American Express Plenti – the coalition rewards program that gives you points for transactions with a variety of merchants like AT&T, ExxonMobil, RiteAid, and more now has a new competitor Earn by Microsoft.
So far their partners are in different spaces. Here are the initial places you can earn via Microsoft’s new program:
You register your credit cards, and then eligible transactions which post to those cards earn points. There’s no separate membership card or number.
Currently they support Visa and MasterCard (credit and debit) but not yet American Express.
With Starbucks and Whole Foods, that’s a lot of ‘everyday earn’ type of activity. Of course it means you earn points making purchases on your registered credit cards directly with these merchants. You do not earn points buying gift cards from an office supply store for these merchants.
And I’ll unquestionably take 5 Chase points per dollar over earning credit in this new Microsoft program because of the limited redemption side.
I also don’t love that:
- Points expire a year from when they’re earned if you don’t redeem them.
- You can only earn $2000 in credit per year.
- A card cannot be enrolled with Rewards Network (mileage dining programs) and earn with Microsoft, which I assume is a technical limitation, perhaps only one system can see your transactions and not both.
The worst thing though is the redemption limitations. Whereas Plenti operates as a cash back program, Microsoft’s points can only be spent at Microsoft Stores. You use your registered card to make a purchase, and available points are automatically redeemed.
Here’s a possible workaround we’ll have to keep our eyes on:
What happens if my Earn Credits are applied against a purchase I make in the local Microsoft Store, and then make a return? Do you reverse the statement credit and add back the Earn Credits to my Earn Credit Balance?
Microsoft may, at its sole discretion, elect to reverse the statement credit and add back the Earn Credits to your balance for any returns made for purchases at the Microsoft Store.
Earn by Microsoft is still in beta, and “During the beta, that means [redemptions may be made at] only the local Microsoft Stores in Washington, Massachusetts and Arizona.”