I don’t usually mess around with company loyalty systems, because they’re usually just ways to entice people into spending more money than they would have. Unless it was something that I used on the regular anyway, like Club Nintendo (RIP) or GameStop’s weird and ever-changing membership gimmicks.
But recently, I realized there’s another gaming-adjacent rewards program, and one you don’t have to spend an extra dime on. Of course I’m referring to Microsoft Rewards, a program that runs through all of the tech giant’s services. But it’s especially cool on Xbox.
Microsoft Rewards Guide
First of all, let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way here. I’m not sugar-coating the service, and this isn’t going to be presented as some revelatory way to make extra money, nor is it some kind of trickery or sponsored deal.
This is just based on an observation I’ve made over the last month or two, based on giving Microsoft Rewards a whirl on a whim.
With that out of the way, here’s the long and short of it: as long as you have some patience, and are okay with having to fiddle with Bing, you can turn a few minutes of effort on a daily or weekly basis into a decent chunk of Xbox/Microsoft store credit.
First, here’s what you’re going to need to make the most of it. This is going to include the obvious stuff, because I want to make sure I’m not leaving anything out. In total, you will need:
- A Xbox One console (natch)
- A Microsoft account
- The Microsoft Rewards Xbox One app
- Xbox Game Pass
- The Xbox Game Pass mobile app
- The Bing app
What makes Microsoft Rewards pretty cool is its integration with the Xbox and Game Pass platforms. There usually isn’t a need to mess around with the console’s web browser, or even your own computer. 'If you have the above mobile apps you can easily get through everything you need to start accruing points. Then you can turn those points into Xbox store credit, or other gift cards and whatnot.
Microsoft Rewards points have an exchange rate of roughly 1,000 per dollar. However, the trick being played here is that any reward you want outside of the Microsoft sphere will end up making the exchange rate much worse. But if you do opt for Microsofty rewards, it actually improves it a bit.
So for example, you can get a $15 DoorDash gift card, a useful item for the whole lockdown thing. But that’ll run you 19,500 points. On the other hand, $10 in Xbox money is 9,300 points. You’ll also get the credit directly into your wallet too, instead of a code you have to wait for and redeem.
The trickery doesn’t end there, of course. Microsoft Rewards also presents an option to automatically redeem your points whenever you get to that $10 Xbox buckaroos threshold, and even makes it cheaper at 8,750 points.
You can use these points, by the way, for any Microsoft or Windows store as well as on Xbox, and the app is even like, “yo you can get a whole Surface with these got dang points.” But if you scroll down to the bottom, the fine print gives you a 90-day deadline to spend your gift card credit.
So the best approach is to set a goal, and stick to that goal. Sure, it’ll take a while to hit 91,000 points for that $100 gift card, but you bet that’s what I’m saving up for. But you can browse through the rewards yourself and see all the different options, another highlight being Game Pass vouchers. There are several sweepstakes, but those are all traps too.
That said, you can turn your points into charitable donations that Microsoft will match, doubling what you’re putting in. That’s pretty rad too, and the list of organizations is legit, such as The Trevor Project, Girls Who Code, or The Nature Conservancy. If you don’t really want or need the store credit but want to mess around with this app anyway, this is a great option.
Tasks, Quests, and Punch Cards?
Okay, so we’ve broken down what the points do. Now it’s time to talk about actually earning those points. Obviously, if you make purchases on the Xbox/Microsoft/Windows stores you’ll get a percentage of that purchase in points, at around a 20:1 ratio.
There are also purchase-adjacent punch cards you can check out in the console app. Typically these give you a recently-released game or some kind of media requirement (rent three movies, etc). If you activate the punch card before you make your purchase, you’ll get a bonus of a few thousand points.
But if you aren’t interested in spending money to spend more money, there’s a lot you can do for free. The most important free activity is the weekly set. This is a set of three tasks that will give you 100 points every week. Usually the tasks are as simple as looking at a new game’s store page, earning achievements in games you already own, or even simply logging in a few times.
You’ll also usually need to make Bing searches, but more on that later. As you consistently do the weekly sets, you’ll get streak bonuses. Four weeks in a row will give an extra 250, then 500 at seven, and 1,000 at ten. So once you get rolling, that can start adding up pretty fast.
Aside from that, you can get 50 points a day just for earning an achievement. So if you’re playing games anyway, once you get an achievement you can just hop over to the app and punch in for that. There are also punch cards that aren’t purchase-adjacent, that typically have you complete some tasks in a specific game, or go on a wacky scavenger hunt of tasks for a big bonus.
If you have Xbox Game Pass, you’ll also have access to Game Pass Quests, another source of points. Here you’ll get rewarded for simply logging into Game Pass on your phone every day, and playing a game from Game Pass (even if you just own it).
Weekly Quests involve reaching goals in specific games (this week it’s just to play ten battles in Final Fantasy VII!), and monthly tasks can involve keeping up with Quests consistently or installing Game Pass titles through the mobile app. I typically don’t have the bandwidth to knock all of these out every month, but even doing some of them is a good bump.
Who Invited Bing?
Now it’s time to talk about Bing. This is the annoying part, because Microsoft wants you to use Bing. Typically you’ll be asked to make searches in Bing, sometimes upwards of 50 to 100 searches. That sounds insane, but luckily you can cheese it pretty easily.
If you run into that task, all you need to do is open the app, click the search button, then scroll through the list of suggestions at the bottom of the UI. I like to choose “images,” because simply opening up an image through this menu counts as a search. Doing that you can quickly tap back and forth through the sample searches, and hit that 50 in seconds.
Bing also has a “daily set,” which you can access via the Rewards menu inside the app. This typically involves checking out a specific search term, or participating in some themed quizzes. Like the weekly set on the Xbox side, completing daily sets for Bing consistently gives streak bonuses. You can go even harder by doing additional searches on your desktop in Bing and Microsoft Edge, but even just reading that feels excessive.
Thank you for coming to my Microsoft Rewards TED Talk. If you stuck this thing out all the way through, you should be equipped with the information you need to passively earn Xbox store credit. And the majority of that is through playing games you already have, or trying new games out via Game Pass.
Just by checking in briefly I’ve stocked up almost 18,000 points in a few weeks, and I’ve played games I wouldn’t have gotten around to otherwise. Recently I played through Gato Roboto, a cute and challenging Metroidvania-style indie, which I may never have done without doing those Game Pass Quests. If you suffer from Gamer ADHD, like me, it’s a good way to benefit from those game-swapping impulses.
I’m gunning for that $100 gift card, but if there’s a rad flash sale or something it’s going to feel pretty good to just cash in those points and snag something for “free,” even if it took several weeks to accrue those points. It’s a lot of text to read through, but it really is minimal effort compared to similar systems such as online surveys.
If you want to snag the occasional extra game, DLC, what have you and don’t want to spend your wage dollars, Microsoft is a good way to build up a little savings jar in exchange for minimal effort.
What do you folks think? Have you dabbled in Microsoft Rewards, or avoided it for similar reasons you avoid other loyalty programs? Has this guide piqued your interest, or do you think I’m some kind of dummy for sticking with it? Let us know what you think over at the Prima Games Facebook or Twitter channels!