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My Microsoft Points Buying Strategy

I’ve owned an XBox 360 for nearly a year and I’ve never once purchased anything in the XBox Live Marketplace because there was never anything I really wanted – until I bought Rock Band. With the music games like Rock Band [3] and Guitar Hero [4], the producers are releasing new songs via the XBox Live Marketplace and, if my memory serves me right, Rock Band songs cost 160 Microsoft Points a piece (they also bundle them in packs of 3 for 440 MS Points).

The math on how much a Microsoft Point is worth in the retail market works out to be 1.25 cents per point in the US, with prices slightly higher abroad (not on purpose there, it’s just exchange rates). You can get them slightly cheaper elsewhere and so you never want to pay retail price for points. There is always a cheaper alternative, unless you absolutely have to have points right now.

My goal is to pay, at most, a penny per point, and often times you can get them for even less if you’re willing to look.


Amazon sells two point valued cards, a 1600 and a 4000 point card. The 1600 Microsoft Points Card [5] is currently going for $18.99, making it 1.1869 cents/point, and the 4000 Microsoft Points Card [6] is going for $47.99, making it 1.1998 cents/point. Yes, right now the 1600 point card is better than the 4000 point card (go figure). However, with a penny per point being our benchmark, Amazon.com doesn’t cut it in this case. Also, Amazon.com has to mail you the card so there’s a shipping delay between when you buy and when you can use the points. The card itself is meaningless, all you need is the code on the back… therein lies options #2.


I love eBay [7] for these types of commodity goods and eBay has a ton of listings of Microsoft Points. You have your typical 1600 pointers for $17.99, 1.124 cents/point, and the 4000 price varies in the high $40 range, which puts it in line with Amazon.com prices. However, if you’re willing to do a little extra work, look for the 200 point cards that come bundled with some random game. Specifically, look the for the 200 pointer bundled with Robotron 2084 and you’ll see a whole bunch of them for 99 cents – that’s a whopping half cent per point (plus Robotron 2084). The downside is that you have to enter all those codes, not a big deal if you have a keyboard but infuriating if you’re typing them in by hand (plus the downside of buying from a stranger on eBay, so do your due diligence). The upside is that the seller will often email you the code and you can get it immediately.

Stores (with Coupons)

Lastly, your final option is to go to a store like Best Buy, Circuit City, etc. armed with a coupon that lets you take dollars off your purchase. If you happen to be buying something else, throwing on some Microsoft Points at retail value so you are eligible to use a coupon might be a good idea. Short of that, going to a retail store without a coupon is the absolute worst thing you can do because you pay for gas, pay for tax, and you pay full price. Yuck.

There you have it, my brief guide on where to get the best prices on points. I’m not a seasoned point buyer so if anyone else has some good tips, please let me know so I can feed my Rock Band addiction on the cheap! Thanks!