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More than ever, credit card companies are tailoring rewards programs to very specific groups of people. For example, if you’re passionate about the environment, you can get a credit card that plants a tree every time you make a purchase. And there are plenty of credit cards designed for football fans. The biggest lifestyle credit card opportunity, however, is health and wellness, according to Derek Flanzraich, founder and CEO of Ness.
“Health and wellness is the new non-negotiable for the younger generation,” Flanzraich says. Ness recently debuted the first premium, points-based health and wellness credit card.
The Ness Card is available via invite as part of a public beta test at Nesswell.com. It’s issued by The Bank of Missouri and runs on the Mastercard network. This is a charge card, so it doesn’t assess interest — cardholders are required to pay in full every billing cycle.
Ness offers a lengthy list of perks, headlined by a $200 annual credit for a wide range of health and wellness purchases. Other brand-specific offers include:
- $15 back after each $75 spent at Sweetgreen (up to two credits per month); this essentially amounts to an “every fifth salad free” promotion that could reimburse cardholders as much as $360 per year
- $300 annual credit for Parsley Health (advanced primary care)
- $200 annual credit for self-care services at Exhale Spa
- $200 annual credit for personal training with Fyt
- $180 annual credit for in-home beauty services via a Glamsquad membership
- $100 annual credit for probiotics from Seed
- $100 annual credit for inner wellness tech gear at HigherDOSE
- $1,000 in additional benefits from Magic Spoon, SOTO Method, Modern Age and others
The annual fee is $349. As with other credit cards that charge annual fees, it’s important to run the numbers and determine how many of these benefits you’re likely to use. Your $349 annual fee could entitle you to thousands of dollars in value each year, and we haven’t even gotten to the sign-up bonus or rewards on your everyday spending.
The introductory bonus is 50,000 points after spending $6,000 or more in your first 90 days with the Ness Card. On an ongoing basis, cardholders can receive up to 20,000 points per year in exchange for meeting healthy goals pertaining to working out, sleeping, walking and mindfulness.
Cardholders earn 5 points for every dollar they spend at healthy merchants (the eligibility list is quite broad) and 2 points per dollar everywhere else. Each point is worth 1 cent toward purchases from partner companies such as Chipotle, Warby Parker, Beyond Yoga and more. If you opt for cash back, each point is worth half a cent, so there’s a strong incentive to redeem via partners.
The bottom line
I’m intrigued that Ness is starting with a premium card and planning to unveil lower-fee options at a later date. Flanzraich believes this is the right approach because if Ness can turn these big spenders with an affinity for health and wellness into avid fans, then the company can succeed with everyone. It’s an interesting strategy.
I’ll admit that, while I enjoy running, I’m not a health and wellness superfan. Looking through the list of Ness’ various credits, these aren’t merchants that I frequent. But you might be different. The $200 annual statement credit for health and wellness purchases is broadly applicable and reminds me of the $300 travel credit offered by premium travel cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. A $349 annual fee looks a lot different when you take those credits into account. In Ness’ case, just about everyone should be able to maximize the $200 annual health and wellness credit, which would reduce the effective annual fee from $349 to $149.
With so many partner offers, the right type of spender could easily earn back that $149 — and potentially much more. The sign-up bonus and rewards on everyday spending should also factor into your calculations.
At the end of the day, choosing the best credit card is a very personal decision. What’s right for one person may not be the optimal choice for someone else. Ness is a niche option, and it’s not the ideal fit for me — but it’s worth a look if you spend a lot on health and wellness.
Have a question about credit cards? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be happy to help.