Xbox All Access is a foolproof way to get an Xbox Series X — but is it worth it?

Xbox Series X on wooden table.
(Image credit: Alex Van Aken | Shutterstock)

Hunting for Xbox Series X restocks right now is, charitably, an absolute nightmare. Retailers barely ever get new stock, and when they do, it often sells out in minutes — even when it’s locked behind expensive, inconvenient premium subscriptions

However, there’s an alternative to the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it restock madness, and it’s called Xbox All Access. For $35 per month, you’re guaranteed an Xbox Series X — and, as I write this, it has been in stock at Walmart (opens in new tab) for the better part of a day. That’s absolute eons in next-gen console restock terms.

Xbox All Access: What is it?

xbox all access

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Tom’s Guide has written about Xbox All Access before, but we’ve never discussed it in great detail. In case you’re not familiar with it, Xbox All Access is essentially a financing option, but for a game console rather than a bigger purchase, such as a car or a house. You apply for a line of credit with Citizens Bank (opens in new tab), which charges you $35 a month for 24 months.

While we’re normally leery of financing plans, I’ve gone through the Xbox All Access fine print with a fine-toothed comb, and it seems pretty safe. However, you’re going to lock yourself into a long contract, and may wind up saddled with services you don’t want or need. 

If you’re wondering whether Xbox All Access is a good way to get an Xbox Series X, I’m here to tell you that it is — and it isn’t. Read on to find out whether you should apply for All Access, or hold out for a more traditional restock.

Xbox All Access: Pros

Xbox Series X

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

As mentioned above, Xbox All Access is a way to finance an Xbox over the course of two years rather than buying a console up-front. Here’s how it works: You apply for a line of credit with Citizens Bank, much like you would for a credit card. If Citizens likes your credit, it will provide an Xbox Series X, as well as a monthly Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, and charge you $35 per month for them.

(You can also use Xbox All Access to get an Xbox Series S, but Series S consoles have generally been easy to find standalone, so I don’t know if All Access is necessarily worthwhile. If you want an Xbox Series S, you can get one at GameStop for $300 (opens in new tab) right now.)

First and foremost, the Citizens Bank line of credit is not nearly as punishing as a traditional credit card would be. Xbox All Access has a 0% annual percentage rate (APR), meaning that you won’t pay any additional interest on top of the $35 per month. Furthermore, there are no annual fees, penalty fees, or late fees.

To be perfectly honest, I was surprised to learn about the 0% APR, along with the lack of late fees and penalties. Typically, credit companies make their money by charging people interest if they don’t pay their bills in full each month, and make extra  money by charging administrative fees on top of that. But, as far as I can tell, if you pay $35 on time each month, for 24 months, there are no additional costs. Furthermore, if you miss a payment, you supposedly won’t face any additional fees or interest — at least for the first two years.

Now, let’s do a little math. Thirty-five dollars per month for 24 months comes out to $840 overall. An Xbox Series X costs $500; an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription costs $15 per month. Fifteen times 24 equals $360. As such, you’re essentially getting $860 worth of goods for $840. It’s not a huge discount, but the important thing is that Citizens Bank isn’t overcharging you, either.

In short, if you are comfortable applying for a new line of credit, you are absolutely certain you can spend $35 per month for the next 24 months, and you want two years’ worth of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, then Xbox All Access makes sense. You can go ahead and apply for the program now via Walmart, while there are still Xbox Series X consoles in stock.

Xbox All Access: Cons

An image of an Xbox controller and Xbox Game Pass

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

I read through the fine print on the Xbox All Access agreement with Citizens Bank, and I generally liked what I saw. But it’s important to remember that credit companies are excellent at hiding extra fees behind technicalities. 

For example: the Xbox All Access agreement promises 0% APR and no late fees. However, the agreement also claims that failure to pay on time could nullify promotional incentives — and, in this case, those incentives include 0% APR and no late fees. It’s a bit of a catch-22, and I don’t know how Citizens would enforce it.

The “$35 per month, no extra money” deal also applies only for two years. As such, if you fail to pay the full amount after 24 months, Citizens Bank can (and most likely will) start tacking on as much interest and as many administrative fees as it can get away with. While I don’t want to be too cynical, credit companies generally make money by charging interest and fees. Charging customers less than retail price for two (admittedly expensive) products doesn’t seem as profitable as charging them more after the fact.

There’s also the fact that not every applicant will qualify for Xbox All Access. If your credit is bad — or even if your credit is good, and Citizens Bank doesn’t like the way your credit history looks — it could deny your application. Your credit score could also take a hit if that happens. (On the other hand, if it accepts your application, your credit score could improve by paying a small debt each month, so your mileage may vary.)

The biggest reason to avoid Xbox All Access, however, is that 24 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate at full price is incredibly expensive, and potentially unnecessary.

I’ll be the first to sing Game Pass Ultimate’s praises, since it gives you access to hundreds of games, for both download and streaming, including day-one Microsoft releases, such as Halo and Forza. On the other hand, Microsoft discounts Xbox Game Pass Ultimate frequently. You can also get Game Pass access promotions with certain games and hardware. Simply subscribing at full price each month is not the most cost-effective way to join.

Furthermore, if you’ve never tried Xbox Game Pass Ultimate before, you may not need it — or even like it. While it has an excellent library of games, those games rotate in and out frequently, meaning you might be better off just buying the games you want outright. Ultimate also offers downloadable games on PC, as well as streaming games for Android and iOS. If you don’t need those options, you can buy a cheaper Xbox-only Game Pass subscription.

To recap: If you aren’t 100% certain that you can spend $35 per month for 24 months, or if you aren’t completely sold on the concept of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, then Xbox All Access is probably not the right option for you.

How else to get an Xbox Series X

xbox series x review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Of course, a lot of this analysis sidesteps one important issue: right now, it’s nearly impossible to get an Xbox Series X without Xbox All Access, and relatively easy to get an Xbox Series X with it. But remember, once you get your Xbox in hand, you can’t simply pay for the whole thing up front and be done with it. Citizens Bank will have you on the hook for the next two years, and a lot can happen in that time.

Personally, I would feel more comfortable buying a console outright, even if it meant I had to wait a few more months to get my hands on one. Furthermore, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate goes on sale relatively often; you could almost certainly get two years’ worth for less than $360.

Still, if you do get Xbox All Access, just remember to pay on time, and in full, every month. As long as you do that, Citizens Bank should be happy with you, and you should be happy with your Xbox.

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi. 

  • Ogmackplrcool
    I'm making an assumption but the all access just comes comes with a code for 24 months of GP Ultimate correct? So in theory, if you get discounted GP offers you can just stack them into your account.

    Since you read through the fine print, could I buy through all access and just pay the whole thing off the first month? Would be an easy way to get a series x since I basically only use game pass at this point and rarely purchase games anymore.
    Reply
  • Papayafighter
    Ogmackplrcool said:
    I'm making an assumption but the all access just comes comes with a code for 24 months of GP Ultimate correct? So in theory, if you get discounted GP offers you can just stack them into your account.

    Since you read through the fine print, could I buy through all access and just pay the whole thing off the first month? Would be an easy way to get a series x since I basically only use game pass at this point and rarely purchase games anymore.

    What I found on Microsoft’s website:

    “There are no application fees, no annual fees, no late fees, nor early repayment fees for your Citizens One Line of Credit for Xbox All Access. However, late payments may be reported to the credit bureaus.”

    This was important to me as well, as I’m not entirely against the deal as it stands, but if I can just pay it off in 3 months I’d rather do that!
    Reply
  • CircularArgument
    Am I missing something or does the article not elucidate what "guaranteed" means. No All-Access participating retailers seem to suggest there's perpetually reserved stock. Does "guaranteed" mean you get one when new stock is available and new stock is reserved for existing All-Access members who have not yet ordered? That would mean you could be get the credit and wait months for stock while paying for something you don't own which seems pretty crap to me
    Reply
  • benjegbert78
    CircularArgument said:
    Am I missing something or does the article not elucidate what "guaranteed" means. No All-Access participating retailers seem to suggest there's perpetually reserved stock. Does "guaranteed" mean you get one when new stock is available and new stock is reserved for existing All-Access members who have not yet ordered? That would mean you could be get the credit and wait months for stock while paying for something you don't own which seems pretty crap to me

    very observant question. it really seems like this is all some kind of set-up to get more people signed up with credit. but why would they go to all this trouble? is this just one more part of the bigger plan? why would they deliberately understock this item everywhere else and reserve countless stock for wal-mart to sign people up for some big credit game? is it because people are easier to control when they are owned by creditors?? do they know something we dont about an impending financial collapse/disaster within the next two years that will leave people without a way to pay their debts and will then have no choice but to sign over rights for government assistance????
    Reply
  • kjanthony
    I think this is a total scam. I purchased the xbox through all access since it is the only way to get one and it is my 10 year old son's only xmas wish. You purchase it from Walmart who partners with Liftforward for BNPL (buy now pay later) financing programs. The ultimate financing is provided by Citizens Financial Group. The catch is that when something goes wrong (in my case, the xbox never arrived(!!)) NOBODY seems to have responsibility for helping the customer. Walmart customer service says they do not provide customer service for XAA purchases. In fact, the purchase does not even appear in your Walmart order history. Citizens Financial says they are only the financing provider and cannot help (although I believe the woman I spoke with truly wanted to help and has documented the situation for when we end of having to fight over the monthly payments). Liftforward has no customer service as far as I can tell. They have not responded to my submission via their portal and when I call them, their automated recording directs you to call Citizens Financial for XAA inquiries. Basically, all three parties involved: Walmart, Liftforward and Citizens, point to each other and nobody takes responsibility for the customer. Regardless of how badly you may want an xbox, I do not recommend this program. It is a total disaster and I have wasted hours on trying to figure this out. In the end, I still do not have an xbox for my son.

    @Tom's guide, I purchased through the XAA program because of the recommendation on your website. I did not know about it prior to reading your article. If you have any ideas on what I should do based on your experience, or know anyone I should contact, it would be much appreciated.
    Reply
  • LymanAlpha
    admin said:
    Xbox All Access is a relatively easy way to pick up an Xbox Series X, but you have to lock yourself into an expensive, long-term contract.

    Xbox All Access is a foolproof way to get an Xbox Series X — but is it worth it? : Read more
    I ended up purchasing this mostly because my game pass was running out and I was looking for a long term subscription. Contrary to what’s stated in the article, I had a really difficult time finding game pass at any kind of discount (although I do see some modest discounts available right now… 6 months for $60 at Amazon).
    I had no issues getting the console shipped and delivered. I have also already paid off half of it.
    One other interesting note is, I assume because it’s a “subscription”, I wasn’t charged sales tax on the Series X. Sales tax where I live is about 8% so that’s an additional $40 savings. Effectively I got a Series X for MSRP and Game Pass Ultimate for an average of $12.50/month. That works for me, especially when the alternatives are paying around $800 (plus tax!) on eBay for just the console or crossing my fingers and hoping to get lucky.
    All that said, I’m generally on board with the sentiment that both Walmart and credit card companies suck and aren’t trustworthy. I’m fortunate that I can just pay off the financing and I understand that isn’t true for everyone and that I don’t have to worry about hidden costs that may arise.
    For some people, this is an excellent way to get a Series X.
    Reply
  • Spychocyco
    It's OK unless you have an issue with the console. I did it to get one for my son's Christmas. Xbox was DOA. Support said take it back where you bought it, so back to Best Buy we went. Their only solution was a refund and take your chances on getting another one when/if they come back in stock. The problem is, they only refund for the console. So you're stuck with the bill for the all access even though you no longer have a console and may not be able to get another one. Not to mention, Christmas sucked.
    Reply