Curve and its "mid-market" exchange rate

Friday of last week, after 11pm but before 12, I made 2 purchases in USD where curve handled the conversion to EUR. After much talk here recently about Curve’s exchange rates, I thought of checking the applied exchange against xe.com. The result was that Curve was overcharging me about 1%. Giving the benefit of the doubt I checked with Revolut which perfectly matched xe’s exchange rate.

While I’m at it, right after midnight, an automated payment, also in USD, lands on my Curve card and I take the opportunity to check using the same rates I had just gotten from xe and Revolut for comparison and now it’s a 0.8% spread, meaning the weekend purchase where a 0.5% fee would supposedly have been applied turned out actually cheaper!

I write to Curve support explaining the whole thing just like I did here, including screenshots from xe and Revolut and the response was that no fees had been applied for the first 2 transactions and a 0.5% fee was applied to the third, their system said. My explanation and screenshots were totally ignored…

I reply back, asking them to actually check what I wrote about the 1/0.8% spreads and the accompanying screenshots and they get back to me saying that their “mid-market” rate is only updated at the top of the hour, something that hasn’t been disclosed anywhere ever, at least that I could find and which defies much of the point of having a mid market rate, being also deceptive when all other entities that I’ve come across that talk about using mid-market rates actually do use the live rate. Isn’t that the point of needing the whole weekend fee thing?

On this second reply they then go off on this totally unprompted rant about Mastercard rates and how they’re only updated once a day while also deflecting any responsibility to Currency Layer, mentioning that it’s what a lot of the rest of the industry also uses and that the 60 minute update interval is simply how Currency Layer works, it was presented as a fact that Currency Layer only gives hourly updates, that’s just how they work.

I checked their website given that I got accurate FX in the past from other entities that I’m pretty sure also use Currency Layer and they say they provide rates in 60 minute to 60 second intervals depending on the contract one has with them. It seems Curve is on the cheapo one

Then, I also got the whole marketing speak about how Curve nonetheless, despite the hourly thing, still allows me to save between 3 to 5% of FX compared to “high street” banks. Is Curve here just calling me stupid? Do they think them repeating this over and over makes it true?

Again, I checked, with the implication being that I wouldn’t find any bank offering me less than a 3% fee. My findings from all “high street” banks here in Portugal were that most charge about 3%, right at the lower limit, with none going over 3.25%. Personally, I have an account with one of those high street banks that charges me 0%, using MasterCard’s exchange without any markup

Somewhere in the middle of it, they say that for that time period the Mastercard rate (which, remember, I wasn’t the one bringing up) would actually have been cheaper and offer to give me 8 Curve points to cover that difference. How kind 🤦

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You can always use GBIT to move to the transaction to a Revolut card set to USD in Curve and let Revolut handle the FX at their (better) rate.

And you can do it after a weekend to save the 0:5% markup
And still have curve benefit

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You seem to have missed the point that the transaction that had the 0.5% was actually cheaper then the other ones

No, I cannot. GBIT only lets you move transactions to cards in the same currency as the original card

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Yes, you can.

https://support.imaginecurve.com/hc/en-gb/articles/115003751009-Which-transactions-can-I-move-with-Go-Back-in-Time-?mobile_site=true

You can move transactions in different currencies to a card which has the same currency as either the original funding card or the currency originally billed for that transaction.

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Interesting. When I tried it first it gave an error saying that I could only move transactions between cards on the currency of the originally billed card but now it worked

Set both card to the local currency
On a weekday, use go back in time
And with revolut you now save the 0:5%
You get 1 visa card, and a virtual card, so you can use the trick for free

Now you know how you can even save more money

Something seems to have changed re: Curve’s exchange fees recently. I’m in the habit of occasionally checking the rates (against XE, Google, and Revolut), and during the week Curve’s rates have pretty much always been mid-market, never deviating more than 0.1%.

However, yesteday (Friday) the rate over 4 transactions starting from morning till evening was 0.8%, 1.4%, 1.5% and 1.38% worse than the mid-market rates (checked with providers above which were very close).

So something seems to have changed or broken. One thought I have is that maybe some FX provider in the UK that Curve was using has stopped providing services due to social distancing? Would be eager for someone from Curve to comment.

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What currency pair were you looking at alexschernyshev?

(Confused by the community flags on my first post in this thread… did people think I was serious when I suggest 8p compensation was suitable?)

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I wouldn’t worry Connie. Everything gets flagged by the serial flaggers on this community! :roll_eyes:

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They are silently making money on this “trick” and hoping that most people will not notice, that’s what it is… I had similar issue, made an EUR purchase around Feb 9 in the afternoon, my card’s currency is HUF.

The rate never even reached 340 the whole day according to multiple different sources, yet my Curve rate was 344. I also got the bullshit reply from support about Currency Layer. Even my greedy “high street” home bank had lower rates for the whole day than 340.

The only time when the rate was close to 344 was in the early morning. I asked them if it’s possible that their system did not refresh since the morning for some reason, but they just ignored that question and never got a reply ever since!

So what Curve is clearly doing is making some extra money on these hidden extra spreads, since very few people notice, and even fewer people go all the way that far like the guy who posted the question.
On paper all looks good of course, and blame goes to Currency Layer. I’m no lawyer, but this is not right for sure.

It wouldn’t be the first when a company is playing with the spreads, after all they have to make profit somehow, but after seeing how they are hiding it, I did regret that I invested in Curve. Not because the technology developed is not good or such, but because the mentality they pivoted to lately.

And for those who argue that Curve was actually so generous that they compensated with some points, my question would be, can you even imagine how many transactions like these go unnoticed every day?

Also, if this would go into some newspapers it would maybe make a difference, but just debating it here on the community forum that is only read by Curve itself I feel it’s close to pointless. Just wanted to share my experience to let you know that it happens continuously, but sadly mostly unnoticed. I stopped using Curve for any FX transactions since then.

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It’s not a trick on spreads and comparing to other sources is not relevant.

Curve take the rate from Currency Layer, and the rate for that day is about 338.4

The issue you’ve run in to is that Curve add fees to the transaction, from 0% up to 3.5% depending on what day it is, how much you’ve spent, and where you are. Unlike every UK credit card or bank card, the fee is not disclosed in your statement, hence your confusion.

You’ve been charged a 1.5% fee, so the blended rate is abut 343.5. If you’d spent £500 already in the last month, you would have been charged 3.5% and given a rate of 350.

When Curve launches in the US, expect this to change to ensure compliance with a class action lawsuit against Mastercard.

According to Currency Layer themselves, they don’t have daily rates but rather minute to hourly rates, depending on what kind of contract one has with them

Of course it is relevant! They claim to use the mid market rate. The whole point of the mid market rate is that it’s the same (with very minute variation) everywhere and easily available

They don’t currently comply with the rules of the markets outside the UK they operate in, so what makes you think they would comply with that?

The point I was making was that they are using the midmarket rate, and later adding a fee to it. Currency Layer’s rates are fine, and report 338.4 for the day in question. Comparing this to other mid market rates is not relevant - if Curve used the Mastercard rate or a different rate, the difference would be marginal

The issue is that Curve are adding hidden fees to the transaction, and hiding it in the FX rate. Currency Layer don’t have anything to do with this.

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How do you know if the problem is eventual fees or the rate itself? I don’t think we have enough evidence to say if its one or the other. The only thing we have is Curve’s claims that it uses the mid market rate and the mid market rate that we can get through multiple sources. That’s what we can hold Curve to

What you’re implicitly doing is claiming this is a dishonesty case instead of a negligence one and I don’t see enough evidence to back that up if the alternative is a possible one

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I asked Currency Layer for the FX rate on the day in question. That was 338.4.
I looked up Curve’s potential fees for the transaction - they were either 1.5% or 3.5%.

You said you were charged 344.

338.4 plus a fee of 1.5% is 343.5. It seems clear to me what occurred.

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Doesn’t seem clear at all to me. Some problem is happening somewhere, that much is obvious. From there how can you know if Curve is taking an incorrect, potentially outdated rate or is instead taking the correct rate and applying fees to it? Also, when was that rate for the day taken? How much was the variation in FX during that day?

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No, that is not the case. According to Curve’s own information: https://support.imaginecurve.com/hc/en-gb/articles/214124809-What-foreign-exchange-rates-will-I-pay- and to the Terms of Service https://www.curve.com/en-gb/terms

"Please note, if the currency of your transaction and the currency of the underlying payment card used with Curve is the same, Curve will always pass through the transaction with no additional fees.

Curve (free) customers: Up to a spend of £500 per month - no currency conversion fees will be charged. From £501 and above (cumulative) a month, you will be charged an additional 2% as currency conversion fees."

image

In that rolling window I definitely did not have more than 500GBP spending in foreign currencies, since the only transaction was the one itself I complained about and that was €300. If they are accumulating to that 500GBP limit the amount of any spending, regardless whether it is in the same currency as the underlying payment card, then that is straight against their own terms and what they are advertising.

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If you read all 14k words (!) you’ll find there’s another set of fees to pay as well - the 1.5% is coming as a weekend charge. If you’d spent over £500, then the 2% is added on top, for a total of 3.5%

It seems most customers don’t understand that they’re being charged by Curve, or what fees they’re paying, or how they’re derived - and the app is designed too hide the fees from the customers by adjusting the FX rate. It will also go on to assume the customer’s other cards will charge 6.5% in FX fees when it calculates your estimated ‘saving’ - quite a stretch when no UK card (other than Curve itself) charges even 3%! It looks like your customer service agent didn’t explain the fees when you asked either.

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Just to clarify, the actual transaction I looked it up now precisely, was on Febr 7 on Friday afternoon, the Febr 9 weekend date was when I noticed and contacted Curve. The actual rate calculated was 344.96, and I am perfectly aware of the extra weekend fees.

So to sum it up:

  • my foreign currency spending was below £500 at the time of the mentioned purchase in the rolling window
  • it was not weekend, and not it the morning, but at 14:12 exactly on Friday
  • the highest mid-market rate for that day was below 340.
  • I checked all my transactions on that day, and I had one more after it, at 18:12 where the rate was 338.14

How is it possible that for some transactions my rate is higher, and then couple hours later it is the correct? While let me repeat, that the whole day the mid-market rate did not reach 340.
I double-checked in my local bank’s account history to be sure, and I was below the £500 if I accumulated all CRV transactions made in foreign currencies for that window.

Maybe it’s just a bug, maybe they miscalculated the limits or something with refunds and mixed up things, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t change the fact that the rate they are providing is not consistent, at least in this case for sure.

+1: it also doesn’t change the fact that instead of actually having a look into this anomaly (I’m pretty sure they have way deeper data on transactions then what we can see in the app) they are just bouncing it off with mostly template replies. It’s not just about the money itself, but as I mentioned earlier, the shift in the approach how they handle a case: where I took the time to look up all the data, etc… all they provide in reply is some half copy-pasted, half automated answer without actually taking some time to understand what I exactly asked.

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