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.
Xbox free voucher on Samsung mobile phone.

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.

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).

"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.

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
Bing search

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.

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