The VITAL credit card is a new VISA that's in pre-release and accepting “early-access” users who are interested before their expected launch mid-2018. The benefits touted by the card are 1% cash back on all purchases, cash rewards from referring others, as well as a nice metal credit card. The main new thing here is referring people and earning cash rewards — does that make this Ponzi Scheme or scam? I was thinking this sounds a lot like multi-level marketing program when I first read it.
I think what they are doing is just trying to see if they could get enough interest to be able to launch at all. Their website says they have over 72,000 VITAL members so far. All it takes to become a member is to enter your email address. I find this interesting because I've looked into what it takes to create your own private label credit card and one of the big starting hurdles is having a LOT of members/potential card holders. How many people who entered their email address will actually apply for the card – who knows?
Vital Card Benefits
First lets take a closer look at the benefits:
- Earn cash rewards by sharing
- 1% cash back on spending
- backed by Visa
- No annual fee
- Competitive APR
The only reason I see to get the card is to earn rewards by sharing (referring other new cardmembers), otherwise I rather earn points or miles from my other cards. If you have some way to get the word out, this might be for you.
Cash Referral Bonuses
“Ten referrals means potentially upwards of $500 PER MONTH FOREVER.” That sounds great right? How do they figure this out? There are 3 levels of referral bonuses:
- Refer a friend = get 4 points
- Your friend refers a friend = get 2 points
- Friend's friend refers a friend = get 1 point
They assume you refer 10 people and each friend refers at least 4 people and everyone spends an average of $1500 per month. That's a lot of people and big assumption with the spend.
Referral Tracking Dashboard
If you sign up, you'll get to see your dashboard which shows how you rank vs everyone else who signed up as well as your potential cash rewards (i.e. like the $500 per month forever mentioned above). The impressive numbers for the top users ($5-7k/month) don't really mean much because you can just sign up with fake or spare email addresses and your numbers go up. There's no verification being done that a new user is really a new user so the numbers are easily faked.
Unlocking Additional Perks
Referring more friends unlocks additional benefits:
- Early Access – you will start here when you sign up by entering your email address
- Premium Colors – refer 2 friends and you'll get access to additional colors
- Founder Status – refer 3 more friends and unlock “Founder Status”
- More Rewards – tbd
It's not clear what benefit “Founder” Status provides other than just having it written on the card. If that's it, does anyone really care?
Ponzi Scheme / Multi-Level Marketing
When I was much younger, I looked into and even tried my hand at several multi-level marketing companies. I still scratch my head trying to figure out how Amway survives. I distinctly recall going to a meeting where I could hear people in the audience constantly spraying the Amway branded Binaca type of breath spray…during the presentation. Pssst. Pssst. Pssst. Quite funny to watch. At the end of the day, the only people who make any money are the people at the top levels, for example Diamond members.
According to Wikipedia, “Companies that engage in Ponzi schemes focus all of their energy into attracting new clients to make investments. Ponzi schemes rely on a constant flow of new investments to continue to provide returns to older investors. When this flow runs out, the scheme falls apart.”
Does VITAL fit here? You don't have to make any investments but the VITAL card does rely on attracting new clients to make the card worth it. Maybe not a Ponzi scheme but it definitely is multi-level-marketing.
You're welcome to post your referral link in the comments below but I ask that you retweet my tweet on this post first. Then leave your link in the comments along with your twitter name so I can find you.
This card probably does not make sense for most people – just get any number of cards that offer cash back or points/rewards and more. I think the only reason you would consider getting this card is if you think you can refer a lot of people. For this to be more successful, I think there needs to be more real benefits for the applicant. If you're still interested, I can offer you my referral link. I signed up because I'm curious how this plays out and if it actually launches. I'm suspicious of any multi-level marketing plans — but am curious too. All it took was putting in my email address to find out more, so not much risk.