(E-mail about) No more FX weekend fee/surcharge in terms (but still in fee schedule)

This is a good question. During weekends, Curve continues to apply an old rate as a live rate, whereas other card issuers wait until the next business day to apply MasterCard’s latest rate. Curve needs to delay the FX until the next business day to avoid weekend surcharges, but this will delay sending of charges to the underlying card, which could incur interest for Curve.

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I think it’s pretty clear that Curve isn’t interested in doing anything about this… it’s like they don’t even care anymore. Promises and promises with very little development.

It’s one of their 4 main income streams, they need it to make a profit (or reduce losses!).

If this was the reason, then Curve would charge the additional 0.5% or 1.5% throughout the whole week, not only at weekends. Therefore this is not a plausible reason.

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You don’t need to ‘accept’ it as a reason, it’s a profit-generating exercise for them. Always has been, even when they were using the actual exchange rate (as long as you assume that FX rates are as likely to go up as they are go down on a weekend!).

Curve has to make money somehow. They have lots of different costs, and lots of different income sources. They might change in future of course, but you can see why at this critical juncture for the company they don’t want to lose this income.

It’s a clever fee from a marketing perspective. Curve have big headlines suggesting that their customers “avoid bad exchange rates”, “you never have to worry about getting stung by your bank”, “unlimited access to Fair FX” and “Fair exchange rates on all your cards” for example - leaving people with the impression there’s no or minimal fees.

Read the small print and you’ll learn “Fair usage limits and weekend charges may apply” which seems OK, it’s only a ‘may’ apply and ‘I’m not a billionaire who is going to bust through to fair use limit by buying a home abroad on the card’.

Until Curve were obliged to, they hid the fees they were charging in the FX rate shown on the app. Many customers just didn’t realise there were fees being charged. E-mailing customers telling them “we’ve removed the distinction between weekday and weekend rates and we’ll always give you the latest available exchange rate from our provider” gives the impression there’s no need to worry about using your card on the weekend.

Curve don’t have a lot of different income sources, and are losing significant sums of money as they push to grow the company. Lots of Curve customers aren’t even aware they’re paying this fee, others see it as a small niggle but not high enough to move to a different card. Curve could easily remove this weekend fee, but they are choosing not to. I can see why they choose to keep it.

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It’s not small print, but stated under a heading “Spending abroad during the weekend?” in large bold text on the relevant page. If Curve applies the weekend fees as a revenue stream rather than out of necessity, then it would apply the fees throughout the week, not only at weekends. Why lose this “income stream” Monday to Friday?

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It may never had been intended as a revenue stream, however now that Curve use the Mastercard rates the risk of rate fluctuations at the weekend no longer exists, and therefore the fee can’t be seen in any other way.

Looking at the Mastercard Currency Converter site the rates used on the weekend always appear to be those set on the Friday. They also state that Foreign exchange rates are specific to the date and time Curve authorises the transaction, so any conversion done on the weekend will use the rate shown on their site.

I’ve looked at a few recent Euro transactions that I made over the weekend and they were converted exactly as shown on Mastercard’s site. Curve then applied the fee on top, unnecessarily.

Another issue with how Curve manages foreign transactions is how they deal with refunds. Rather than credit the actual amount received from the merchant after conversion using that day’s rate, Curve use the exchange rate from the date the transaction was settled, not when the refund is settled.

This leaves them potentially having to cover loses due from differences in the rate between the original transaction and the refund, although the opposite is also true where they can benefit from the rate difference.

Curve uses the date from which transaction was settled? The original purchase? If so, that’s an advantage because it means you’re always flat - no gain and no loss.

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How did you get to that page? I’m not sure I’d totally agree that’s the relevant page for people interested in finding about and joining Curve, but I’m not an expert in Section 50(1) of the Consumer Rights Act. I don’t think people would notice the fee before joining, and by keeping it weekend-only it would only hit a minority of the transactions and therefore less likely to be noticed - a nice quiet revenue stream.

The home page of Curve.com says

Travel freely
Spend on adventure, not fees.
Pay with any card abroad without getting stung by fees. Yes, that includes your credit cards. Curve acts as a shield against FX fees, ATM withdrawal charges, and bad exchange rates. Because we believe your money should stay yours.

Then there’s a link to ‘More Travel Perks’ which says

Spend on adventure, not fees
Our exchange rate typically offers a lower markup than the big banks, because we use a wholesale rate. Any card you add to Curve automatically adopts our rate, which means you never have to worry about getting stung by your bank.

In the small print at the bottom, there’s a section that says

Legal bits: Curve is available for UK and EEA residents. For now, Curve only supports Mastercard® and Visa branded debit and credit cards. Fair usage limits and weekend charges may apply to any foreign currency or ATM transactions abroad, outlined in your Curve Card or Samsung Pay Card Terms of Service.

Clicking on the hyperlink in the sentence about weekend charges doesn’t give a page that says when they may apply. Clicking on the hyperlink for the Card Terms doesn’t give a page that says when they apply, but does mention a third page that contains the fee schedule and gives the detail on FX Fees.

But if you go to the bottom of the home page and click on ‘FX Calculator’ (the web page that finally shows what Curve is charging over the ECB rate, so you can compare costs between providers) the calculation doesn’t include Curve’s weekend fee. Whether you spend £1 on Friday or £10,000 on Saturday, Curve’s pre-purchase calculator says you’re charged the same mark-up. If you scroll further down the page, you’re told there could be more fees charged - but only

  • for ATM withdrawals if you spent more than £200/ EUR 200 per calendar month (depending on your Curve card tier) , and
  • for purchases during the workweek of more than £500/ EUR 500 within a 30-day rolling period (depending on your Curve card tier).

So overall I disagree with @NFH - I personally don’t think Curve are doing a good job at telling people that this fee exists, and people are unwittingly paying it. Curve are making more money from these transactions due to the fee, there’s more transactions than there would be if Curve were upfront about the fee, and the fact it’s weekend only allows card bloggers to say it’s fee-free most of the time.

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It’s the first result if you Google “Curve FX rates.

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Yes, it’s good for the end user, which I can attest to having received a full refund for a euro transaction despite Curve receiving far less from the refund due to the volatility in the rates over the past month. But probably not the best business model for Curve?

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Yes, I love this about Curve, that they use the original fx rate.
Example:
I was recently in South Africa and used one of my backup cards. The 1st transaction at a store didn’t go through, but my bank got charged nevertheless and refunded me the same amount 5min later. I lost a few € in these 5min because the ZAR fx rate changed.
Now if I had used Curve, I wouldn’t have lost any money.

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I withdrew the maximum 5k SA rand at FNB and got the interbank rate. As yesterdays MC rate was slightly higher than today’s.

Quite happy to use Curve but just be careful of the fees. It’s too complicated. Like someone said if I use Curve on the weekend and i’ve used up my free £400 cash machine allowance and withdraw on the weekend. I’m now paying 3.5%. If I’d withdrawn over 10 times it would be 3.5% plus a 50p fee. Also FNB charge 50 rand to withdraw. About £2.60. Not sure what other banks charge. Maybe you know Lucas?

That’s not a cumulative just it be once you exhaust your limits.

It should be a flat .5% fee for everything whether spending or cash machine. I get putting a limit on cash withdrawals because curve probably get charged too but it’s all too confusing.

Standard Bank is where I wasn’t charged any ATM fees, but one of their ATMs ate my card (one of my backup cards) and they had a keypad logger and 20-30min later someone made 5+ transactions worth of almost 1k€ with my card, so be careful!
And I check every ATM every time, but this one was just too well manipulated. And an ATM right in front of the bank.

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Standard charges MC 50 rand and nedbank did also. I think it’s the standard charge. Nedbank allowed 8,000 rands as opposed to FNB’s 5,000 so you get better value.

Just to let people know that the MC rate is fixed every day American standard time. However the rate had gone up and the spread was 2.05% difference. Cost me an extra £5.50 but I suppose it could work the other way and would be standard on all cards that use MC.

I suppose this explains how sometimes i used the card and got the interbank rate. It just depends what the rate does. However if MC are taking the hit then Curve should be lowering the weekend rate down to .5%. It’s MC that take the hit not Curve.

Still I withdrew during the week yesterday as not to get Curve’s weekend rate. However if the interbank climbs more than 1.5% then when MC fix their weekend rate it could work out better paying the 1.5% Curve rate.

I must say though I am impressed with Curve’s card not one decline and everything worked as normal. I didn’t bring a backup card but had spare cash. But needn’t had worried.

I even withdrew 5000 rand on a credit card and it went down as a transaction on the statement. Can’t complain. Just wish the spread wasn’t 2% but I suppose if the rate went the other way then you could get a negative spread.

I totally missed all this until last week when I noticed the inverse rate description, and also realised it was higher than I expected. Mostly I use Curve for FX online transactions and subscriptions, but I hadn’t for a bit.

It was only stumbling across this thread today that I realised why the rates seemed higher (and not even a weekend). If I stay away from weekends (won’t always be possible with a monthly subscription), it may still be a bit cheaper but certainly not as cheap as it has been. In fact the day of the transaction where I noticed, it was significantly higher than if I’d bought the same amount in cash from Travelex. I have never seen anything higher than Travelex :pensive:

I also missed the switch from Currency Layer to Mastercard rate. That makes the card useless for me if there is any currency exchange involved, and locally, Amex provides better rewards. Especially when taking the additional weekend fee into account. I think I will stop using my Curve card mostly.

6 posts were merged into an existing topic: :speaking_head: No fees overseas on ANY card :raised_hands:

AMEX here in the UK applies a non-sterling transaction fee that far outweighs any benefits the card give back