Xbox gamers say their money is 'expiring' — here's what's going on

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

Can your Xbox account balance “expire?” Sort of. One gamer on Reddit recently learned that the hard way, when they discovered that $5 in their Xbox account was going to disappear in a few months. However, gamers can rest easy. Microsoft is not taking money out of your Xbox account. It may, however, put a time limit on your promotional credits.

As reported by TechRadar, the story began with a post on Reddit, ominously titled “My money is expiring??” User Cg6554 checked their Microsoft account, and discovered a section called “expiring balances.” There, a popup screen informed them that a $5 credit would expire on July 9, 2022.

It’s understandably troubling to think that Microsoft would take money out of a paying customer’s account. Fortunately, though, that’s not what seems to be happening. Other Redditors were quick to point out that once you deposit money into your Microsoft account, it stays there forever. (Or until Microsoft goes out of business — essentially still forever.) Whether you deposit money directly or use a gift card, your balance is yours to keep until you spend it on something, even if you don’t spend it for years and years.

The commenters in Cg6554’s thread quickly got to the heart of the matter. At some point in the recent past, Cg6554 had picked up a $5 Microsoft credit and applied it to their account. The Microsoft Rewards program, for example, will give you small amounts of credit for performing daily Windows and Xbox activities, from taking quizzes to playing Xbox Game Pass titles. In fact, Tom’s Guide has explained how to earn Microsoft Rewards as part of our “Xbox Series X hidden features” story.

Microsoft Rewards credits don't last forever, though. According to Microsoft's website, "Microsoft Rewards points will expire if there are no earning activities within 18 months." Furthermore, once you trade your points for a voucher — for example, a $5 promotional credit — you have only 90 days to spend that money.

There’s only one other circumstance under which Microsoft credit could expire, and it’s a little arcane. If you buy gift cards from third-party retailers, they may have expiration dates on them. However, the expiration date is for the code on the card, not for the balance itself. In other words, if you add a gift card’s balance to your account before the expiration date, you can keep that money indefinitely. If your card has already expired, though, you’re out of luck.

While you can’t stop your promotional balance from expiring, you can always spend it before it disappears. (In fact, Microsoft would probably prefer that you did.) To do so, simply log into your Microsoft account, and check the Payment and Billing section. Your Microsoft account balance will be the very first option. Click Manage, and the site will tell you whether you have any promotional credits.

If you do have promo credits, consider spending them sooner rather than later. If not, rest assured that you’ll have them until the heat death of the universe — or until Microsoft changes its policies, whichever comes first.

Marshall Honorof

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. 

  • d0x360
    Small amount? Last month I added 3 months to my gamepass ultimate subscription and earned $40 in credit. This month I've done the same. My gamepass is paid up till August 2024 and I haven't paid for gold or gp in a decade.

    Use rewards correctly and you can earn good money.