7 Ways to Save Money on Streaming Service Subscriptions
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Once upon a time, the idea of streaming television and movie content was not only novel but was mostly limited to just a few services — including some free ones. Well, that’s definitely changed in recent years as nearly every major media conglomerate has launched its own streaming platform. And, while you’d think that the increased competition would mean lower rates, the financial realities of the medium are starting to catch up with these companies, leading to rising prices.
Luckily, even with these trends, there are still ways that consumers can save money on streaming services. How? Let’s take a look at a few options, tips, and tricks.
Saving Money on Streaming Services: 7 Tips to Try
Look for coupons and offers
Just as shopping online these days means at least doing a quick Google to see if you can find a coupon code, the same goes when signing up for streaming services. Oftentimes, just by poking around, you may be able to find yourself a discount on at least your first month of service.
Additionally, there are times when streamers may roll out special offers. An obvious example here is Black Friday but National Streaming Day (on May 20th) may be another opportunity to lock in a decent deal. Because you may not know when a good deal is going to come, if you don’t absolutely need to sign up for a service right away, you might want to to hold off until the right offer comes along.
On top the deals and coupons you might find, there’s a chance you could also score some cash back. Using portals such as Rakuten, you could earn money back on your initial purchase. For example, via Rakuten, you can currently earn up to $12.50 back when signing up for Disney+ (the cash back amount varies by what package and purchase option you pick).
Of course, with these portals, you’ll want to make sure you use the correct link so that your purchase is properly credited. Also, pay close attention to the terms as there may be restrictions.
Deal with ads
Sadly, while streaming may have once been a respite from the world of ad-supported entertainment, that is no longer the case. Well, at least it’s not if you want to save money. Recently, more streaming platforms have begun offering ad-supported tiers that are a little less pricey than their ad-free counterparts. Last year, Disney+ added such an option and the updated Max is set to introduce an ad tier when it rolls out.
Even though interrupting your favorite shows and (especially) movies can be annoying, the savings you get in exchange may be worth it. In fact, during a recent earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Iger noted that the company planned to push more users toward the ad-supported option by hiking the price of the ad-free tier and growing the cost difference between them. In other words, soon enough, the premium you pay for the luxury of escaping ad breaks will be even greater — so you might want to get used to the commercial experience.
Bundle with other services (even non-streaming ones)
Thanks to some strong marketing pushes, I’m willing to bet that you’re aware of a few popular streamers that offer a combined bundle. However, did you know that some streaming platforms may be bundled with seemingly unrelated services?
One of the most recent examples of this comes from Walmart+, which now includes a base membership to Paramount+. Elsewhere, for years, telecoms such as Verizon and T-Mobile have offered wireless plans that include subscriptions (or extended free trials) of certain streaming services. Of course, there’s also Apple, which includes free months of its Apple TV+ service with certain purchases of new iPhones, Macs, etc.
Ultimately, these bundle offers may make sense, assuming that you plan on using the main service anyway. Heck, even if the streamer included wouldn’t be your top pick, it could help fill a gap in your entertainment needs and save you money overall.
Earn credit card rewards
Given the growing popularity of streaming, it only makes sense that credit card issuers would begin offering it as a specific rewards category. Some of the credit cards that currently feature streaming service categories include:
- Capital One Savor: 4%
- Capital One SavorOne: 3%
- Wells Fargo Autograph: 3%
- Chase Sapphire Preferred: 3x
- American Express Blue Cash Preferred: 6%
- U.S. Bank Cash+: 5%
- Citi Custom Cash: 5%
- and more
Be aware that, in some cases, these credit card options may carry annual fees. Additionally, others may include streaming services as a category option you’ll need to specifically choose. Lastly, keep in mind that, even if you do have several streaming services, the amount you spend may not compare to other categories that might be better picks for cashback.
I should also mention that there’s at least one card that goes a step further in providing rewards for streaming services: The American Express Platinum Card. One of the features of the updated Platinum card is a $240 ($20 per month) Digital Entertainment Credit. This can be used to cover purchases from streaming services Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, or Peacock as well other services including Audible, SiriusXM, and the New York Times. Now I also have to point out that the Platinum card does carry a $695 annual fee… but, if you make use of the card’s numerous other perks, then this $240 credit could actually still save you money.
Share accounts (ethically)
Let’s face it: we’ve all shared our streaming passwords with friends. In fact, this practice was so ubiquitous that it was not only joked about by comedians and late night talk show hosts but, on occasion, the streamers themselves. Unfortunately, as the streaming wars have continued to heat up, some services are changing their tune.
Most notably, Netflix has announced plans to roll out a “paid sharing” option instead. Although this upset many users and will add a cost to the subscription, it does mean that customers who do want to share can still save money and feel more ethical about their account-splitting ways.
Of course, until other services roll out similar options, I won’t judge you too hard if you do want to share accounts to save money. After all, they have device limits for a reason, right?
Come and go
Last but not least, as streamers start to realize that they can’t just burn money forever, the cadence of new content has begun to slow down. In turn, there’s a good chance that you may be waiting around for something you really want to see to come around. Well, in most cases, there’s nothing that says you can’t just cancel your account and fire it back up when that new show or movie does debut. It might be a bit of a pain to go back and forth, but it should definitely save you some money.
By the way, although many special offers and coupons do exclude returning customers, there are occasions where that’s not the case. So, when you do head back, it can’t hurt to start back at the top of this article and see if you can save even more.
Even if individual platforms may be experiencing some struggles right now, the streaming medium only continues to grow. Unfortunately, with the sheer number of services raising prices, this also means that the average American is spending more on streaming entertainment overall. Despite that, that are a few ways you can save some money when signing-up for these services. From short-term solutions, such as coupons and special offers to longer term discounts like credit card rewards or (sadly) opting for ad tiers, you can get all of the entertainment you want while cutting costs as much as possible.
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