How Microsoft Rewards can help you benefit from being chronically online

Start turning your web searches into prizes.
The Microsoft Rewards dashboard shows how many points you've earned.
The Microsoft Rewards dashboard will give you the most important stats you need in the program: from your total tally to your current earning streak. David Nield for Popular Science

Most of us would gladly take payment for what we’re already doing online anyway, and that’s exactly what Microsoft Rewards (previously known as Bing Rewards) is. This program will give you points in return for searching the web and buying digital goods online, which you can redeem for rewards such as gift cards from popular retailers like Amazon, Starbucks, and Sephora.

To get in on the deal, you’ll have to use Microsoft’s products, including Bing and the Microsoft Store, which offers games, software, movies, and TV shows. If you’re happy with those terms, the company will reward your loyalty to its services.

How Microsoft Rewards works

Every dollar you spend in the Microsoft Store earns you one point, but you can also get points by playing games. The company will suggest some via email, but you can go straight to the Microsoft Rewards page to earning points while you kill time online.

It’s very much like a loyalty program, similar to those offered by retail stores and airlines. You can sign up for free, but you will need a Microsoft account to participate, which the company will use to track your activities and reward them accordingly.

Newcomers will start at Level 1 of  Microsoft Rewards, but if you collect at least 500 points in a month,  you can move up to Level 2. This tier gives you five times more points for your Bing searches, and up to 10 percent in discounts on rewards claimed through the Microsoft Store. You can easily keep track of how many points you’re earning through the Microsoft Rewards dashboard.

[Related: RIP Internet Explorer, and thanks for all the memes]

Once you’ve accumulated some points, you’ll be able to redeem them for gift cards, entries into sweepstakes, digital games, and movies, as well as donations on your behalf to a non-profit of your choosing. But that’s not an exhaustive list. At the time of writing, for example, you can earn three months of Spotify Premium by searching with Bing in Microsoft Edge for three days in a row.

The not-so-fun side of Microsoft Rewards includes daily emails that feature a variety of online deals and quizzes. As we mentioned before, this is similar to other loyalty programs out there that bombard you with marketing content on a regular basis, so this is standard practice. You can always filter out these messages, and if you think you’re missing out on something, you can always check out the Microsoft Rewards page online to see all offers.

How to use Microsoft Rewards

The game page on the Microsoft Rewards interface lets you earn points by playing.
You can always scroll through your favorite app to kill time, but choose a Microsoft Rewards game and you’ll get points for fighting boredom. David Nield for Popular Science

Head to the official Microsoft Rewards site and click Join now to go through the registration process—if you don’t already have a Microsoft account, you’ll need to make one. Once you’re done, the site will take you to your Microsoft Rewards dashboard, which shows how many points you’ve earned. Further down you’ll see opportunities to earn points today, from quizzes to Bing searches.

For more details on how you’re doing, including your current level, switch to the Status tab, where you can see a more detailed history of the points you’ve accumulated and set goals for reaching reward milestones. On this page you’ll also be able to check your streaks history, which tracks times when you’ve earned rewards for several consecutive days in a row—you get bonus points after hitting a three-day streak.

You don’t have to go through the dashboard to earn points: As long as you’re registered with the program and you stay signed into your Microsoft account, you’ll automatically get points for searching on Bing and spending your money in the Microsoft Store. To check how many points you’re earning in real-time just look at the tally in the top right corner of the Bing website or the Bing app for Android or iOS.

[Related: Google vs. DuckDuckGo vs. Bing—is it time to switch your search engine?]

If you want to earn even more points, you might also want to use the Microsoft Bing Search with Rewards extension for Edge. Just installing the add-on gives you 30 points, but the tool also gives you easy access to your total tally and suggests more ways to earn points.

As you might have guessed, the Rewards tab on the Microsoft Rewards dashboard lets you redeem your points. You can search the offers and sort them by how many points they cost—when you see something interesting, click on any reward to see more details and claim it. The biggest prizes will take some time to earn (like a $25 NFL shop gift card, which is 32,500), but if you’re using Bing and Edge regularly, points can pile up pretty quickly. 

Finally, if you later decide that Microsoft Rewards isn’t for you, you can quit the program by heading to the opt-out page.