How to Stream Netflix, HBO Max and More for Less Money Every Month
This story is part of 12 days of advice, helping you get the most out of your tech, your home and your health this holiday season.
Given the current economic climate, you may be looking for ways to lower your monthly costs. It might be time to watch your streaming subscriptions. If you add up the cost of each, you might find you’re spending $500 a year or more. But you can reduce that.
Here’s the scenario: you subscribe to multiple streaming services, watch one or two until your favorite show ends its seasonal run, then look for the next thing. But is it worth keeping all those accounts active if you don’t look at anything on them? I do not think so.
Check out this money-saving strategy to help keep your streaming costs under control.
Rotate your streaming services
Ditching cable for good and switching to streaming is a smart money swipe for cord-cutters. Because you can sign up for monthly plans, it’s easy to hop on a streaming service and jump when prices rise or content dries up. But according to Deloitte’s 2022 Media Trends report, the top reasons people cancel their streaming subscriptions are cost and a lack of fresh content. Media companies call this behavior “churn.” We call this the rotation method, and you should give it a try.
The incentive? You save your coins and avoid content droughts. Let’s say a popular title like The Last of Us or The Masked Singer is about to hit a streaming service. Find the total number of episodes and wait for them all to be available at the same time on a platform. You cancel HBO Max, Hulu, Disney Plus, or another service and then, once all the episodes are available, you resubscribe to catch up. Alternatively, you can start airing a show mid-season to cut costs. My monthly guide to which streaming services to cancel can help you keep up.
The wrong side? You won’t have immediate access to all the shows you want to watch and will have to wait for the full season to air. And since many streaming services release new episodes every week, you might not catch up with your friends at the same time. If you’re someone who prefers to watch episodes immediately when they drop, you may decide it’s worth having multiple subscriptions at once. If you have patience, however, you can save some money.
The strategy can also work if you have a live TV streaming service to watch a particular sport or a major event like the Super Bowl. When the season is over, cancel the service or switch to a cheaper platform with fewer channels, like Sling TV.
Need help finding the best way to rotate? Follow the tips below on how to power streaming platforms until your wallet feels satisfied.
Why pay three months of HBO Max to watch The Last of Us when you can watch all nine episodes in March for the price of one month?
Liane Hentscher/HBO Tip #1: Cancel your subscription before you get charged
Set calendar reminders for your billing cycle and upcoming TV show or movie release dates. Give yourself enough notice to start or end a subscription. Apps like JustWatch, V Time, and Hobi help you track when and where TV shows and movies appear on a streaming service. And JustWatch recently added a tracker specifically for sports. If you have a smart home device from Google or Amazon, you can set reminders for specific dates and allow a voice assistant like Alexa to notify you of an upcoming bill or streaming date.
Tip #2: Sign up for streaming service offers
Look for streaming service discounts. For example, Starz is now $3 per month for three months, down from its usual $9 per month rate. You can also take advantage of the Disney Bundle, which provides access to Disney Plus, Hulu, and ESPN Plus in one package at a discounted price. And eligible Hulu subscribers can add Disney Plus for $2. Finally, be sure to check with your mobile carrier to see which ones offer free streaming subscriptions.
Tip #3: Choose one or two default streaming services
Subscribe to one or two essential services for the year and select only one or two additional options according to your monthly budget. Rotate the bonus service(s) depending on what you want to watch, ensuring you don’t miss your favorite shows while staying within your monthly spending cap.
Tip #4: Only use monthly invoicing
Avoid annual subscriptions and pay attention to your auto-renewal payment dates. Your billing cycle can help you determine the best time to exit a service, even if you only signed up for a free trial. The only advantage to subscribing to an annual plan is that the price is considerably reduced.
Tip #5: Don’t Cancel Your Subscription, Pause It
Hulu lets you pause your subscription for up to 12 weeks, and Sling has a similar option with stipulations. Check with your streaming provider if you can take a temporary break without canceling.
Try it, and if you don’t like it, you can always subscribe again. For more great tips on TV streaming, check out this guide to Netflix’s hidden tricks and our advice on the best VPNs.
The Best TV and Streaming Shows of 2023 You Can’t Miss on Netflix, HBO, Disney Plus and More See All Photos