Great question! Whenever your transactions come in, we use two primary mechanisms to determine whether they were made at healthy merchants (also called “Qualifying Health & Wellness Merchants” in our Rewards Program Terms).
First, we rely on classification data from the Mastercard network, which includes merchant categorization code (MCC). From this data, we’ve created a list of categories that automatically qualify as healthy, which includes (but is not limited to):
- 5977 - Cosmetic Stores
- 8099 - Medical/Dental/Vision providers and merchants (including doctors, hospitals, and urgent care centers)
- 5912 - Pharmacies, HSA/FSA/DME merchants
- 5941 - Sporting goods + fitness activity supply shops
- 7032 - Sporting and recreational camps,
- 7033 - Campgrounds
- 7277 - Counseling and therapy services
- 7999 - Recreational services (such as swimming)
Please note that merchants are not perfectly classified. For example, not every sporting goods store is associated with MCC 5941. That doesn’t mean you will not be able to get points for a sporting good store classified under a different MCC, it just means that we need to do some extra investigation. If your merchant does not match one of the already greenlit MCC categories above, we will then refer to our merchant database to see if there is an exact match on the merchant name. If there is a match, you’ll see your transaction approved automatically. If not, please request a review!
Our database was originally created from merchants that we as an organization agreed are healthy, according to the Wellness Framework below. This was certainly not an all encompassing list, and your requests for merchant review is helping us add to our database every day.
Whenever you see a transaction on your activity list that has not had points automatically granted due to either being a part of one of the above MCC codes or our pre-existing merchant database, we ask that you request your transaction be reviewed. At that time, one of our customer experience agents will review the merchant’s information, which includes their website, mission, etc. and will determine if the merchant can be considered healthy according to our Wellness Framework (the specifics of which can be found below.) We currently do not look at transaction level data, just at the merchant itself and their dedication to health and wellness.
Everything that we approve is grounded in our Wellness Framework and based on our four categories: Eat, Move, Care, Restore. At Ness, we are looking to expand our knowledge of merchants that have a health and wellness focus, and understand that while some merchants may offer healthy goods and services, they are not dedicated to this mission. Ultimately, we decide what is healthy and what isn’t by looking at what the merchant is about, what they are providing, and how it contributes to your overall wellness.
- Eat: The healthy things you consume. (Or helps you make what you plan to consume.) This includes daily supplements, grocery stores, meal kits or prepared meals, nutritionist, dietitians, healthy snacks and healthy alternatives to snacks and beverages, restaurants, juice and smoothie bars, etc. We almost always approve grocery stores and, for other merchants, we are looking for a specific, web-posted mission that includes a dedication to the consumer’s health and wellness. This includes buzzwords like “health”, “wellness”, “nutrition/nutritious”. For merchants who sell cooking supplies (pots, pans, etc.) they must exclusively sell these products. (For example, Crate and Barrel does not qualify, as it sells many other home products, but Sur la Table does, as it is a kitchen supply store.)
- Examples of some of our faves: Sweetgreen, Sakara, Joe & the Juice, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Stop & Shop, Ritual, Olly, GoMacro, HuKitchen, Athletic Brewing, LMNT, oxo, Our Place.
- Due to the lack of a health mission, we currently do not define big box stores like Target, Costco, Walmart, and Amazon as healthy. Although healthy items can be purchased from these merchants, the lack of a health mission (and lack of insight into transactional data) prevents us from being comfortable approving them as a whole.
- Move: The healthy things that get you moving or contribute to your physical activity. This includes workout classes, gym memberships, personal training, fitness equipment, fitness attire and shoes, national park or trail passes, or fitness trackers. For clothing merchants, we are looking for ones that sell fitness attire and have a dedication to movement and activity. This includes using words such as “performance”, “activity”, “athleisure”, “athletic”, or “movement.”
- Examples of some of our faves: Barry’s, obé, FYT, SoulCycle, Alo, Whoop, Vuori, Girlfriend Collective, Bala Bangles, FitBit, Pure Barre.
- Due to the lack of transaction level insight, we are currently unable to grant points to any fitness apps, videos, or tracker equipment (eg. Apple Watch) purchased through Apple.
- Care: The healthy forms of care that help you get through the day (and your life). This includes dental cleanings, new glasses, annual physicals, specialist visits, chiropractor visits, lab work, therapy appointments, reproductive and gender care, and things of the sort. Yes, this also includes your copays and health insurance premiums if you pay that out of pocket.
- Examples of some of our faves: Headspace, Calm, Parsley Health, One Medical, Headway, Nirvana.
- Restore: The healthy things that help you feel restored or more like yourself. This can include sleep products, sheets, meditation, sound healing, reiki sessions, massages, facials, skincare and cosmetics, or other forms of self care, including sexual wellness and personal growth. Yes, your monthly nail appointment and hair touch up both fall under this category!
- Examples of some of our faves: Oura Ring, Therabody, Lush, Ilia, Three Ships Beauty, Eight Sleep, Zeel Massage, Chilisleep.
You can get even more examples of our favorite brands, and categories, on our website!