I wrote a while ago about the Curve card, one of these ‘front’ cards that allows you to choose, via an app, which if your payment cards the transaction goes to. It’s similar to the Supercard, except that it does have foreign exchange fees and you can use an American Express. The ‘game-changer’ for this was that you could withdraw cash fee from an ATM which appeared in your AmEx as a purchase. You could, in theory, withdraw £100 on the Curve, paid by the AmEx, then put the money into your bank account and pay off you AmEx bill. In this way, you would get 150 completely free Avios and go towards your 2for1 voucher if using the BAPP card.
I signed up and went for the £75 card. It promised a little card wallet and double bonus points for the, at that point, unconfirmed loyalty programme.
The card arrived in beautiful packaging and had an easy-to-use app alongside. I used it a couple of times, for both normal transactions and ATM withdrawals and it worked as it should.
There were two things, however, which made me feel a little uneasy about using it:
- in the sign-up process, you had to agree that you were using it for business purposes – this is how they can get round the interchange fees imposed upon them. I found it became very difficult to juggle what was business and what was personal.
- There were a number of reports of incorrect charging and double posts on bills, which is not what you want.
The final straw for me was when they announced that American Express had withdrawn their support for the card. For many, this was a way to use an AmEx in places which did not accept AmEx, and this news meant it didn’t work for me.
The company obviously realised this as they offered quick and easy refunds of the fee. In my case, I could have it all back, or £50 and keep the card case. Which I did, as I quite liked it.
This also got me thinking about my own credit card strategy again. My initial thought was that I should get the Curve to increase my chances of using an AmEx to mount up my 2for1 voucher spend and then my Avios pot using the BAPP and the Gold card. However, my IHG card gives 2 points per £ on normal spend, and these count toward the qualifying points. By dint of the fact that I hold this card, I am Platinum, but by getting 75,000 points, I could get Spire Elite.
For the past three years I have spent enough to receive the free night voucher and, in doing so, earn 20,000 points. I also had several planned stays at IHG properties comprising 12 nights this year so far, 5 of which are paid. These earn 4 points per £, giving me another 4,000 points for paying on my card and another 10,000 for staying. Persuading my wife to let me pay her tuition fees (working full time is not challenging enough so a part-time Masters on top keeps her amused!) should add another 7,000 points.
That gives me 41,000 qualifying points and needing a further 34,000. Normally I would do all my foreign spend on the Supercard, but if i did it on the IHG card, in would get 4 points per £. Earning another 10,000 points this was would not be unrealistic, but whether or not I make Spire remains to be seen.
In any respect, I realised that the Curve card was not for me, and I’m happy to be on the straight and narrow again.