Last week, Nick wrote about using the Curve card to keep his marriage happy and healthy. Curve looks to the world like a credit card, but behind the scenes each transaction is sent to another credit card of your choosing. By signing up for the card, Nick’s wife can use the Curve card for all of her credit card spend, and Nick can decide which card each charge really goes to. Before his wife uses Curve, Nick can set the default credit card to use. He can also set up automated rules so that Curve knows which card to charge for things like groceries or gas; or for very small purchases; or for very large purchases. He can also switch a purchase after the fact: If he realizes that a purchase went to the wrong card, Curve provides a “Go Back in Time” mechanism to let cardholders change which underlying card is charged.
Wanting, but Waiting
In my case, I’d love for my wife to have Curve, but I’m also eager to get it myself. And, I’m trying! Like Nick, I was one of the lucky 100 to get an early invite, but unlike Nick, I haven’t yet had success in accepting that invite. I’ve had the UK version of Curve in the past and that has apparently messed up the system. I’ve sent messages to Curve support and hopefully they’ll figure something out. It’s a little dicey though because most support messages come through the app, and at the time of this writing I can’t navigate the app at all. It’s stuck on the identify verification screen (or, more accurately, the screen saying that something went wrong) and I can’t get past that even with reinstalling the app or with installing it on another phone. So, if they insist on replying to my issues via the app, I don’t think I’ll ever have access to those replies!
Despite the Limitations
Curve currently has significant limitations. It doesn’t support Amex cards and probably never will. And it doesn’t currently support Visa credit cards. The Visa card issue is supposed to be temporary, but I’m not so sure. I know that banks and payment networks don’t like things like Curve that hide the true source of payment. Maybe the issues Curve has with Visa are purely technical, but it won’t surprise me at all if Visa bans Curve altogether just as Amex has.
Despite Curve being limited to Mastercard, Discover, and Diner’s Club, I still want it. I believe I could put together a very nice “Curve Wallet” even with those limitations. In the next section, I’ll show how I plan to use Curve if I ever get it working, and I think you’ll see why I’m excited about Curve despite its limitations…
My Curve Wallet
If I can get Curve working, here are the cards that I hope to use:
- Chase Freedom Flex (5x rotating categories; 3x drugstore): I have three Freedom Visa cards that I’ll product change to Freedom Flex Mastercards. This will give me 3x at drugstores & restaurants; and 5x in quarterly rotating categories. It’s the latter where Curve will really shine, especially if they perfect the ability to set rules (right now their rules seem to be in an early beta form). Once a quarter, I should be able to set the rules to use a Freedom Flex card when spending within a 5x category. Today, I rarely make use of the Freedom card’s 5x categories because I forget which 5x categories are active. With Curve, theoretically, I’ll be able to set the rules once per quarter and automatically earn 5x! And if a purchase pushes me over the limit of $1,500 spend for 5x, I could switch that payment to another Freedom Flex card and then make that the go-to card for those categories going forward.
- Discover It (5% rotating categories): This is the same story as above with Freedom Flex cards. Discover It changes its 5% categories every quarter. If I can use rules to make sure to use the Discover It card only when 5% applies, then I’ll use it much more often.
- Citi Prestige (5x dining): It’s great getting 5x for dining with this card, but its not so great when a restaurant codes as something other than dining and so I get only 1x. If I instead use Curve with a rule telling it to use the Prestige card at restaurants, then Curve will charge my next best card for purchases that don’t code as dining.
- Citi Custom Cash (5x grocery, 5x gas): I have two of these cards now that I’ve product changed both from an old ThankYou Preferred and the fee free AT&T card. The Custom Cash card offers 5x in the category you spend the most each billing cycle, on up to $500 spend. Here are the eligible categories: Restaurants, Gas Stations, Grocery Stores, Select Travel, Select Transit, Select Streaming Services, Drugstores, Home Improvement Stores, Fitness Clubs and Live Entertainment. I’ll use at least one exclusively for grocery purchases. I may use the other for 5x at gas stations.
- Citi Rewards+ (5x+ small purchases): This card automatically rounds up rewards to the nearest 10 ThankYou points. So, $2 purchases earn 10 points (5 points per dollar) and 10 cent purchases also earn 10 points (100 points per dollar). It would be cool to set up Curve to use this card anytime a purchase is $2 or less.
- Citi Double Cash (2x everywhere): The Citi Double Cash card earns 2x for all spend. This is a terrific catch-all card for occasions where there is no Mastercard or Discover card that offers 3x or more.
In my recent post “What’s in Greg’s wallet? [2022 Edition]” I listed the following cards in my physical wallet:
- Visa: Wyndham Rewards Earner Business Card for Gas (8x)
- Mastercard: Citi Prestige Card for dining (5x)
- Amex: Amex Gold Card for grocery (4x)
- Visa: Chase Sapphire Reserve for Travel (3x)
- Visa: X1 – My “Everywhere else” card (3x+)
- Visa: Fee free debit card
With Curve in place as described earlier, I could easily put away the Prestige card and the Amex Gold card. I’ll still earn 5x at restaurants with the Prestige card when I use Curve and I’ll earn 5x at grocery stores (instead of the Gold card’s 4x) thanks to my Custom Cash card. For gas station purchases I might still carry the Wyndham Earner Business card to earn 8x, but I might instead use Curve tied to a second Custom Cash card to earn 5x ThankYou points.
Until Curve supports Visa cards, I’ll still have several cards in my wallet. Curve will lighten my wallet a little, but not a lot. That said, without adding to my wallet’s heft, Curve will give me access to my three Freedom cards, and my Discover It card all the time. Even better: it will let me set up rules to automatically use those cards when and where they offer 5x rewards. And if the rules somehow don’t capture the occasion, I can always “Go Back in Time” to fix it.