1. Downgrade your subscription to a cheaper plan
To save money on Netflix if you’re an existing subscriber, think about opting for a cheaper service than the one you’re currently on. If you’re on a Tier 1 Netflix subscription, for example, you could save £9 per month by dropping to a basic plan. Switching to a cheaper subscription package means you’ll lose some features, of course, but it’s worth doing if you might not actually miss them all that much – and would welcome a few extra quid in your household budget each month.
A basic Netflix subscription allows you to stream to one screen at a time and download to a single device for offline viewing. A premium package, in contrast, allows four simultaneous streams and downloads to four offline phones or tablets. That extra functionality sounds great in theory but if you’re not actually using those benefits – perhaps the kids are little and the whole family tends to watch TV at the same time rather than on separate devices – then there’s little point paying extra for the perks of a premium package.
With Amazon, you could save money by switching from an Amazon Prime account, which costs £7.99 per month, to Prime Video, which costs £5.99 per month. You won’t get the other perks of Amazon Prime membership, such as free premium delivery, but it’s a move worth making if you just want to stream TV content without paying extra. You might think that saving £24 a year is no big deal, of course, but why pay a penny more than you need to?
2. Set a diary reminder for your subscription renewals
Whether you’ve signed up for a free trial of a TV streaming service or opted for a regular monthly commitment, it’s worth making a note of when your streaming payment is due for renewal. They tend to roll over without notice – almost as if the providers are hoping you might, well, forget about them.
Consequently, you can end up paying for services that you’ve forgotten you signed up for or no longer use. We’ve all been there – you take out a free trial so you can watch the latest must-watch TV show on the relevant streaming platform and then, months later, you’re wondering what that monthly transaction is on your bank statement. (Yes, Now TV, I’m looking at you and the fact that I’m still paying for a subscription that I only took out so I could watch And Just Like That…)
To avoid wasting money, set a reminder on your phone’s calendar so you’ll be prompted to reconsider your subscription each time it comes to an end.
3. Pay annually instead of monthly when you renew your subscription
It’s always tempting to opt for a monthly payment when you’re forking out for a subscription so that you can spread the cost over the year. However, it’s generally more cost-effective to pay annually – especially if you know you’re not going to want to cancel it during that period. You’ll need the spare cash to afford an annual lump sum, of course, which you might not have right now. But if you can afford to sign up for an annual subscription and pay upfront, you’ll save money in the long run.
As an example, it costs £7.99 per month to subscribe to Disney Plus or Amazon Prime (so around £95 over 12 months) whereas if you sign up for the year it’s around £79. Granted, saving £15 by switching to an annual membership from a monthly payment won’t leave you quids in. But it’s still the equivalent of a takeaway pizza or a couple of soft play sessions, and why waste that on paying more than you need to for what you watch?
4. Rotate streaming services instead of subscribing simultaneously
This works well if you have multiple film and TV streaming subscriptions on the go at once. The beauty of TV streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney + is that you’re not locked into a contract so you can cancel any time – and then subscribe again in a month or two.
You can only watch so much TV, after all, so to save money on Netflix and other TV streaming services, consider picking one streaming service per month to subscribe to. If there’s something coming up next month on Netflix that you’re keen to watch, make that your Netflix month. Next month, pick Amazon Prime. The month after, go for Disney Plus. Think of it as reducing your subscription budget and spreading it over several streaming platforms rather than paying for all of them at once. And remember that you can usually catch up on whatever you missed from the month you weren’t subscribed.
5. Plan your viewing
We all love a good scroll through the TV streaming menu. But it pays to put an end to mindless scrolling and instead plan your TV viewing. You wouldn’t usually turn up to the cinema and decide what t0 watch when you got there, so apply the same forward planning to your TV streaming to get more value from your subscription. By planning what you’re going to watch in advance you can make the most of your streaming subscription and even work out where you can watch something for the cheapest price.
Streaming apps like JustWatch, ReelGood, and WatchPlayStream not only tell you which platform you can legally watch your favourite shows on but also where you should watch them to get the cheapest deal. Why pay to watch Killing Eve on Hulu, for example, when you can watch it for free on BBC iPlayer?
6. Download what you plan to watch rather than streaming
Contrary to popular belief, there’s not that much difference in the amount of data used when you stream content compared to downloading it to watch offline. So downloading content instead of streaming won’t necessarily save a significant amount of money. But by downloading content instead of streaming it, you’ll at least have the option to watch it when you’re on the go – without needing to connect to WiFi or burn through all your data.
7. Shop around for a streaming deal when you renew your phone contract
Mobile phone providers often throw in streaming memberships to entice you to sign up for a new phone contract. Vodafone offers up to two years of free streaming with some phone deals, while EE offers a Netflix subscription as a ‘Smart Benefit’ for new and upgrading Smart Plan customers. T Mobile customers can also claim free Netflix.
Obviously, it’s a false economy to take out a phone contract just to get free streaming. But if you’re in the market for a new phone contract anyway and want to save money on your Netflix subscription, it’s well worth shopping around for a mobile deal with a free streaming offer. Did you know you can also use your Tesco Clubcard vouchers to save on Disney+?
8. Don’t forget that free streaming services still exist
With so many of us taking out extra subscriptions to ease the pain of living in lockdown, it’s easy to forget that free streaming services still exist. We’re all guilty of heading straight to Amazon Prime or Netflix to watch a new show we’ve heard about. But popular shows are quite often available to view for free elsewhere. Check out All 4, ITV Hub, My 5, and, of course, Freeview to see if what you want to watch can be found for free.
Or why not set yourself a streaming money-saving challenge? Cancel your Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Disney Plus membership for a month and commit to watching only what you can stream for free. Binge-worthy shows worth checking out on BBC iPlayer include This Is Going to Hurt, Starstruck, McMafia, and Chloe, to name just a few.
9. Opt for a free trial – but don’t forget to cancel it
Most streaming platforms offer a free trial before you sign up for a subscription. So if something’s coming up that you know you’re going to want to watch, it could be worth signing up for a free trial subscription to whichever platform is showing it. The danger of this strategy is that free trials are cleverly designed so that you’re likely to forget about them, which means you can end up wasting cash on something you don’t need or use.
10. Use a cashback site
If you’re not familiar with cashback, it can seem a bit shady at first but it’s not. The premise is simple; you get money back if you use a cashback credit card when you subscribe to certain services or subscription offers. You can also use sites like Quidco or TopCashback to earn cashback when you pay via those sites, although this typically only works when you’re paying for an annual subscription rather than monthly payments. At Quidco, for example, you can claim £10 cashback when you use the site to pay for an annual subscription to Disney Plus. If you use a cashback credit card, do remember to clear the balance every month – otherwise, you’ll be racking up debt with interest and that certainly won’t save you any money.
11. Share a streaming account
Sounds dodgy but it’s legit. Most streaming service providers – including Amazon Prime and Netflix – let you set up multiple user profiles on your account so that you can ‘share’ access with other family members rather than paying for multiple accounts. Generally, this is more affordable than paying for separate accounts so this is a good idea if you’ve got teens in the house. You could even persuade them to contribute to the Netflix bill.
Each streaming company has different rules for sharing accounts – Apple TV+ says it applies to students living outside of the family home, for example, whereas Amazon and Netflix state that you must live in the same household to share an account. Best to check the small print before you share your login details.
12. Start the cancellation process
If you’ve ever tried to cancel certain TV subscriptions, you’ll know that the cancellation process is often a lengthy affair that involves several attempts by service providers to keep you subscribing. This doesn’t work with Netflix, to our knowledge, but it does with Sky and Now TV.
Start the cancellation process as you would if your mind was made up about terminating it. Then, when prompted to explain your reason for cancelling, click the option that references the price being the problem. From there, you’re likely to be presented with a short-term special offer if you continue to subscribe. Don’t take the first offer – the deals usually get better the further along the cancellation process you go.