Money at 30: How to Save Money on Streaming Services

It happened again this past weekend. As of Friday morning, social media, news networks, and tired-eyed employees gathered around water coolers were all talking about it. Yes, the latest season of Stranger Things hit Netflix, marking the latest cultural phenomenon brought to us by a streaming service.

Thanks to big events like this one, more and more Americans have either been ditching their standard cable and satellite service in favor of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and HBO Now or simply adding these subs on top of their regular bills. That doesn’t even account for music streaming options like Spotify and Apple Music that also add to your entertainment budget. So, with all these content options, how can you keep your costs to a minimum? Here are a few suggestions.

Decide what entertainment is a “must”

First, the biggest reason why cord cutters end up still spending a fortune on entertainment is due to the growing number of streaming services available. Adding to the problem, it seems each major service has its own “must see” shows — including both syndicated shows and originals. That’s why, if you’re determined to save money, you’re going to have to make some sacrifices.

Thankfully there are a few different ways to determine which services will offer you your priority content. The first is a site called JustWatch that allows you to search TV shows and movies to see where they’re available (note: they also list a la carte purchase options). Additionally several services offer free trials so you can dive a bit deeper into their catalog before making your decisions. Just remember to cancel your service after your trial if you don’t want to keep paying and also be aware that content will come and go from different services.

Consider a lesser plan

Another way to cut your streaming costs is to downgrade your plan. For example, while most people subscribe to $10.99 a month Netflix plan, did you know there’s an option that’s just $7.99? For that $3 savings you’ll have to watch all of your content in Standard Definition instead of HD and you’ll only be able to watch on one device a time, but that might be doable for some users. Similarly, while Spotify’s free option does have its limitations, current Premium members could save $9.99 a month by canceling. Additionally, Hulu users can cut costs by switching from a commercial-free plan to an ad-supported one.

Look for deals and promos

Given the strong competition in the streaming field, some services are now partnering with popular companies to the advantage of consumers. A recent example of this is T-Mobile’s “Netflix on Us” promotion that offers certain customers a credit toward their Netflix subscription. If that weren’t enough, sometimes two streaming services join forces to save you money. That’s the case with Spotify and Hulu, who offer their services for a combined price of $4.99 per month to students. Even if you’re not a student or a T-Mobile user, you may still be able to find some special deals, bundles, or promotions available to you just by searching around.

Make it up in credit card rewards

Just this week Uber announced a new credit card with an interesting perk: up to $50 in streaming service credit when you spend at least $5,000 a year. While that $50 won’t cover your entire streaming bill, it could certainly help. Of course, for those with cards that don’t have such programs, you can still help cover a small portion of your streaming expenses by paying your bill with a rewards credit card. Hey — every penny counts, right?

While “cutting the cord” and switching to streaming services can save you money, taking on a quest to consume every show someone talks about could easily bust your budget. That said there are a few ways you can help keep your streaming costs down. By determining what services have the most of your “must watches,” going for a lesser plan when possible, keeping an eye out for promos and deals, and perhaps getting a bit of your cash back from a rewards credit card, you can potentially keep up with all of your favorite shows without spending an arm and a leg.


Kyle Burbank

Kyle is a freelance writer and author whose first book, "The E-Ticket Life" is now available on Amazon. In addition to his weekly "Money at 30" column on Dyer News, he is also the editorial director and a writer for the Disney fan site and has recently starting publsihing his own personal finance blog at

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