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Confused by Home Security Camera Subscription Fees? Here's What to Know

Top home security brands like Ring, Arlo, TP-Link and Blink often offer monthly subscription options for one or multiple cams -- but are they worth it? Here's a breakdown of what the plans mean for you, what they cost, and exactly what you get.

Tyler Lacoma Editor / Home Security
For more than 10 years Tyler has used his experience in smart home tech to craft how-to guides, explainers, and recommendations for technology of all kinds. From using his home in beautiful Bend, OR as a testing zone for the latest security products to digging into the nuts and bolts of the best data privacy guidelines, Tyler has experience in all aspects of protecting your home and belongings. With a BA in Writing from George Fox and certification in Technical Writing from Oregon State University, he's ready to get you the details you need to make the best decisions for your home. On off hours, you can find Tyler exploring the Cascade trails, finding the latest brew in town with some friends, or trying a new recipe in the kitchen!
Expertise Smart home | Smart security | Home tech | Energy savings | A/V
Tyler Lacoma
11 min read
Arlo Pro 4 camera in the rain.

Wondering if it's worth adding the subscription service to your home security camera? Here's a breakdown of what that extra fee will get you.


There's a lot to consider when choosing the best security camera for your home. Each camera brand differs in appearance, value, functionality, included features and overall performance. You'll also find some key differences between the benefits of their various subscription options.

Subscription services can make or break the latest security cameras and systems. A subscription may add vital features like the ability to store and download videos (as opposed to only accessing a live view), additional AI object detection to differentiate people from vehicles and improve your alerts and even the ability to add professional monitoring to a device. Meanwhile, some brands differentiate themselves by avoiding subscriptions (like Lorex) or offering some subscription services for free (like Nest's free video storage). 

So, what do you actually need for your indoor or outdoor security devices? That can depend on the plan, and what features you think are must-have options -- so we've gathered all the details you need to know before making that decision. You'll find an explanation of subscription services for Arlo, Blink, Eufy, Nest, Ring, TP-Link and more below. Remember, these security plans can apply to one or multiple devices from the same brand, but they are not required and you can usually cancel at any time.

For more, read up on common home security mistakes you can make. Plus, learn how to stop porch piratesreduce the risk of car break ins and what you should keep in a safe

The Arlo Pro 4 outdoor security camera mounted to the exterior of a home's porch.

Arlo offers three subscription tiers.

David Priest/CNET

Arlo security camera subscription details

Arlo offers three subscription tiers: Secure, Secure Plus and Safe & Secure Pro. The first two tiers are more relevant to just your camera(s) while the third requires an Arlo Home Security System to make full use of all the features.

Arlo Secure and Secure Plus are largely the same, though the Plus version also has an Emergency Response feature that enables you to alert a fire, police or medical monitoring team from your phone. A Secure Plus subscription also automatically covers an unlimited number of cameras, whereas the basic Secure plan gives you the option of single or unlimited cameras.

Like the Arlo cameras themselves, Arlo subscriptions are a little more expensive than competitors like Blink, but they include very valuable services like video storage, so if you're thinking about getting an Arlo cam we advise planning for subscription costs, too. Along with 30 days of cloud storage, Secure and Secure Plus subscriptions include better resolution (up to 4K), smart and animated preview notifications, audio detection of alarms, activity zone settings, theft replacement and exclusive discounts on other Arlo products. 

Arlo camera subscriptions

Plan Monthly costCamerasCloud storageUpgrade features
Secure $8 1, or unlimited for $13 per month30 daysHigher resolution, video storage
Secure Plus $18 Unlimited30 daysIn-app 24/7 Emergency Response  
Safe & Secure Pro $25 Unlimited30 daysVideo verification and escalation, recorded audio and video during an emergency event, 24/7 home security system monitoring

Arlo may offer a free Secure trial of up to three months with your camera. Take advantage of the generous trial period (most providers offer 30 days or less) to see if cloud storage, better resolution and other features are necessary for your home security. There are no contract requirements with any Arlo security camera subscription, so you can cancel any time if you decide the service is no longer worth the fee. 

If you don't want to pay for a subscription, you'll still have access to live camera feeds, push notifications, two-way audio and other free features available with your Arlo camera.

The Blink Outdoor security camera mounted to a home's exterior.

Amazon's Blink cameras offer two subscription options.


Blink security camera subscription details

Amazon's Blink cameras present two subscription options: Blink Basic and Blink Plus. They're essentially the same -- both offer up to 90 minutes of continuous live streaming, 60-day unlimited video history, video sharing and rapid video access, among other features -- but the Plus Plan applies to an unlimited number of cameras and an extended warranty for said devices, along with an additional 10% off Blink devices on Amazon.

Blink camera subscriptions

Plan Monthly costCamerasCloud storageUpgrade features
Basic Plan $3 160 days60-day video storage, video sharing, video backup, person detection
Plus Plan $10 Unlimited60 daysExtended warranty coverage, 10% off Blink devices at Amazon.com 

If you just have two or three Blink cameras, say you're using a Blink Mini as a nursery cam and a Blink Outdoor security camera to watch your driveway, then you may want to get a separate Basic Plan for each instead of the Plus Plan to cover them both. Since the Basic Plan is charged per camera, an individual subscription for one, two or three cameras will come out cheaper than a Plus Plan subscription.

For added savings, consider an annual subscription. You'll get $6 in savings for each Basic Plan subscription (they're $30 annually, instead of $36 per year if you pay monthly) or $20 in savings with an annual subscription to the Plus Plan ($100 annually versus $120 if you pay monthly). Sure, it's not all that much, but it's good for a cup of coffee or two, and you won't have to worry about another autodraft nibbling away at your bank account every month.

Without any subscription, you'll get up to five minutes of continuous live-stream viewing and motion detection with push notifications. Motion detection video recording and optional local storage backup are also available for free, but you'll need a Sync Module 2 for those features. Like Arlo, we consider a Blink subscription to be a particularly important upgrade for a home camera. The person detection and video storage alone make it a valuable service, especially at these low prices.

A white Eufy security camera mounted on an outdoor wall in the rain.

Eufy technically offers four subscription options but they're all just different ways to pay for 30 days of cloud storage. 


Eufy security camera subscription details

Eufy technically offers four subscription options but they're all just different ways to pay for 30 days of cloud storage. There's Basic Monthly and Basic Annually which cover one camera, or Premier Monthly and Premier Annually that grants cloud storage for up to 10 cameras. Again, you'll save a bit of money by paying for a full year rather than paying month-to-month.

Eufy camera subscriptions

Plan CostCamerasCloud storage
Basic Monthly $3 per month per cam130 days
Basic Annually $30 per year per cam130 days
Premier Monthly $10 per monthUp to 1030 days
Premier Annually $100 per yearUp to 1030 days

There are no other features, such as higher video resolution or smart notifications, included with a Eufy camera subscription -- it's just cloud storage. If you don't need cloud storage, skip the monthly fee and enjoy the free features like live streaming, push notifications and two-way audio. Keep in mind, not all Eufy cams work with these subscriptions, since some only offer local storage with a microSD card (not typically included with purchase). That's a useful way to stay offline if you don't want to rely on cloud services, making Eufy one of the best non-subscription options alongside brands like Lorex.

A Google Nest Cam sits beside a planter.

There are two subscription options available for Google Nest cameras, doorbells, smart speakers and displays.

Molly Price/CNET

Google Nest security camera subscription details

There are two subscription options available for Google Nest cameras, doorbells, smart speakers and displays: Nest Aware and Nest Aware Plus. Conveniently, both subscriptions are good for an unlimited number of Nest-branded devices, so you don't have to upgrade to a higher plan or pay more for multiple versus single device coverage -- as long as you stay within the Nest brand using devices like the Nest Hub Max.

A Nest Aware subscription will get you 30 days of cloud storage and unlock intelligent alerts for familiar faces, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and the sound of breaking glass. You'll get the same features with Nest Aware Plus, but the higher tier also offers longer cloud storage, 60 days, and up to 10 days of 24/7 recorded history. Note that unlike many camera brands, Nest does offer three hours of cloud storage for free. That's pretty substantial since most video instances only last several seconds or so, making Nest a great option if you don't want to pay a subscription quite yet.

Google Nest camera subscriptions

Plan Monthly costCamerasCloud storageUpgrade features
Nest Aware $10 Unlimited30 daysIntelligent alerts for familiar faces, smoke alarm noises, and similar recognition
Nest Aware Plus $20 Unlimited60 days24/7 recorded history up to 10 days

Like with Blink and Eufy camera subscriptions, you can save a little money by opting to pay annually instead of monthly. Going with the annual payment with either plan will basically get you two months free as a year's worth of Nest Aware and Nest Aware Plus cost $60 and $120, respectively.

Even with the savings, a Nest Aware or Nest Aware Plus subscription is priced a bit higher than comparative plans from other manufacturers. Keep in mind, however, that a single subscription is good for all of your applicable devices from a Google Nest Cam to the new 2nd gen Nest Doorbell

The Ring Spotlight Cam Pro mounted to a home's exterior, with built-in LED lights shining out into the dusk.

Ring video doorbells and cameras are eligible for three Ring Protect plans.


Ring security camera subscription details

Ring video doorbells and cameras are eligible for three Ring Protect plans: Basic, Plus or Pro. The Plus plan is essentially the Basic plan for an unlimited number of devices but does include an extended warranty for said devices. Both plans offer cloud storage for an impressive 180 days, video sharing, rich notifications (to see what triggered an alert without having to open the app) and the ability to download up to 50 videos at once when logged in at Ring.com. The Plus plan also adds more live view options and the ability to customize priority alerts.

The Pro plan provides a more significant home security upgrade with 24/7 professional monitoring, alarm cellular backup and digital security by eero Secure, among other added security features. 

Ring camera subscriptions

Plan Monthly costCamerasCloud storageUpgrade features
Basic $4 1180 days180-day video storage, person and package recognition, home/away modes
Plus $10 Unlimited180 daysExtended warranty on all eligible devices, extra live view modes, priority alert customization
Pro $20 Unlimited180 days24/7 professional monitoring, 3GB backup internet data, alarm cellular backup

Annual subscriptions are also available for each Ring Protect plan. Paying for a year upfront will, like most other subscriptions with an annual payment option, save you roughly the cost of two monthly fees. Basic, Plus and Pro subscriptions are available for the annual fee of $40, $100 and $200, respectively.

Of course, your Ring Doorbell, Stick Up Cam or other device will work without a subscription, but you'll be limited to the free features like live streaming and push notifications, but no recorded videos. 

TP-Link's Kasa indoor security camera against an orange background.

The primary advantage of paying for a security camera subscription is cloud storage, but service may come with added features.


TP-Link Kasa and Tapo security camera subscription details

TP-Link has two camera brands, Kasa and Tapo, both with their own separate "Care" subscription service. Subscriptions to either Kasa Care or Tapo Care include 30-day cloud storage and activity notifications with snapshots. 

You'll have two subscription tier options with your Kasa camera: Plus or Premium. There's nothing special about upgrading to the Kasa Care Premium tier other than the number of cameras supported, up to 10.

Tapo Care only has one tier, Premium, but the price will vary by the number of cameras you have and whether you want to pay monthly or annually. Tapo Care also comes with a few more features than Kasa Care, such as rich notifications, person detection and privacy zone settings.

TP-Link camera subscriptions

Plan Monthly costCamerasCloud Storage
Kasa Care Plus $3 per camera130 days
Kasa Care Premium $10 Up to 1030 days
Tapo Care Premium $3.50 per camera up to 3 cameras, or $12 for up to 10 cameras1, 2, 3 or up to 1030 days

Without a monthly subscription, you'll only have access to the free features on your Kasa or Tapo camera and you'll miss out of video storage and rich notifications. At $3 per month, it's worth seriously considering adding a plan to the affordable Tapo or Kasa cams, which regularly make our lists as top budget picks.

The indoor Kasa KC410S, for example, boasts 360 degree pan range, AI detection of people or a baby crying, motion detection/following plus a night vision mode. For outdoors, the Tapo C310 is a budget-friendly wired cam with 2K resolution, a built-in spotlight and alarm, detection zone settings and night vision up to around 100 feet away.

All this is to say TP-Link cameras are pretty well equipped on their own, so the only reason you may need to pay for a subscription would be to get 30 days of cloud storage.

A white Wyze camera sitting on an outdoor table.

Wyze is the only major security camera company to offer a free subscription.


Wyze security camera subscription details

Disclaimer: We aren't recommending that consumers purchase Wyze products at this time. Over the past several years, Wyze has suffered from repeated data leaks and security breaches, including a 2019 user data leak, exposed databases in 2022, and exposed video files that same year. More recently, Wyze has seen late 2023/2204 security flaws that let at least 13,000 people see through other Wyze security cams owned by unrelated users.

Wyze's forum report on the latest breach includes an update from February 2024: "Our engineering team has added a new layer of verification between users and event videos to prevent this from happening again. We've also removed the client library and will not be using caching until we can find a new client library and stress test it for extreme scenarios like we saw on Friday."

This response is a start, but Wyze has repeatedly struggled to reliably update its approach to security and meaningfully communicate with its users. While we have seen security companies bounce back from security problems in the past, we haven't seen this kind of improvement from Wyze yet. So we are not endorsing their products or any services where you need to create a Wyze account with your personal info. 

We'll keep you updated on Wyze's security and privacy if our recommendations change. If you're looking for security brands that have made notable security improvements or have good privacy track records, we can recommend products from Ring, Google's Nest, Blink, and Arlo.

Wyze stands out for its exceptionally low prices on quality cameras and the same can be said regarding its subscription services as well, which start at $3 per month and upgrade the video recording functions. Note that Wyze, like Nest, also offers inherent free video storage, in this case video recordings that last in the cloud for up to 14 days. 

The drawback is that you'll need a separate subscription for each camera unless you choose the full home monitoring package, which isn't necessary for security cameras.

Wyze camera subscriptions

Plan Monthly costCamerasCloud StorageUpgrade features
Cam Plus $3114 daysVideo recording, back-to-back recordings, web view, fast-forward, person and package recognition
Cam Protect $4 114 daysFriendly face recognition, 24/7 emergency response, additional notification options
Home Monitoring $10 114 daysAlerts for door/window sensors, leak sensors, temperature sensors, and additional devices

Note that the basic plan option is free, but it comes with serious camera limitations. That includes limiting the ability to record to only once every five minutes, and restricting event videos to only still images. Those are some serious limitations in a security camera, and make it difficult to settle for the free plan in this case.

Wyze Pan Cam v2

Nearly all security camera manufacturers offer a free trial period for the subscriptions of 30 days or more. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

Home security camera monthly subscriptions compared

Brand Single cameraUnlimited camerasCloud storageExtra perks
Arlo $8 $18 30 daysUp to 4K resolution, smart notifications, video object detection with AI
Blink $3 $10 60 days90 minutes continuous live streaming, video sharing, rapid video access
Eufy $3 $10 (up to 10 cameras)30 daysNone
Google Nest $10 $10 30 daysIntelligent alerts for familiar faces, smoke/carbon monoxide alarms and breaking glass
Ring $5 $10 180 daysRich notifications, video sharing, download up to 50 videos at once
TP-Link $3 $10 (up to 10 cameras)30 daysActivity notifications with snapshots
Wyze $0-$10N/A14 daysPerson detection, full video recording

Home security camera subscription FAQs

Do I have to sign up for a subscription for my security camera?

Probably not. Virtually all home security cameras work fine on their own with a power source (wired or battery) and a Wi-Fi connection. You can expect features like live video streaming, push notifications, two-way audio and more from even the most basic security cameras without the need for a monthly subscription.

Is it worth paying for a security camera subscription?

The primary advantage of paying for a security camera subscription is cloud storage, but service may come with added features such as smart notifications, better video resolution and even extended product warranties. 

Nearly all security camera manufacturers offer a free trial period of 30 days or more. Use that time to familiarize yourself with the cloud storage and added features, if any, to determine if it's something you're willing to pay extra for.

If you're most concerned about video storage, many cameras are equipped with an SD card slot for local storage, often up to 256GB. However, an SD card likely won't be included with your purchase (except in some cases like Lorex cams), and checking local storage (and deleting files when your card is full) is less convenient than storing videos automatically in the cloud.

Do security camera subscriptions require a contract?

None of the brands we've covered here do, as these plans focus on DIY cams. Virtually all such subscriptions are on a month-to-month or annual basis, but no contract is required, meaning you can cancel at any time without penalty. Don't expect a refund for the remainder of the month or year if you've already paid the subscription fee, however.

The other class of home security systems from brands like Frontpoint or ADT have different kinds of subscription plans, usually with a focus on professional monitoring and additional smart home compatibilities.

For more on home security, check out how to keep your security cameras from being hacked and read up on using an old smartphone as a security camera. Plus, read about the most ideal locations for your home security cameras and where not to put your home security cameras

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