When unveiled, the VITAL Card was heralded as the world’s first “social credit card.” The fintech credit card promised competitive cash back based on how many referred friends or family members sign-up for the card – up to an impressive 5% cash back on all purchases. But two years later, have social credit card rewards proven to beat bonus category cash back?
What Is “Social” Cash Back?
The VITAL Card is a social credit card that is currently invite-only. The card differs from traditional cash back cards in that it doesn’t provide enhanced rewards for spending in bonus categories, instead offering rewards based on the cardholder’s social clout.
Referral points apply to a user’s referral score and pay out of a “referral pool” based on each cardholder’s overall score. Users get paid “cash forever” for each person they refer who signs up for the card. VITAL also rewards cardholders whose friends sign up new members – and their friends who refer new users.
Here’s a basic breakdown of what VITAL Card users can expect when referring family and friends to apply for the card:
|# of direct sign-ups||Referral score||Monthly rewards|
It’s worth noting that VITAL’s scoring calculations assume that the referrals who apply for and receive the VITAL Card each get at least four friends to sign-up each, so expect the actual cash back to be significantly lower.
Is VITAL Card the Future of Rewards?
So, two years on from the announcement of the world’s first social credit card, does VITAL Card make more sense than a traditional rewards credit card? Not really.
The problem lies with the availability of earning rewards. With a normal cash back credit card there are set categories that always earn enhanced rewards. Take the Bilt Mastercard, for example. Bilt earns up to 3X points on purchases, with the following rewards rate:
- 3X points on dining
- 2X points on travel
- 1X points on rent payments (up to 50,000 points each calendar year)
- 1X points on all other purchases
These four categories offer everyday value and will remain as long as the card program alters the rewards – likely a long time away. Conversely, the VITAL Card earns rewards based on the number of your friends who apply for, are approved, and then refer friends to the card – and so on. “Dining” is a bonus category with a near-unlimited number of potential earning opportunities – and “friends” is not.
Relying on a continuous cycle of either making new friends and getting them to apply for the VITAL Card or hoping your friends also have a vast network of fintech and influencer contacts is not an effective strategy in the long term. A straightforward cash back credit card offers greater everyday value than social credit. The Citi® Double Cash Card earns 2% back on all eligible purchases. In comparison, VITAL offers a base of 1.5% back on all purchases – on par with Chase Freedom Unlimited.
Summing It Up
The VITAL Card is not a scam, but it only offers significant value for those who are networking experts, financial influencers, or other similar social butterflies. For those folks, the card can offer exceptional rewards. Take the rewards calculator cited above – if you were to get 50 sing-ups through your VITAL Card referral link – and each one of those referrals referred four friends each, your total cash rewards could be as much as $1,100! But the VITAL Card simply can’t match a general rewards card for everyone else.
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Featured image by VITAL
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