By November 14, 2007

How to get an annual subscription to Xbox Live! 360 on the cheap(er)

One of the best things about the Xbox 360 is the Live! service. The free “Silver” level allows you to do a lot, like send and receive voice/text messages, buy and play games via the Xbox Live Arcade, and try out demo versions of games before you buy. One thing the Silver level does not allow you to do is play games online with other people. For that, you need the “Gold” level of service, and that runs you $50USD a year. I spent almost $500 when I got my Elite and one game, and the last thing I wanted to do was shell out another $50 for online play.

There had to be a cheaper way to get access to Live!, wasn’t there? I started snooping around on the Internet, and here are two easy ways to get a year’s worth of Live! Gold for less than retail. You can upgrade online immediately via your 360 for $50.00 a year with a credit card. You can also buy subscription cards (think pre-paid mobile phones) from various vendors, including Best Buy, Target, and so on.

However, not all vendors are charging the same amount, and there are a few deals to be had.

My mother bought me thirteen months’ worth of Live! for $39.99 via This is different from most vendors’ cards because they will only sell you twelve months at a time. The downside to buying from is that you will have to pay a delivery charge plus any applicable state taxes if there is a CostCo brick and mortar store in your state. That raises the price of the card (in my case) to $48.67, or $3.74/month. doesn’t have a great deal on subscription cards themselves, but their affiliates do. CostBuy has twelve months of access for $38.92, or $3.24/month. Sure, you get one less month, but it’s still $6 cheaper than Costco, and $12 less expensive than buying directly from Microsoft. There was an even less expensive vendor by a few bucks, but they appear to be sold out.

I don’t know why the idea of buying a subscription card over eBay gives me the heebies, but it does. However, if you are feeling lucky you can find the best deal on Xbox Live! cards here. There is currently a vendor selling thirteen months of access for $29.99, or $2.30/month. Yes, that does include shipping. Yes, that is a shitload cheaper than the other vendors and Microsoft. I guess I should have taken one for the team and tried this out, but I already have my subscription paid up and I don’t have any more friends who need to buy Gold-level memberships. The auction notes it is for NEW accounts only, but I am not sure why that would make a difference.

I recommend taking the money saved on a subscription card and buying Microsoft Marketplace points with the difference. 360 users will use those points to buy XBLA games, gamer icons, and themes/skins for their dashboards.

If you know someone who is getting a 360 for the holidays, or doesn’t have a Gold-level Live! account, then this might be a great gift. The Xbox Live! subscription card is the first item to receive the Approved Gibberish Holiday Gift award, and buying from an online vendor will save you some coin to boot.

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1 Comment on "How to get an annual subscription to Xbox Live! 360 on the cheap(er)"

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  1. Collin says:

    The ones labelled “New Accounts Only” really mean it. If you already have a live account, they will not work at all, so you’ll be out the cash – so be careful with those 🙂