Innovative New X1 'Smart Card' Announced

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Lookout card-issuing banks, there's a new kid in town. The waitlist for the X1 credit card is now live, and its arrival is stirring things up in the credit card world.

Billed as the “smartest card ever made”, the X1 is a totally new concept of rewards credit card that offers unique ways of earning points on everyday purchases and innovative features never before seen—all for zero annual fees. But, does the card live up to the hype? Let's take a look.

What Makes the X1 Card Special

The X1 promises a lot of cool features, including the ability to:

  • Earn up to 4X points on every purchase
  • Receive credit limits based on current and future income levels instead of credit scores
  • Utilize proprietary smart technology to shop anonymously with “incognito mode”, end free trials automatically with auto-expiring virtual credit cards, split checks seamlessly, and more
  • Redeem points with dozens of popular vendors at varying rates, including popular travel companies like Airbnb, Delta, Alaska, and JetBlue

Plus, the X1 is perfect for those of you into the new-age “heavy metal” credit cards. It's made of 17g of polished stainless steel, giving the card a modern look while virtually guaranteeing a win in every round of credit card roulette.

Although an official release date is still unknown, the X1 credit card is currently set to debut sometime in winter 2020. In preparation, let's go over everything we know about this sleek new card to see whether it lives up to the hype.

X1 Card Earning Structure

Like a lot of traits of the X1, the earning structure is pretty innovative.

  • All cardmembers start by earning 2X points on every purchase.
  • If you spend $15,000 or more on the card in a year, you'll earn 3X points on every purchase.

Here's where things get a little interesting. Cardmembers can unlock the X1 card's top-earning rate with referrals. If you refer someone to signup for the X1 card (here's my referral link if you want), you'll earn 4X points on every purchase for 30 days. Likewise, that person will also receive 30 days of 4X earning. The more friends you refer, the more months of earning 4X you'll unlock. For instance, if you refer ten friends to get the X1 Card, you'll unlock ten months of 4X earning ability.

Innovative Shopping Tools

The X1 credit card will be issued as a Visa Signature, meaning it will offer many benefits typical for Visa Signature cards. A spokesperson for the X1 credit card has confirmed with AwardWallet that these benefits will include:

  • Zero-Liability Protection
  • Extended Warranty Protection
  • Roadside Dispatch
  • Lost or Stolen Card Reporting
  • Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
  • Cardholder Inquiry Services
  • Emergency Card Replacement
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
  • Emergency Cash Disbursement
  • Winemaker/Food Events

Additionally, the X1 offers a few ‘smart' features that aren't so typical. These are, presumably, thanks to its paired mobile app and proprietary technology. Put more specifically, the X1's creators have pledged the ability for cardmembers to:

  • Cancel subscription payments with one click
  • End free trials automatically with auto-expiring virtual credit cards
  • Receive instant refund notifications
  • Digitally attach receipts to purchases
  • Split checks seamlessly
  • Shop anonymously with “incognito mode”

Several of these features are the first of their kind, capable of transforming the way X1 cardholders spend.

X1 card will be issued as a Visa Signature

X1 Card Fees (or Lack Thereof)

When the creators of the X1 credit card settled on their design, they were motivated by the notion that many who hold premium rewards credit cards—like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or The Platinum Card® from American Express—are planning to close them in response to the prolonged effects of COVID-19. Their thinking: travel benefits don't justify high annual fees when you can't use them.

With this in mind, the creators of the X1 opted to charge zero annual fee. Plus, there are no late fees or foreign transaction fees.

Mixing things up further is how cardmember credit limits won't necessarily be based on credit scores alone. Instead, X1 will set credit limits based on current and future income levels. This method promises to offer credit limits “up to five times higher than traditional credit cards” while enabling automatic credit increases as cardmembers advance in their careers.

There are only a couple of ways that X1 will charge you. X1 cards will charge between 12.9–19.9% APR rate. Also, cardholders can complete balance transfers for only a 2% fee—which is lower than the fees charged on many similar cards.

X1 Point Redemptions

If you're like me, one of your first questions is, “what can I do with X1 points”?

After confirming with an X1 spokesperson, we've learned that cardmembers will be able to apply points towards purchases made at partnered merchants. At the time of writing, this merchant list includes:

Apple, Airbnb, Patagonia, Asos, Nike, Adidas, Uniqlo, Allbirds, Supreme, Rogue, Peloton, Beats, Bose, Playstation, Xbox, Nintendo, Sonos, Warby Parker, Masterclass, Wayfair, Ikea, REI, Crate & Barrel, Casper, JetBlue, Delta, Alaska, Zipcar, Hotel Tonight, Trek, Cannondale, Sephora, Glossier, Everlane, Lululemon, Etsy, Aritzia, Reformation, Anthropologie, Outdoor Voices, WSJ, Hipcamp, and Away

…with more to come. For most of these partners, points are worth 1¢ each towards offsetting a purchase. But for select merchants, points will be worth up to 2¢ each. Cardmembers will carry out all of this directly in the app.

X1 Card point redemptions

How It Compares

‘Smart Card' or not, the X1's competition is ultimately with other no-annual-fee cards. This includes AwardWallet favorites like the recently released Chase Freedom Flex℠ and the recently updated Chase Freedom Unlimited®.

In terms of cashback potential, the X1 offers comparable value. While the Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited offer up to 5% cashback on certain purchases, the X1 balances the scales with a higher bonus on everyday purchases.

On the redemption side, the lineup isn't as straightforward. If paired with an Ultimate Rewards-earning card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the points earned with a Freedom Flex or Freedom Unlimited are much more valuable than those earned with the X1. However, as standalone cards, earning straight cashback could be comparable to earning X1 points. This is especially true if one of the X1 card's partnered merchants is particularly valuable to you, and even more so if your points happen to be worth more than 1¢ each there.

With the ‘smart card' features, there really is no competition. No card currently offers the ability to shop anonymously or create virtual card numbers all in one. Depending on how you see yourself using the card, these benefits alone could provide enough value for an application.

Bottom Line

When a card comes along offering the ability to earn 4X points on every purchase, it's hard not to be intrigued. But when you pair that with ‘smart card' technology and an innovative benefit structure, you earn my full attention.

The X1 credit card is undoubtedly impressive. With that said, I'm not entirely sold on the point redemptions. At face value, the ability to earn 4X points on every purchase sounds incredible. But it's meaningless if you don't value the redemption offerings. For instance, among the current partners, only Airbnb, Alaska, Delta, and JetBlue stand out to me. But even if those are particularly valuable to you, one could argue that a card earning flexible rewards currency still presents a better value proposition.

Overall, the most interesting aspect of the X1 credit card is its business model. With cutting edge technology and no annual fee, the X1 seems to be banking on the sheer number of users to drive profitability. This stands in stark contrast to the most popular rewards cards offered by major card-issuing banks today. If the X1 captures a lot of market share, it will be interesting to see how other card issuers respond.

How do you feel about the X1 credit card? Do its innovative features interest you enough to signup for the waitlist?

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Comments

  • Looking at the merchant list, I can see the appeal for the young millennial; earn and redeem points for relevant brands. But is the redemption value worth it? How does this differ from redeeming Visa/MC Debit Cards and then paying? How many millennials are paying via Apple Pay/Google Pay vs. Physical card to make the stainless steel worth it?

    For new joiners to the points game, I can see the initial appeal (no annual fee, relevant mix of travel, shopping and home goods brands). For more experienced folks in the points game, I can see appeal as gifts for young kids. Not sure how big the market is but big enough to start a card. Will be interesting to see how this takes off and evolves.

    Personally, I’ve been “lucky” to get the Barclays Arrival Plus before the card stopped accepting new applications. The benefit of the Arrival Plus was the ability to redeem non-traditional travel options such as AirBnBs, cruises, EU rails and more. So I’ll sit back and watch this card as it develops..

    • Interesting points. Indeed, more transactions are being made via electronic wallets, so making the physical card stainless steal is all about the astethics. Although, with 3X earning rate (for spending $15k+ in a year) and redemption rate of at least 1 cent per point, this card definitely caught my eye. And yes, hold onto that Arrival Plus card! I’m bummed that I didn’t keep mine.

  • Really amazing look @ the future here

  • That’s interesting card. I also would be apply one. 4X bonus would be great help me to improve my experience.

  • I’m interested in understanding more about the anonymous shopper mode. I do also find it interesting that there’s no mention of a sign-up bonus if a spend threshold is met. I guess the high point-earning structure on everyday purchases and the option to earn higher based on referrals is the trade-off?

    • Yeah, the press release only had so much detail. It will be interesting to see a lot of these tools in practice. And yeah, no sign-up bonus as far as we know.

      • Meh. I like a lot of the ideas, but I think I’ll wait to see how this plays out and to see if they add more redemption options and with which partners. Thanks for always keeping us up-to-date with the latest!

  • David Miller says:

    Considering $550 ($450 this year) for my Sapphire Reserve is a bit much, given there’s not a lot of use this year for its most useful features, this card is intriguing. Hard to beat $0 annual fee. But I’d need to know more about how its rewards compare to the competition.

  • Which bank is issuing the card? I have most of the high priced cards and due to Covid I hardly use any of them. My most valuable card is the CSR because of it’s $10,000/per person trip cancellation coverage. Each cruise we book with the cards saves us at least $2800 (7 percent of cruise fare.).

  • I’m so excited to sign up for this card. Aside from the 4x bonus, I’m most interested about the auto cancellation of subscription.

  • I’m always interested in a new card but this one doesn’t really seem to have anything new that would benefit my lifestyle. I think a lot of us who read this blog are travel enthusiasts so the travel companies with whom they partner would be of most of interest. I’ll be watching it closely to see if they add any more travel partners.

    • Same here. I’m going to wait to see how this shakes out. However, the high earning rate and the ability to redeem points for travel gift cards or purchases is intriguing.

  • This is very intriguing, I wonder how the other cc cards are going to react to this impressive card!

  • This is an intriguing offer. I agree the 4x earning is a nice inventive… But if the redemptions are not all that great… there is less value. I’ll watch this offer and see how it evolves.