X1 Card Review: Up to 4x Everywhere. It’s here. It’s real

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Yesterday, I received an email from X1 Card saying “You advanced 500 positions.”  I had moved up to position 124,105 on X1’s waiting list.  My reaction: “Wait… does this mean that X1 hasn’t given up yet?”  You see, I wrote about the X1 credit card over a year ago and I called it “too good to be true.”  It was supposed to become available in the winter of 2020, but that didn’t happen.  I assumed that X1 had flamed out before becoming a real card.  I was wrong (I was also wrong about a number of assumptions in my previous X1 post so please enjoy but ignore what I wrote last year).

The X1 card earns 2x, 3x, or 4x for all spend and has no fees.  It also offers cool features like auto-expiring virtual cards so that you can sign up for free trials without any risk of being charged if you forget to cancel.

Googling “X1 Card” and restricting results to “past month” showed me a number of announcements dated October 18th such as this one from Business Wire.  The gist of these announcements is that the X1 Card is done with its private beta test and is starting to be rolled out to people on their massive (350K) waiting list.

I then found this Dave Hanson video.  He was #1 on the X1 waiting list.  In the video, Dave shows that he was invited to apply for the X1 card and he proceeded to apply in the course of recording his new video.  He was approved with a massive $50K spending limit.  Thanks to Dave, we now know that the application process is quick and easy.  We also now know that points are only worth 0.7 cents each if cashed out for statement credits rather than applied towards qualifying merchant purchases.  Near the end of this video Dave showed his referral code which could be used to skip the line for the X1 card.  Unfortunately, his code was limited initially to 3 people and later to 100 people but can now no longer be used (I tried!).  So, until 124,104 people in front of me clear the waitlist, or until a new cardmember sends me an invite code, I’ll have to wait.  Still, I can review the card based on what I know now…

X1 Overview

Here’s an overview of the X1 Card (details come directly from X1’s website):

  • Heavy metal: 17g “Pure Stainless Steel”
  • Earn 2x to 4x everywhere: Earn 3x if you spend over $15K in a year; Earn 4x for a month after referring a friend.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Late Fee: $0 (but you will be charged interest on the balance of course)
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: $0
  • Virtual card numbers:
    • “End free trials automatically with auto-expiring virtual cards”
    • “Cancel subscription payments in one click”
    • “Spend anonymously without disclosing your personal information”
  • Higher credit limits: “X1 Card offers credit limits up to 5X higher1 than traditional cards.”
    1 “X1 Card offers credit limits up to 5X higher than traditional cards. Higher limits mean you can spend the same amount with lower utilization, which can boost your credit score…  Assumes an average credit limit of $4,479 granted to Generation Z, which is calculated by dividing their average total credit limit of $8,062 (source) by their average number of credit cards (1.8) (source). Actual credit limits subject to credit approval and underwriting.

Earning Rewards

2x Rewards

The X1 card defaults to earning 2x everywhere.

3x Rewards

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.

4x Rewards

There are two ways to earn 4X rewards:

  1. Upon startup: If you join X1 using a friend referral, you’ll earn “4x points on every dollar spent for the first 30 days.”
  2. Ongoing: For every friend you refer with an in-app invitation, you get 30 days of 4x earnings.  Note these additional terms:
    • X1 may limit the number of invites available to you at any given time.
    • 4x Referral Bonuses may not overlap. If you refer two Invitees within the same 30-day period, you will earn two consecutive 30-day 4x Referral Bonus periods (for a total of 60 days), and so on.
    • Additional terms can be found here.

5X or more via Boosts

The X1 app will occasionally offer greater rewards for purchases with certain merchants or within certain categories of spend.  Specifically, the X1 website states the following:

From time to time through the X1 App, you may see the option to implement limited-time or limited-use “Boosts” for certain transaction categories. These Boosts will enable you to earn Points at a higher rate for transactions at specific merchant categories (e.g. food-delivery app purchases) or for other purchase or account activity. Boosts may only be available for a limited number of uses, a limited time, or both. Boosts may be added, removed or changed in the X1 App with or without notice.

What are points worth?

The value you get for your points depends upon how you use them.  You can offset purchases with specific merchants for 1 cent per point value or you can redeem for cash back for 0.7 cents per point value.

Redeeming Points for Eligible Purchases

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:

TECH FITNESS RETAIL TRAVEL
Apple Adidas Allbirds Airbnb
Beats Cannondale Anthropologie Alaska Airlines
Bose Lululemon Aritzia American Airlines
Masterclass Nike Asos Delta
Nintendo Outdoor Voices Casper Hotels.com
Playstation Patagonia Crate & Barrel Hotel Tonight
Sonos Peloton Etsy Southwest Airlines
Xbox Rogue Fitness Everlane United Airlines
REI Glossier JetBlue
Trek Ikea Vrbo
Reformation Zipcar
Sephora
Supreme
Uniqlo
Warby Parker
Wayfair

Redeeming points for merchant charges works in a similar way to Capital One’s purchase eraser or to Chase’s Pay Yourself Back.  In other words, you make the purchase first and later use points to erase the charge.  Here are the details from X1’s website:

  • Open the X1 App and go to the Rewards tab.
  • 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.

Redeeming Points for Cash Back Statement Credit

It appears that this option is not necessarily available to everyone.  X1’s website states the following:

Your Points may also be converted and applied as a general statement credit that is not limited to purchases from Rewards Partners. If this option is available to you, you will see the option to “Get Cash Back” under the Rewards tab of the X1 App.

Dave Hanson (the first person to clear X1’s waitinglist) reports that the option is available to him and that his app shows 0.7 cents per point to cash out rewards.  If you choose to redeem points in this way, then you can calculate your earnings as follows:

  • Earn 2x = 1.4% cash back (not good)
  • Earn 3x = 2.1% cash back (good)
  • Earn 4x = 2.8% cash back (excellent)

Review: Is this card worthwhile?

Since I don’t yet have the X1 Card, this review is based entirely on publicly available information about the card.  Given that, here are my pros and cons…

Pros

  • 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 to 4x everywhere)
  • Cool virtual card number features.  I love the idea of auto-expiring virtual cards which let you sign up for free trials without any risk of being charged if you forget to cancel.
  • Higher credit limit than most other cards

Cons

  • Rewards worth full value only if you shop with their qualifying merchants.  If you want cash back, you’ll only get 0.7 cents per point.
  • No travel protections?  No purchase protections?  I couldn’t find any information about travel protections or purchase protections which are standard with many other cards.
  • No transfer partners.  Regular readers know that I love points that transfer to airline and hotel partners.  X1 doesn’t offer this option.

Advice

As a reminder, the card earns 2x by default, 3x for those who spend $15K per year, or 4x 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, then X1 is definitely worth considering.  If you cash out your points for 0.7 cents each, the X1 becomes a 2.1% cash back card.  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: If you’re pretty sure that you can refer people regularly to the X1 card, then the X1 is a great option for you.  If you cash out your points for 0.7 cents each, the X1 becomes a 2.8% cash back card while your 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 4x 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 (We’ll get X1 on that list soon).

How to get the card

There is a massive waiting list for the X1 Card.  If you want to get the card soon, you have to find someone who already has the card and who hasn’t used up their limited referrals to skip the waitlist (by default, I believe that cardholders can refer 3 people to skip the waitlist).

If you’re willing to wait, then you’ll want to join the waitlist (you’ll also get 4x rewards for your first 30 days once you get the card).  Here’s how:

  1. Click here for my “invite a friend” link (Note: I don’t earn anything from this other than moving up the waitlist a bit)
  2. Click “Request an Invite” and then enter your name, email, and annual income to join the list.

Please don’t post referrals in the comments.  I want the comments to be purely a discussion about the X1 card.

Bottom line

The X1 Card is real and a solid choice for many.  The only problem right now is that there’s a massive waiting list.  If you’re remotely interested in the card, I recommend joining the list now rather than later.

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24 Comments
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Patrick Hanser

I got the X1 after waiting for month… I spend a good amount of money within the first days and posted my code in social media for people to skip the waitlist. Suddenly all the transactions were declined and I got in touch with customer service. All they told me was that they’ll have to look into it. After days of no response I got in touch with them again via text. The feedback was that I would receive an email with the explanation by end of day. As expected again no answer. I reached out to them again the following day and the answer I got was the following:

Hope you’re well. I just wanted to give you an update that the team did their review and your account has been flagged for potential misuse of our rewards program. As a result, we will sadly need to close your account.

You’ll receive another email in the coming days with more details.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

Best,
X1 Team

I’m super disappointed because I was such a fan and very excited to use the card… and now it was all for nothing and I wish I would’ve done my big purchases on another card!
They don’t seem to care that I’ll take my business elsewhere and just apologized for the inconvenience. Not sure what’s going to happen with the points I accumulated!

I hope nobody else is going to have such bad experience with this card! I won’t recommend the card anymore and wish I didn’t get friends to sign up since I can’t stand behind it!

Best,
Patrick Hanser

Nick Summy

I have been reading points blogs for almost a decade, and while they got me into a “hobby” the increased competition and need for content definitely poisoned the well. Obviously they were always funded (and nothing wrong with it) by credit card referrals & similar ads. No doubt covid thinned the herd even more.

That said, has it gotten to the point that I have to read a long “review” only to find out at the end the author doesn’t even have the card? Have the bloggers fallen so far that now the referral isn’t even for cash, but now to move up in the wait list?!?!

When was the last time a credit card has to go through a “private beta test?” And the only proof of the card is some guy on youtube talking about it? As the saying goes, if it’s too good to be true, it is. Expect this to debut with an annual fee and bizarre fee structures and rules. This will be on par with the visa “black cards” that are hocked on late night tv. I hope I am wrong but I will check back on the progress..

Good luck, godspeed, and never drive faster than you can see.

Nick Reyes

The second sentence of the post was “I had moved up to position 124,105 on X1’s waiting list.” – so if you had to wait until the end to find out that Greg doesn’t have the card, I think you must have skipped the first paragraph.

Just for critical thinking purposes, how much money would Greg have to spend for the incremental benefit of 4% on this card (assuming perpetual referrals) over the next best card in his wallet to be enough to be worth writing about this card just for referrals? We’re talking an extra 1.375% more than he can get with his Bank of America Premium Rewards card or 1% more than one can get with a first year Discover card and as 4% on the X1 card it can only be used for the included brands. It’s not that I don’t want the card or think it is valuable — I do want it and I do think it is valuable. But if you think the referral was the reason for the post, you’re mistaken.

To do the math for you, he’d have to spend $74,074 on the card at 4x for it to earn an extra $1,000 in cash back over the Premium Rewards card (with Platinum Honors). As a point of comparison, anyone with an Ink Business Preferred can refer 5 people to that card and get 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (worth $1,000 at a base level, no $74K spend required). If referrals or commissions were what dictated the content of this site, we wouldn’t be writing about the X1 card (or about Choice Privileges gems or Hyatt peak and off-peak pricing or many of the other topics we cover). We write about what we find interesting and think other people will also find interesting or useful or both.

In terms of cards going through “private beta tests” – Brex, Bilt, the SoFi Money card, and the Venmo card are a few that immediately come to mind as examples that have beta tested and then successfully launched from that place. The Curve card similarly has been building on the waiting list model and it sounds like they plan to launch very soon. Most credit cards in the market are issued by banks like Chase, Citi, Amex, Synchrony, Comenity, etc — but we’ve seen FinTechs start to enter the space and of course they have a different model. I don’t find that particularly surprising.

Will this card work out? Nobody knows and about that you’re absolutely right. The thing about the “if it’s too good to be true it probably is” sentiment is that if I followed that sentiment I would have missed out on many thousands of dollars and probably well over a million points over the years. We frequently see those “too good to be true” things in this game and often they *are* too good to last, so the key is to strike while the iron is hot and take advantage of those deals while you can. That’s why we write about something like this now instead of only after it has launched and been around a few years — those readers who might be interested in taking a swing at it would miss out on the opportunity to strike while the iron is hot if we wait until someday down the road to discuss it. Does that mean you should join the waiting list and/or apply for the card? Absolutely not. Don’t do anything that you’re not comfortable with doing. But the way that venture capital has been thrown around through FinTechs in recent years (again, see Brex and SoFi and the many banking apps that have thrown out big new account bonuses for new users), I think you’re missing out if you write off every new player in the game.

Peter

This card feels pyramid scheme-ish. If its main value proposition is for those with very large pools of referees, then who exactly are they supposed to refer? Other people who also happen to have exponentially many referees? Or suckers who will end up with a subpar product? Of course, most cards in the market aren’t as valuable as Citi Double Cash or Amex Blue Business Plus, but my concern with this card is its incentive structure for holders to market on its behalf dishonestly.

Another thought is that this referral bonus sucks. Even if you can manufacture $10k within the month after a referral, you get $70 (+1x 0.7 cents x 10,000). It’s pretty low compared to what you can get from referring people to some cards that are actually good.

The diss is to the card, not this post. Always appreciate reviews and analyses here for a wide range of products.

Peter

Woohoo a direct response from Greg!

Well don’t blame me when I started my thought process with your “It’s possible to do better than that, but usually with big hoops involved.” under the 3x discussion… 😉

And this blog definitely conditioned me to consider 2x TY points to be superior to 2.1% cb (or even 3.0% cb). Of course, dealing with transferrable currencies is extremely headachy. X1 sits somewhere between the simplicity of 2% cash back and the value of 2x transferrable points.

EricF

$9,750 spend on BBP, redeemed with Business Platinum Pay with Points.

Ryan

I’m not sure this card is for me, but with no annual fee, might as well give it a try.

Ryan

Hey Greg, when I click on your link it asks for a referral code? Do you have one?

Nick Reyes

You click on “Request an invite”, you don’t have a code. This is the relevant section of the post (under the heading “How to get the card”:

If you’re willing to wait, then you’ll want to join the waitlist (you’ll also get 4x rewards for your first 30 days once you get the card). Here’s how:

  1. Click here for my “invite a friend” link (Note: I don’t earn anything from this other than moving up the waitlist a bit)
  2. Click “Request an Invite” and then enter your name, email, and annual income to join the list.

Note that the comment here doesn’t have the invite link, but you’ll find it in this section in the post.

Julien Gledel

How do you see your spot on the waitlist? It looks like I already signed up a while ago but I can’t figure out how to view my position.

LarryInNYC

Given that my go-to airlines for domestic travel are all in the 1% cash-out list this would be a 3% cash-back travel card for me. That’s better than any airline card, plus no dealing with award availability and all flights would count towards status.

Seems like a pretty good deal for anyone who flies a reasonable amount. If you can be assured of the 4x earning (if you have a steady referral network, which I don’t) I think it’s a no-brainer.

SMR

No benefit to this card at all…. its just a Millenials are excited for nothing event. X1 card lol. 4x points if you refer someone…sorry I do not like having to work for my points. My brew card pays that at all restaurants with no annual fee and the points are worth the fell 1%. oh and the 8x at Uber… cant beat that.

Dick Bupkiss

Hard pass for me. This is a ponzi scheme. Gonna be some unhappy customers when this collapses and all their accumulated points vanish like a fart in the wind.

dan appy

“Please don’t post referrals in the comments.”

“Click here for my “invite a friend” link”

Jed

Don’t think this is for me, but i do know a few ppl at work who have a lot of AA spend that gets reimbursed, so this might be a good no-fee option for them yo just cash out points that way. Making it essentially a 3% cb card.

Greg

Greg you’re letting faux marketing scarcity suck you into a mediocre offering. 2.1 % cash back not exciting esp with min spend each year to get it. Most of the big 1 cent merchants are travel and get better bonuses / value elsewhere.

That 0.7 per point value is like Ralphies decoder telling him to drink his Ovaktine.

Nick Reyes

Agreed with Greg. I’m mostly interested in this as my domestic flight awards card. I typically don’t want to use miles on domestic flights as I don’t get great value for my miles that way (I’d rather save the miles for international trips). Instead, I could use rewards from this card to book paid flights and earn miles on those flights. I’d also generally be happy with 3% back toward Airbnb / Vrbo.

I’m likely to naturally shop at enough of a handful of the other 1% merchants that there are enough back-ups for me to be satisfied (especially since I don’t have to redeem the points through X1 for merchandise or gift cards but rather I can go through a shopping portal and link my X1 card to a card-linked program and stack with all of my usual tricks and then cover the charge).

I don’t know where this will go long-term, but I’m intrigued enough in the short term.