I finally took the plunge to get behind Discovery Bank early this year; it was probably in January because that is the month that is quiet for me, and I use it to do all that “life admin” like looking at my home and car insurance, for one. It had been in the back of my mind to consider moving to Discovery Bank for over a year (at the suggestion of a friend) but having a baby/toddler gets in the way of lots of “productive” things, while you focus on them instead (ie. good priority hint here).

There are a lot of things to calculate before moving to Discovery Bank, because to move over from another just for the sake of a credit card, EFT’s, an app, or maybe a free airport lounge once or twice a year is really, really not worth the effort. Trust me, I’ve moved a lot of products this year (Car insurance, Life, and now the Bank) and it’s a lot of time on a phone, and filling in forms, and skipping through fine print because, eventually you give up and think “I just hope this doesn’t come back to bite me”. However, to migrate everything to the Discovery ecosystem has been worth it, and here is why…

The Discovery Ecosystem

First up, if you are on Discovery Health, you’re already giving Discovery a good chunk of money each month. In my case, about R5,000-6,000/m. The other products I can suggest you consider include: Home & Car Insurance, Life Insurance, Gap Cover, Discovery Bank, and in this case Discovery Vitality. I currently get away with not using their Home & Car or their Gap Cover, but that may change – learn why a little later. But basically, if you are already paying R5k a month for Discovery Health, then get Vitality for R300-465 or so (spouse/child depending), and get a whole ream of benefits. The real dealbreaker though, is when you get Discovery Bank on top of that, because if you do your due diligence, and work at it, and get a little lucky, you can literally get your full Discovery Health premium back in literal Rands each month. They won’t pay you that cash, they will (mostly) pay you in Discovery Miles, but you can convert that into cash. And this, my friends (or random internet users), is why I gave up on eBucks and switched to the Discovery Miles world.

Discovery Miles have two major benefits.

One, you can turn them straight into cash (unsure what SARS is going to do about this, but for now, seems like they couldn’t be bothered, which is the case with eBucks, too).

And two, you can convert them at a discount (a discount that varies) for a variety of things. Pay your rates, or electricity bills, buy groceries, buy a coffee, pay a medical bill, shop on Takealot, etc etc. Here is a link to a current list, that probably changes twice a year, so check it out for the latest.

How does it work in action: Let’s say you have 1,000 Discovery Miles, and that is worth R100. Option one is send it to your bank account. Option two is buy a Kauai voucher worth R100, but only pay R90 for it. If you have all the Discovery products, then it will be R85, and if you do it on a certain day (currently the 15th of each month) then it will cost you R70 – and by “cost you” I mean it will use your free Discovery Miles. The more you buy into the Discovery system the more they discount your purchases with Doscivery Miles.

What is the catch with Discovery?

Secondly, we all know there is no such thing as a free lunch, Kauai or otherwise, so what is the giant, hidden till obvious catch? In short, there are two main things:

Commit. First, you must put your life on their ecosystem, and be rewarded. ie. Discovery Health, Home & Car, Life, Bank, and Vitality. As I said earlier, I haven’t committed to every product of theirs (yet) but will probably do so by the end of the year. I’m still benefitting massively without them all (August 2023, so 8/12th’s of the way into 2023) and probably saving R2,000-R2,500/m.

Behave. By behave I mean in your food purchase: buy healthy. In your exercise, be consistent enough and at a level of intensity that is enough to count as a workout (it’s not a high bar, trust me). In your banking: don’t have too much debt, have savings, and spend wisely – maybe too much, as I am finding. Banks love a little credit card debt to make their money 😉

The cost benefit calculation

Which brings us to the third point: is it worth doing all the things listed above (very vaguely, I might add) to get the reward/s? You will need to work this out for yourself, and I’ve built a tool (this tool looks less like a world-class app, and more like a 30 row spreadsheet, fyi) to help you find out if you want to make the change. For me it was easy because I enjoy the loyalty space, have worked in behavioural economics, want to do these things so I can consult to large companies that do loyalty (I’ve got two under my belt so far), and to be honest, it’s kind of interesting. Watch out for my piece on Airline Loyalty down the line.

In this month of August, I spent round about R6,500 on Discover Health, Vitality, Bank, Gap Cover, and Life Cover. Through various means – see my next article on Discovery Vitality – I managed to get R2,000 back from Discovery, and save about R50 off Life Cover (for good habits). I also get very cheap gym where I can swim twice a week, but gyms are a horrible place to workout, and it’s just temporary. Then, I also get roughly three free coffees or two free smoothies a week, which isn’t a gamechanger, but happy to indulge in these. My goal by year end is to increase the monthly income from Discovery Miles up to around R4,000 or R5,000/month. And remember, if I am clever, I can turn those into cash, or, maybe split it into half cash, and half converted into vouchers. For example, turn the R2,000 (20,000 miles) worth of miles into an electricity voucher, and get about R2,500 worth of real value. And for the record, I started in January, and got about R400 back in February (for January habits), so the first month alone was about break even.

Should I move to Discovery’s Ecosystem?

Lastly, if you have about ten hours to spare over three months, it might be well worth migrating to Discovery Bank. Thereafter you need to micro manage it to a small degree, but not any more than you would with eBucks. Added bonus, you often change your behaviour in a good way, be it doing more exercise, eating more healthily, or just being cognisant of what your life looks like from a financial, and health perspective.