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Last-minute gift idea: Disney Plus and 6 other streaming gift subscriptions

Give your loved ones the gift of TV or music streaming for the holidays. Here's how it works.

Alison DeNisco Rayome Managing Editor
Managing Editor Alison DeNisco Rayome joined CNET in 2019, and is a member of the Home team. She is a co-lead of the CNET Tips and We Do the Math series, and manages the Home Tips series, testing out new hacks for cooking, cleaning and tinkering with all of the gadgets and appliances in your house. Alison was previously an editor at TechRepublic.
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  • National Silver Azbee Award for Impact/Investigative Journalism; National Gold Azbee Award for Online Single Topic Coverage by a Team; National Bronze Azbee Award for Web Feature Series
Alison DeNisco Rayome
6 min read
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How to gift Netflix
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How to gift HBO Max
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How to gift Amazon Prime Video
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How to gift Apple Music

The holiday season is here, and if you're still looking for that perfect gift for a friend, family member or Secret Santa draw, look no further: A subscription to a streaming service is an almost guaranteed hit this year as we all hunker down for the winter. 

That could mean signing your loved one up for Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Spotify, Apple Music or any of the growing list of others available for the first time, or it could mean paying for part of their existing subscription. Either way, a TV, movie or music streaming service is a great quarantine-friendly gift. And it's one you can increasingly enjoy together, with features and extensions such as Teleparty (formerly called Netflix Party), Hulu Watch PartyDisney Plus GroupWatch and Amazon Prime Video Watch Party that let you watch and chat together from afar. 

Here's how to give each of the major TV and movie streaming services as a gift this year. 

Read more: Best TV and streamer gifts for the holidays

If you're looking for a great gift for someone with kids (or a grown-up who loves Star Wars, Marvel and Baby Yoda), Disney Plus lets you gift a year-long subscription for $70 (it usually costs $7 a month, so this saves you $14 over a year). After the year is up, the recipient will have the option to add their own payment details and continue subscribing. 

To buy a gift subscription, go to Disney Plus's website. When you make the purchase, you'll provide an email address for the recipient, choose a delivery date and write them a message. On your chosen day, the recipient will get an email with instructions on how to redeem their gift. 

One restriction here is that the person who receives the gift subscription must be a new subscriber, or willing to start a new account. It's also only available for US subscribers.

Find out more about how to gift Disney Plus here. You can also read our Disney Plus review

Netflix offers gift cards that can go toward creating a new account, or toward someone's existing account. But you can't buy them through Netflix itself. Instead, you'll find the gift cards online at Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Target, NewEgg and Kroger, or in-store at Walmart, Target, Best Buy, CVS, Walgreens, Kroger, 7-Eleven, Dollar General and Safeway. 

Gift card amounts range from $25 to $200, with different options on different sites (Amazon has them all, though). For reference, Netflix subscriptions range from $9 to $18 a month, depending on how many screens you want to be able to watch on at the same time, and if you want HD. If you buy online, some sites let you send it through email. 

The recipient can redeem their gift card on Netflix's website, and the amount is applied to their account as a gift balance. Netflix will notify them before the balance runs out. 

We have more information on how Netflix gift cards work here. You can also read our Netflix review.

Like Netflix, Hulu offers gift cards that you can buy through several retailers online or in-person, including Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Kroger and Paypal. Gift card amounts range from $25 to $100, depending on where you buy. Hulu costs $6 a month to subscribe to the ad-supported version, $12 a month to go ad-free, or $55 a month for Hulu Plus Live TV. The different retailers also offer choices between email delivery and a physical card. 

The recipient can redeem their gift card at Hulu.com, or, if they already have an account, through their Account page on the app or website. If they are a new subscriber, their account will be cancelled after the gift card balance is up, unless they enter another form of payment. 

For more, read our Hulu review

While HBO used to offer gift cards for HBO Now, it appears that those have been discontinued with the launch of HBO Max (though if you already have one, you can still use it toward a Max subscription). 

Unfortunately, if you want to give the gift of HBO Max, you'll probably have to give a prepaid cash card that the recipient can put toward a subscription. Or, right now you can sign someone up for a six-month subscription to HBO Max right now for $70, which is 22% less than usual. To sign up, go to HBOMax.com and click "Sign up now." With Wonder Woman 1984 arriving on the streaming service on Dec. 25 -- and other movies like The Matrix 4 and Dune arriving to stream in 2021 -- the timing is great for this gift. 

Amazon currently doesn't allow you to give a monthly Prime Video membership, which costs $8 a month on its own (and is already included with the cost of a Prime membership, which is $119 a year or $13 a month). However, if you want to gift a Prime membership as a whole, that includes Prime Video, you can buy someone a year of Prime for $119, or three months for $39, plus taxes. That's more than enough time for them to binge all of Jack Ryan and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and try out all of the other Prime perks, like fast free Amazon delivery and music streaming. 

To give someone a Prime subscription, go to Amazon.com/giftprime. You'll be prompted to log in to your own Amazon account if you haven't already, and choose if you want the one-year or three-month option. At checkout, you'll enter the recipient's email, the date you want it delivered, and a note. 

For more, read our Amazon Prime Video review

Get the music (or podcast) fan in your life a Spotify gift card. You can buy electronic gift cards (delivered by email) online at Target, NewEgg, Kroger and PayPal. You can also buy a physical Spotify gift card online at Amazon or Best Buy, or in-store at Walmart, Target, Staples, CVS, 7 Eleven, Kroger and Simon Malls. They come in amounts of $10, $30, $60 or $99. For context, A Spotify Premium individual plan costs $10 a month.

The only catch is that Spotify gift cards are only for Premium Individual plans -- you can't use them for Premium Student, Premium Family, Premium Duo or trial offers (find out how all the Spotify Premium plans compare here). 

Find out more about how to give and redeem Spotify gift cards here

Like Spotify, you can't gift a subscription to Apple Music, but you can give an Apple gift card that someone can apply toward their account to sign up. 

Send an electronic gift card (delivered by email) so the recipient can redeem the amount on the card to their Apple ID balance. They can then use that money for an Apple Music subscription, or apps, games, iCloud storage or music and movie purchases. 

If you're an Apple user, you can send an electronic gift card by opening the App Store app on your iPhone or iPad, signing in, and going to your account. Tap Send Gift Card by Email, enter the recipient's email, add a message and choose how much you want to send (you can customize any amount). You can send the gift that day or schedule it for another day. 

Or, you can buy electronic or physical gift cards from Apple's website. You can also find them online or in person at Best Buy, Target, Walmart and many other stores. 

For more, read our comparison of Apple Music vs. Spotify.

Looking for more gift ideas? Check out CNET's holiday gift guide collection, including the best holiday gifts under $30, and the best Black Friday deals available now and coming soon.

Watch this: The best docuseries on Netflix for 2020 (so far)

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