Discovery Health clients ‘forced’ to join Discovery Bank to receive flight and travel discounts

  • Discovery now requires Vitality clients who joined through its medical aid to sign up as Discovery Bank clients, too.
  • This is to gain access to Discovery’s new travel portal.
  • The new travel portal has more features and partners, but there are some caveats.
  • You’ll have to surrender many personal details like approximate income, agree to a credit check, and supply a South African ID number to book online.
  • A Discovery Bank account is mandatory for access, and payment is only via a Discovery Bank card.
  • Although both are available at no cost, you’ll have to transfer funds into a Discovery Bank card at your own expense.
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Discovery Vitality has made significant changes to its travel portal, which includes deals with new partners – but which also forces all members who want to book flight, car, and hotel deals to sign up as Discovery Bank clients, whether they want to or not.

Discovery’s new travel portal has set the business up as an online travel agency. And with this have come many new benefits – like more domestic airline partners, and the ability to use Active Rewards points to partially or wholly pay for flights.

According to Discovery Vitality CEO Dinesh Govender, the redesign was prompted by Comair’s liquidation 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 for our Vitality members to continue to enjoy this benefit,” Govender told Business Insider.

Their solution was to use the Vitality Travel platform housed within Discovery Bank, which Govender said they chose “due to its modern payment architecture, improved security, and a much simpler end-to-end travel booking and payment process for clients”.

Rather than build a separate portal across all new travel partners’ websites, Vitality consolidated this under the Discovery Bank platform that Govender says “enables members to access discounts across all airline partners via a single website and quote journey”.

Discovery Bank clients only

One significant consequence of this move is that Discovery Health members who wish to take advantage of Vitality travel deals now have no choice but to sign up as Discovery Bank clients – 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 bank card, available to Vitality members. It has no monthly fees – but to get it, you’ll need to part with additional information during the registration process and transfer money into the account from your preferred banking partner at your own expense.

Information and consent required during the registration process are in line with details you’ll share when signing up for a bank account or credit card – including your monthly earnings and submitting to a credit check, even if you’re just there for the Vitality deals .

Discovery no longer allows alternate payment methods or third-party banks or apps. All Vitality travel bookings must go through a Discovery account – if you wish to remain with your chosen bank, you’ll need to transfer funds into your Discovery account at your own cost. You’ll also need to consider bank transfer delays – or pay more for instant transfers if you don’t want to miss a deal.

cross pollination

For some time, Discovery Health has aggressively marketed Discovery Bank to Health clients on its native apps. And this new move takes that a step further by forcing all members to join Discovery Bank.

Although the move will increase the number of Discovery Bank’s accounts – a metric it uses in the media to illustrate the new bank’s growth – Govender says Vitality made the move to ensure continuity of benefits for Vitality members.

To date, Govender said, the number of clients opening Discovery Bank accounts solely to access Vitality Travel is less than 1% of the client base.

In context, this means that of Discovery Bank’s roughly one million accounts, approximately 10,000 are there solely for the travel benefits – though as travel clients cross-pollinate into banking clients, and word spreads among the reward program’s sizeable membership base, this may grow.

New Vitality Travel features

Govender says that the move will allow Vitality to continue enhancing its travel portal for all Discovery clients and members in the coming months. Existing features like priority fast track and SAA lounge access have already proven popular. And soon, Vitality Travel users will also receive discounts on accommodation booking engine

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