Microsoft today launched a Bing Offers test in Seattle that aims to automate and simplify using and redeeming deals found through the service. The rather poorly-named program “Bing Offers Card-Linked” is a partnership with transaction processing leaders First Data, but more importantly extends to payment networks like Visa and MasterCard.

The Bing move is part of a broader initiative also announced today called the CardLinx Association. Founding members include Microsoft, Bank of America, Discover, Deem, Facebook, First Data Corp., Linkable Networks, LivingSocial, MasterCard, Affinity Solutions, CardSpring and Cardlytics.

Here’s the idea in a nut shell:

As the “offers” space has become more popular, consumers have often found it cumbersome to take advantage of the variety of offers, which has slowed growth in the industry. Card linked offers help solve that problem by giving merchants and advertisers the ability to deliver an offer or deal to consumers via their credit, debit or other payment cards without having to use a paper coupon, voucher or promotion code on their mobile devices. The mission of The CardLinx Association is to establish increased interoperability, eliminate friction and promote the growth of the card linked offers industry.

In short, Microsoft is trying to respond to Bing Offers feedback from users who do not want to pre-purchase deals that they might forget or not use due to inflexible redemption options. Furthermore, there are also frequent complaints about having to print up coupons or display QR codes to redeem savings.

Microsoft thus figured the best way to address these problems is to link your credit card to all its offers. This may require more effort on your part to get started, but once you’re set up, the whole deal-savings business should be much easier.

Bing Offers Card-Linked is a three-step process:

  1. Sign Up. You can sign up by adding just 2 pieces of information (Microsoft Username/Password and Credit/Debit card) on the www.bing.com/offers website (1-time requirement). All available deals are then linked to your card and ready to use right away.
  2. Discover. You will be reminded about local deals on the Bing Offers website, via email subscriptions, and on a variety of Microsoft devices and services, such as Skype and Bing Apps.
  3. Shop & Save. When you use your card to make a qualified purchase at participating local business, just as you normally would at a retail store or a restaurant, you are immediately notified about your savings and you will receive the discounts directly on your card statement.

Microsoft says Bing Offers currently gives you access to more than 200,000 unique offers in over 14,000 US cities. The service assembles leading offers from sites such as Groupon, Living Social, and Restaurant.com so you can see the best deals in your area all in one place.

Bing Offers Card-Linked aims to make the redemption part of the deal-hunting process easier as well, as long as you use a credit card for your deal purchases (and make sure it’s the same one). Hopefully the test works out, and Microsoft scraps the awful name by bundling this feature into all of Bing Offers.

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