From points to miles…a hot topic at the moment for Discovery members. Charlene Steenkamp discusses the changes and breaks down the differences between the two.

Members of Discovery’s Vitality rewards programme no longer earn Vitality reward points but are now getting Discovery miles, irking some of the 1.8-million members who believe they may be short-changed by the changeover.

Mathias Mujinga, for example, says in a Facebook post that as he understands it, Vitality Active reward points are currently worth R1 each, but with the conversion to Discovery Miles members will receive six miles for every point, which is essentially 60c.

“This seems unfair as you are robbing us of 40c per point,” he says.

Arthur Goldstuck, technology analyst and MD at World Wide Worx, says he has not been able to calculate whether Vitality members are getting the same value with the changeover to miles. It is complex, he says.

Every time Discovery makes changes to its programme, Discovery Vitality members believe the screws are being tightened on them, says Goldstuck.

But, according to Discovery Vitality, members are better off earning miles instead of Vitality reward points.

Dinesh Govender, CEO of Vitality, says Discovery miles are more valuable because there are more ways to earn and spend them and they have greater longevity. Miles can be saved for up to five years whereas points expired after 12 weeks.

Vitality reward points could only be earned by completing Vitality Active rewards goals.

But Discovery miles can also be earned by spending on HealthyFood, HealthyGear and HealthyCare items, driving well and spending on a Discovery credit card.

Vitality reward points could only be spent on Vitality Active rewards vouchers. But Discovery miles can be spent on online or in-store shopping at Vitality retail partners, on airline tickets from Kulula and on Avios travel rewards; they can also be converted to cash in your Discovery Bank account, Govender says.

A bid to ease confusion

Ten Discovery miles are worth R1, while Vitality reward points were not an exchangeable instrument, Govender says.

One reason for the change from reward points to miles is to avoid confusion between Vitality points and Vitality reward points.

For the past 20 years, Discovery Health members have earned Vitality points by
exercising, eating healthy food and going for health screenings.

These points determine your tier status on the programme. There are five tiers: blue, bronze, silver, gold and diamond.

Your tier status, in turn, allows you to earn Vitality reward points, and the higher your status the greater the rewards you can earn. For instance, on the blue tier you can get 15% off the cost of a flight on Kulula but when you achieve diamond status, your discount jumps to 35%.

The way in which your tier status is determined – as measured by Vitality points, not Vitality reward points – remains in place, Govender says.

Discovery launched Vitality Active Rewards four years ago as a regular weekly physical engagement programme, Govender says.

Under the Vitality Active Rewards programme, you could earn Vitality reward points by meeting personal exercise targets each week as measured by a fitness tracker and these points could be used to get a free coffee or smoothie or bigger rewards such as a Netflix or DStv BoxOffice voucher.

As from January 11, rewards have been awarded as Discovery miles, instead of Vitality reward points.

Members are still guaranteed the basic reward for meeting their weekly goal, which is a free coffee (for 150 miles, previously 75 points were needed), or they can save their points towards a bigger reward.

Miles better, Discovery says

Miles can now be earned across the company’s products: Discovery Health Medical Scheme, Discovery Insure and Discovery Bank.

Bank clients have been able to earn up to one Discovery mile for every R15 spent since the bank was launched last year.

Govender assures Vitality members who held points up to January 11 that they will receive Discovery miles for those accumulated points.

Members who had accumulated 100 points had them converted at a rate of 1 one Vitality reward point to six Discovery miles. Therefore 100 Vitality reward points will equate to 600 Discovery miles. “The transition will be seamless,” Govender says.

In future, when you achieve your personal weekly goal, whether for exercise, driving or responsible spending, you will earn 100 Discovery miles, plus a play on the Vitality Active Rewards game board.

The game board is a board within the Discovery smartphone app with 20 game tiles that hide Discovery miles values from 50 upwards. You pick a tile, and the relevant value in Discovery miles is added to your miles balance.

A technical issue on the changeover of the system on Saturday last week resulted in members not receiving their 100 Discovery miles for achieving their weekly goal, on top of their game board play.

Govender told Money on Friday that all members would be allocated their miles by the end of the day.

You earn more miles if you use more than one Discovery product. For instance, while members of Vitality Drive can get up to 50% off fuel purchases, those who belong to both Drive and Vitality Money can get up to 70% off these purchases.

It works for some

You can redeem Discovery miles at any Discovery partner such as Exclusive Books, Netflix, Cotton On and Dis-Chem.

You can also shop online and make in-store purchases at selected shops such as Clicks, Pick n Pay, Cape Union Mart and Zando.

In addition, if you are a Discovery Bank account holder you can convert your miles into Avios loyalty points to pay for travel with British Airways.

Only bank clients have the option to exchange Discovery miles for cash, says Govender.

More than 500,000 of the 1.8-million Vitality members are actively engaged on Vitality Active Rewards.

Goldstuck says some people work the system, and do exceptionally well out of it, but the average user finds the Vitality programme, and how to benefit from it, difficult to understand.