Xbox Game Pass Ultimate tip: How to get 3 years of access to hundreds of games for dirt cheap

This incredible deal is still around, but we don't know for how long.

Xbox E3 2019 press conference Game Pass Ultimate 2

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Right now gamers can pay just $1 for access to hundreds of titles across PC and Xbox via Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate service—but don’t activate that insanely cheap one-month trial just yet. You can lock in up to three years of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate with that same dollar if you play your cards right.

When you activate Microsoft’s promotion, it not only begins the trial, but also converts existing Xbox Live Gold and standard Xbox Game Pass subscriptions on your account to Game Pass Ultimate (normally $15 per month). Any prepaid time up to the maximum of three years gets the upgrade.

If you have only three months of Xbox Live Gold or Xbox Game Pass (or a combination of the two) on your account, you’ll end up with three months for your Game Pass Ultimate subscription, plus the additional one month from the trial tacked on. Equally, 36 months of prepaid time transforms into Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for a full three years.

Note: This deal first became available during E3 2019, when Microsoft announced Game Pass Ultimate and an accompanying $1 one-month trial offer. That promotion expired on July 4th, 2019. Microsoft then revived the offer and explicitly stated this method of upgrading your existing subscriptions will work for “a limited time.”

Update 7/30/20: This strategy still works, but Microsoft recently discontinued 12-month Xbox Live Gold as a purchase option on its site. Third-party retailers (Amazon, Target, etc) still have the physical cards / digital codes in stock for now, so get on this sneaky deal soon—your time is limited.

Update 9/12/20: Xbox Game Pass for PC will double in price when it exits beta on September 17, 2020—it'll go from $5 to $10 per month. To save cash and lock in that $5/month rate for a little longer, you can let your Game Pass for PC membership lapse and instead try this Xbox Live Gold to Xbox Live Ultimate conversion trick.

Xbox E3 2019 press conference Game Pass Ultimate 3 Microsoft

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate bundles together Microsoft’s Netflix-esque Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass for PC subscriptions with its Xbox Live Gold multiplayer service.

Multiplatform gamers obviously gain quite a bit from this deal, as Game Pass Ultimate bundles together Xbox Live Gold, Xbox Game Pass, and the newly launched Xbox Game Pass for PC. It bestows unlimited access to a full range of titles across platforms, including upcoming Halo, Gears of War, and other Microsoft first-party game releases on PC.

But even gamers who play exclusively on PC benefit: Though Xbox Game Pass for PC only costs $5 per month currently, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that price lasts only through the beta period, which will end September 16, 2020.

Loading up an account with three years of Xbox Live Gold ($180) and then converting it to Game Pass Ultimate for an additional $1 essentially locks in that $5-per-month rate for three years, which outlasts the beta period pricing by a long shot.

It’s unclear how long this discount on a one-month subscription will last, so don’t delay if you’re interested. You can still convert Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass memberships to Game Pass Ultimate after the price goes back up to $15 per month, as Microsoft clearly outlines in its Game Pass Ultimate FAQ, but it’ll just cost you more.

Read on for a step-by-step guide of how to secure this deal, which includes tips on how to maximize your savings.

Xbox Game Pass for PC Halo teaser Microsoft

Halo games will be included in Xbox Game Pass for PC (and by extension, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate).

How to convert Xbox Live Gold (or Xbox Game Pass) to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

Step 1

Decide how long you want Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. To make the most of the deal, get as close to three years of Xbox Live Gold (or Xbox Live Gold + standard Xbox Game Pass) as possible.

Add months to an Xbox Live Gold subscription using digital subscription codes purchased from Microsoft or another retailer (Amazon, Newegg, etc.). Increase the time on Xbox Live Gold, not standard Xbox Game Pass, because it’s the cheaper option.

Amazon Xbox Live Gold digital codes Amazon

Amazon is one of the easiest places to purchase digital subscription codes for Xbox Live Gold, but a couple of other online retailers are cheaper.

Also do so in the largest increments possible—a 12-month code for Gold works out much cheaper per month than the one-month, three-month, and six-month varieties. When purchasing codes, be aware that Microsoft’s servers won’t let you redeem a code for a duration that exceeds the 36-month cap. (Example: You’re at 34 months, but attempt to redeem a three-month code. The servers will not activate it.)

Also note that short multi-day trial codes for Xbox Live Gold won’t work for this promotion (e.g., three-day or 14-day codes).


  • Don’t forget that this Game Pass Ultimate $1 promotion includes one month of service that stacks on top of whatever amount of Xbox Live Gold or Xbox Game Pass subscription time you convert. You won’t get the full month if it puts you over the 36 month cap, though.
xbpu expiration Microsoft
  • When redeeming an Xbox Live Gold digital subscription code, agree to recurring billing to get an additional one month for free. Then turn off recurring billing before redeeming your next code to continue taking advantage of this bonus.

    (To verify you’ve turned off recurring billing, head to the Services & Subscriptions section of your account info. Under “Xbox Game Pass Ultimate,” you’ll see an expiration date for your subscription, and the option to the right will say “Turn on recurring billing.”)

  • Microsoft Reward members with point balances of 30,000 or more should also check to see if the 12-month option for Xbox Live Gold exists for them. Nothing’s sweeter than a free way to max out a deal.

  • Buying discounted codes will further your savings. Costco is the best for people who have a membership and need either a 12- or 24-month code, while CDKeys offers a modest discount available to everyone and sells 1-, 3-, 6-, and 12-month codes.
  • Before buying any digital subscription codes, incorporate any of the above freebies or bonuses you can obtain into your calculations.

    Example: You need 27 months to max out. (You already have 6 months of Xbox Live Gold and 3 months of Xbox Game Pass active on your account.) As a Costco member who also has a surplus of Microsoft Reward points, you can choose to buy a 24-month code and then use the points to obtain a single 1-month code. You will then get one bonus month by choosing recurring billing when you redeem the code, and then an additional month when at last activating the $1 Game Pass Ultimate trial.
    Alternatively, you can buy two separate 12-month codes and redeem each of them using the recurring billing trick to get two additional bonus months. The $1 Game Pass Ultimate trial will then tack on the final month needed to hit a total of 27.
  • Be aware that a 3-month Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription is on sale, too ($15). Depending on your region and current sales on Xbox Live Gold, that may be cheaper than buying a 3-month subscription code for Gold when maximizing the length of your subscription.

    Example: You need 28 months to max out. You’re a Costco member and buy a 24-month Xbox Live Gold code, then choose recurring billing when you redeem the code. You’re now at 25 months, so if you activate a 3-month subscription of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, you’ll score the last three months you need. (This tip expired at the end of 2019.)

Step 2

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate upgrade confirmation Microsoft

The next screen that follows this one will request billing info to pay for the $1 trial.

Activate the $1 Xbox Game Pass Ultimate trial. (You can also do so via the Store on an Xbox One console.)

You will have two screens to pass through. The first, shown at right, explains how the conversion works if you already have an active Xbox Live Gold or Xbox Game Pass. (Which you should, if you followed Step 1’s instructions.)

The second that follows will ask for billing information, in order to process the $1 charge for the one-month Game Pass Ultimate trial.

You should now see “Xbox Game Pass Ultimate” listed under Services and Subscriptions on your Microsoft account page. By default, your Game Pass Ultimate subscription will be set to recurring billing. We suggest you turn this off, lest you be taken by surprise when your subscription expires (especially if that’s three years from now). You can do so by clicking on “Manage” just to the right of the billing information.

Outside of that, you’re set to go. Enjoy!

This story, "Xbox Game Pass Ultimate tip: How to get 3 years of access to hundreds of games for dirt cheap" was originally published by PCWorld.

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