How to Save Money on Netflix

A subscription price increase is an intolerable assault to a frugal lifestyle. That’s why the news that Netflix raised its price again is tantamount to a poke in the eye.

The cost of a standard Netflix plan jumped from $11 to $13 per month for new and existing subscribers. That’s an 18% increase!

Is there a solution? Well, you could shrug it off because Netflix is “still a bargain” at $13. Or erupt into a full-on consumer rage and cancel your account forever.

Instead, let’s explore creative options in the reasonable middle ground.

Cancel Every Other Month

You can cut your Netflix bill by 50% with a simple solution that requires only a few minutes of your time each month.

The secret is not-so-secret at all. Right before you sign up, Netflix reminds you that you can cancel anytime. You should take them up on the offer.

Here’s what you need to do: Cancel your subscription every other month. That’s it.

You don’t need to stay subscribed every month. You can binge watch your face off one month, then take the next month off. All that content will still be there waiting for you when you return.

Not only does this strategy save you money, it opens up some interesting opportunities for entertainment that you may be neglecting:

  • Amazon Prime Video
  • YouTube
  • Books and movies from your local library
  • Music
  • Board games
  • The vast infinity of the Internet

Or you could develop your awesomeness out in the real world:

  • Spend more time outdoors
  • Exercise
  • Be productive
  • Connect with people in real life

Save More Than 50%

Saving 50% on Netflix is hard to beat. But in fact, you can beat that. You can cancel your subscription for even more months throughout the year to save even more money.

If you’re worried about Netflix deleting your data, don’t. Netflix says they will “keep your Viewing Activity for 10 months after your account closes, so if you decide to come back during that time, you can pick up right where you left off.”

Start with One No-Netflix Month

Even if you can only pry yourself away for one month each year, that’s still an 8.3% savings for very little sacrifice. Even the most Netflix-dependent among us can make that work.

By starting with one no-Netflix month, you’ll soon discover that it’s easy and refreshing to go without. One day, you may realize that you don’t need Netflix at all. At that point you could save 100%, forever.

Buy a Gift Card with a Cash Back Credit Card

If you won’t budge on your Netflix subscription, there’s also a way to save 5%. It’s not as sexy as saving 100%, 50%, or even 8.3%, but it’s worth a look anyway.

Some cash back credit cards, like the Chase Freedom and Discover it card, offer 5% cash back in rotating categories. These categories change each quarter.

The Chase Freedom, for example, is a no annual fee card. It offers 5% cash back at drugstores this quarter (January 2019 through March 2019). You’ll need to activate your card by March 14 to get the bonus categories. Then you can walk or bike over to your local drugstore and buy a Netflix gift card with the card. Apply it to your Netflix account and you’ll save 5% off your bill for as long as the amount on the gift card lasts.

Your membership will be cancelled after your gift credit is use up.

There is one important caveat with this technique. When you add your gift card to your Netflix account, the entire amount gets applied as credit. You can’t cancel your subscription until that credit used. So you’ll be on a runway subscription video train that you can’t get off. This might sound exciting, but it will limit your ability to take advantage of no-Netflix months.

One way around this is to buy separate Netflix gift cards that cover one single subscription month each. But that’s a ridiculous waste of time just to eke out a tiny bit of extra savings. Don’t bother.

Watch Your Savings Grow

You may be wondering whether any of these efforts to save on Netflix are worth your time. Let’s whip out a calculator and see how they measure up.

Save 5% (using cash back credit card)

Savings = $0.65/month or $7.80/year
Estimated value* = $195
Invested at 7% interest for 30 years = $796

Save 8.3% (cancel one month per year)

Savings = $1.08/month or 12.95/year
Estimated value* = $324
Invested at 7% interest for 30 years = $1,322

Save 50% (cancel six months per year)

Savings = $6.50/month or $78.00/year
Estimated value* = $1,950
Invested at 7% interest for 30 years = $7,962

Save 100% (cancel Netflix and never look back)

Savings = $13.00/month or $156.00/year
Estimated value* =$3,900
Invested at 7% interest for 30 years = $15,923

Summary

You’ll have to decide which of these scenarios are worth it to you and your household. Enjoying six no-Netflix months each year seems like an easy decision, pushing you $1,950 closer to financial independence. But don’t also load up your account with a 5% off gift card. I had to learn that lesson the hard way. You can avoid my mistake.


Do you know other ways to cut the cost of Netflix? Spill the beans in the comments!

*Estimated value represents how much you would need invested today to pay for that bill in perpetuity. It’s calculated as 300 times the monthly expense or 25 times the yearly expense.

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