Microsoft's Xbox Mastercard Gives Gamers Another Reason To Score Points

Several Xbox Mastercards angled on a dark green background.
I'm dating myself here, but in the old days of gaming, players competed to see who could earn the highest score (the Atari 2600 generation knows all about sending in Polaroid evidence of a high score). This is still a thing in the world of classic arcades, though at home, leaderboards and achievements are the new thing. Well, Microsoft just unlocked an achievement of its own: its first co-branded Xbox credit card in the United States.

Microsoft teamed up Mastercard to offer a credit card for gamers with no annual fee, which will be issued by Barclays US Consumer Bank. The play is reminiscent of Apple getting into the co-branded credit card game in 2019. Apple also partnered with Mastercard for its metallic credit card, though it's issued by Goldman Sachs and offers card holders cash back on purchases.

Unfortunately, the Xbox Mastercard won't offer any cash back for purchases like Apple's card does, at least not directly. Instead, the credit card aims to reward players on a points system for qualifying purchases—card holders can earn 5X points for every dollar spent on eligible purchases at the Microsoft Store, and 3X points on eligible dining delivery and streaming services. Everyday purchases earn card holders 1X points for every dollar spent.

The list of qualifying streaming and delivery services is fairly long and covers a lot of the major players, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Disney+, ESPN+, Hulu, Netflix, YouTube Premium and TV, Amazon Music Unlimited, Apple Music, Pandora, SiriusXM, Spotify, YouTube Music, Kindle, DoorDash, GrubHub, Uber Eats, and many others.

Five different Xbox themed Mastercards on a green background.

Additionally, Microsoft is offering three months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate after the first purchase, albeit only for new Game Pass members. All new card holders will receive 5,000 bonus points valued at $50 (also after the first purchase), free online access to their FICO credit score, and $0 fraud liability protection.

"We’ve heard feedback from the Xbox community that they want more ways to get value for their purchases," said Dave McCarthy, CVP Xbox Player Services. "We’re excited to partner with Barclays and Mastercard to expand the ways Xbox players can earn rewards for gaming."

Is the Xbox Mastercard a good card to add to your wallet or purse? Offering financial advice is beyond our scope, so you'll have to decide for yourself. That said, it feels like there is some missed opportunity here, not only for direct cash back rewards, but also to rack up bonus points for in-game purchases (which are not eligible for the 5X point reward). Also note that this is entirely separate from the Microsoft Rewards program.

The points system tied to the Xbox card could prove valuable, though, depending on how and where you shop. And the cards look cool with five different colored themes to choose from.

Microsoft says the Xbox Mastercard will be available in waves exclusively to Xbox Insiders starting on September 21.