Curve: the solution to business FX woes?
About a year ago, I decided that enough was enough, and I had to find an alternative to Paypal to cut costs. At the time, we were paying PayPal around £300 per month, which was at their 2.9% rate, generally plus a 1% cross border fee (i.e. we were paying them almost 4%). Although Elavon gave me the runaround, Worldpay offered a surprisingly good solution for a fraction of the price. Moving from Paypal to Worldpay was one of the best decision I’ve made.
However, I’d yet to find an equally good solution to the smaller but still substantial FX fees we pay for various software and hosting products in USD and EUR. I’d looked into currency accounts where the cost and headache of getting one and reconciling it would have outweighed the benefit and “travel” credit cards that, instead of paying cashback, simply don’t charge FX fees.
I didn’t want to have to reconcile two credit card accounts, nor did I want to give up the Membership Rewards that I get from running business expenses through my American Express. However, I was deeply unhappy that American Express charge a 3% FX fee on top of the £450pa card fee.
To make matters worse, although I have been a happy occasional customer of Transferwise, and was eagerly anticipating their stress-free currency account service, when it was launched, I realised that it doesn’t come with a card. Most of these software and hosting services rely on card payments.
I read about Curve on a travel site. Essentially, it’s a prepaid card, similar to Revolut. However, whereas Revolut prohibits business use, Curve is specifically for business use. Well, allegedly. The offers for Topshop, Goldsmiths and Dorothy Perkins might suggest that it’s a commercial card purely because commercial cards attract a higher acquisition fee but that’s not my problem.
The other key difference, which is a big help from a business point of view, is that rather than having to keep the card topped up or getting another statement to reconcile, each transaction is converted to GBP immediately and billed in GBP to the card of your choice. In this case, my business debit card. Therefore, I can rely on my business bank statement and I have a receipt from Curve and from the merchant with a complete paper trail.
It gets better
Not only is this a very easy way of cutting FX fees from 3% (Santander / American Express) to 1% (Curve), you can also attach several Visa and Mastercard credit and debit cards to it and pick the right card for each purchase. You can even reassign the card a purchase is funded from after the purchase. Again, this is probably more useful for personal users, of whom I’m sure there are many, because a the FX fee could be offset by using a cashback Visa/Mastercard credit card.
Also, you’ll get £5 free on the card the moment it arrives (code: VEYLGRYN) and the whole order, verification and activation process is really smooth. The limits are also, in my view, reasonable for most small businesses.
To make it perfect
I understand that Curve have to sustain grow their business and to do that, they have to charge their customers. However, I would like to see an option to pay a fixed monthly/yearly fee in place of 1% of my FX spend. This would persuade me to use the card more without having to think of the fee at each purchase, especially with larger purchases.