Executive Briefing

A new premium card for the Erewhon set

Can Ness, a new wellness-meets-finance startup, compete with Chase and Amex? Also: Inside Sweetgreen’s new loyalty program. And the LinkedIn olive oil mess.

Ness Mastercard
Photo: Courtesy Ness

Chase and American Express have dominated the high-end US credit card market for years, with the pitch that Sapphire and Platinum cardholders can turn their spending into luxury travel rewards like “free” first-class flights and posh hotel stays.

Now a startup, Ness, has a different idea for some of the same high spenders: A premium card focused on the booming health and wellness markets, with perks like free Sweetgreen salads, credits toward Seed probiotic pill subscriptions and Exhale spa visits, and bonus points for using the card to pay for medical bills. It will also reward you to exercise and even sleep.

The bet: That, for many consumers, health and wellness — not travel — is “the new number one lifestyle identity,” Ness founder and CEO Derek Flanzraich tells me. “If we’re right about that, we will build the next great credit card company.”

Today, that starts with a premium charge card — a Mastercard, issued by a partner, The Bank of Missouri — that carries a $349 annual fee.

How it works: Instead of earning bonus rewards for dining or travel expenses, Ness cardholders earn the most points — five per dollar spent, worth up to one cent per point — on spending at health and wellness merchants. This is a broad but opinionated category that includes “healthy” restaurants and grocery stores (such as Cava and Whole Foods, but not McDonald’s or Costco), gym memberships, cooking gear, vitamins and supplements, wellness products and services (including Oura rings and massages), and even medical bills from doctors, dentists, therapists, and labs.

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Dan Frommer

Hi, I’m Dan Frommer and this is The New Consumer, a publication about how and why people spend their time and money.

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