Microsoft is wading into new waters with its gaming brand: credit cards. On Monday, the company announced a new Xbox credit card, which allows card holders to earn points redeemable for rewards…but only on Xbox.com.
The launch begins on September 21 for Xbox Insiders living in a U.S. state. Availability will later expand in 2024 to all Xbox gamers in that same territory.
This branded Mastercard is offered through the U.S. consumer division of Barclays, with no annual fee and a rewards system that guarantees one point for every dollar spent. A few categories qualify for higher rewards: Eligible purchases at the Microsoft Store earn 5 points for every $1, while eligible streaming and food delivery services earn 3 points for every $1. These points are accumulated separately from the Microsoft Rewards program.
The card also offers an initial sign-up bonus of 5,000 points ($50 value) and three months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for new Game Pass members after the first purchase. Applicants will have a choice of five different card designs and can have their gamertag printed on the card. Digital wallet and contactless payments are supported.
For diehard Xbox fans, this new promotion may sound like a perfect new avenue to express their brand loyalty — something to pick up in addition to, say, the mini drink fridge or the upcoming full-scale Xbox 360 replica build kit. But for those on the sidelines, the limited terms of the new card will likely fail to appeal. You can already get games (and even pay for Game Pass) for free using the Microsoft Rewards program. There’s also a way to get Xbox Game Pass for cheap if you don’t have the patience (or ability) to earn points through Bing searches and Xbox console activity.
The better call is to use the Microsoft Rewards program, pick up a standard cashback rewards card if you can pay off your balance each month, and slap a decal on your credit card if you want to show your Xbox pride. It offers much more flexibility and far better returns. But you can’t always put a price on love — which Microsoft is likely banking on.