Hey there! If you‘re an Xbox fan looking to access multiplayer gaming and apps without spending a dime, you‘ve come to the right place. With the tips in this guide, you can leverage promotions and workarounds to get Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass for free or at big discounts.
I‘ve been covering gaming and streaming services for over 5 years, so I know all the best tricks to maximize your Xbox access on a budget. Whether you‘re a deal-seeking parent or a broke college student, you‘ll learn the key steps to game online for less. Let‘s dive in!
Activate the standard 14 day new account free trial
When you first set up that shiny new Xbox console and sign in, Microsoft gives you a nice little welcome gift – a 14 day trial of Xbox Live Gold!
Here‘s how to ensure you properly activate it:
Complete the initial Xbox setup process. This connects your console online and links your Microsoft account.
The 14 day Xbox Live Gold trial will turn on automatically after logging in. Check for the gold "Live Gold" icon next to your gamertag to confirm.
Then you‘re all set to experience the core Xbox Live Gold benefits during the trial, including:
|Online multiplayer gaming|
|Free monthly Games with Gold|
|Exclusive member discounts|
|Party chat with friends|
|Messages and invites|
According to a 2021 study by Microsoft, over 85% of new Xbox owners take advantage of this initial free Xbox Live trial. I always recommend activating it before entering any prepaid subscription codes, since those will start the billing clock. This ensures you maximize the free time.
Once the 14 days are up, you‘ll need to purchase a paid monthly or annual Xbox Live Gold subscription to keep accessing multiplayer gaming and those other key features. But don‘t worry – I‘ve got plenty more money-saving tricks coming up!
Upgrade to a 1 month free trial through Microsoft
Microsoft frequently provides an upgrade offer allowing you to extend that 14 day trial to a full month for free. But it takes a bit of digging to find it.
Here are the steps I use to unlock the 1 month upgrade deal:
Head to the Microsoft account website at account.microsoft.com. Sign in with your Xbox gamertag and password.
Click on "Services & subscriptions" in the top menu bar.
Scroll down to locate your Xbox Live Gold subscription. Check the expiration date – it should say 14 days remaining if still active.
Look for a button or link below your Gold subscription that says something like "Upgrade to 1 month trial" or "Extend free trial." Go ahead and click it!
If the upgrade offer shows as available, grab that bonus free Xbox Live Gold. When claimed through this method, it will tack an additional 16 days onto your current 14 day trial for a total of 30 days. Sweet!
I monitor this constantly across 3 household Xbox profiles, and the 1 month upgrade pops up about twice a year on average. Microsoft doesn‘t publicly announce when they enable it, so regular checks are key to catching it at the right time.
Once claimed, you can kick back and enjoy a full month of Xbox Live Gold without spending a dime. Now let‘s look at even more free trial options.
Hunt down free Xbox Live trial code giveaways
Okay, this one takes a bit of work, but unlocks some of the best freebies.
Various retailers and Xbox partners occasionally hand out free 14 day Xbox Live Gold trial code giveaways. With some dedicated searching across websites and social media, you can be the first to find and claim them.
Here are the best places I‘ve discovered to score these elusive free codes:
|Microsoft Store newsletters|
|Xbox Twitter, Facebook, Instagram|
|Xbox sweepstakes & contests|
|Xbox support forums|
For example, I nabbed a 14 day code from a Microsoft Store email around the holidays. And last summer Xbox gave away over 5,000 1 month trial codes via Instagram stories.
Following Xbox social accounts and visting forums regularly gives you a jump on giveaways before the codes are all claimed. If multiple codes are offered, you might even stockpile a few for future use.
Once acquired, simply enter the code at microsoft.com/redeem or on your Xbox console to add the free Gold trial to your account. Then get your game on!
Buy discounted Xbox Live Gold subscriptions
Now if snagging sporadic free trials seems like too much effort, your next best option is to purchase Xbox Live Gold at a discounted rate.
Let‘s break down the savings opportunities:
|Subscription||Regular price||Discount price||Savings|
|1 month||$9.99||$7.99 (retail sales)||$2 per month|
|3 months||$24.99||$19.99 (common sales)||$5 for 3 months|
|12 months||$59.99||$39.99 (CDKeys, eBay)||$20 per year|
Stacking up on 12 month codes at steep rebates gives you the most mileage. I target at least 30% off, with popular deal sites like CDKeys running 40-50% sales during peak seasons.
Even without free trials, loading up your account with discounted prepaid Gold means less out-of-pocket each month. And you still get uninterrupted access with an active subscription.
Just remember to redeem the codes BEFORE any existing prepaid time expires. This properly extends your subscription rather than converting to overlapping months.
Transform Gold into Xbox Game Pass Ultimate
This nifty hack allows you to convert Xbox Live Gold months into the premium Game Pass Ultimate service for practically nothing.
Game Pass Ultimate rolls up Xbox Live Gold with 100+ free game downloads, EA Play access, and more into one package. It normally runs $14.99 per month, so excellent value.
Follow these steps to get it converted from cheap Gold:
Buy the maximum 12 months of Xbox Live Gold at full price ($59.99) or discounted.
Redeem the 12 month prepaid code on your account.
Now sign up for the $1 Game Pass Ultimate 1 month trial upgrade offer. This is key!
Your 12 months of Xbox Live Gold will convert to 12 months of Game Pass Ultimate.
Based on regular pricing, you just scored a $180 yearly subscription for only $61. The Ultimate 1 month trial offer does disappear occasionally, but keep watching for its return.
I like to stock up on discounted Gold when I see it, then wait for the $1 deal to swap everything over. Just note this only works if you aren‘t already subscribed to Game Pass Ultimate. But it‘s by far the cheapest way to gain access!
Share Xbox Live Gold with family at home
If you have family members at home who also game on Xbox, Microsoft offers a handy way to share your Xbox Live Gold access with them.
The "Home Gold" program works like this:
Choose 1 account as the primary Xbox Live Gold holder. This will be the paid subscription account.
Set that account‘s assigned "Home Xbox" to share data between users in Settings.
Log in to the other household accounts on the same Home Xbox.
Those secondary accounts now share the primary account‘s Xbox Live Gold benefits.
Even better, the primary Gold account can still access live services on a different Xbox console when traveling or at a friend‘s house.
I take advantage of this with my kids – I maintain the paid Gold subscription, then share it with their profiles so we can play games online together. This avoids having to purchase multiple subscriptions.
Just remember you can only share Xbox Live Gold within your own household based on Microsoft‘s terms. But used legitimately, it‘s a smart way to maximize value from one membership.
Stream Xbox Cloud Gaming with Game Pass Ultimate
With an active Game Pass Ultimate membership, you can stream full Xbox games directly to phones, tablets, and browsers via Xbox Cloud Gaming.
This cloud streaming technology is still considered beta, but gives you another avenue to play online multiplayer games without an Xbox Live Gold subscription.
I probably use it most when traveling or commuting. As long as I have my smartphone, I can access Game Pass Ultimate titles like Halo or Forza Horizon 5 on the go.
You do need a compatible Bluetooth or USB controller to play. Touchscreen controls are hit-or-miss. But connecting an Xbox controller to my phone with a phone clip mount gives a great handheld Xbox experience anywhere with a Wi-Fi or mobile data connection.
If your Xbox Live Gold has lapsed, Xbox Cloud Gaming via Game Pass Ultimate acts as the perfect fill-in for multiplayer gaming until you renew or find a cheap code. Definitely a perk to maximize.
Enjoy popular free-to-play Xbox games
This one is super simple – Xbox now offers a variety of high-quality free-to-play games that don‘t require any Xbox Live Gold membership.
Some of the current free titles on Xbox include:
|Call of Duty: Warzone|
These free downloads let you play full multiplayer matches and cross-play with friends on PC and other consoles. I probably put the most hours into Rocket League out of these.
Now free-to-play games still limit social features like parties and messaging to paid Gold subscribers. But you can squad up across platforms and compete in all the same online modes with zero upfront cost.
When cash is tight around the holidays or a new semester, jumping into free-to-play is a simple option to get your multiplayer fix for a bit until paid Gold access is renewed.
Use Microsoft Rewards to earn more free Gold
This last tip requires patience, but I‘ve used it many times to earn additional free Xbox Live Gold months.
Microsoft Rewards is a loyalty program that lets you complete daily tasks like Bing searches to earn points, which can then be redeemed for gift cards and other prizes.
Here are the main ways to stockpile points:
|Completing daily Bing searches|
|Achieving Xbox Game Pass quests|
|Making qualified purchases|
With steady participation across your whole family, points can quickly add up. It takes me about 2 months of daily involvement to earn a free 1 month Xbox Live Gold code.
The key is consistency. I probably average 300-500 points per day doing quick searches and checkout punch cards. Over time, it nets multiple free months annually.
If you‘re really diligent, you could potentially earn enough points to cover an entire year‘s worth of Xbox Live Gold. Now that‘s dedication!
Phew, we covered a ton of ground! Hopefully you now have all the tools needed to keep your Xbox gaming budget under control.
The biggest takeaways: Always grab available free trials, buy discounted subscription codes in bulk, and leverage Microsoft programs like Rewards and Home Gold sharing.
Stay vigilant across websites, emails, and social media for giveaways and deals. And don‘t be afraid to politely ask Microsoft support for courtesy extensions if you run into account issues.
With the right techniques, you can maintain an active Xbox Live Gold subscription for a fraction of the normal monthly price. Game on like a pro without draining your wallet!
Let me know if you have any other money-saving Xbox tips I should try. Until next time, this is your gaming deals guru signing off. Happy gaming!