If you’re only purchasing games directly from Steam, you might be missing out on killer deals. There’s a whole outside world of online stores selling game keys for cheap. The best Steam key sites now offer a vast range of games, from AAA to indie, at competitive prices and also unique store features like curated bundles and subscription services.
However, it’s important to understand the distinction between authorized and unofficial retailers. And if you decide to do business with an unofficial store for better deals, you need to choose the right one. We’ve done the research for you and compiled a list of some of the best places to buy steam keys that will feed your need for new games at great prices.
The Best Steam Key Sites At A Glance
|Type: Authorized retailer
Refunds: 60-day period
|Best Authorized Retailer
|Type: Authorized retailer
Refunds: 7 or 14-day period
|Great Flash Sales
|Type: Authorized retailer
Refunds: 14-day period
|Type: Third-party marketplace
Refunds: Unspecified refund period
|Best Unofficial Retailer
|Type: Third-party store
Refunds: 7-day period
|Best Unofficial Retailer Alternative
Authorized vs. Unofficial Retailers
Before we go on, let’s explain what we mean by “authorized store,” “third-party marketplace,” and “third-party store.”
An authorized retailer gets game keys directly from publishers, eliminating any worry of invalid or fraudulent keys. These are the safest places to buy games other than the official storefronts. On top of that, your money is guaranteed to get to the developer and publisher.
Prices on authorized stores are often in line with Steam’s pricing. However, you’ll also find discounts and bundle pricing on these stores that aren’t available on Steam, so there’s still the chance to get a better deal.
An unofficial retailer (sometimes known as a gray market site) is a third-party store that doesn’t get its keys from game publishers. Some third-party stores acquire keys themselves and resell them on their own website. Others function as marketplaces like eBay or Amazon, providing a platform for outside sellers to list their game keys for sale.
The source of third-party keys is where it gets tricky. Most sellers do seem to get their product via predominantly legitimate means like wholesale purchases and regional sales. This allows game prices at third-party stores to often be much lower than at official retailers.
But it’s also well-documented that outside sellers sometimes use dubious methods such as stolen credit cards and Steam Gift workarounds to get their Steam keys. It’s up to the marketplace’s vetting processes with their keys and sellers and the level of their customer service to maintain the quality of their product.
Humble Bundle started out in 2010 offering DRM-free indie game bundles with a pay-what-you-want pricing model and the option to donate some or all of the money spent to various charities.
Humble Bundle now offers both its signature bundles and a more traditional online storefront, the Humble Store, launched in 2013. The Humble Store works like most other authorized game key websites, offering various games from all the usual storefronts such as Steam and the Epic Games Store. The Humble Store also offers a DRM-free option when available.
Humble Bundle’s signature offerings are the pay-what-you-want bundles, which work on a tiered unlock basis. Bundles usually start at $1, which gets you at least one game. The first extra tier unlocks a few more games and is set at the average price paid by other purchasers of the bundle. There’s also an additional final tier that gives you a few more games.
Beyond the bundles, Humble Bundle also offers a subscription service called Humble Choice with three subscription options. The Lite subscription ($4.99/month) gives you access to Humble’s entire library of DRM-free indie games. The Basic subscription ($14.99/month) gets you an additional three games per month and up to 10% off in the store.
Then there’s the full-fat Premium subscription ($19.99/month) which gets you an impressive nine games a month and up to 20% discounts on the Humble Store. Note that these games aren’t tied to your Humble Choice subscription; you’ll still keep them even if you cancel.
Humble Bundle offers a generous 60-day refund period, with each request manually reviewed by the store’s support team. They don’t specify any other conditions that need to be met beyond being within the return period.
We’re big fans of what Humble Bundle is doing. There’s a real feel-good factor to getting a game and having some of that money go to a charitable cause like the American Red Cross or Child’s Play. It’s a win-win situation in our books.
Green Man Gaming is a long-running authorized store focused on PC and Mac games. Steam games dominate the available products on Green Man Gaming, but there is also a decent selection of games for Epic and Ubisoft’s Uplay, amongst others.
Green Man Gaming is a pretty standard online retailer, without many interesting perks or bonus features. However, Steam veterans will appreciate the store’s flash deals, which offer much deeper discounts on games than during non-sale periods.
Granted, most of these games won’t be big-name AAA titles, but if you want to grab some indie or lower-budget games for really cheap, these sales are worth paying attention to.
Green Man Gaming occasionally has 10% discount codes that can be redeemed when buying a full-priced game. It isn’t a huge amount, but you’re still saving vs. buying on Steam. So it’s something to consider if you’re after a new AAA game.
Green Man Gaming offers a standard refund period. The store gives you the chance to get your money back within seven days of purchase, as long as you haven’t downloaded the game or revealed the key on the GMG website.
However, the store’s refund policy also states that you may get 14 days instead if you live in the European Union. This is in line with the territory’s Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000.
We’ve taken advantage of Green Man Gaming’s 10% discount codes when buying a pricey AAA title on launch day before, and we’d definitely do it again. It might not have some of the extra features of its competitors, but it’s a reliable source that won’t do you wrong.
Fanatical launched in 2012 as Bundle Stars, focusing on affordable game bundles on Steam. In 2017, the site rebranded as Fanatical and transitioned into a full-scale authorized digital retailer much like Green Man Gaming.
Given Fanatical’s history, it’s no surprise that game bundles are one of the standout features of the store. The bundles tend to be solid, with some great titles in the mix. For example, Killer Bundle 16 at the time of writing includes Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition, Yoku’s Island Express, and Yooka-Laylee for $3.99. That’s a steal.
You can even build your own bundles, with the list of available games changing regularly. You can pick two games for $6.99, three for $9.99, or five for $14.99. At the time of writing, games you can choose from include GRID Ultimate Edition, Thief (2014), and the Tomb Raider Millennium Pack. Fanatical’s bundles are a great way to add a whole bunch of solid games to your Steam account at a low price.
Fanatical also has “Star Deals”, which are deep discounts available for a limited time or until the site’s stock of keys runs out.
Fanatical offers a standard 14-day refund period for unrevealed keys and unactivated games. They also entertain refunds for redeemed games if you face unresolvable technical issues. However, be aware that not meeting system requirements or buying a game for the wrong OS don’t count as “technical issues,” according to their T&Cs.
Eneba is a relatively new name, having launched as recently as 2018. Eneba is a third-party marketplace, much like its more well-known competitors Kinguin and G2A. However, Eneba tries to do things a bit differently than those sites.
As we’ve discussed in our review of Eneba, they have a strict vetting process before sellers can advertise their products on the site. According to an Eneba employee, this leads to “a low single-digit acceptance rate” for new sellers. Approved sellers acquire their keys from legitimate sources, including seasonal sales and wholesale.
Another factor that sets Eneba apart from other third-party marketplaces is its official partnerships with publishers like Konami, Daedalic Entertainment, and Team17.
One benefit of a marketplace like Eneba is a much broader selection of games, including Xbox and PlayStation games. Games on EA’s Origin are also available if you prefer activating your games there. Xbox Live, PS Plus, and Nintendo Switch Online memberships are also sold on Eneba.
You do, however, have to be aware of region-locked keys. There’s nothing shady here, as the site will list the key’s region in the listing title and warn you if it can’t be activated on the product page.
It’s not a significant problem, especially since there’s a “global” filter that will hide all the region-locked games. Still, if you’re only used to official storefronts and authorized stores, it is something you need to be aware of.
Eneba also allows sellers to list physical goods such as video games and game consoles. Unfortunately, we don’t have access to the listings where we are, so we can’t evaluate the quality of the listings or the user experience.
Eneba doesn’t explicitly outline a refund policy. Given that keys are sold by individual sellers, any refunds will likely take place on a case-to-case basis.
Despite Eneba’s claimed strict vetting process, it’s clear some problematic keys still slip through the cracks. They aren’t as common as you’d expect on third-party sites, but it’s something to be aware of.
Overall, while third-party marketplaces can never match the reliability of an authorized retailer, we think Eneba is the best of a less-than-stellar bunch. If getting the best price is your top priority, we’d recommend you check Eneba.
CDKeys is another third-party source for game keys. What differentiates CDKeys from Eneba is that all the keys they sell are acquired by their own internal team. You won’t be choosing from multiple sellers trying to find the best deal or the one with the best reviews here.
Instead, the experience is a lot like buying from one of the authorized stores on our list. Except, of course, that keys on the site weren’t sourced from the publishers. CDKeys claims that its keys come from its “extensive network of suppliers and contacts,” although there’s no way to be 100% sure about that claim.
Steam keys make up the bulk of CDKeys’ offerings, but the store also offers a lot more than that. You can buy MMO time cards, console games, subscriptions, and all manner of top-ups, gift cards, and premium currencies.
CDKeys has a daily deals section, where you can get games and subscriptions at deep discounts. If you’re a hardcore bargain hunter, this section will make you feel right at home.
Since CDKeys only sells its own products, it can offer a 7-day return period for any unredeemed keys. It’s not the longest return period you’ll get, but it’s decent and comparable to an authorized store like Green Man Gaming.
You might have noticed that we don’t have Kinguin or G2A on our list, even though both are arguably the biggest and most popular third-party games marketplaces. There’s nothing wrong with their selection and prices, but both sites do some things that we’re not fond of.
Kinguin encourages you to buy an additional add-on called Kinguin Buyer Protection to become “first priority for our Customer Service team.” The wording also suggests that they’ll only “defend your purchase against fakes, cheats, and trolls” if you pay for protection.
Asking customers to pay an extra fee on each transaction to get “first priority” customer service and protection against fake keys is particularly scummy. To us, it suggests a lack of respect for the customer and is as good a reason as any to avoid Kinguin.
As far as G2A is concerned, their horrible track record with customer service is well-known. Not getting any money back for non-working or fraudulent keys being the most common complaint we saw. On top of that, G2A has attempted to bribe journalists to defend their site in the past. If the negative customer reviews didn’t scare you away, these shady business antics should.
A Key Decision
The best Steam key sites include both authorized stores like Fanatical and third-party retailers like Eneba. While the unofficial stores will almost always present better deals, there’s also a moral decision to consider: the low prices could come at the cost of game developers.
We think Eneba and CDKeys are the best of the bunch when it comes to unofficial game key sites. They seem to make the best efforts at doing right by all parties involved, but there’s no way to guarantee where their keys come from. There’s always the possibility that the game you buy was obtained via dubious means like credit card fraud, which would mean the developers never get compensated for that transaction.
If you want to make sure your money goes to the developers, stick to the authorized stores on our list. If that issue isn’t as important to you and you’re just looking for the best place to buy cheap games, the unofficial stores we recommended will be the most solid options.