I cut my video streaming bill in half, and so can you

I cut my video streaming bill in half, and so can you

hand holding a TV remote control

Getty/Sean Locke/EyeEm

Cord cutting should be the smart way to free yourself from exorbitant cable bills. But you add a Netflix here, an HBO Max there, throw in some Hulu and Apple+ and your favorite sports network, and pretty soon you’re paying $100+ every month. What is a smart streamer to do?

Also: The 5 best streaming devices

That was me two years ago. Today, my total cost for video services is half of what it was then, and I never run out of entertaining things to watch. In this post, I’ll show you how I did it and how you can do the same.

How to cut your video streaming bill

Streaming providers, like your neighborhood gym, count on their members to sign up and then put their monthly payments on autopilot. Maybe you’ll come back, maybe you’ll completely forget that you’ve paid for a subscription to Starz or Paramount+. Unless you go through your credit card statements with the eye of an IRS auditor, you’ll never notice the monthly statements.

The solution? Track the services you subscribe to so you know exactly what you’re paying for. If you do not use a service, you can and should cancel with extreme prejudice.

This is the type of job spreadsheets were made for. I use Excel, with my files stored in OneDrive so I can view them online or in the desktop app. If you live in Google’s cloud, feel free to use Google Sheets. You can also use OneNote, EverNote, or another app to take notes.

Also: The 5 best note-taking apps

If you want another incentive to check the list regularly, consider also writing down the series and events you watch or plan to watch on each service.

The important thing is to make that list and then remember to check it at least once a month.

Streaming services know that people are increasingly watching their content on phones and tablets, which means they are eager to cut promotional deals with mobile providers. You can save money by taking advantage of these offers.

T-Mobile, for example, offers a long list of streaming discounts. With a Magenta or Magenta Max plan, you get “Netflix on Us,” Apple TV+ (for at least six months), Paramount+ (for one year), and a $10 discount on the monthly subscription cost of YouTube TV. That adds up to more than $30 a month. (And yes, the Magenta 55+ plans qualify.)

How to save on electricity bills with 4 smart home devices

Verizon throws in a free (ad-supported) Hulu/Disney+/ESPN+ bundle with it its top two unlimited plans. You can also get six months of Discovery+ and Apple Music depending on which subscription you have chosen.

AT&T includes a free HBO Max subscription with some of its unlimited plans.

In all cases, you must cancel your existing streaming subscription and then re-register using your mobile provider’s portal to take advantage of these discounts. But the savings may make it worth the small hassle.

Streaming services love to find credit card companies as partners. That makes sense, because you’re likely going to use a credit card to pay for that service, and the card issuer chips off a small portion of each transaction as part of the deal.

If you have a premium American Express Platinum card, one of your benefits is a $20 monthly credit toward a streaming service, which you can use for Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, or a bundle that includes all three services. Peacock is also on the list of eligible video services.

Also: How to reduce your grocery bill by shopping online

You may be able to find similar offers from other cards, but the more likely option is an inflated cashback option for streaming services, with some cards offering between 3% and 6% of the total bill as a rebate. It’s always worth checking.

Some streaming services offer a strong incentive to convert your monthly subscription to a prepaid annual deal.

If you know you’re going to subscribe to HBO Max every month, for example, why pay $10 (for the ad-supported plan) or $15 (for the ad-free plan) every month when you can buy an annual subscription which effectively gives you two months free?

Not all providers offer this option (Netflix, for example, is monthly only), but it’s worth checking out for whatever service is on your list.

Sometimes a service doesn’t have a selection of content compelling enough to justify a long-term subscription. But what do you do when that service has a series or two you want to watch? That’s how I felt about Hulu Just murder in the building earlier this year.

Also: How to save money on clothes with this Chrome shopping extension

The simple solution: Once each episode is available, sign up for a monthly subscription, finish the series before the month is up, then cancel.

And here’s a tip to avoid accidentally paying for another month because you forgot to cancel. After you have paid for and activated the monthly subscription, go to the service overview and cancel. You will not receive a refund; instead, you’ll get a notification that you can keep watching until the month is over. Just make sure you watch the last episode before the clock runs out. Calendar and/or Alexa reminders can help you with that.

See also  Andor release schedule: When is episode 1 streaming on Disney Plus?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *