Best Buy Locks Nvidia RTX GPUs Behind Obscene $200 Paywall

Best Buy
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

One of the more reliable places to obtain a current-generation NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30 Series graphics card -- at MSRP -- has been Best Buy. From time to time, the U.S. retailer stocks these best graphics cards for gaming for anyone to purchase. And in months past, the company has even held in-store events where anyone lined up at a brick and mortar location could purchase one card at MSRP (if they were lucky enough to receive a ticket). 

That is all changing now, and it's because of Best Buy's Totaltech program. The full GeForce RTX 30 range was available to purchase this afternoon (including the flagship GeForce RTX 3090) at Best Buy, but the retailer limited those sales to customers that paid an extra $199 for a Totaltech membership. The yearly membership fee entitles you to such perks as free Geek Squad tech support, free 2-day shipping, 60-day returns, and 24 months of product protection (among other benefits).

Best Buy Totaltech

(Image credit: Best Buy)

One other benefit is "Access to exclusive Totaltech member prices," which is apparently what went down with this most recent GeForce RTX 30 drop. Best Buy's shenanigans were first spotted by @CameronRitz, who tracks the in-stock status for various hot ticket items like GPUs and gaming consoles.  

Four hours after Best Buy opened the floodgates for the GeForce RTX 30 cards, they're now all currently out of stock. Inventory usually evaporates very quickly during these drops, but we'd imagine that it lasted a bit longer today due to the new Totaltech prerequisite.

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We understand why Best Buy is trying to squeeze as much money as possible from customers with specialty programs like Totaltech. It's a business, after all, and Newegg similarly toys with gamers' emotions with its Newegg Shuffle promotion. But for enthusiasts that have been put through the wringer for well over a year with inflated GPU prices, Totaltech just pours more salt on the wounds. 

Best Buy's confidence to extend the $200 Totaltech paywall to GPUs isn't surprising given that it has done the same with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X during past stock drops. In other words, buckle up folks; it's going to be a bumpy ride!

Brandon Hill

Brandon Hill is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware. He has written about PC and Mac tech since the late 1990s with bylines at AnandTech, DailyTech, and Hot Hardware. When he is not consuming copious amounts of tech news, he can be found enjoying the NC mountains or the beach with his wife and two sons.

  • hotaru251
    the same bestbuy who closed many stores due to not makign profit?

    given this wont last long (the tech shortage) term they are just damaging what credibility they have and ppl will just avoid em later on.

    just seems lei ka shot in foot.
  • BillyBuerger
    I still shop Best Buy occasionally. Not as much as I used to. Didn't help when the Anime section started shrinking many years ago. But it's convenient when I need something quick and I can just run to a local store for it. So I've generally had good feelings towards them. But this is just crap and makes me want to look other places when I need something. There's a MicroCenter not too much farther that I can always go to instead. So yeah, want to screw over your customers for a little extra cash? Go for it, but you're losing me as a customer.
  • drivinfast247
    I went to my local BB to voice my opinion on the matter. I told them it's ridiculous that an Elite member who's spent almost $20k in less than 10 years needs to pay $200 for the chance to snag a GPU!

    Of course it fell on deaf ears as they have no control over the matter.

    My local Microcenter has GPUs in stock but they are charging more for a 3080 than BB charges for a 3080ti.
  • spongiemaster
    And Amazon does the same thing with Amazon Prime. Welcome to the new retail norm.
  • 10tacle
    Keep trying NewEgg on shuffle. That's how I got my 3080 Ti. However, not unlike BB, the higher end GPUs on NewEgg's shuffle are a package deal with an M.2 SSD or a power supply. Mine was bundled with an EVGA 850W G+ power supply which is far from high end. I actually sold it to a co-worker's son at a discount for his first build and took put that money into a Superflower 850W Titanium (not going to risk that GPU on a non-premium PSU!).

    Regarding Microcenter, the last I tried them, and this was late last summer when I was building my new rig, their shuffle program did not have any price gouging. Maybe that's changed now, but I do know one thing: the GPU market is getting worse, not better. My EVGA card is up $80 on NewEgg from $1.399.99 to $1,479.99, and that's just at retail price. I actually got another GPU from NewEgg on their shuffle, an ASUS Strix RTX 3070 for $799.99 by itself, for my nephew's gaming build for his birthday. So persistence does pay off if you keep plugging away. It took many weeks, nearly two months, to eventually "win" both cards to purchase each time. You will have a better chance of winning with a bundle combo on a GPU. You can always sell what you don't need. With Best Buy's BS upsell $200 "service" bundle, you cannot sell it! And who the hell needs 7x24 tech support from some contracted 3rd party by Best Buy for a GPU anyway?

    Edited reason: fingers type faster than brain wants
  • btmedic04
    welp, looks like best buy is going on my never buy anything from there again list along with newegg.
  • LolaGT
    I can't think of a much worse way to offend potential customers.
    We'll see how that goes. It has been years since I set foot in my local BB store.
  • Krotow
    VforV said:
    As bad as this looks, this is SO FUNNY to me, because in EU we have such high prices compared to US, that this +200 USD "tax" to buy at "MSRP" is very small compared to the scalper prices we have here in stores... pffft.

    Retailers in Eurore are de facto GPU scalpers now. That is why many here including me left GPU purchase/upgrade for better times or never.
  • Pollopesca
    This isn’t new news. The TTS paywall has been public knowledge since last October. GS Total Tech Support can’t be returned, but it can be prorated back for the remaining days. Just know that it must be done through their phone support line, and they make you work for it. Since BB and GS outsourced all phone communication outside the US, its not uncommon to spend 2+ hours just waiting to get ahold of the correct person.
  • Dyseman
    I'm pretty much done with BB in general. Lowest Consumer grade crap and nowhere near what it was in the 90's. I fear it is going to go the same way as Radio Shack in near future. Thank god I have a MicroCenter near by.