|Card Details and Application Link|
FM Mini Review: This is can be a good option for those who want a single card with high cash-like rewards. The key is that you must only redeem points for statement charges where points are worth 1 cent each. Even then, this card is best only for those who spend over $15K per year, but less than $7,500 per month.
Card Type: Visa Signature
Earning rate: X1 offers "Boosts" of additional point earnings for various categories of spend, for specific merchants, and for certain thresholds of spend. You must enroll in these boosts to earn more points.
Big spend bonus: After spending $15,000 within your cardmember year, the base earning rate jumps to 3x. This is applied for both the first $15K of spend and future spend within the same cardmember year. Note that there is a $7,500 monthly cap on 3x rewards
Noteworthy perks: Higher credit limit than most cards ⚬ Virtual card numbers ⚬ 90 day purchase protection against theft or damage ⚬ Up to 1 year extended warranty ⚬ $250 return protection ⚬ cell phone protection ($500 max, $50 deductible) ⚬ trip protection ⚬ car rental coverage
X1 Card Overview
The X1 Card is unusual in that approval and credit limits come mostly from an inspection of your bank account rather than your credit report. The card earns a minimum of 2x points for all spend, but with a number of options for earning more. The most straightforward of these ways is to spend $15K within a cardmember year. When you do, you’ll earn a minimum of 3x points for all spend within the cardmember year, and that’s applied retroactively to previous spend. There is, however, a $7,500 monthly cap to 3x rewards which may put off very big spenders. Points are worth 1 cent each when used to erase statement charges from select merchants, less for other merchants, and 0.7 cents each for cash back. One of the card’s most outstanding features is the easy ability to create virtual credit card numbers, including single use cards or quickly expiring cards which can be used for free trials without risking getting charged later.
X1 Card Benefits
- Virtual Cards: Easily create new named virtual cards. These include standard cards which are cancelable any time; free trial cards which are auto-cancelled after 24 hours; and single-use cards which are cancelled after first use.
- Cell Phone Protection: $500 max per claim, $50 deductible.
- Purchase Protection: 90 day protection against theft or damage.
- Extended Warranty: Up to 1 year
- Return Protection: Up to $250
- Trip Interruption Reimbursement
- Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
X1 Card Point Earnings
The X1 Card defaults to earning 2x everywhere.
You can bump up your earnings to 3x everywhere by spending $15K or more within a cardmember year. When you qualify for 3X rewards, the extra 1x will apply retroactively for the purchases that occurred that membership year before qualification. Then, all new spend will earn 3x until your card anniversary date.
$7,500 monthly cap on 3x rewards: X1 has imposed a $7,500 monthly cap on 3x rewards (found here):
Monthly Spending Limitation: The three (3) points per dollar will only be available on the first $7,500 of Eligible Spend each calendar month. All Eligible Spend in excess of $7,500 during the calendar month will earn two (2) points per dollar, even if the 3x Annual Spend Bonus has been activated.
4x Rewards (or More)
There are two ways to earn 4X, 5X, or even 10X rewards:
- Upon startup: If you join X1 using a friend referral, you’ll earn a mystery bonus of 4x, 5x, or 10x on every dollar spent for the first 30 days.
- Ongoing: For every friend you refer with an in-app invitation, you get 30 days of 4x, 5x, or 10x earnings depending upon which mystery bonus you and your friend get.
More Points through Boosts
The X1 app offers greater rewards for purchases with certain merchants or within certain categories of spend. To earn up to 5x, you have to enroll in “Boosts”. Here are some example Boosts I’ve had available:
- Earn 4x Points on your next Amazon.com purchase
- Earn 5x Points on your next Apple Pay purchase
- Earn 5x Points on your next gas purchase
- Earn 4x Points on your next restaurant purchase
- Earn 4x Points on your next grocery purchase
- Earn 200 More Points on your next $500+ purchase
- Earn 400 More Points on your next $1,000+ purchase
Boosts typically go away after you’ve used them, but new Boosts then appear over time. To earn a Boost, simply activate the boost in the app before making your purchase. I’ve activated a boost while in line to check-out at a store, for example.
Redeeming X1 Points
What are X1 Points worth?
The value you get for your points depends upon how you use them. You can offset purchases with specific merchants for up to 1 cent per point value or you can redeem for cash back for 0.7 cents per point value. When offsetting purchases by redeeming points for select merchants, X1 offers a list of “1 cent per point” merchants and a shorter list of “less than 1 cent per point” merchants. I don’t recommend redeeming points for the latter.
Redeeming Points for Eligible Purchases
1 Cent Per Point Merchants
Points are worth 1 cent each when used to pay for items with select merchants. At the time of this writing, here is the full list of qualifying merchants:
|Sonos||Peloton||Crate & Barrel||Hotels.com|
|Xbox||Rogue Fitness||Everlane||Southwest Airlines|
<1 Cent Per Point Merchants
X1 offers less than 1 cent per point for the following merchants:
- Best Buy
- Home Depot
I don’t recommend redeeming points for charges with any of the above merchants since you are likely to get only about 0.7 cents per point value.
How to redeem points for merchant charges
Redeeming points for merchant charges works in a similar way to Capital One’s ability to redeem Miles for travel purchases or to Chase’s Pay Yourself Back. In other words, you make the purchase first and later use points to erase the charge. Here’s how:
- Open the X1 App and go to the Rewards tab (FYI: the Rewards Tab is labelled as either 2X, 3X, or 4X, depending upon your current earnings).
- Select “Redeem” to see a list of eligible purchases from Rewards Partners that can be paid off with your Points
- Choose an eligible Rewards Partner transaction and select “Pay Off”.
- You must have enough Points available to redeem against the entire transaction amount (partial redemptions are not accepted).
- The amount you paid with points will be applied to the selected transaction as a statement credit and will reduce the outstanding balance on your account.
I’ve erased several purchases so far and found that it works exactly as advertised.
Redeeming Points for Cash Back Statement Credit
If you prefer cash back, points can be redeem for 0.7 cents each. Cash is applied instantly to your card balance.
Review: Is the X1 Card worthwhile?
Based on my use of the card for a full year, here are my pros and cons:
- No annual fee
- No foreign transaction fees
- No late payment fees (but you will be charged interest if your balance isn’t paid in full within 21 days of the close of each billing cycle)
- High point earning rate (2x, 3x or more everywhere)
- Awesome virtual card number features. I love using auto-expiring virtual cards to sign up for free trials without any risk of being charged when I forget to cancel.
- Higher credit limit than most other cards
- Unproven start-up. There’s a real risk to earning points with a start-up company. If they suddenly fold it is likely that you’ll lose all unredeemed points.
- Shutdown risk. Early on, there were a number of reports of X1 shutting down people without any obvious reason. I don’t know if that’s still happening.
- Possibly poor customer support. I haven’t had to deal with customer support so I can’t speak from experience, but several readers reported problems early on. It’s possible that these issues have since been corrected. I don’t know.
- Rewards worth full value only if you shop with their qualifying 1 cent per point merchants. If you want cash back, you’ll only get 0.7 cents per point.
- No welcome bonus (unless you count the ability to earn 4x or more in the first month).
- Adds to your 5/24 count
Chase's 5/24 Rule: With most Chase credit cards, Chase will not approve your application if you have opened 5 or more cards with any bank in the past 24 months.
To determine your 5/24 status, see: Easy Ways to Count Your 5/24 Status. The easiest option is to track all of your cards for free with Travel Freely.
- No hotel partners. As things stand today, you can redeem points at full value towards Hotels.com, Airbnb, and Vrbo, but I don’t see Marriott, Hyatt, IHG, Wyndham, Choice, or any other hotel brand on the list.
- No transfer partners. Regular readers know that I love points that transfer to airline and hotel partners. X1 doesn’t offer this option.
As a reminder, the card earns 2x by default, 3x for those who spend $15K per year, or 4x (or more) for 30 days after referring a friend. So, I’ll break down my advice by these buckets:
- 2X: If you think that you’ll only earn 2x most of the time, then skip this card altogether and go with something like the Citi Double Cash to get a total of 2% cash back plus the option to transfer points to airline and hotel programs by adding the Citi Premier card to your collection in the future.
- 3X: If you’re sure you’ll spend $15K or more on the card each year and you’re unlikely to go over the monthly $7,500 cap, then X1 is worth considering. If you cash out your points for 0.7 cents each, the X1 becomes a 2.1% cash back card. That’s not bad. It’s possible to do better than that, but usually with big hoops involved. And if you’re interested in redeeming points against qualifying merchant charges, you’ll get 3% value from your X1 spend. That’s great.
- 4X or more: If you’re pretty sure that you can refer people regularly to the X1 card, then the X1 is a great option for you. Let’s assume that your normal earn rate will be 4x. If you cash out your points for 0.7 cents each, the X1 becomes a 2.8% cash back card while 4x earnings are in place. That’s excellent. And if you redeem for qualifying merchant charges, you’re looking at 4% value. That’s awesome.
Regardless of whether you earn 2x, 3x, or more with the X1 card, it’s possible to do better with other cards within certain categories of spend. For example, some cards offer bonuses for grocery purchases, others offer bonuses for dining, etc. See: Best Category Bonuses — Which card to use where? X1 doesn’t try to compete on that level. Instead, X1 competes against cards that offer excellent rewards for all purchases. See: Best cards for everyday spend.
The X1 Card is real and rewarding for everyday spend. Unfortunately, the card is still unproven (and thus your rewards may be at risk), and might not be ready for prime time with regards to customer support.
I love using X1’s one-time-use virtual card numbers when signing up for free trials. When I forget to cancel before the free trial is over, I still don’t get charged. That’s great. I’m not a big fan, though, of having to spend with specific merchants to get 1 cent per point value. I have other cards that earn great rewards for everyday spend and so I prefer to use those cards when I’m not earning 4x or more with X1. And, of course, when I can earn more with other cards thanks to great category bonuses, that’s another reason not to turn to my X1 Card.
Most readers would do better to skip this card and to continue to earn lots of points by signing up for the best credit card offers. With a single great welcome bonus you can quickly earn more rewards than with a year of spending at 3x on the X1 card. But for those who want to keep things simple with one great fee free card, this could be the card you’re looking for.