Microsoft has unveiled its latest venture into the financial sector with the announcement of the Xbox Mastercard. Set to launch on September 21, the card is designed exclusively for Xbox Insiders in the US, with a broader release slated for 2024.
Issued by Barclays, the card comes with no annual fee and offers a unique points system. For every dollar spent, cardholders earn one point, with the potential to earn more points on specific purchases. For instance, eligible products from the Microsoft Store will grant five points per dollar, while streaming services like Netflix and Disney Plus, as well as delivery services like Grubhub and DoorDash, will offer three points per dollar.
Rewarding the Xbox Community
The Xbox Mastercard is not just about spending; it's about rewarding the Xbox community. Every dollar spent translates to points, with 1,500 points equating to a $15 gift card redeemable at Microsoft's online Xbox store. Additionally, cardholders will receive a bonus of 5,000 points (valued at $50) after their initial purchase. New Xbox Game Pass members will also benefit from a complimentary three-month subscription to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. The card itself can be personalized with one of five Xbox-themed designs, and users have the option to print their Xbox gamertag on it.
Weighing the Pros and Cons
While the Xbox Mastercard offers a plethora of benefits for die-hard Xbox fans, it is worth approaching the product with caution. As with any financial product, due diligence is helpful, as is comparing products.
There are arguably more lucrative ways to earn and redeem rewards for games. For example, the Microsoft Rewards program as a more flexible and potentially more rewarding alternative. However, for those who are deeply embedded in the Xbox ecosystem and are looking for new ways to express brand loyalty, the Xbox Mastercard might be an attractive option.
Official Statements and Partnerships
Dave McCarthy, CVP of Xbox Player Services, expressed excitement about the partnership with Barclays and Mastercard, emphasizing the aim to expand reward opportunities for Xbox players. Denny Nealon, CEO of Barclays US Consumer Bank, echoed these sentiments, highlighting the potential of the partnership to enhance the gaming experience for enthusiasts.
This collaboration marks a significant milestone in the ongoing relationship between Mastercard and Microsoft, a partnership rooted in leveraging digital technologies for secure and seamless commerce experiences.
Microsoft has been increasingly pushing into payment services. In May, the company added a payment app into Microsoft Teams. The Payments app is designed to help small businesses such as lawyers, financial advisors, instructors, tutors, and others who offer online services to easily request and receive payments from their clients.
In March, I reported on Microsoft testing a cryptocurrency wallet in its Edge browser. With the Microsoft Edge Crypto Wallet, users will have a built-in Ethereum wallet on the web browser. They will be able to send and receive non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and cryptocurrencies securely and easily.