Insider Tips: Maximizing Value in the Age of Pricey Streaming Services

There’s a lot to love about streaming services. They give you access to your favorite shows, movies, and music from anywhere, and new content is added all the time. But as they’ve become more popular, streaming services have also gotten more expensive. Companies are also offering exclusive content only available on their platform in order to draw in new customers.

Even if you only subscribe to a few services, the costs add up quickly and before you know it, you’re spending more than you used to on cable to watch the same TV. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. The following tips can help you enjoy all the content you love at a budget-friendly price.

Be realistic about your needs

There are dozens of streaming services out there these days, but you don’t need all of them. Even if you had all day to relax and watch TV, there’s no way you could watch everything on all these platforms. And you probably wouldn’t want to anyway. You need to focus on what matters the most to you.

If you’re on Netflix daily, that’s probably a good sign you should keep that subscription for now. But if you pay for another service that you only use once or twice per month, you could probably cancel it without missing it.

One of the great things about streaming services is they don’t have contracts, so you can cancel and restart subscriptions as often as you need. If you’re really into one show on one service this month, consider canceling your other services and just using that one. Then, when you’re ready to move onto another platform, you can cancel the first one and switch to a different one. This minimizes how many subscriptions you’re paying for at any one time.

Look for bundles and discounts

Streaming service bundles give you access to multiple streaming services for a lower price than you’d pay for each service separately. One example is the Disney+ bundle, which includes Hulu and ESPN+. If you think you’d get some use out of all of these platforms, going with the bundle could save you money compared to paying for the standalone services.

You may also want to check with your cellphone provider to see if you receive any streaming services through it. Some offer free access to popular streaming platforms with a cellphone subscription. However, you should note that this usually only includes the platform’s most basic plan and you may have to pay if you’d like to upgrade to a higher tier.

Try before you buy

Most streaming services give you a free trial of at least a week before you have to pay for their services. Take advantage of these trials to explore the service and make sure it has content you’re actually interested in. Or if you just want to watch a single movie or show, try to squeeze it all into that week so you don’t have to pay for a whole month’s subscription.

Just be aware that you usually have to enter your credit card information to get the free trial, and the service will charge you automatically once the trial is up if you don’t cancel before then. So make a note of when the trial ends and cancel promptly if you don’t plan to continue using the service.

Share with friends and family

Netflix has taken steps in recent months to crack down on password sharing, and it wouldn’t be all that surprising if some other streaming platforms follow suit. But in the meantime, if the streaming service you’re using doesn’t have any rules preventing password sharing, it’s a great way to save. 

Talk with friends and family to figure out which services everyone is interested in and see if you can come to an agreement about who will pay for each one. Check in with each other, every month or two to make sure you’re all still comfortable with the arrangement.

Don’t forget about old subscriptions

When you’re paying for multiple streaming services, it can be easy to lose track of them. And if you’re not keeping a close eye on your credit card bill, the charges could easily slip by unnoticed. But there are services now that can help you track all your subscriptions in one place and cancel them easily when you’re done with them. If you don’t use one of these, consider writing down each of your subscriptions and their renewal dates so you can keep track.

Ultimately, how much you pay for streaming each month is totally up to you. Even ditching one streaming service could put some extra cash in your checking account each month, so it’s definitely worth reviewing your streaming situation and scheduling future check-ins with yourself to ensure you’re paying as little as possible.

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