American Express has just launched a new co-brand credit card – with life and health insurer Vitality.
This is interesting on a number of levels:
The cashback rewards on offer seem surprisingly generous given that, as a co-brand card, this product should be impacted by the EU caps on fees charged to retailers by card companies
It shows that American Express is still keen to play in the co-brand market, which is a positive sign for anyone hoping that travel firms like Hilton may launch new cards
How will the Vitality American Express Card work?
Here are the key facts:
It is a credit card, not a charge card
You can only apply if you have a qualifying Vitality product. If you and your partner have a joint plan, only one of you can apply for the card. If you have individual plans, you are both eligible to apply for your own cards.
There is no annual fee
The interest rate is 22.9% APR variable
There is no sign-up offer although there are a couple of exclusive cashback offers, eg £99 back if you buy an Apple Watch and pay with the card
You will earn up to 1% cashback on your annual spending from American Express – 0.5% for the first £5,000 of purchases and 1% on purchases over £5,000
You need to spend at least £3,000 per year on your Amex card to receive cashback
But here is the key … Vitality will pay you up to an additional 2% cashback on your spending, assuming you hit health and lifestyle targets
This is a limit of £20 per month on the cashback paid by Vitality (£1,000 per month purchase cap at up to 2% cashback)
Cashback, from both Amex and Vitality, is dropped onto your statement in a lump sum one month after the end of your card year
Accrued cashback is lost if you cancel your card
What are ‘targets’?
If you’re not familiar with Vitality, it takes a carrot-and-not-a-stick approach to your welfare. You track all of your exercise and ‘healthy living’ activity and receive rewards on the back of that.
For example, if you currently pay for Amazon Prime, you would get it for free with Vitality if you were active enough:
- Take out an eligible Health, Life or Invest plan
- Complete your online Health Review
- Link a compatible activity tracker to your Vitality account
- Earn 160 Vitality activity points a month to get the next month’s Prime membership on us
The current list of Vitality partners is here. British Airways was a partner but is currently in the process of withdrawing. There is a new Virgin Atlantic deal coming which we will cover separately.
This is how the American Express deal works
Take a look at the chart below (click to enlarge):
If you hit ‘160 Activity Points’ in a month (the same level required to trigger free Amazon Prime membership in the earlier example), Vitality will pay you an ADDITIONAL 1% cashback on your American Express spend.
If you have two eligible Vitality plans – it is not clear if that means two across a household or if you hold two different plans of your own (eg health and life insurance) – then you would receive up to 2% ADDITIONAL cashback.
The additional Vitality cashback will be paid on all card spend, including supplementary cards.
The Vitality ‘top-up’ cashback is limited to £1,000 of purchases per month. This means that the maximum you can earn is £10 per month if you hold one qualifying Vitality plan and £20 per month if you hold two qualifying plans. You would also need to hit 160 Activity Points to earn this rate.
The cashback runs in arrears. If you hit 160 Activity Points in January, for example, you would receive 1% or 2% cashback on your Amex spend incurred in March. If you dropped to 120 points in February, you would receive 0.75% or 1.5% on your spend in April.
When is cashback paid?
Cashback follows the same model as the existing American Express cashback cards.
It is paid one month after your card anniversary date. If you cancel your card, accrued cashback is lost.
A minimum annual spend of £3,000 on the card is required to earn cashback.
The additional ‘up to 2%’ paid by Vitality is dropped onto your American Express card as a credit at the same time. It is not paid directly to you by Vitality or used to reduce your monthly premiums.
How does the Vitality American Express Credit Card compare to the two existing American Express Platinum cashback cards?
American Express already has two cashback credit cards. We reviewed the Amex Platinum Cashback cards here.
The American Express Platinum Cashback card (pictured above) has a £25 fee and pays you cashback at the following rate:
- 5% cashback on all your spending in the first three months, up to £2,500 of purchases
- 1% back if you spend under £10,000 from month 4 to month 12 (and annually thereafter)
- 1.25% back on your spend over £10,000 from month 4 to month 12 (and annually thereafter)
The American Express Platinum Cashback Everyday card has a tiered system:
- 5% cashback on all your spending in the first three months, up to £2,000 of purchases
After the first three months, you will earn:
- 0.5% on the first £5,000 of spend (but you get nothing if you spend under £3,000)
- 1% back on your spend over £5,000
As with the Vitality card, cashback is paid in a lump sum at the end of each card year.
The Vitality American Express Credit Card is a better deal than the American Express Platinum Cashback Everyday card. It has identical cashback from Amex BUT you will also get your cashback from Vitality as well.
Whether the Vitality American Express Credit Card is better than the £25 Amex Platinum Cashback Card depends on two things:
- how much you spend on the card each year
- how many Activity Points you earn per month
The Vitality Amex is likely to outperform for most people.
Is this a card worth getting?
Potentially, yes, if you are a Vitality member.
Someone spending £12,000 per year on this card, holding two Vitality plans and generating 160 Activity Points per month would be getting a very generous 2.8% back. (£240 from Vitality and £95 from Amex, divided by £12,000.) This is not bad at all.
Full details are on the ‘Member Zone’ if you log in to the Vitality website.
(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards? Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)