Cash withdrawal 'strongly discouraged'?

In Curve’s Fair Use Policy it’s stated that “Curve strongly discourages using an underlying credit card in order to withdraw cash”. So, does that mean that Curve want me to only use it for cash withdrawals if absolutely neccessary and otherwise use underlying cards directly? If that’s the case, why only mention that in the fine print while everywhere else there is only information about how it works and that there are certain limits for it?

I understand that cash withdrawals are very costly for Curve but still, always carrying your underlying cards with you in case you need to withdraw cash would run against the idea of Curve being ‘the only card you need to carry’.

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I think that only applies to making cash withdrawals on credit cards, not debit cards.

No doubt someone from curve will set us on the right path though. @Curve_Marie any idea?

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The reason for that is because Curve changed the way they process transactions. Cash withdrawal via Curve with an underlying credit card might be treated as cash advance.

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I see. Still, there are a lot of credit (not debit) cards that offer free cash withdrawals/advances.

If you are sure of your credit card issuer’s terms, it should be fine. :thinking:

What purpose is there for needing to withdraw loads of cash against a credit card? I can think of only very, very few transactions that actually need cash.

They aren’t going to stop you unless you’re over limit or they suspect you of cash recycling…

Maybe buying a used car and putting it on credit. When travelling abroad paying cash when possible in order to avoid having to constantly remember to reject DCC prompts. That’s just a couple of examples I can think of

Buying a used car on a credit card? That sounds like a terrible idea!

I doubt withdrawing cash abroad is really what Curve are advising against.

Don’t know why it would be a bad idea. I’ve personally done it taking advantage of the 3x without interest feature of one of my cards

You just said you saw no use for withdrawing cash from a cc! :sweat_smile:

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It’s discouraged as you cc provider may charge you cash advance fee since Curve now passes the MCC code to the cc provider.

Saying that I take the odd £20 out of cash machine using Curve with underlying cc every few weeks, and haven’t had this happen to me yet.

So is it all just Curve looking out for the users? A bit patronising as it assumes all credit cards have fees for cash advances

I don’t think so. Your cc provider may charge you for cash advance or maybe not, all the while Curve may charge you an additional 2% fee on top of that if you withdraw more than £200 per calendar month.

Fair Use Policy:

No, it’s doesn’t. We specifically mention ATM withdrawal using credit cards. There’s generally a higher fee when you use your credit cards for ATM withdrawals.

From the Fair Use Policy intro:

In order to ensure that the experience of using your Curve card mirrors the experience of using your selected underlying payment card, there are some fair use limitations.

Please note the section on Cash Recycling.
Cash recycling

In addition to the fees listed above, any behaviour which Curve deems to be “cash recycling” is not permitted. This is where high volumes of cash (e.g. defined by a high cash to spend ratio) are taken out of an ATM using a credit card or other payment card and then used to repay the card in order to gain rewards on the funding card or Curve Rewards. Depending on the account activity, “high volumes of cash withdrawals” could include spending which is under £200/ month as it will be assessed on the volume and frequency of ATM withdrawals compared to non-ATM spend. Any other equivalent usage which the Curve Compliance Team believes aims to achieve the same outcome, for example via the use of money transfer services, is also not permitted. Such behaviour may result in your Curve account being blocked or cancelled. See Curve Terms of Use for further information.

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In the UK (and most other European countries) I agree. But try to go to restaurants in small town Austria or Germany. Without cash you will run into problems there. Even worse: In Germany, restaurants and stores often do have a card terminal but only accept cards from the national debit card scheme (girocard). That’s no big problem for people with a german bank account but for everyone else that means “cash only”. Combine that with no acceptancy marks at all to tell you which cards are accepted. If you then just assume that you will be able to pay by Mastercard or Visa (or even Maestro or V PAY) because you spotted a terminal, you’ll very likely be sent to the next ATM to get some cash. On top, you’ll probably get a look and expression of “What a fool, not having any cash on him…” - At least on your first visit to the country. After that, you’ll be more careful.

That’s 2019 in Austria and Germany. It’s very sad but true. It is slowly (very slowly) getting better, though. So there’s hope :wink: But still, always have some cash ready to save the day. The ATM limit will be exceeded faster than you might think.

Sorry for the little rant here… Thanks for everyone’s thoughts and thanks @Curve_Marie for the clarification!


Most replies here are focussing on ATM fees, which may or may not be charged, but the real cost is the interest rate. Most, if not all credit cards will not give you a grace period on an ATM withdrawal. The clock starts running immediately after you get your hands on the cash. I definitely understand the emergency scenario, having been in exactly the same one in Munich, but it is vary fair from Curve to remind that, in general, cash withdrawals from cc is going to cost you a lot more than a debt card one.

Haven’t thought about that, yet. That’s certainly an important point with many credit cards.

Had no idea that in the UK ATM withdrawals were treated any different than purchases. Maybe Curve could have that warning for UK users instead of a nebulous “strongly discouraged” policy

It’s been a while since my last visit to the Community, hence the late follow-up :grimacing:

Differentiating between “Purchase” and “Cash” transactions is definitely not UK specific. Moreover, there is a whole load of Merchant Category Codes (MCC) one of which is used for every transaction. They tell the card network and the issuer which kind of purchase (or cash transaction) the payer has made. Examples are:

  • “Grocery Stores, Supermarkets” (5411)
  • “Service stations” (5541)
  • “Automated Fuel Dispensers” (5542)
  • “Automated Cash Disbursement” (6011).

Using MCCs issuers and schemes can

  • grant or deny cashback which is only given on certain purchase categories
  • apply special processing rules (e. g. for Automated Fuel Dispensers)
  • do or do not charge a fee for cash withdrawal.

So, although there may be other mechanisms, the issuer of the underlying card is relying on the MCC to identify a transaction as a cash withdrawal. In the days before Curve began to pass through the original MCC to the underlying card that could come in quite handy for withdrawing cash for free with cards that would otherwise charge a hefty fee for that. On the other hand, it prevented many users from getting their usual cashback or reward points. Also, today there are more and more cards on the market that allow for free cash withdrawal, anyway.

Edit: While talking about MCCs, I just learned that apparently Curve is changing some MCCs to more general ones for some reason which brings some of the problems with cashback and reward points back on the table.

Example: MCC 5941 (“Sporting goods store”) is apparently changed to MCC 5999 (“Miscellaneous retail stores”)

More on that in this thread.

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I understand all that, however I have a couple of cards that normally charge cash advance fees and they do not if used through Curve. The point of cash advance fees is to cover the cost of ATM withdrawals so it makes no sense to charge it when Curve is shouldering the cost. I understand banks in the UK come up with all kinds of excuses to charge it anyway but it’s at the very least dishonest

I agree. It’s not neccessary for the issuer of the underlying card to charge for cash withdrawals because only Curve has to pay the usage fee to the owner of the ATM. And since there seems to be a fair amount of MCC changing going on it should be possible to explicitly map the “Cash MCCs” to non-cash MCCs while still passing through anything else unaltered to ensure cashback/rewards.