If getting fit isn’t quite enough to haul you out of bed and out for a run during the winter months, perhaps the promise of cashback on your spending might be?
American Express and insurance provider Vitality have teamed up to launch a new cashback credit card with a difference. The more exercise you do, the more cash you earn – up to an eye-catching 3 per cent on some spends.
Spend £12,000 per year on the card and get active enough and you could pocket up to £335.
With a dearth of decent cashback and rewards credit cards on the market, the potential earnings are eye-catching – but is it any good and how hard do you have to work to earn the maximum.
The Vitality American Express pays up to 3 per cent back when you swipe your card in shops
Insurer, Vitality, is known for its health and life insurance member perks linked to the amount of physical activity you do. It offers anything from free coffees, cinema tickets to Amazon prime or discounts on Apple watches if you reach certain targets.
The idea is a clever one: encourage people to be more active and stay fit and it keeps them healthier, happier and hopefully also less likely in turn to need to claim on their policy.
The new Vitality American Express Credit Card sits on top of the rewards scheme.
How much could I earn?
The amount you earn depends on how much physical activity you do, but the card offers a base level of cashback independent of how much you hit the gym.
You earn 0.5 per cent cashback on the first £5,000 spent on the card and then 1 per cent beyond that.
Got Vitality insurance already?
Vitality rewards are included with qualifying personal health insurance products, costing £35 per month or more and with corporate or business healthcare policies.
The price of your policy is dependent on individual circumstances and any pre-existing conditions.
If you have a qualifying life policy you will either have to pay an extra £4.50 or £6 per month to join the rewards scheme.
While premiums vary on your circumstances, the minimum qualifying VitalityLife plan policy costs from £60 per month.
This would mean a £500 monthly spend would clock up £35 cashback, while a £1,000 monthly spend would earn £95 in cashback per year.
This is paid as long as you spend a minimum of £3,000 per year.
The card then pays tiered cashback on top depending on how much activity you do and whether you hold any other Vitality product. This is worth an extra 2 per cent.
This is where it gets slightly more complicated.
First off, the extra 2 per cent is only paid on up to £1,000 per month of spending.
To be eligible to earn the first additional 1 per cent you must hold either a health or life plan with Vitality.
To get the maximum extra 2 per cent back you must have both a health and life plan with the insurer.
Cashback is then tiered for both brackets according to how much exercise you take (see table below).
To earn the maximum you must earn at least 160 of its Vitality points. The points are earned by hooking up fitness trackers and monitoring your step count, exercise and heart rate.
To give you an idea, 30 minutes exercise at 70 per cent maximum heart rate earns you 8 Vitality points. 10,000 steps tracked in a day or a partner gym visit gets you 5 Vitality points or 7,000 steps tracked in a day earns 3 Vitality points.
|American Express Cashback||Spending up to £5,000 per year||Spending over £5,000 per year|
|Vitality physical activity points earned each month||Vitality cashback booster with one eligible Health or Life plan||Vitality cashback booster with both an eligible Health and Life plan|
The cashback rate works two months behind, so your current rate is based on your Vitality points from two months previous.
The maximum you could earn if you have both a health and life plan, reach your 160 points per month and spend £12,000 on the card per year would be £240 from Vitality and £95 from Amex.
For the same annual spend, if you are only walking 7,000 steps per day and nothing else, with only one Vitality product you would qualify for an extra 0.5 per cent cashback.
This would earn you a total £155 per year – £95 from Amex and £60 from your Vitality activity.
You have to be patient when it comes to getting your hands on the cash – the money is paid one month after the anniversary of your card membership to your Amex credit card as a credit.
Motivation: Could a cashback perk on help get you moving more?
First off, the credit card is an American Express card. Amex has a rather love it or hate it reputation, as they are not accepted everywhere.
You must also remember cashback and rewards on credit cards are designed to get you to spend more, as the more you spend the higher the potential balance that the company can charge interest on.
Interest on spending on this card is set at 22.9 per cent, higher than a standard credit card. The majority charge between 18 and 20 per cent but this is gradually creeping up.
You should not apply if you are likely to be unable to repay the balance each month as interest on spending will quickly wipe out any gains from cashback.
You may be better off with a card that helps you spread the cost of spending or pay of debt quicker with a 0 per cent interest deal attached or a consistently low interest rate instead.
You can read more about these in our complete guide to the best credit cards for spending here.
Another word of warning before you rush to apply, you will likely need a sparkling credit history in order to qualify for the most attractive credit cards.
Even if you are accepted you may not be offered the best interest rate as the advertised deals must only be offered to 51 per cent of successful applicants.
How does it compare to other cashback credit cards?
At the moment Amex offers the two most competitive cashback credit cards on the market– its Platinum Cashback credit card deal and Platinum Cashback Everyday card.
Both pay 5 per cent back on the first three months of spending, with tiered rates on spending after that.
The Platinum version comes with a £25 annual fee, it offers up to 5 per cent back on up to £2,500 in the first three months (worth up to £125), 1 per cent on spending up to £10,000 per year and then 1.25 per cent on amounts above that.
The free option pays 5 per cent on up to £2,000 in your first three months (worth up to £100), then 0.5 per cent on your first £5,000 and £1,000 beyond that.
Another worth considering is the Tandem Bank’s Cashback Credit Card .
It pays 0.5 per cent cashback on every purchases at home and abroad. It also offers an added perk of no overseas purchase fees and has a slightly lower APR at 18.9 per cent.
It is an app-only bank however, which may not be for everyone. But it does have the added benefit of helpful spending breakdowns and added budgeting tools.
This is Money’s verdict
The Vitality Amex card is a good bonus for those already attached to the Vitality rewards scheme.
If you are active and signed up, the credit card certainly pays well if you maximise your spending.
At 3 per cent cashback it beats all other long-term cashback offers, and is more lucrative than Amex’s Platinum Cashback cards even considering the introductory bonus of 5 per cent in the first three months.
But it really does depend on how much activity you do, as earnings could be much lower if you don’t reach that 160 Vitality activity point threshold.
Therefore make sure you are realistic about your lifestyle and base potential earnings on this instead if you are thinking of applying.
To maximise earnings you could consider taking out a supplementary card for family members, but remember to set up a direct debit to pay it off each month to avoid interest.
You certainly shouldn’t base your health and life insurance cover choices on eye-catching perks as cover needs to suit your needs first and foremost.
You could also save more than potential earnings in cashback by opting for a better value insurance product.
THIS IS MONEY’S FIVE OF THE BEST CREDIT CARDS
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