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. @alastairtravel says:

    Looks on the complex side to me, and 160 activity points is big – e.g. 10,000 steps per day 5 days of every week.
    I can see how this would have a place amongst existing active Vitality customers, but seems quite limited

  2. Extremely niche product, would need a vitality plan, regularly achieve the exercise requirement AND want a amex card with the requisite spend. Think it will drop into the abyss never to be heard about again

  3. flyforfun says:

    I’ve just recently joined a new company and Vitality is the private health insurer provider. I’m paying twice what I was paying in P11d deductions than I was at my old company for less cover. At my old company all pre-existing issues were covered. Here I had to fill out a huge form detailing everything that was all excluded, not even a moratorium for a couple of years.

    The fitness trackers are all watcher or Apple products, so nothing I use. There is so much that I can’t use in the way of gym discounts (live in a modern block with in-house gym) movie discounts (I want to enjoy a movie, not get annoyed at everyone around me on their phones!!)

    When it comes time to renew, I will consider withdrawing. The credit card isn’t an incentive to stay.

  4. Shame you need a premium of £60+ plus a month to benefit as well!
    Let’s hope the Virgin benefit is at least a better offer. Very disappointed the BA benefit has gone considering the avios and tier point.

  5. Be careful guys
    I apply for this card as I have a number of American Express card and I was declined a card because the limit to the amount of card you’re allowed to have it for and I have a 999 experience rating so just be careful if you have four more cards you will be potentially declined

  6. RakishDriver says:

    That is just dull.
    I hope they’re gonna put the same effort into pushing a decent Marriott bonvoy card.

  7. Presumably this won’t launch until December 13th (when the current FlyVitality scheme ends) as that doesn’t accept AMEX.

  8. Quite another interesting benefit they have announced:

    “Expedia
    Vitality members will receive up to 20% off four hotel bookings a year. The discount amount and the number of bookings allowed will start at 10%, increasing to 20% depending on a person’s plan, Vitality status and engagement with the Vitality Programme.”

  9. Not interested in the card, but I am very interested to see, not only Amex launch a new co-brand card, but with a good earning rate AND encourage high spending! Surely Amex will be losing money?

    • Something ia going on. I can imagine them agreeing to lose money on a UK Hilton card to preserve their US relationship, for example, but Vitality …..?

  10. For awareness, the 160 points a month may not be all that achievable for some. You can get a maximum of 8 points per day, with a cap at 40 points per week. So if for any reason you don’t hit your 12.5k steps 5 times in a week, you won’t hit the maximum amount of cash back. There are exercise targets you could meet instead though if you didn’t hit the steps (a half hour run would give you the same points).

  11. Jonathan says:

    A bit OT but Amex related, when the platinum business card had the 27k referral bonus on last month\earlier this month. Was the 90k annual cap temporarily lifted too?

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