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).
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…
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.“
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.
There are two ways to earn 4X rewards:
- Upon startup: If you join X1 using a friend referral, you’ll earn “4x points 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 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:
|Playstation||Patagonia||Crate & Barrel||Hotel Tonight|
|Xbox||Rogue Fitness||Everlane||United Airlines|
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…
- 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
- 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.
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:
- Click here for my “invite a friend” link (Note: I don’t earn anything from this other than moving up the waitlist a bit)
- 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.
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.