Xbox Live Marketplace Card Already Used, Even Though It Was Opened Only Moments Ago

Tyler says that on four different occasions now, the Xbox Live points and subscription cards he’s bought have been invalid when he redeems them. He had a friend at Gamestop help him out with the invalid subscription card, but he’s stuck with useless paper when it comes to the points cards.

Hey there, I figured I might as well tell you about something i have frequently had to deal with regarding redemption codes for points on the Xbox Live Marketplace in hopes that others have experienced the same thing and would have some advice on what to do.

So, I bought a points card at a Gamestop a few weeks back as a birthday present for my roommate. He held on to the card (not even opening it) until today because the new Red Dead Redeption DLC is out and he wanted to buy it. he opens the packaging, pulls the strip off the points card and enters the code into the marketplace to redeem 1600 microsoft points; but when he entered them, he got a message saying that the card was invalid/already used.

Obviously, the crad had not already been used because he just opened it 30 seconds prior to entering the code. The thing is, this is the 4th time I have experienced such a thing. Twice in the past I have bought points cards and the same thing has happened, and once before is was for a 12 month subscription to XBox Live. Calling microsoft customer support yields absolutely nothing because they think you are trying to scam them.

Luckily I had a friend who worked at a Gamestop when I had the issue with the subscription card and he did me a favor by returning it for me and giving me a new one, which luckily worked. After that issue I have always bought points through the marketplace myself with a credit card so as to avoid potentially having the same issue. I bought my friend the card so that he could use it as he wishes, hoping that he wouldn’t have the same issue I have had. Obviously…that was a bad idea. Microsoft will do nothing for him and as such, he doesn’t get to download the DLC and I spent 20 bucks for absolutely nothing. I don’t know where my receipt from Gamestop is so I don’t have the option of even trying to return it.

Has anyone else had the same issue?


Edit Your Comment

  1. Willie Derp says:

    My guess is the code has already been randomly used by someone that snagged it with a code generator.

  2. KingPsyz says:

    Did he buy the card with a credit card? Chargeback?

    He didn’t get the services he paid for, seems odd that it keeps happening… Did you purchase them all from the same retailer?

    • Griking says:

      Over a lousy $16 game card? I’d never do a charge back for something so small. If a time ever comes where I really get screwed for a significant amount of money I don’t want to have to worry about my charge back being denied because I have a history of doing them.

  3. The Cynical Librarian says:

    I’ve not had that issue, but then again; I don’t buy points cards from a retail outlet. I’ll either get them through Expertzone or by just buying straight from XBL. But again; never had this problem. Did you buy them from this friend you referred to earlier? I’d be wary that he may be doing something shady, either that or the code generator referred to above.

  4. pop top says:

    Can’t Microsoft compare your gamer tag to the gamer tag of the person who used that code and see that you didn’t use it? Do they have that kind of information? I mean, if you have a receipt stating you bought that card with that code on 9-1-10 but someone used that code on 8-11-10, wouldn’t that show that you aren’t trying to scam them? There has to be a way for MS to fix this problem. I buy MS Points as gifts A LOT so this worries me that I might give someone a scammed code and they have no recourse.

    Although I would recommend that people buy points via their 360 to avoid this problem. They can delete their credit card number when they’re done if they’re worried about it being linked to their account. It wouldn’t work in the case of presents, but it would help some people.

    • The Cynical Librarian says:

      Really; if I called MS and said “Who used my points? My gamertag is _______” it doesn’t really prove anything except that your gamertag doesn’t have the points for that code, regardless of whether you bought the card or not. It’s not like you enter in the tag that will be using them when you buy the card.

      • Keavy_Rain says:

        I do validate the code under my username through the console or website, since the points are tied to that account/Xbox.

        • The Cynical Librarian says:

          Right, but if I buy the card at a store, there’s no gamertag associated with that card. Until the numbers have been plugged it’s anyone’s card.

          • Liam Kinkaid says:

            And, to further complicate things, I don’t think the subscription or points cards are tracked serially, so when it’s scanned at checkout, it’s just barcode scanned. This is different than gift cards, which are barcode scanned, then activated. So the OP might have a receipt for the card, but there’s no other identifying information about the card on the receipt.

            • Kitamura says:

              Depends, a lot of places have switched to those “activate at till” MS point/subscription cards where I live. At least with those, the number doesn’t go active until it’s swiped at the till unlike the pre-packaged cards which are active the moment they get shipped.

              • pop top says:

                This is basically what I’m talking about. I just assumed that’s how it worked everywhere. I’m a pretty big MS fangirl w/r/t to the 360, and I definitely think MS needs to address this issue immediately.

                • humbajoe says:

                  I used to be a bit of an MS fanboy myself until MS started really pushing the greed and lack of customer service to insane levels. Bad cards, raised XBL sub prices, removed XBL gold services, and an issue where my GF was excited to start an XBL account, her name was taken so the XBL sign up screen suggested her names, and she typed in one of her own but didn’t realize it was misspelled, and when she pressed “A” and the service found that that name wasn’t in use it immediately made the account without a confirmation screen. Now she has to pay them $10 to respell the name if she doesn’t want to lose her achievements and save files, and MS refuses to budge on this issue.

                  Looks like I’m un-subbing my Gold account, selling my Zune HD, getting a PS3, not getting Kinect, and am looking towards HTC and Motorolla instead of the Windows Mobile 7 direction now. Only reason I’m not selling the 360 is because I might as well be able to play the exclusives I already own – and why would I want to enable someone else to purchase software from MS with it? Seems like letting it sit offline without new software purchases is a bigger hit to MS than selling the thing.

                  I’m pretty done with being optimistic about MS, and the 10 dollar gamer tag issue is really the straw that broke this camel’s back.

          • Keavy_Rain says:

            I’m not talking about bought at the store, I mean activated.

            As in, someone had to have activated this code prior to the purchase or use, so there should be a way to see who activated it.

            • kujospam says:

              What they are trying to say is that. Although you might have the card, how does MS know that you didn’t still the card out of someones trash? Example, you buy a card, you use it. Throw the card out. Someone goes through your garbage and finds tons of cards thrown away. They call MS and say, “hey I have the card, where are my points?” You would have to show the receipt and the card, and technically they wouldn’t have to believe you because it isn’t their receipt. The problems are just too great. That is why I just use my CC on Live.

    • The hand that feeds, now with more bacon says:

      Your credit card number can not be dissociated from your Xbox live account ever. Microsoft will resurrect the “deleted” records to charge the card if you try to charge another card and the charge on the other card does not go through.

  5. DeltaTee says:

    I am surprised at the number of people who do not hold on to their receipts. If they weren’t worth something, companies would likely stop handing them out with every purchase.

    • dragonfire81 says:

      I’ve had customers that manage to lose their receipts on the SAME DAY they bought the item. People will come in return things they bought and when I ask them if they have their receipt they will casually say “no” or “I lost it” in a tone that is saying “but that shouldn’t be a problem.” It is a problem because item number 1 on our return policy is: NO returns without a receipt.

      Yes I know other businesses do this, but where I work doesn’t and we have every right to require a receipt for returns. If you don’t like it, shop somewhere else.

      • DeltaTee says:

        If I know where I bought something and approximately when, I could probably find any receipt for an item I needed to return covering the past 10 years or so. They don’t take up much space and are fairly easy to archive.

      • Mphone says:


        My store is the same way. Many people just don’t care. It all boils down to a lack of personal responsibility.

    • jesirose says:

      Many companies do. I rarely get a receipt for every day purchases. I usually get an option at most places.

    • PTB315 says:

      I will reference Mitch Hedberg on why I can’t keep receipts:—donut-receipts&videoId=41939

      “I bought a doughnut and they gave me a receipt for the doughtnut… I don’t need a receipt for the doughnut. I give you money and you give me the doughnut, end of transaction. We don’t need to bring ink and paper into this. I can’t imagine a scenario that I would have to prove that I bought a doughnut. To some skeptical friend, ‘Don’t even act like I didn’t get that doughnut, I’ve got the documentation right here… It’s in my file at home. …Under “D”.’”

      My car door pocket thing has been filled to the point of overflowing with dunkin donut and other drive thru receipts. I make multiple small purchases throughout the day, and the receipts can end up anywhere, and when I clean them out, I just throw them all out due to the frustration of the vast number of receipts. My wallet in particular, I will absentmindedly stick receipts in as I’m putting change away, then a few days later I have 10 receipts in there, 9 of which are from things I will never need the receipt from.

      Then again, I have ADHD inattentive, so maybe these problems do not apply to non-afflicted people. I do keep the receipts for major purchases or items I have reason to believe I may be returning.

  6. Keavy_Rain says:

    Couldn’t Microsoft look up the code and see who redeemed it and when?

    I think this may be an issue of a random code generator that just happened to pick his card’s code. Also, as much as I hate it, this is why I’ve tied my CC to my XBL account. It sucks my options are: Give MS my card and risk a hacker stealing my account (It happened to Major Nelson) and getting my information, or deal with the cards.

    FFS, why can’t MS have a system in place like PSN, where you just buy the digital content with real money and, if it’s over $5, you just pay the amount?

    • The Cynical Librarian says:

      Not exactly ideal, but you could enter the CC in each time you wanted to purchase points and then delete it after to combat the hackers.

      • zegota says:

        You don’t even have to go that far. It only saves the CC information if you instruct it to. It gives you the option of re-entering it every time.

        • pop top says:

          Someone replied to my post and said that MS will “resurrect” the old information in the event that you use another card and the charge doesn’t go through. I haven’t heard of this and they didn’t post any additional proof or anything…

          • The Cynical Librarian says:

            Do you mean that MS will give you another code and if it doesn’t work they’ll then just let the old code work? I’m a little confused.

    • LastError says:

      MS could look up who redeemed the card the first time -but how do they know that person wasn’t legit and you are?

      You could have found the used card on the sidewalk and tried entering the numbers yourself.

      Probably not. Maybe you’re not trying that. But MS has no way to know which is which.

  7. sickofthis says:

    MS needs to start adding a second code, maybe a 4-digit ID, to its cards. That would ramp up the difficulty of random code generation exponentially.

  8. jvanbrecht says:

    The issue has less to do with calling MS to try to get them to fix it, and more how MS will fix the problem going forward. It’s like this everywhere with digital content in general.

    While it is easy to catch the users who use random number generators with programs that have cracked the algorithm MS uses to create the codes, but its harder to catch the counterfeiters who manage to duplicate the cards with generated stolen codes, and slip them into the mainstream markets or selling them online through retailers and auction sites.

    One possible solution is for MS to generate the codes, and release them to certain markets, each geographical market have a certain set of codes. This of course would affect people sending them out as gifts, but at least still be able to track fraud to some extent.

  9. thaJack says:

    Funny how they always say the numbers don’t work until they are “activated” at the register. Yeah, right.

    • HazyCloud says:

      The ones in the plastic packaging don’t need to be activated like the standalone ones.

      Also in the 5+ years of buying cards at retail, I’ve NEVER had this issue. Not one single time.

      • jezebelseven says:

        I’ve been buying these cards for years and years as well and have never had this happen. Seems strange to me that he’s somehow had it happen 4 times. I’m curious if they’re all coming from the same store, although even if they were I don’t see how they could open the plastic, rip off the strip, and replace it like new…

        • Brunette Bookworm says:

          Could someone at the store be using them after someone purchases them?

          • shufflemoomin says:

            It stands to reason that there may be information out there to find the code based on information in the barcode on the outside packaging. If, indeed, he’s telling the truth, it does seem odd that he’s had it happen four times. I’ve had my 360 for years and bought many LIVE membership and points cards and never once had an issue. You’d think customer service would be aware of it if it’s indeed a known issue as a lot of people are saying. I, for one, have never heard of this happening before.

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      Right, actually. The card was activated upon purchase “a few weeks ago” but the recepient held on to it, and waited to redeem it. That is the problem right there. They gave the thieves weeks to discover and crack the code.

  10. PTB315 says:

    Could the OP really not clarify if every purchase occurred at Gamestop? And if so, all from the same Gamestop store? It’s implied that all 4 bad cards came from there, but not clearly defined.

  11. Dyscord says:

    Sounds like a code generator or something.

    Best way to stop this would be to buy the points directly from microsoft, since you have a friend to help you when it happens with the subscriptions

  12. Andy says:

    Subscription cards, the ones activated at the register won’t work if the register isn’t correctly activating the sub card. I’d be weary of these cards and opt for the pre-activated cards that usually come in that hard to get open plastic cases and are distributed by Microsoft.

    Obviously the BEST way to pick up points is to do it online at or from your xbox itself, but you need a credit/debit card, guessing this guy doesn’t have one. Maybe time he opened his own free checking account at his local credit union, earn 2%-4% on his check savings AND you get a debit card you can use online for making purchases.

    /smack dumb-ass.

  13. exscind says:

    I almost always buy MS Points via card – I wait until they’re sold at sale prices and stock up on a bunch of them. (I’ve seen them 18% off at Amazon, 15% off at Target, and a whopping 25% off at Circuit City).

    I’ve never had an issue, but now I’m feeling a little wary. Even more disconcerting is Microsoft’s abysmal response to what sounds like a considerable problem.

  14. Andy S. says:

    One issue with switching to buying points straight from the website: many people (like myself) watch for sales on Xbox Live points cards, since they ultimately allow you to purchase, say, $50 worth of points for $40. Conversely, points purchased through always cost exactly what they are worth.

    Furthermore, I have heard of the issue that was mentioned earlier, where MS doesn’t really allow you to delete previously-entered credit card numbers, and that makes me wary of purchasing anything through anyway.

  15. DJRanmaS says:

    Send an e-mail to, he’s one of the managers with XBOX Live. Explain the entire situation and they will fix it in 2 or so days. I know cuz I’ve had troubles before and it was rectified.

  16. JadePharaoh says:

    That sucks. I have a Wii and a PS3, and while you can buy points cards for their online content as well, they also allow you to buy them directly from the online store, so I never saw the point in buying the cards. (Although I can understand this case as you got it as a gift for someone else.)

    • Rottenjunk says:

      There are the people who still distrust putting their info online, even via a counsel. There are also people who work primarily with cash alone.
      My boyfriend is both of those and he uses the activate at register ps3 cards.

  17. supr says:

    I am a manager of a store for EB Games Australia (which is part of the Gamestop Corporation), and I’ve had a very small number of customers experience this problem. In every instance, after the customer has come into the store to let us know about the problem, I have been able to contact Microsoft, who were extremely helpful and solved the problem very quickly. From what I understand, the main reason this occurs is because either the code was not activated on Xbox Live’s end (i.e. the code was printed on the card, but it is not on the list of codes Xbox Live is waiting to accept as legitimate), or the code was used prior to it being purchased through the use of a code generator or by chance.

    Your best bet is to hold onto the receipt of any Microsoft Points or subscription cards you purchase, so if you find that the code is used, you can take it back to the store you purchased it from and they can contact Microsoft to verify that the code was not activated or had been prior to you purchasing it.