Amex launches a new co-brand cashback card with health and life insurer Vitality

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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

Vitality American Express credit card

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

Vitality American Express Credit 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):

Vitality American Express card

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.

American Express Platinum Cashback card

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.

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Comments

  1. Very niche! I read about half the article and decided this card is just way to involved. Life, even a vitality filled one needs to be so much simpler!😳

    • Shoestring says:

      card itself looks pretty good to me – the dealbreaker is that the Vitality policy you need to sign up for is pretty expensive, OK if you needed it anyway but I don’t

    • To be fair, if you look at ALL the Vitality benefits (free Amazon Prime etc, plus 15% off Virgin flights soon and money off at Waitrose) you could – financially – do nicely. The level of mental jiggery-pokery required to keep on top of it all is too much for me though.

      • Fromdownwest says:

        I have an existing vitality product, and have the iwatch deal on it. One thing to note is that app that they use to track your points is utterly utterly useless, works 50% of the time.

        So even if you are doing the steps, exercise etc, you are not getting credited for the points, therefore missing out on cinema tickets, coffee, payments towards iwatch. I would not risk having bonus cash back applied with the state of the current app.

        Check out the app store, I am not alone.

        • I agree the app is incredibly flaky but what I find is that if regularly go into it and repeatedly update it will do so eventually. If for whatever reason points don’t get credited it is really easy for them to add them all you need to do is take a screen print from your phone proving you did the activity. Yes it’s a pain to have to do but it works and to date I have never had a kick back 😀

        • billythefish says:

          I know what you mean about the app, it’s beyond rubbish. However, I’ve found if steps aren’t counted on the app, you can take a screenshot from your Apple Health app (presumably from whatever other app you may use on a different phone) and mail them, asking for the relevant points be added, they get it done in a couple of days.

  2. CardiffJock says:

    Sorry to go O/T
    Considering upgrading from Amex Preferred Rewards Gold to Amex Platinum. Apparently there’s 20,000 MR points if you spend £4k within 3 months. Anyone done this?

    Main query is would I get a pro-rata refund of my PRG annual fee, as I’d assume I’d be paying the full £575 Platinum fee on upgrading?

    Thx

  3. Hi Rob,
    Does taking out this card affect sign up bonus offers on other Amex cards?

    • Don’t know. I am guessing that it does.

      You need to remember that this card, like the Costco one used to be, is not one that Amex discusses with its partners because it is not open to the general public. The first thing I knew about it was a leak from Vitality.

  4. Surely the Hilton card would have been a better use of their time? As a side note, I’ve always looked towards Amex as an aspirational brand, I’m not sure this does much for their image.

  5. Is referral bonus possible?

  6. How do you apply? Is there a link somewhere? I can’t find it.

    • We didn’t put a link because it is meant to be just for Vitality members and I didn’t want to annoy Amex. I was assuming Vitality will be telling people in its own time.

      • I asked Vitality for their data processing agreement with Amex, and its clear they will validate name and member number for applications.

        So no Vitality, you’ll be rejected.

  7. Does anyone know if this is actually open for applications yet as I have a qualifying vitality product but doesn’t seem to be working for me. The link from vitality’s website doesn’t redirect to the actual application? Could just be the general “buginess” of vitality!

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