Microsoft guts its Rewards Program further by raising redemption points for Xbox and other third-party gift cards (UPDATED)

Xbox free voucher on Samsung mobile phone
(Image credit: Daniel Rubino - Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • UPDATE 3/9/2024: Microsoft commented on the rise of redemption prices for gift cards on its Reward program indicating that it "regularly tunes the methods for redeeming points," and that it's exploring more ways to grow and expand the platform.
  • You'll need more Microsoft Reward points to get Xbox and Amazon gift cards.
  • Microsoft has made significant adjustments to its Rewards program in the past few months, including the dropping points awarded for activities, introducing a cooldown period that limits how many points a user can get per hour, and more. 
  • Several users indicated that Microsoft Rewards was seemingly back to normal in January, garnering up to 30 points per reward, but this isn't the case.

Recent updates

Over the past few days, several users took to social media platforms citing the drastic changes Microsoft made to its Rewards program, including adjustments to the redemption prices for Microsoft and other third-party gift cards. 
Microsoft disclosed to Windows Latest that it "regularly tunes the methods for redeeming points," which explains the changes to the redemption prices for gift cards.
While speaking to Windows Latest, a Microsoft Spokesman stated that:
"Over the last few years, the Microsoft Rewards program has regularly evolved to reflect our growth and expansion. We evaluate every change closely, tuning the methods and frequency through which our members can earn and redeem points. Whether searching with Bing, browsing with Edge, playing on Xbox, or making purchases in the Microsoft store, we know our members take delight in the added incentive the Microsoft Rewards program offers. We aim to grow in ways that continue to provide value to our members, and we monitor feedback to ensure satisfaction. We appreciate the enthusiasm and loyalty of our Microsoft Rewards members and remain excited for the program’s future.”
The company indicated that the changes are geared toward exploring more "growth and expansion" for the platform.

The Microsoft Rewards program has undergone several changes in the past few months that most users aren't too happy about. It all started with Microsoft halting the capability to earn points for using Microsoft Edge daily, barely a week after killing the Xbox Rewards app.

At the time, most users speculated that Microsoft was discontinuing the program. However, this wasn't the case. The Redmond giant issued a statement indicating that it was evolving the program, having made significant adjustments to its loyalty awards points system, dropping points for "other activities" from 10 to 2.

Microsoft also introduced a "cooldown" period to the program, limiting users to award points for only 3 searches per 15 minutes. Based on opinions shared across social media platforms, it's apparent that these changes aren't welcome to the program. Some users said they would no longer use Microsoft Edge or Bing, further stating that Microsoft Rewards kept them there. 

While a January report seemingly indicated that the Microsoft Rewards program was back to normal, with users getting up to 30 points per reward again, this isn't the case (at least according to complaints lodged by multiple users across social media).

WTF?! Redeeming a Microsoft Gift card now requires +33% of points?! from r/MicrosoftRewards

"Same exact situation here. Had enough for 25€ already, but today I still have to grind to get it back. To say that I thought of buying games last night is an understatement and I should have..US has a +5% increase, EU has a +12%. The MSR team is at it again. How is that fucking fair... 1€=1.10$. Yet they treat 1€=1$ on their store, shitting on it like always," a concerned user lamented on Reddit. 

Based on the Reddit thread, Microsoft has seemingly raised the points value for gift card redemptions and increased it by up to 33% (via MSPowerUser). According to some users in the United States, a $50 Microsoft gift card translates to 47,500 points, up from 46,000 points.

See more

The same also applies to third-party gift cards from retailers like Amazon. You'll need anything from 7,600 to 8,125 points for a £5 Amazon gift card. It's worth noting that Amazon no longer lets users use their gift card balances to buy other gift cards. This means that you won't be able to use Microsoft Rewards to get an Amazon gift card to add to your Amazon account to buy other gift cards.

The drastic changes to the Microsoft Rewards Program are hurting Bing and Edge more

Bing search

(Image credit: Future)

Multiple users have openly indicated that they've been using Microsoft Edge and Bing solely for the Microsoft Reward points they are awarded when using these services. It's no secret that Microsoft Edge and Bing's market share is struggling a bit; even Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that Google doesn't play fairly.

According to StatCounter's February report, Microsoft Edge holds a 5.07% stake in the browser market share globally. Users have previously outlined their preference for other browsers over Edge due to its "bloatedness," some have outlined Bing's search quality issues as the main reason they use other search engines.

RELATED: Microsoft Edge and Bing exempted from DMA regulation for not being dominant enough

Microsoft is placing all its bets on AI, integrating the technology across most of its products, including Edge and Bing. Interestingly, our recent poll indicated that most readers don't find Microsoft Copilot helpful.

READ MORE: How are people using Microsoft Copilot in their lives?

It will be interesting to watch how Microsoft handles this issue moving forward. We'll keep a close tab on the issue as it unfolds and keep you posted on any developments.

Microsoft Edge | Free

<a href="https://www.microsoftedgeinsider.com/en-us/download/" data-link-merchant="microsoftedgeinsider.com"">Microsoft Edge | Free

Microsoft Edge is the default browser on Windows. It's based on Chromium, so it's compatible with most of the web. Several Insider versions of the browser allow you to test new features and provide feedback to Microsoft.

Kevin Okemwa
Contributor

Kevin Okemwa is a seasoned tech journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya with lots of experience covering the latest trends and developments in the industry. With a passion for innovation and a keen eye for detail, he has written for leading publications such as OnMSFT, MakeUseOf, and Windows Report, providing insightful analysis and breaking news on everything revolving around the Microsoft ecosystem. While AFK and not busy following the ever-emerging trends in tech, you can find him exploring the world or listening to music.

  • Luuthian
    Just get a part time job. The amount of time you need to put in to earning the rewards is like $5 in xbox credit for every 10-15 hours spent. Terrible return in time spent on the effort and downloading miscellaneous Gamepass games. Worse, if you don't actively try then passively you'll take forever to earn anything (how many people actually want to change their primary search engine to Bing, just for these points? No one, which means you need to put effort in to making junk searches every day and that's your free unpaid time and effort being put to use).

    It's a bad program. I used to benefit from this service massively for about 2-3 years early on but those days are over. Use the time spent on this program elsewhere
    Reply
  • Laura Knotek
    Luuthian said:
    Just get a part time job. The amount of time you need to put in to earning the rewards is like $5 in xbox credit for every 10-15 hours spent. Terrible return in time spent on the effort and downloading miscellaneous Gamepass games. Worse, if you don't actively try then passively you'll take forever to earn anything (how many people actually want to change their primary search engine to Bing, just for these points? No one, which means you need to put effort in to making junk searches every day and that's your free unpaid time and effort being put to use).

    It's a bad program. I used to benefit from this service massively for about 2-3 years early on but those days are over. Use the time spent on this program elsewhere
    I've never bothered with Xbox PC games. I can get free games every week from Epic or get sales from GOG and Steam.
    Reply