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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 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.
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.
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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