I saved 85% on three years of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate – here's how you can too

Xbox Game Pass artwork
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Xbox Game Pass is arguably the best deal in gaming right now, and I managed to get three years' worth at a massive discount. 

While paying $14.99 / £10.99 / AU$15.95 a month for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate might seem like a good deal, I’ve got a trick that’ll really tickle your economical taste buds. After recently bagging an Xbox Series S for an absolute bargain on Facebook Marketplace, I was keen to continue my frugal streak and pick up Xbox Game Pass for as little money as possible. Proud, noble, dignified – all accurate descriptions of my endless lust for commercial savings.

I struck upon a trick that’s been floating around Reddit since Game Pass first emerged, but fortunately still works. We actually covered it back in May and it still works. By stacking multiple subscriptions of Xbox Live Gold and converting them into Game Pass Ultimate memberships using Microsoft's official portal, I was able to nab three years of access to the platform, all for the modest sum of £65. Here’s how.

How to get Xbox Game Pass Ultimate cheap   

Xbox Game Pass

(Image credit: Microsoft)

I’ll start as all good self-help guides do – with a caveat. This trick will only work if you currently do not have an Xbox Game Pass subscription. If you’re currently a member, make sure your subscription isn’t set to auto-renew, and wait for it to run its course. When that’s done, come back and read on.

At its core, the trick involves buying a ton of Gold subscriptions, redeeming them online, before converting the whole lot into Game Pass Ultimate memberships at a 1:1 monthly ratio. Gold subscriptions generally cost substantially less than Game Pass and Game Pass Ultimate, saving you a fair amount of money along the way.

You have a few choices about exactly how to do that. First, you need to find the cheapest way of buying Gold subscriptions. Second, you need to decide for how long you want to be subscribed to Game Pass Ultimate, and therefore how many Gold subscriptions to buy.

Microsoft makes things a little easier here. You can convert a maximum of 36 months of Gold into Game Pass Ultimate. Anything over that will be lost in the conversion. 

Xbox Series S against a stark black background

(Image credit: M. Andrei)

As for how you can bag Gold super cheap, CDKeys has a particularly remarkable deal. The key-selling website is currently offering three month installments of Xbox Live Gold for $7.39 / £5.99 / AU$11.69 – a hefty 70% discount on its usual retail price. If you want the full 36 months of Game Pass Ultimate, buy nine of those three month codes (the arithmetically minded will know that nine multiplied by three does not equal 36 – bear with me). 

Once you’ve snapped them up, you’ll need to redeem them on the Microsoft site. Log in to your account, head over to the redemption page, and plug your codes in. But don’t redeem them all at once. Each time you redeem a code, you’ll be offered an option to turn on automatic billing for an extra month of Gold. Go ahead and do that to receive four months for the price of three. Once that’s all done, head to the Xbox Live Gold section of your Microsoft account and turn off automatic billing.

You can probably guess where this is headed: follow the same steps for every Gold code you have. It can be a little cumbersome – redeeming a code, turning on auto-renewal, turning off auto-renewal, and going again – but If you do so for all nine codes you’ll end up with 36 months of Xbox Live Gold tied to your account.

Now comes the easy part. Head over to the Xbox Live Gold upgrade page and tap that big green upgrade button. If you’re totally new to the service, you’ll be charged a $1 / £1 / AU$1 upgrade fee to convert all of your Gold membership into Game Pass Ultimate. If you subscribed at any point previously, however, you’ll be charged a $14.99 / £10.99 / AU$15.95 fee (the price of one month of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate).

Wild value

Xbox Game Pass

(Image credit: Xbox)

Following the steps above, I bought nine installments of three-month Xbox Live Gold subscriptions for £53.91, and paid £10.99 to convert them into Game Pass Ultimate, ending up with a three year membership for a grand total of £65. That’s an 85% discount on the £395 you’d usually pay for a three-year subscription at full price. Not too shabby. If you’re in the US and follow the same steps, you’ll end up paying $81.50 for an equally ridiculous discount. Australian readers will similarly save, paying AU$121.

Three years may seem excessive, but when it’s only costing you $27 / £20 / AU$40 per year, it makes sense. We’ve no idea how much longer Microsoft will keep converting Gold subscriptions to Game Pass at a 1:1 ratio, so it’s worth getting in early while you can. Plus, Xbox Live Gold can’t always be had for so cheap, making it an excellent time to stack subscriptions now.

Weird websites

Master Chief, Kait Diaz and several other video game characters lined up on an Xbox Game Pass poster

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Finally, a word of reassurance. CDKeys isn’t the most recognizable website and you might be wary of handing it your payment details. Good on you for being so security aware.

I didn’t have any problems using Paypal, and there’s one main reason to place more consumer confidence in it than other key-selling platforms. When you make a purchase on CDKeys, you’re buying from the store directly. It isn’t an online marketplace that allows users to sell (and sometimes mis-sell) products to one another, as more unscrupulous platforms like G2A are.

As for how CDKeys is able to offer Xbox Live codes so cheaply, it claims to source them from around the world, effectively taking advantage of regional price differences and sales to sell at a markdown. You can weigh up the moral permissibility of that business arrangement for yourself. 

Callum Bains
Gaming News Writer

Callum is TechRadar Gaming’s News Writer. You’ll find him whipping up stories about all the latest happenings in the gaming world, as well as penning the odd feature and review. Before coming to TechRadar, he wrote freelance for various sites, including Clash, The Telegraph, and Gamesindustry.biz, and worked as a Staff Writer at Wargamer. Strategy games and RPGs are his bread and butter, but he’ll eat anything that spins a captivating narrative. He also loves tabletop games, and will happily chew your ear off about TTRPGs and board games.