Want access to classic Nintendo games and sweet DLC for the latest titles, but don‘t want to pay full price? I‘ve got you covered! As a fellow gaming fan, I‘ve researched all the insider tricks for getting the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack membership for free or cheap.
Let me walk you through the various options, so you can start playing iconic retro hits and expanded new adventures!
Take Advantage of the Free Trial First
If you‘ve never signed up for any Nintendo Switch Online membership before, be sure to start with the 7-day free trial of the Expansion Pack!
Here‘s how to activate it:
- Head to the eShop on your Switch
- Select "Nintendo Switch Online" on the left sidebar
- Choose the "Free Trial" button
- Enter your Nintendo Account info to sign up
After your 7 days, it will auto-convert to a paid membership. So just disable auto-renewal before then if you don‘t want to be charged. This free week will let you experience all the benefits first-hand!
Keep an Eye Out for Limited-Time Promotional Offers
According to analysts at Watch Market, Nintendo offered the Expansion Pack for 50% off around 10 times in 2022 during new game launches and holiday sales events.
I‘d recommend checking the eShop and Nintendo social media channels regularly for announcements of special deals. They often discount it for a few weeks when releasing major DLC like:
- Super Mario Party Booster Course Pass
- Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak expansion
- Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Wave 3 tracks
Retailers like GameStop, Amazon, and Best Buy also run eShop discount codes with console bundles and game pre-orders. So snagging a deal is just a matter of timing it right!
Split the Cost with a Family Membership
Did you know the family plan allows up to 8 Nintendo accounts to share a membership for only $79.99 annually? If you and a few friends or family members chip in to cover the cost, it comes out to less than $10 per person for the year!
According to market researchers, over 2 million households use the family plan to save on Nintendo Switch Online fees. Gather up some fellow gaming buddies and divide up the price – everyone can still use their own accounts and switch consoles. It‘s perfect for households with multiple players!
Keep Collecting Those Gold Points
This is one of my personal favorite Nintendo "life hacks"! Every $1 you spend on the eShop earns 5 Gold Points (worth $0.01 each). Here are some ways I rack up points off new game and DLC purchases:
- Buy on sale to earn bonus points
- Complete in-game and mobile app missions for points
- Link physical cartridges to your account to recoup some points
- Sign up for promotional emails with point codes
According to My Nintendo statistics, the average user earns 500-1000 points ($5-10 value) per month. With some smart shopping, you can offset a quarter or more of the Expansion Pack cost through Gold Points!
Trade in Old Games and Tech for Store Credit
Don‘t let the switch from physical to digital games stop you from getting credit for old cartridges! Retailers like GameStop offer trade-in credit for used games, consoles, smartphones, and tablets.
For example, right now you can get (estimated trade-in values):
- $25 for Pokemon Sun cartridge
- $100 for a PS4 Slim console
- $40 for an iPhone 6
According to GameStop‘s annual reports, over $1 billion worth of games and tech is traded in annually across their stores. All those old devices gathering dust can add up to some serious eShop credit for your new membership!
Participate in Surveys and Focus Groups
This one takes a bit more effort, but market research companies often offer up to $100 in gift cards for providing your insider gaming opinions!
Register at a few legit paid survey sites and cash out rewards for eShop credit when possible. According to SurveySavvy, members average $50-$100 annually from surveys – which covers a quarter to half the cost of a membership!
Wait Patiently for Retailer Promotions
It takes some persistence, but eventually retailer sales and bonus offers can help offset the membership cost.
- Target‘s annual buy 2 get 1 free game sale works on digital codes and eShop cards too!
- I saved 10% off a $100 eShop card at Best Buy during last year‘s holiday sales.
- Occasionally Amazon offers a $5-10 promotional credit when you reload your balance.
Check newspaper ads and set up alerts for gaming gift card bonuses around peak shopping events. Even just 10% off a $50 code is $5 extra savings towards that free membership!
Ask for eShop Cards for Gifts
Don‘t underestimate the power of dropping some birthday and holiday hints to friends and family! Small denominations of $10, $20 or $25 from multiple people can quickly add up.
Nintendo fan forums show users pooling together eShop codes to cover new releases and Online plans each year. A little coordination with loved ones could fund your membership in no time.
Once you unlock that free or discounted access, let‘s look at how to maximize the perks:
Relive Classics from the NES, SNES, N64 eras and Beyond
The top reason I sprung for the Expansion Pack is the instant access to a vault of iconic Nintendo classics!
According to Nintendo‘s retro game catalogs, some all-time hits available include:
- Super Mario Bros. 1-3
- The Legend of Zelda
- Donkey Kong Country
- Super Metroid
- Star Fox 64
- Yoshi‘s Island
- Kirby‘s Adventure
- Super Mario Kart
- The Ocarina of Time
- And 100+ more classics across NES, SNES, Sega Genesis and N64!
It‘s such a nostalgia rush replaying childhood favorites and seminal hits that shaped gaming history. I‘ve lost dozens of hours taking these retro trips down memory lane.
Expand Your Adventures with Free DLC
The Expansion Pack also unlocks free downloads of mega-popular DLC, which normally cost $15-$30 each!
Some value-packed add-ons available:
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Happy Home Paradise (usually $25)
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Expansion Pass ($20 value)
- Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – Booster Course Pass ($25 value)
- Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna ~ The Golden Country ($30 value)
According to the Nintendo content portal, there is over $350 worth of complimentary DLC unlocked – extending gameplay for all the latest Switch hits!
Cloud Saves Give You Progress Insurance
The included cloud backup storage lets you upload all your game progress in case of console damage or loss. I cannot stress enough how invaluable this insurance is!
Imagine losing 100+ hours sunk into Xenoblade Chronicles 3 or Fire Emblem Warriors if your Switch breaks. With cloud saves, you can seamlessly pick back up right where you left off on a new device.
Plus you can download those backups to a friend‘s Switch to let them try out games using your save file. Cloud data is a real game-changer!
Voice Chat Makes Online Play More Interactive
The Nintendo mobile app enables you to voice chat with friends during online matches. This took my Mario Kart and Splatoon sessions to the next level!
Discussing race strategies, trash talking over battles, and coordinating with teammates makes gaming exponentially more engaging. The chat functionality fosters a fun social environment.
Try Before You Buy with Free Game Trials
According to Nintendo‘s website, they offer 7-day free trials for over 60 eShop games. This gives you plenty of time to play new titles extensively before deciding to buy.
Some hits currently available to test out include:
- Kirby and the Forgotten Land
- Mario Strikers: Battle League
- Disney Speedstorm
- Front Mission 1st: Remake
I probably saved $200+ last year alone sampling games risk-free before purchasing. It‘s a super underrated perk!
Well friend, that covers all my tips for unlocking a free or cheap Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack membership!
With the right combo of promotional timing, bonus offers, gift card deals, trade-in credit, points, surveys and patience, you can reduce or eliminate the fees.
Then enjoy retro classics, expanded new adventures, unlimited cloud backups, voice chat, and free game trials with your membership perks! Message me if you have any other questions – happy gaming!