How To Video
Stop paying for AOLIf you're still paying for AOL, there's a good chance you don't need to. Molly Wood shows you how to switch to a free account for AOL e-mail.
Hi, I'm Molly Wood from CNET and I'm here to show you how to stop paying for AOL. A recent New Yorker article suggested that as much as 80 percent of AOL's revenue could come from people who DON'T need to be paying for it. See, in the old days, an AOL account cost anywhere from $9.95 a month to $25.90 a month. Those accounts still exist. But if you pay for a separate Internet connection at your home, and you only use AOL for email or browsing, you do NOT need to be paying anything. And you shouldn't be. Here's how to set your account free ... literally. You can make this change from the Web or your AOL software. Here's how to do it from the Web. On your AOL.com home page, sign in to your account, and then scroll all the way to the bottom of the page, and click the Help link. On the bottom of that page, you'll see an orange link on the right labeled "Go To Account & Settings." Now, click the big box labeled Manage My Account. You'll be asked to login again and either answer or create a security question. Now, way down on the bottom right, under price plans, there's an option to Change my Plan or Cancel my Billing. If your account says anything but "Free," click the Cancel my Billing link. The next page will present you with a buffet of paid options -- you want the pink one, for free AOL. Here, you'll see a page trying to sell you the $4.99 support plus option, which includes virus scanning and tech support. If you're watching this video, you don't need tech support -- or you can Google whatever your parents might need. And there are plenty of free security options out there. So, click zero dollars. Finally, AOL will let you know that you will suddenly see pop-ups, if you had blocked them before, and that if you use your phone bill or checking account to auto-pay for any AOL "premium services," they will STILL charge you $7 a month. So, you probably want to cancel that, too. Now, click Save, and you're all set. Living the free AOL life. I think you're going to like it. If you'd like to do this same thing through your AOL desktop software, sign on and go to the Keyword menu, or press Control K. Type change plan. On the screen that pops up, you should see your security question again, along with the same options you saw on the Web. Follow the same steps as above, and you're all set. Now, what are you missing? Well, if you're on dialup, the $25 plan gives you a dialup number, McAfee security, and some vague insurance protection that's almost certainly part of your homeowners or renters insurance. And like I said, you can get good security suites for free. But that's ALSO the plan they try to sign you up for when you first install AOL, even if you're on broadband. The cheaper plans for dialup offer the basic access and some tech support, and the broadband plans just try to charge you for McAfee security, backup dial-up numbers, and tech support. Trust me, for most of you, this is a "service" you just don't need. Sorry AOL. Everyone else? For CNET how-to, I'm Molly Wood, and you're welcome.