred to another account in the event of a dispute or problem. Another function: the modeanti embarrassmentallows you to avoid payments refused at the cash desk, the system choosing an account with cash when another is not sufficiently supplied. It is also possible to define your card priority upstream to avoid this kind of inconvenience.
Other very practical options that we know from some online banks are added to everything, for example, real-time history and blocking of the card from the application. It should nevertheless be noted that the card will not be usable in all circumstances as it is a card with systematic authorization. Consequently, it can be penalizing when traveling or in certain establishments that favor credit cards (rentals, hotels, etc.).
You can finally use Google Pay with your bank
This is undoubtedly the feature that prompted me to take a Curve account: it is finally possible to circumvent the absence of Google Pay (or Apple Pay) at your regular bank. Concretely, the card functioning as a gateway, it can benefit from the payment platforms of Google or Apple without the latter being compatible.
And it works perfectly! All I had to do was set up my Curve card on Google Pay, it was immediately accepted. I was able to make my payments with my smartphone or my Google Pay-compatible connected watch without having to take a single card with me. Only downside, accepting payment can take longer than a card “classicdue to the slightly longer transaction process. This can also be a problem if the terminal is not connected: the payment can be refused, because at the time of purchase no check is made of the card balance. This can be a problem for gas stations or tolls for example.
I also noticed that the real-time payment history was a bit finicky and some transactions didn’t show up directly via notifications, but only after a few minutes.
Apart from these small inconveniences, there are few things to blame for this system which has definitely made me change my consumption habits.
Cashback as a bonus
This is one of the functions strongly highlighted by Curve and which can have a real impact depending on the offer chosen.
Curve has developed its rewards system centered around travel, particularly with EasyJet and Booking. Once these shops have been configured, you receive your cashback within twenty days and it is paid into the Curve Cash card in a dedicated menu.
The cashback is accessible to all subscribers to the Curve Black and Metal formulas.
- Curve Black: up to three brands with 1% of the purchase amount
- Curve Metal: up to six signs with 1% of the purchase amount.
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