The first two years of a console’s lifespan are often pretty quiet. There may be a AAA title here or there to keep sales moving (Halo Infinite), but things don’t get really exciting until the next-gen exclusives start arriving.
For the Xbox Series X and S, that time is now.
Starfield, Redfall, Forza, Fable, and Ukrainian-developed S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 are all arriving in 2023 on next-generation consoles only, making the temptation to upgrade more potent than ever.
But how are you going to justify a $299 or $499 purchase on a tight budget? Considering the pandemic-stricken economy, pervasive student loans, and eye-watering inflation, $499 + $70 per game is a lot to invest in some 4K escapism.
Luckily, Microsoft still offers a program called Xbox All Access — a financing program to make the new console experience appear more affordable. Sure, $0 down, 0% APR sounds good, but is it worth it? What’s the catch? And what are some alternatives?
Let’s investigate Xbox All Access.
What is Xbox All Access?
Xbox All Access is Microsoft’s financing program for the Xbox Series X and S consoles. With approved credit, you’ll get a factory new Xbox Series X or S console plus 24 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, all for $0 down and 0% APR.
Xbox All Access costs $34.99/$24.99 per month for the Xbox Series X and S, respectively.
How Does It Work?
Xbox All Access operates like your monthly phone plan. Microsoft is basically bundling together your hardware and your software into one monthly fee to make next-gen gaming a bit friendlier to the average budget than asking $500 for a console plus $60-$70 per game.
They’ve also made enrolling in Xbox All Access extremely easy; it’s basically the same as purchasing a console with cash, the only difference being how much money you’re charged and when. To illustrate, on BestBuy.com there’s a listing for the $500 console and a listing for Xbox All Access. To enroll in the latter, you simply add it to your cart and “buy” it.
When you enroll in Xbox All Access, Microsoft opens a line of credit for you from Citizens One bank. The bank pays Best Buy and you pay the bank. Yep, you’re basically mortgaging your Xbox.
It’s worth noting too that Xbox All Access, like other financing opportunities, is subject to a credit approval of 630 and above. If you’re struggling in that department, make sure you take steps to improve your credit.
How Much Does It Cost?
Xbox All Access costs $34.99 and $24.99 per month for the Xbox Series X and S, respectively. The program used to include the Xbox Series S (the faster version of the old Xbox One) but that option has since been discontinued.
Here’s a quick recap of the difference between consoles:
- The Xbox Series X is the true next-gen experience you’re looking for, able to play current and next-gen games at native 4K in disc or digital format.
- The Xbox Series S is an all-digital version of the Series X with no disc drive and less power. The Series S is impressively petite and affordable, but unable to play games at native 4K resolution.
Not sure which to choose?
Struggling to choose between Series S and X? The S makes sense if you have no interest in buying, selling, or trading physical copies of games, and you either lack the interest or don’t have a TV capable of playing games in true 4K.
But for my money, I’m going for the Series X — I’ll make back the $10 per month or $200 cash eventually, and in the meantime, I’ll get to enjoy Starfield and the Cyberpunk DLC in true 4K.
Xbox All Access: Is It Worth It?
Let’s crunch some numbers. Is Xbox All Access really as good of a deal as it sounds? What’s the catch?
I’ll start with the Xbox Series S. Here’s what you’d pay for everything in cash versus financing for 24 months. I’m including 8% sales tax, but the tax will differ depending on where you live.
- Xbox One S console ($299)
- 24 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (24 x $14.99)
- Total: $658.76 + 8% tax = $711.46
Xbox All Access:
- Total: $24.99 x 24 + 8% tax = $647.74
So if you enroll in Xbox All Access, you’ll actually end up saving around $63 versus purchasing the console and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate separately. From that perspective, Xbox All Access is a good deal.
Let’s now take a look at the Series X.
- Xbox One X console ($499)
- 24 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (24 x $14.99)
- Total: $858.76 + 8% tax = $927.46
Xbox All Access:
- Total: $34.99 x 24 + 8% tax = $906.94
Once again, financing your next-gen Xbox will actually save you money versus paying cash, albeit less this time (around $20). That’s honestly pretty amazing, considering financing virtually every other asset on the market (home, car, etc.) will cost you money in interest.
Citizens One has to make money somewhere, so I’m guessing that in lieu of interest they’re getting a nice kickback from Microsoft, who in turn is subsidizing the cost of Game Pass Ultimate.
Is There a Better Alternative to Xbox All Access?
The drawback of simply buying an Xbox Series X is that you’ll have to pay $499 plus tax upfront. Is there another way besides Xbox All Access to finance that hairy, scary lump sum?
Realistically, your best alternatives are to cough up the cash from your savings (steer clear of that emergency fund, though) or take advantage of a new credit card sign up bonus to offset some of the cost.
What Does Xbox All Access Include?
Xbox All Access includes the console plus 24 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate — which itself has received an impressive next-gen upgrade.
What Is Xbox Game Pass Ultimate?
For the uninitiated, Xbox Game Pass is like Microsoft’s Netflix for games. The current library features hundreds of Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One games that you can download and play at your leisure as long as you’re subscribed. Titles range from AAA heavy hitters like Halo, Gears of War, and The Witcher 3 to indie darlings like Hollow Knight and Untitled Goose Game (yep, that’s its name).
Best of all, Microsoft is constantly adding titles to Game Pass. Even AAA titles like Starfield and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 — games that would otherwise cost you $70 to buy on release day — are launching on Game Pass.
Microsoft has also added EA Play to Xbox Game Pass. This means that some of the best games from EA’s history, including Titanfall, Mass Effect, Battlefield, and Fifa have joined Game Pass as well as future titles.
Game Pass Ultimate also includes 100+ titles for PC as well as Xbox Live Gold, so you can play online with your friends for 24 months.
Considering Xbox Game Pass Ultimate typically costs $14.99 per month, the deal offered by Xbox All Access just became a little sweeter.
What Does it Not Include?
Xbox All Access only includes the console, one controller, an HDMI cable, and 24 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. That means no extended warranty, no physical games, no bonus controller, or any other bonuses.
Pros and Cons of Xbox All Access
- $0 down, 0% APR — Through Xbox All Access, you can have a next-gen Xbox plus hundreds of downloadable games through Game Pass Ultimate for $0. Sometimes 0% APR can be a red flag that the lender has something to hide, but not here!
- Affordable monthly fees — Even in a pandemic-stricken economy, $35 per month isn’t a horrible price to pay. Cancel a few subscriptions and make a little extra cash online and you can enjoy some affordable, guilt-free 4K escapism.
- Includes hundreds of games plus Gold — Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is pretty much all you need to keep yourself busy for thousands of hours, whether you’re playing an endless RPG like The Witcher 3 or competing online in Gears Tactics.
- It’s still a lot of money — Xbox All Access may be “cheaper” than paying cash and subscribing to Ultimate for two years, but $650 or $900 is still a lot to spend on video games. There are much cheaper ways of enjoying Xbox, which I’ll elaborate on in my personal take below.
- No flexibility — Xbox All Access is simple and easy to understand, but inflexible. You can’t downgrade from Ultimate to regular Game Pass, for example, or cancel it within 24 months for a partial refund. Nor can you add an extended warranty on your console.
- You can play Xbox in 4K for less — A gently pre-owned Xbox One X costs around $300 now and plays countless Xbox titles in 4K already. If you’re new to Xbox, there’s a whole back catalog of high-quality games in the 2013-2020 generation waiting for you for less than half of what you’d spend on next-gen.
- Financing can hurt your credit — Financing your Xbox through Citizens One bank is like financing anything else – it can help or hurt your credit score. Microsoft’s own website warns that any late payments will be reported to credit bureaus, so be sure to set up autopay and notifications to prevent any disruptions in monthly payments.
Xbox All Access May Be a Good Fit for You If…
You Want It All for Less
If you’ve been playing your Xbox One for years and you’re just ready for next-gen and everything it has to offer, Xbox All Access makes sense for you.
Xbox All Access provides a new console plus 24 months of games and multiplayer for a simple monthly price. That’s everything plus the kitchen sink for $20-$60 less than you’d pay piecemeal, and the low monthly payments may help you balance your budget better than a massive upfront expenditure.
Xbox All Access May Not Be a Good Fit for You If…
You Haven’t Experienced the Xbox One X
Maybe you’ve been team Playstation this generation (enjoying Bloodborne). Or maybe you’re totally new to console gaming. You might even be looking at your dusty Xbox One, thinking about an upgrade.
In all three cases, you might consider purchasing an Xbox One X instead of the Series X. As Microsoft’s most powerful last-gen console, the Xbox One X makes a compelling case for itself in a few ways:
- The Xbox One X already plays many of the best Xbox games in native 4K and/or 60 frames per second.
- Thanks to Microsoft’s “cross-gen” support it’ll play many next-gen titles also, namely Halo: Infinite.
- You can buy refurbished or pre-owned Xbox One X consoles for well under $300.
You’re Not Interested in Ultimate Game Pass
Enrolling in Xbox All Access only makes sense if you’re 100% certain you’ll want Ultimate Game Pass for the next 24 months.
As a reminder, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate includes Game Pass, Game Pass for PC, and Xbox Live Gold, which enables online multiplayer. If you’re only interested in playing single player games or split-screen multiplayer, you might as well downgrade to Game Pass, which is just $9.99 per month.
If you factor in the one-month free trial, you can have an Xbox Series X plus 24 months of non-Ultimate Game Pass for just $787 after taxes, a sizable ~$120 savings off of 24 months of Xbox All Access.
You’re Not 100% Committed to Next-Gen Gaming
Enrolling in Xbox All Access is a commitment to pay $906.94 total over two years. According to Microsoft, you can “return” your Xbox All Access subscription to the retail store where you purchased it for a full refund of the payments you’ve made, but only within the retail store’s return window (typically 30 days).
If you keep your Xbox All Access past 30 days, you’re basically stuck with $34.99 monthly payments for two years. Even if you sell your hardware, you’ll have to keep paying $35 each month for a console and gaming subscription you no longer have.
So Xbox All Access is not a good option if you just want to “try” next-gen gaming, since it’s a near-$1,000 financial commitment.
My Personal Take as an Xbox Fanboy
I’ve owned every Xbox since 2003. I even purchased the Xbox 360 and Xbox One on launch day. Naturally, getting a Series X sooner or later was a no brainer.
I also love Ultimate Game Pass. Once Microsoft started adding brand new, $70 AAA titles to the mix UGP instantly became the best deal in gaming.
So why didn’t I go with Xbox All Access?
Simple: you can get Ultimate Game Pass way cheaper.
Here’s how to get the Xbox All Access experience for half the price.
1. Finance a Series X|S on a 0% APR Credit Card (Ideally One With a Sign-up Bonus)
For starters, you should know that applying for a new credit card may temporarily lower your credit score by a few points. So it’s not a good idea right before you apply for a big loan, like an auto loan or a mortgage.
But if you’re in the market for another card already, now’s the time to get one. Because if you buy a Series X with, say, a Chase Freedom Flex℠, you’ll meet the $500 spending threshold for the $200 signup bonus and give yourself 18 months of 0% APR to pay it back.
Check out our rolling list of the best credit cards.
2. Buy 100% Legit Xbox Ultimate Game Pass Codes on eBay
The no. 1 drawback to Xbox All Access is that it locks you into paying (essentially) full price for 24 months of Ultimate Game Pass.
I’ve had UGP for years and have never paid full price for it.
That’s because you can buy 100% legit Ultimate Game Pass subscription codes on eBay for up to ~80% off MSRP. I’ve been doing this since 2018 and have never encountered a faulty code or had issues of any sort.
There are always tons of sellers offering them, and you can sometimes find one-month codes for as little as $3.
I’ll sometimes buy a one-month code if there’s a new game I want to play that I know I can beat in a month, like Halo Infinite. And since I’ve recently gotten addicted to Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, I’ve just let my UGP subscription lapse.
Even if you did want Ultimate Game Pass for 24 months straight like with Xbox All Access, you can easily find two 12-month codes for ~$90 each (half off MSRP).
To summarize, here’s how you can get the Xbox All Access experience for half off:
1. Finance a Series X on a new, 0% APR rewards card with a $150 signup bonus: ($500 + 8% tax) – $150 = $390
2. Buy two 12-month Ultimate Game Pass Cards on eBay: $88 + 8% tax = $190
Xbox All Access: $909
The Money Under 30 way: $580
For transparency, the chief drawbacks of the Money Under 30 method are:
- Applying for a new credit score may temporarily lower your credit by a few points, and
- You’ll have to manually type in your Xbox Game Pass Ultimate codes.
But if you ask me, I think it’s worth it to save $329!
Xbox All Access seems like a convenient, affordable way to start next-gen gaming. $0 down, 0% APR is an impressive offer, especially considering that you’ll end up paying less to finance your new console plus Ultimate Game Pass than you would by purchasing those items separately.
However, it makes much more financial sense to just purchase the $499 console upfront and buy some Ultimate Game Pass codes on eBay. This option lets you discontinue Game Pass Ultimate at any time, and even if you stay subscribed for two straight years, you’ll save hundreds versus Xbox All Access.