If you own a Nintendo Switch, you‘re probably curious about Nintendo Switch Online – Nintendo‘s online service that lets you play games online, chat with friends, and access classic NES and SNES games. The service usually requires a paid membership, but Nintendo offers a free 7-day trial so you can test it out before committing.
In this detailed guide, I‘ll show you how to get that free trial without needing to enter any credit card information. I‘ve been a Nintendo fan for over 20 years and have tested these methods myself, so you can be sure they work. Read on to get set up with your free week of Nintendo Switch Online!
What Exactly is Nintendo Switch Online?
Before we dive into the free trial, let‘s quickly go over what Nintendo Switch Online includes, so you know what you‘ll have access to during your 7 free days.
Nintendo Switch Online is Nintendo‘s paid service that allows you to:
Play games like Mario Kart 8, Splatoon 2, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate online against other players around the world. This is required for online multiplayer.
Back up your game save data to the cloud, so you don‘t lose your progress if your Switch is damaged or lost.
Access a library of classic NES and SNES games like Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong Country, and many more. New games are added regularly.
Get special offers like discounts on select digital games and DLC packs.
Use the Nintendo Switch Online mobile app to enhance online play in compatible games.
The standard paid membership costs $3.99 per month, $7.99 for three months, or $19.99 per year. There‘s also a family plan covering 8 accounts for $34.99 per year.
But with the free trial, you can test out all of these benefits before paying anything. Now let‘s go over how to sign up.
Method #1: Using a Free Trial Code
The easiest way to get the free trial is to use a Nintendo Switch Online trial code. These 7-day codes are included with some game physical copies and offered through occasional promotions and giveaways.
Here are a few ways you can get a code without paying:
Check the inside cover of any Nintendo Switch game cases you already own – some have a printed code!
Ask friends if they have any unused codes. Most people are happy to share.
Check gaming forums, Twitter, and other online communities. Promotional codes are often given away.
Subscribe to gaming newsletters and check social media profiles of popular gaming blogs and websites. Random free code giveaways happen frequently.
Once you get a code, redeeming it is simple:
Turn on your Switch and open the Nintendo eShop.
Tap "Enter Code" on the left sidebar.
Enter the 16-character code and tap OK.
Follow the prompts to activate the free trial on your Nintendo account.
The biggest advantage of using a code is that you don‘t have to enter any payment details. The free trial will just be applied to your account automatically.
Method #2: Sign Up With eShop Funds
If you don‘t have a trial code, don‘t worry. You can also sign up for the free trial by adding funds to your Nintendo eShop account instead of a credit card.
Purchase a Nintendo eShop gift card from a major retailer like Amazon, Best Buy, or Target and add the funds to your account.
On your Switch, open the Nintendo eShop and select "Nintendo Switch Online" from the sidebar.
Choose the 7-day free trial option.
When prompted for payment method, select your Nintendo eShop balance instead of adding a credit card.
By using gift card funds instead of a credit card, you can get the free trial without entering any sensitive payment information. Once the free trial expires, it simply won‘t renew unless you add more eShop funds or an actual credit/debit card.
Method #3: Signing Up Through the Nintendo Website
The Nintendo website offers one more way to get the free trial without a credit card:
Go to the Nintendo account website and log into your account.
Click "Shop menu" and select "Nintendo Switch Online".
Click the "Try Free Trial" button.
On the payment page, select "Credit card/PayPal" as your method.
On the next screen, click "Cancel" to exit without entering details.
Check your email for a confirmation that the free trial has been activated!
This tricks the website into giving you the free trial without actually entering any payment info. Just don‘t forget to cancel before the 7 days are up if you don‘t want to transition into a paid membership.
What‘s Included in the Free Trial?
Now that you know how to get it set up, here‘s an overview of everything you‘ll get access to with the free Nintendo Switch Online trial:
Online Multiplayer Gaming
The core benefit is online multiplayer gaming. With the trial, you can play online against others in games like:
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
- Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
- Pokémon Sword and Shield
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons
- Splatoon 2
- Mario Tennis Aces
- Super Mario Maker 2
- Tetris 99
- …and many more!
This is a great chance to test out the online performance and multiplayer modes in the Switch games you own.
Classic NES and SNES Libraries
You also gain access to a library of classic 8-bit and 16-bit Nintendo games, including:
- Super Mario Bros. 1, 2, and 3
- The Legend of Zelda
- Donkey Kong
- Kirby‘s Adventure
- Super Mario World
- A Link to the Past
- Star Fox
- Super Metroid
- Kirby Super Star
- Yoshi‘s Island
And those are just a few of the 69 SNES and 51 NES games currently available. More get added regularly.
Cloud Save Data Backups
The trial lets you back up your game save data to the cloud for over 170 Nintendo Switch games. This protects you in case your Switch is damaged, lost, or stolen.
You can browse and purchase games and DLC packs discounted just for Nintendo Switch Online members. There‘s usually a couple deals active at any time.
Mobile Companion App
For some games like Splatoon 2, you can use the Nintendo Switch Online app on your smartphone to voice chat with teammates and access special features.
As you can see, you get the full Nintendo Switch Online experience with the free trial. And remember – you won‘t be charged anything once the 7 days are up. The membership will simply deactivate until you purchase a paid plan.
Maximizing the Free Trial
Now that you know what the free trial includes, here are some tips to make the most of your 7 days:
Download any classic NES and SNES games you think you‘ll want to play so you can access them later (even without an active membership).
Pick 2-3 online Switch games to focus on so you can get a good feel for the online modes. Don‘t try to play online in 15 different games.
Enable cloud saving and upload your save data for important games. This data will still be accessible for up to 6 months if you don‘t renew your membership.
Check for any exclusive member discounts on games you already planned to buy. The deals can be substantial.
Avoid starting any lengthy online games like Splatoon 2 close to the end of your trial period.
Can You Extend the Free Trial?
Unfortunately, there is no legitimate way to extend the free trial past 7 days on your Nintendo account. However, here are some creative workarounds:
Create a second Nintendo account and grab an additional 7-day trial.
Ask family or friends if they have any unused free trial codes you can redeem.
Use trial codes from purchasing new games across multiple accounts.
While you can‘t directly lengthen the trial on a single account, stacking trials across accounts does allow you to enjoy the benefits for longer.
Downsides of Not Having a Membership
If you decide not to purchase the full Nintendo Switch Online service after your trial ends, here are the downsides to be aware of:
No online multiplayer. This cuts you off from a major portion of most Switch games.
Cloud save backups will no longer automatically sync each day. You‘ll have to regularly transfer save data manually to external storage.
Loss of access to the growing catalog of classic NES and SNES games.
No ability to redeem member exclusive offers and discounts.
Companion smartphone app features will stop working.
For many gamers, the lack of online play alone is enough reason to keep the paid membership active. But if you tend to play singleplayer games and don‘t care about classics or discounts, you can manage without it.
Is Nintendo Switch Online Worth Paying For?
Based on my experience using Nintendo Switch Online for over 2 years, I personally feel the $20 per year for an individual or $35 per year for a family membership is worth it for most gamers.
Considering Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus cost $60 annually, Nintendo‘s online offering is quite a bit cheaper. And you gain access to a library of classic games that keeps expanding.
However, everyone‘s situation is different. If money is tight or you primarily enjoy offline singleplayer games, the membership may not provide enough value to justify the cost.
My advice is to take advantage of the free trial to get a hands-on feel for Nintendo Switch Online. Then you can better judge if it aligns with your gaming preferences and budget.
I hope this guide has equipped you to easily get a free 7-day Nintendo Switch Online trial without needing a credit card. Let me know if you have any other questions! Enjoy your free week of online multiplayer, cloud saves, retro classics and more.