Did you “cut the cord” to cut down on entertainment costs — only to find that streaming subscriptions started cutting into your budget? You’re not alone. With so many platforms and networks now offering premium subscriptions, the prices of monthly memberships can quickly add up. And while it’s nice to have so many options at your fingertips, it can feel as though streaming is starting to get as expensive as (or even more expensive than) the costly cable networks you were hoping to leave behind in the first place.
Fortunately, it might not be time to give up streaming just yet. Whether you’re looking to make the most of your subscriptions without emptying your wallet, or just simply trying to improve your budget, these easy tips and tricks can help you spend less on streaming without sacrificing all that must-see entertainment.
With most streaming companies, you can choose from multiple tiers and plans at varying prices. Often, these are based on whether or not you’re willing to watch ads, which might be non-negotiable for you. So what’s an intrepid movie fan to do? If you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of resolution — meaning the quality of the picture on the screen — you can also save some money.
Many companies, including Netflix, offer standard HD resolution for basic packages and Ultra HD for premium ones. However, if you don’t care about incredibly clear pixelation or tend to watch your shows and movies on your phone or tablet, this likely won’t make a difference in your viewing experience. Downgrading to a lower resolution could allow you to see some savings each month.
2. Skip the Live TV Packages
Many streaming platforms offer the option to upgrade to a live TV package, meaning you can watch what the streamer is broadcasting on its TV network as it airs live — but on your digital device. If you’re looking to save a few dollars, you might want to consider opting out of this upsell.
Of course, there are probably some live events, like sports, that you may want to watch in real-time. However, it’s usually more financially feasible to pay the on-demand fee for live events from the channels on which they’re airing than it does to pay a monthly subscription for something you’re only watching once every few weeks. You might also choose to subscribe to the live TV package only during the months of the year you’ll actually watch it.
3. Look for Carrier Deals
A handful of popular cellular service providers, including Verizon and T-Mobile, offer package deals for streaming services. If you sign up for an unlimited service plan with some of these companies, you can also get access to certain premium streamers, such as HBO Max and Disney+, for free for a limited time.
Take the time to consider the costs of your current mobile plan. This option is likely only worth it if you were already planning to upgrade or renew your service contract — you don’t want to end up paying for a more expensive plan for a couple of years just to get free streaming for a couple of months.
4. Be Strategic With Free Trials
It’s difficult to come across a popular streaming service that doesn’t offer some type of free trial, whether it lasts seven days or a full month. To help cut down on subscription costs, you can strategically plan out your viewing schedule to make the most of these freebies.
For example, you can binge a season of your favorite show on one network, and then cancel the account before committing to a paid plan. When your trial expires, you can sign up for another free trial with a different service to catch up on an exclusive show you’ve been meaning to binge.
5. Sign Up for a Subscription-Tracking App
When you’re signing up for multiple streaming services, it can be easy to lose track of what you’re actually spending — and on what. Being more aware and cautious of exactly how much you’re spending each month on subscription services can be an effective way to remember to cancel those that you’re not getting a lot of use from.
There are many subscription-tracking apps you can use to help you with this; one of the more popular is called Truebill. It connects to your bank account to keep track of recurring transactions, and you can have it send you reminders each month for upcoming billing days. Not only can this help you manage your budget, but it can also remind you to cancel certain streaming services — ones you forgot you subscribed to — before billing day hits.
6. Purchase Annual Subscriptions for Your Must-Have Platforms
When you’re trying to save money on streaming services, the last thing you probably want to do is sign up for annual plans. You’ll need to pay out a more significant lump sum initially, and opting for them can seem like an overwhelming commitment. However, if you know you have a handful of preferred platforms you tend to use on a daily or weekly basis — and have been using them for some time so you know you’ll stick with them — it makes sense to renew annually instead of monthly.
7. Consider Using Streaming Devices
Similar to annual plans, spending more upfront to purchase a smart TV or streaming device may seem counterintuitive when you’re trying to save money. However, it’s a wise investment that can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Devices such as Roku, Amazon FireStick, and Google Chromecast let you install and watch a wide variety of channels. It delivers an al la carte viewing experience that can be more affordable than paying for a premium cable package where most of your channels go unused.
8. Choose a Cord-Cutting Credit Card
Similar to mobile-phone carriers, a handful of credit card companies are looking to capitalize on our binge-watching society. As a result, companies like American Express and Wells Fargo are now offering specific savings and cash-back deals on streaming services fees.
Of course, it’s important to consider the terms of agreement and conditions for these credit card plans before signing up. However, if you’re already in the market for a new card, it’s worth looking into some of these options and comparing savings opportunities with other companies.