Credit Cards

The X1 Card Pushes the Envelope on Rewards and Security

This "smart" credit card offers unique virtual card capability and rewards -- and up to five times the credit limit of a traditional credit card.

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The X1 Card* was recently unveiled, and it promises a handful of unique rewards and security features. It begs a double take aesthetically, too. Advertised as 17 grams of stainless steel, the card will be delivered to you in a branded box, a move unlike that of typical envelope-wielding issuers.

In keeping with X1's aspiration to be unconventional, you can't just "apply" for it. Following the playbook of apps and services seeking to come across as exclusive, you can request an invite to apply by submitting your name, email address and income. However, the invite list feels more like a waiting list at this stage -- we've been on the list since November with no word yet.

In this article

X1 Visa®

Card Highlights
Intro OfferN/A
APR13.50% – 20.50% Variable
Recommended Credit Excellent/Good Credit
Reward Rates
  • Earn 2x points on every dollar spent
  • Earn 3x points on every dollar spent that entire year when you spend $15,000+ in a year
  • 4X points for 30 days for each friend you invite who gets the card
Annual FeeNone
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Additional Details
Balance Transfer Fee 2% of the amount of each transfer.
Balance Transfer APR13.50% – 20.50% Variable
Penalty APR None
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 2x points on every dollar spent
  • Earn 3x points on every dollar spent that entire year when you spend $15,000+ in a year
  • 4X points for 30 days for each friend you invite who gets the card

X1 smart card features

The X1 card intends to use technology to ease security and payment management hassles, while enabling users to improve their credit more effortlessly. 

X1 says its credit card offers up to five times the spending limit of a traditional credit card, with its average credit limit at $24,300. That gives cardholders significantly more spending power -- as well as the opportunity to dig themselves deeper into debt. It also potentially gives them the chance to increase their credit score by improving credit utilization (the ratio between what an individual owes and their total spending limit). The issuer bases your credit limit on your salary, and approved new X1 cardholders have annual salaries ranging from $40k to millions of dollars.

Another interesting feature is support for automatic virtual cards, which gives you a unique, one-time credit card number each time you make a purchase online. This helps you spend more anonymously by limiting companies' access to your personal information, potentially preventing identity theft. These virtual cards can be used for one-time purchases and are convenient options for free trials for new services and subscriptions you want to test. 

Alternatively, you can generate virtual credit cards designed to be used more than once, that expire in a set number of days that you specify. This can be helpful if you want to sign up for a free trial of a service and want to auto-expire the card before you get charged, or if you want to share the credit with someone (say, a family member or employee) for a set period. You're also able to manage and cancel subscription payments in one click from the X1 app.

Rewards and referral bonuses

The points system is fairly rewarding and has components unlike other cards on the market. You earn 2x points for every dollar spent on every purchase, and if you spend more than $15,000 in a year, you're automatically upgraded to earn 3x points for every dollar spent that year. At a general redemption rate of $0.01 per point, this equates to a standard flat cash-back rate of 2% to 3% (when spending over $15,000 annually). 

On top of flat-rate rewards, you can occasionally activate bonus "boost" categories from your app as they become available. There's also a referral bonus. For each friend you refer who gets the card, you unlock 30 days of 4x points on your purchases (note that a referral bonus might trigger a taxable event). Points can then be redeemed against purchases made with major players in tech, retail, fitness and travel

Comparable cards

A 2% flat cash-rewards rate is competitive with the best flat-rate cards on the market, including the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card and Citi® Double Cash Card (1% when you buy, 1% when you pay). 

The jump to 3x points with the X1 Card after you spend $15,000 within the year is somewhat reminiscent of Discover's Unlimited Cashback Match program -- which is offered on Discover cards -- in that your total annual expenditure can earn you even more rewards. With the Cashback Match program, you earn double the cash back you would otherwise earn, disbursed by Discover to your account upon the completion of your first year as a cardholder. With the X1 card, however, the opportunity to earn a 3x points bonus lasts beyond your first year, unlike with Discover. 


How should I choose a credit card?

Ultimately, the right credit card is individual to each person and their goals and preferences. Decide what features you're looking for: maximized rewards, spaced-out payments on a large purchase, credit building, an emergency credit card or other benefits. From there, you can decide the type of card you're looking for. You can then use online reviews like those at CNET to further narrow down what terms will work best for you.

Is cash back better than points?

While cash back is a more accessible concept, cash back and points both have their strengths and weaknesses. While cash back can be more universally applicable, points are often worth more in value than their cash-back equivalents. Depending on your shopping preferences and credit card redemption parameters, you may find points or cash back to be more valuable to you.

What is a virtual credit card?

A virtual credit card, or virtual account number, is a temporary credit card number used to make purchases online or over the phone safely. That means you don't have to reveal your actual account information, sparing you potential identity theft. The virtual account number is generated randomly and expires after a set period of time so that it cannot be misappropriated in the future.

Our approach

We review the cards that are in the highest demand and offer the best benefits. We scour the fine print so there aren't any surprises when you open an account. We find the key factors that make a card stand out and compare them to other top cards. That way, readers can opt for a different card with similar features if our pick isn't right for them. Our reviews are regularly checked and updated to incorporate new recommendations, as well as to reflect changes in offers and the market. 

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*All information about the X1 Card has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

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