How to create an Xbox Live account

This is a super long post, so I’m going to break it down for you. Here are the sections:

  • Why you should get Xbox Live
  • How to sign up for an Xbox Live account on your Xbox
  • How to add prepaid cards to your account and how you can change your Gamertag
  • What to do now that you have an Xbox Live account


Why you should get Xbox Live:

Now that you have your Xbox, what do you do with it? You have access to some of the best games of this generation, but in order to really take advantage of what Xbox has to offer, you’ll also want to get Xbox Live.
The first thing to know about Xbox Live is that there are two different levels of membership: Free (or Silver) and Gold. Gold will run you $60/year, but you can find cards online for much cheaper on and at Between buying a cheaper card online and the special deals you’ll have access to as a Gold member, the actual cost is much less than the listed price.
You’re probably wondering why having a Gold account is so essential. The full list of reasons is here, but in a nutshell, without one you won’t be able to play games against friends online, you won’t be able to use your Netflix or Hulu Plus accounts with your Xbox, you won’t have access to great deals on games and downloadable content, and if you have a Kinect, you won’t be able to use it for video chat. So yeah, it’s good to go for the Gold.
Anyway, that’s enough of this boring discussion of why you should get an Xbox Live account, let’s move on to how.

Signing up on the Xbox:

Note: You can also sign up for Xbox Live on, but for simplicity’s sake I’m only going to discuss how to do it on the Xbox itself.

Step 1: Turn on your Xbox. Make sure that you’re logged into a profile. If you are, your profile’s name will appear in the top right of the screen.

  • If you don’t have a profile, hit the Guide button (see Step 2) and select “Create Profile”. Enter a name (any name, it doesn’t matter. It will be changed in a few minutes) and hit Done. Select an avatar. All set!

Step 2: Hit the Guide button on your controller. This is the silvery button in the center with the Xbox logo on it.

Step 3: Select “Join Xbox LIVE”. On the screen that pops up, select “Join Xbox LIVE” again.

Step 4: A screen will pop up that says “Exit Session”. Hit “Yes”.

Step 5: Now you’re in the Xbox LIVE creation area. Hit “Continue”. The next few steps are just entering info so I’m not going to walk you through it but here are some tidbits that might be useful to know about the information you’re entering in:

  • Your name will appear on your Xbox Live profile, so keep that in mind.
  • You can only link one account to each email address, so keep that in mind if you’re going to be creating multiple Xbox Live accounts.
  • Make a secure password, since theoretically if someone were able to get into your account they could make purchases using your credit card (assuming you have one saved).

Step 6: After entering your birthday, you’ll be asked to verify that all of your information is correct. Hit “Continue”. Your privacy settings will pop up. Unless you are setting the account up for a child, you’re probably ok with the defaults. Hit “Continue”. Review the Terms of Use if you want, then hit “Accept”.

Your account will now be created! You’ll be assigned a (probably terrible) random Gamertag (or “GT” for those in the know). I’ll explain how to change this in the next section.

Step 7: The next screens involve signing up for an Xbox Live Gold account. Go to the page where it gives you the option of purchasing a Gold membership, entering a prepaid card, or upgrading later. Hit “Upgrade Later”. You’ll probably be given the option to get a free 1 month trial (as long as this is one of the first three accounts being created on your Xbox), and we can enter any prepaid cards that you have lying around in a minute.

Step 8: A pop-up message will appear saying “Your 1 month trial starts now!” Hit continue and you’ll be taken to the avatar editor. Change it if you want to. This is what other people will see you as on Xbox Live. When you’re done, hit “Save and Exit”.

And that’s it! You now have an Xbox Live account! Read on for information on changing your gamertag and entering in prepaid cards

How to change your gamertag and enter prepaid cards:

Alright, now that you have an Xbox Live account you want to change the name to something you actually want to give out to people. Easy! Here’s how to change your Gamertag:

Step 1: On your Xbox, go to the “social” tab.

Step 2: Use the joystick on your controller to move one space to the right, selecting your avatar. Hit the A button on the controller.

Step 3: Move to the right until you get to the second screen. This screen has information about your profile, and also a single button: “Change Gamertag”. Hit the A button on your controller.

Step 4: Either enter a Gamertag or hit “Get Suggestions” to find a good Gamertag for you.

You can also change your Gamertag on a computer at this site.

*** Note: You can only do this for free once! After this you will have to pay to change your gamertag. ***

Now that you’re all set to go, you probably want to extend your Xbox Live account by entering all those prepaid cards you have. If you don’t have any, check for better deals on and Here’s how to do that:

Step 1: Hit the Guide button on the controller. This is the silver button in the center of the controller that has an Xbox logo on it.

Step 2: Move to the “Marketplace” tab on the Xbox Guide. This is two to the left from the default tab.

Step 3: Hit “Redeem Code”. Enter your code and hit “Done”. All set!

You can also redeem codes on your computer at this site.

Now what?:

Now that you have an Xbox Live account, the world is your oyster. Not really. That’s a terrible expression.

Anyway, there are a lot of great things you can do. Here are the three I would recommend:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the new features available on your Xbox. Try going over to the “apps” tab on your Xbox and checking out what’s in the Marketplace.
  2. Check out to see what’s going on. You can also check out what your Xbox Live friends are up to and download games and additional content.
  3. Check out the other site I write for, XBLA Fans. We write about all of the great games you can download on Xbox Live Arcade and in the Indie Games market. It’s a great resource. If you see a game you like, head over to the “games” tab on your Xbox to search for it in the Marketplace, or look it up on

Well, that’s all I got. Let me know if you have any questions about anything by leaving a comment below. I’m always happy to help out fellow gamers, whether you’ve been playing games all your life or just picked up your first one today! You can add me as a friend if you want, my Gamertag is up on the right sidebar with all of my other contact info. Happy gaming!