Discovery Health customers ‘forced’ to join Discovery Bank for discounts on flights and travel

  • Discovery Health customers who have signed up for Discovery Vitality must now open a Discovery Bank account if they wish Access Discovery Vitality Travel Rewards.
  • The new travel portal has more features and partners, but there are some caveats.
  • You will need to provide lots of personal information such as your approximate income, accept a credit check and provide a South African ID number to book online.
  • A Discovery Bank account is required for access, and payment is by Discovery Bank card only.
  • Although both are available for free, you will need to transfer funds to a Discovery Bank card at your own expense.
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* This article has been updated below.

Discovery Vitality has made significant changes to its travel portal, which includes deals with new partners – but also requires all members who wish to book flight, car and hotel deals to register as Discovery Bank customers, whether they like it or not.

Discovery’s new travel portal has transformed the company into an online travel agency. And with that, many new benefits – like more domestic airline partners and the ability to use Active Rewards points to partially or fully pay for flights.

According to Discovery Vitality CEO Dinesh Govender, the overhaul was prompted by the liquidation of Comair in June this year.

“When Comair went into liquidation in June, Vitality members were no longer able to book discounted travel, so we had to quickly find another solution to keep our Vitality members enjoying this benefit,” Govender told Business Insider.

Their solution was to use Vitality Travel’s platform hosted within Discovery Bank, which Govender said they chose “because of its modern payment architecture, enhanced security, and seamless travel booking and payment process. end-to-end much simpler for customers”.

Rather than create a separate portal across all new travel partners’ websites, Vitality has consolidated it under the Discovery Bank platform which, according to Govender, “gives members access to discounts on all airline partners through a single website and quote trip”.

Discovery Bank customers only

An important consequence of this decision is that Discovery Vitality members who originally joined the rewards program through Discovery Health now have no choice but to register as Discovery Bank customers – and use a Discovery Bank card to pay for all transactions.

To facilitate this, Discovery has launched a pay-as-you-go bank account option with a virtual debit card, available to Vitality members. There are no monthly fees – but to get it you will have to part with additional information during the registration process and transfer money to the account of your preferred banking partner at your own expense.

The information and consent required during the registration process are the details you will share when opening a bank account or credit card – including your monthly income and submitting to a credit check, even if you are only there for the Vitality offers.

Discovery no longer allows alternative payment methods or third-party banks or apps. All Vitality travel bookings must go through a Discovery account – if you wish to stay with your bank of choice, you will need to transfer funds to your Discovery account at your own expense. You’ll also need to account for bank transfer delays – or pay more for instant transfers if you don’t want to miss a transaction.

Cross pollination

For some time, Discovery Health has been aggressively marketing Discovery Bank to Health customers on its native apps. And this new decision goes even further by requiring all members to join Discovery Bank.

While the move will increase Discovery Bank’s account count – a metric it uses in the media to illustrate the new bank’s growth – Govender says Vitality has made the decision to ensure continuity of benefits for Vitality members. .

To date, Govender said, the number of customers opening Discovery Bank accounts just to access Vitality Travel is less than 1% of the customer base.

In context, that means that out of about a million Discovery Bank accounts, about 10,000 are there purely for the benefits of travel – although, as travel customers cross-pollinate into banking customers and Word is spreading among the rewards program’s large member base, it could grow.

New Vitality Travel features

Govender says the move will allow Vitality to continue to improve its travel portal for all Discovery customers and members in the months ahead. Existing features such as fast priority access and SAA lounge access have already proven themselves. And soon, Vitality Travel users will also benefit from discounts on the accommodation booking engine.

*This article has been updated to clarify that not all Discovery Health customers have access to Discovery Vitality. Discovery Health, Discovery Vitality and Discovery Bank are separate businesses within Discovery Limited.