Bing has come a long way since its debut in 2009. Multiple interface lifts and backend improvements have turned what was once the butt of many jokes into a competent and capable competitor to Google.
I’ve been using Bing as my main search engine for 15 months (as of writing this) and the experience has been surprisingly pleasant. It has come to point where I actually dislike Google’s search engine and actively avoid using it. Go figure!
And though Bing is technically strong enough to stand on its own, it has a reputation to overcome. Microsoft is confident that you’ll like Bing as long as you give it an honest try. That’s where the Bing Rewards Program comes into play.
What Is Bing Rewards?
The premise of Bing Rewards is that you can earn credits for searching with Bing. These credits accumulate on your account and can be redeemed for rewards (we’ll go over this in more detail later).
The program is entirely free to participate in as long as you have a residential United States address and are over the age of 13. The only other restriction is that each person may only have one Bing Rewards account and each household may not exceed five accounts.
Once enrolled, Bing Rewards is accessible by desktop and mobile.
When searching from a desktop, you’ll earn 1 credit for every 2 searches you perform with a daily earning limit of 15 credits. When searching from a mobile device, you’ll earn 1 credit for every 2 searches you perform with a daily earning limit of 10 credits.
These limits are separate from each other, so you can potentially earn up to 25 credits per day just from searches. One thing to note is that these values may change from time to time (e.g. desktop searches were once valued at 1 credit per 3 searches).
Almost every search on Bing.com counts for credits, including image and video searches. The only exceptions are searches on Bing Maps, Bing Help, and Bing Blogs.
As a member of Bing Rewards, your account can be one of three tiers (they’re all free):
- Member: All new accounts start here. Member accounts have full access to all features of Bing Rewards and aren’t limited or restricted in any artificial way.
- Silver: When you complete the Rewards tour, earn 200 lifetime credits, and redeem your first reward, your account becomes Silver status. Other than a one-time 50 credit bonus, Silver doesn’t unlock anything special.
- Gold: After becoming Silver status, earning 750 lifetime credits, and performing 150 credit-worthy searches in a month, you become Gold status. This unlocks a 10% credit discount when redeeming rewards. You must perform 150 credit-worthy searches every month to maintain Gold status.
One final way to earn credits is through referrals. Every time you refer a friend who creates a Bing Rewards account, you’ll earn a one-time bonus of 150 credits when they reach Silver status. There’s a maximum limit of 5 friends per account, capping out at 750 potential credits for you.
Other Features and Recent Changes
By now it should be obvious (if it wasn’t from the start) that Bing Rewards is a gambit by Microsoft to get people using Bing over Google. The credit-based gamification system works well here, keeping me around long enough to realize that I actually do prefer Bing over Google.
But Bing Rewards isn’t just a marketing ploy. Microsoft also uses it to raise awareness for various features that users may not know exist.
Every day, Microsoft presents anywhere from one to three different actionable links that each reward you with 1 credit if you click on them, and these links usually demonstrate some hidden function of Bing. It’s a clever move that helps people realize that Bing is more than just a simple search engine.
For example, there’s a feature called Bing Predicts which aims to predict the likelihood of phenomena occurrences (e.g. time and location of snowfall) and event outcomes (e.g. who will win a sporting match). Most people, even Bing users, don’t know that Bing does this.
So, during the United States Senate elections, Microsoft regularly offered 1-credit actionable links for Bing Rewards users, and clicking on these links led to the Bing Predicts page for the predicted election results. (Side note: More than 95% of those predictions turned out accurate.)
Another neat feature is Trivia Tuesdays, an optional weekly event that poses you with three trivia questions. Every correct answer is a 1-credit reward. It’s simple, easy, and ultimately insignificant, but a fun way to see Bing searches in action.
On top of everything already mentioned, Bing occasionally runs Double Credit Days (which raise the desktop credit earning limit from 15 to 30 for one day) and Monthly Bonuses (a one-time credit bonus if you run 525 credit-worthy searches in a month).
Why You Should Use Bing Rewards
The main reason to enroll in the Bing Rewards program is for the rewards, so let’s look at what you can redeem:
- Gift Cards: $5 gift cards can be redeemed for 525 credits (or 475 credits if you’re Gold status). There are dozens to choose from, including Amazon, Domino’s, GameStop, and Sephora.
- Subscriptions: 1-month subscriptions are available for services like Hulu, Skype, and Xbox Live for anywhere from 300 credits to 700 credits.
- Sweepstakes: If you’re more of a gambler at heart, Microsoft regularly runs big-prize sweepstakes (e.g. Lumia devices, Surface devices, $500 Target gift cards, etc.) that cost anywhere from 20 credits to 50 credits per entry.
- Donations: If you’re more of a giver than a taker, you can give up your credits and Microsoft will make a donation on your behalf to one of their partnered charities, including Kids In Need and Teach For America.
A lot of people refuse to take part in Bing Rewards because it feels like taking a bribe from Microsoft, but I don’t see it like that. Is it bribery to use a promotional coupon that was given to you by a retailer? Not really, and that’s how I see Bing Rewards: an extended promotional coupon.
At my current rate, I usually earn about 700 credits per month, which means every month I get to claim one or two $5 Amazon gift cards. This leads us to our final and most important question: Is Bing Rewards worth it?
Sure, the program only earns me the equivalent of a quarter every day, but I’m not doing any extra work for it. As someone who’s constantly doing research and looking things up on the web, I’d be running over 100 daily search queries whether I was enrolled or not, so for me it’s just free money.
But even if you don’t search a lot, it’s still worth it. A $5 gift card every two months might not seem like much, but it’s better than nothing, isn’t it?
If you’re interested, it’s easy to get started with Bing Rewards. You can be set up and earning credits within minutes. For best results, make sure to change your browser’s default search engine to Bing!
What do you think about Bing Rewards? Are you using it? If not, will you be giving it a try? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below!