Converting to an Xbox Live Family Pack

I’ve been an Xbox Live Gold member for the last few years now, and other than the first time I bought a Gold Membership (through the Xbox), I have always bought my memberships via cards that were on sale (usually through Amazon or eBay’s daily deal). As a result, my subscription had well over 20 months left on it.

Why do I mention 20 months? Well, that’s the most that Microsoft will look at when you convert your existing Gold membership into a Family Pack. You see, the Family Pack costs $99.99 per year (and at time of writing, the only way to get it is to go through Microsoft’s website), and for every month remaining on your membership, you get a $5 discount. Having more than 20 months doesn’t do anything for you, in fact they are just lost.

Now, the whole point of having a Family Pack is having more than one person on your membership (up to 4 in fact). Whenever you bring someone else on board, for every 2 months that they have remaining on their membership, the Family gains an extra month. The only limitation to this is that the maximum length of the Family membership is 36 months. So if your (up to 3) family members have a combined total of more than 72 months, the excess will be lost. If you are adding these members right after you bought your initial membership, then you anything over 48 for the family members will be for not (since the Family membership comes with 12 months).

If you are in a situation where you have one (or more) member with a long period of membership left, and one (or more) member with 20 or less, you can have someone with 20 or less instantiate the Family Pack, and then have the member(s) with the longer period join up, thereby increasing the duration of the initial membership. The only downside to this, is it makes them the Head of Household. This means that they have the ability to dole out allowances of MS Points to the various other members, and can set rating limitations. Additionally, they are in charge of billing.

I ultimately ended up not doing this. I wanted to be the one in charge of all the billing, additionally, I had a decent balance of MS Points already in my account, and would be more likely to be the one doling them out, rather than the recipient. As a result, I lost out on 13 months of excess time.

In the end though, it is ultimately worth it. $100 a year for up to 4 people is still cheaper than buying multiple gold memberships, even when they are on sale.

If you have any questions about the family pack, or just want to learn more, I encourage you to check out the Family Pack FAQ

UPDATE 22 Feb 2012 – After you go Family Pack, you can no longer take advantage of sales of 12 Month Gold Cards as you are not allowed to add them to your account. This means you are locked into the $100 a year price for your family.

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10 Responses

  1. NormalGuy says:

    Actually, you can still use 12-month cards. Just remove one member from your family. The removed member will become a silver. Add that member back to the family (it will require a cooling-off period of about 5 days), and it adds time to the family account to the tune of 1/2 of the added account’s remaining time. Still much cheaper than the $99 option if you can find the cards on sale.

    BTW, be careful how many months you add to your account. I added 2 12-month cards and now I am having some difficulties adding the account back.

  2. gavin says:

    if i have already bought a gold membership (march12 ), can i change to a family membership, of so, how and how much. thankyou

    • John says:

      Yes, as I outlined in the article above, Microsoft will convert the remaining months (up to 20) of your existing gold membership into a discount (of $5 a month) for your conversion.
      You just need to go onto Xbox Live and sign up under “Get Gold Family”.

      • Tyler says:

        Will it discount up to 20 months for the Head Account only or will it do it for the other accounts. (Example: If I had 10 months remaining and 2 other family members had 5, would it just discount the 10 or would it discount all 20?)

        • John says:

          It is just for the head account. As I mentioned above, adding additional family members that have extra time remaining adds half of their time to the family plan. Using your example, it should discount it based on the 10 months (giving you a 1 year family plan), then when you add the 2 other members with 5 months each, it would add 5 months, giving you 17 months of family gold time.

  3. Tamara says:

    If I buy the family pack for two accounts can I apply two years to each accounts ( two accounts) or it was to be 1 years for four differents accounts?

    • John says:

      Sure you can do 2 years to each account. I don’t believe there is a limit (other than the maximum amount Xbox allows you to have on one account) to how many years can be added on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. Just make sure you apply everything (all the spare membership cards that is) BEFORE you join each one to the family pack.

  4. John says:

    Just tried to apply a gifted 12 month gold card to my account. Alas it will not work, and only by attempting to apply the gift card via the console did I find out why (the website just said “error”).

  5. andy says:

    hello. my son lives with his mother and i pay for his xbox live through my windows id account. when i now try setting up my new xbox on xbox live here it says i cannot use a windows id that is already in use. do you a) know if i can have 2 accounts on 1 windows id somehow? or b) buy a xbox live family pack using my sons and add me to it even if we live in diiferent locations? any info would be really appreciated

    • John says:

      Andy –

      A) I’m fairly certain you cannot have 2 accounts on one id.
      B) As I mentioned above, you probably want to buy the family pack with your name, and then add him, so that you control the billing info. As for different locations, yes you can do that, but you will need to start on one console, and then have any distant users recover their profile onto a different one. From the FAQ:

      Q: If someone leaves the household – for example a child who leaves for college – will they still be a part of my Xbox LIVE Gold Family Pack?
      A: Yes, if a Family Pack member leaves home to go to college, they can simply recover their account on a different console and will still remain a part of the Xbox LIVE Gold Family Pack, as long as they reside in the same country as the primary account holder.

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