There's never been a better time to learn our favorite Netflix hacks. After a recent Netflix price increase, the big red streaming machine is now more expensive than ever, with the cost of a subscription reaching up to $20 per month. It's factors like this that helped me feel better about canceling Netflix (though I did un-cancel Netflix a month later).
Yes, Netflix, which once used to be pretty affordable, is now almost three times the price of Hulu. Of course, Hulu is an ad-supported tier — Netflix has no ads — but you're still having to foot that ever-increasing bill.
And that's not easy to do during a moment where rivals such as HBO Max and Peacock have apparently taken a bunch of the best movies that Netflix used to house. HBO Max, annoyingly, is probably going to get more expensive, as HBO Max and Discovery Plus will be combined, instead of being sold as a bundle.
Meanwhile, Netflix continues to contribute to our list of the biggest canceled TV shows list, giving people more and more reasons to wonder why they're paying so much — or think about how to save money.
Here are our tips and tricks for getting more out of your Netflix subscription, including ways you can stop paying as much for the service.
- Get yourself a Netflix VPN to watch overseas content anywhere
The best Netflix tips and tricks to save money
1. Master your billing situation
Do you know when your Netflix account renews? Visit Netflix's Billing Activity page (opens in new tab) to see when your account is normally billed. Why does this matter? Well, I created a monthly reminder that Netflix is about to charge me $20.
This way, I get a monthly reminder to reconsider Netflix. I may need Netflix to do my job, but I'm not sure how many people need it every single month, and so the best way to save money on Netflix is just to know when to walk away. And because Netflix is a part of the monthly-only streaming revolution, you're always able to get up and leave if Netflix just doesn't work for you.
Make a list of the shows you like, and keep track of when they're coming back. Stranger Things season 4, for example, isn't due until Memorial Day 2022 weekend at the earliest. Our New On Netflix list can also help you get a sense of what's coming soon, as well as knowing when licensed programming (aka the stuff Netflix doesn't own) is about to leave the service. Plus, our new movies and shows to watch this weekend guide will keep you up to date on what's just dropped.
Personally, I go a step further than that, and have a running diary of what I watch and where I watch it, so I have a good idea of where I'm spending my time.
This way, you could have known that a show you keep telling yourself you're going to watch — such as the recently-departed Halt and Catch Fire — is about to go. And that will allow you to make the most of a program's final days on Netflix.
2. Consider a cheaper Netflix plan
The Standard plan, which now costs $15.49 per month after a Netflix price increase announced earlier this month, is reportedly the most popular option. That means some people are paying $5.50 more than they could be with the Basic ($9.99 per month) plan.
|Netflix plan||New Price||What you get|
|Basic||$9.99 per month||1 stream in SD|
|Standard||$15.49 per month||Up to 2 streams in up to 1080p|
|Premium||$19.99 per month||Up to 4 streams in up to 4K UHD|
While you'll likely want at least the Standard plan if you have a 1080p TV, anyone who is watching Netflix on a 720p or lower display should probably downgrade and save $5.49 per month. That is unless, of course, they share their Netflix account with someone else and want to watch on two devices at the same time.
You can check your Netflix plan by visiting this page (opens in new tab), and you might want to right now to make sure you're not paying for a tier you don't actually need. We don't know how many people would spend $20 per month (formerly $17.99 per month) on Netflix's premium tier, but those folks would want to both make sure they're taking advantage of that premium tier with 4K streams and think about how often they're watching non-4K content.
3. Share your Netflix subscription
And if you are paying for the Standard or Premium tiers, there's another way to save on Netflix: get someone else to pay for some of your bill. (Netflix is starting to crack down on account sharing, though).
We thought this was obvious, but a recent study from S&P Global Market Intelligence (opens in new tab) revealed that barely more than 10% of those surveyed acknowledged sharing a login. (Did they think Netflix was listening in?)
This Netflix trick is pretty popular already, so we're not sure how many people need to hear it. But if there's any way you can split the burden of that monthly Netflix bill by sharing your subscription, do it.
Netflix, practically in on the whole art of splitting the bill, even offers unique user profiles so my streaming doesn't interfere with the recommendations my parents get. You can manage your profiles and make more of them here (opens in new tab).
4. Find the free subscription offers out there (they exist!)
Yes, I can actually hear you rolling your eyes from here. I hate talking to Spectrum and AT&T — my home internet provider and mobile phone carrier — as much as the next person, but this is not about comfort.
We live in a society where T-Mobile will actually pay for your Netflix plan. So, if you have T-Mobile and didn't know that, ask your wireless provider how to get the Netflix on Us (opens in new tab) offer (available to those on select Magenta and One plans).
And this gives us reason to hope that at least one internet service provider (ISP) out there also offers a similar deal.
5. Download movies and shows in advance
So, at this point, we've gone through enough options that you're probably locked into the Netflix plan that's right for you. How else can you save money? Well, we're guessing not all of you have unlimited data plans for your mobile devices, and so it's time to talk about planning ahead.
Yes, we all love watching Netflix when we're (lucky enough to be) on the go. But not all of us want to spend extra money on our phone plans (I repeat: engaging with your mobile carrier is not fun for anyone). So, it's time to fill up your phone or tablet in advance.
Look for the download button on the shows and movies you're interested in, and check out our how to download Netflix shows and movies guide to learn more.
6. Change your mobile streaming settings to a lower resolution
What about the times when you couldn't plan ahead? You just remembered a Netflix show you hadn't thought about, or just got a recommendation at the bar — and you want to watch it on your way home?
Lucky for you, there's a feature that will help lower the burden on your wireless data bill. Open the Netflix app to the home screen, tap on your profile icon in the top right corner, tap App Settings, tap Video Playback and select Cellular Data Usage. Disable "Automatic" and select Save Data.
How much data is this this going to save? Well, Netflix says (opens in new tab) you can watch six hours of content and only consume 1GB during that time. The automatic setting would consume roughly the same amount of data in four hours, and ... well, Maximum data? It can eat up 1GB every 20 minutes.
Of course, your show and movies won't look as sharp with this setting enabled.
7. Consider cheaper and free Netflix alternatives
Nobody wants to hear this, but after exhausting all of the above steps, the next step is looking into other streaming services that can be more cost-efficient. Maybe you already pay for the likes of Disney Plus ($7.99 per month) and Hulu ($6.99 per month), but this is a good time to remember that both are much more affordable than Netflix's $15.49 per month Standard account.
Other services, which pride themselves on having a higher overall-quality level for their programming, are also cheaper. Those include The Criterion Channel (opens in new tab) ($10.99 per month).
And despite what you might think, the free options out there aren't always low-quality. For example, the free Peacock tier has a decent library, with select episodes of The Office, films including Winter's Bone, Dawn of the Dead (2004) and Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer. Check out our guide to the best free streaming services to learn more.