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Here's What Comes With Your Security Camera Subscription

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.

Arlo Pro 4 camera in the rain.
Arlo

In this article

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

I wouldn't recommend selecting a home security camera solely for the subscription service. Price and other features, such as indoor or outdoor use, a wireless setup and compatibility with your other smart devices, can be much more important. However, a subscription service is something you may want to consider before making a purchase, especially if you're counting on cloud storage.

For some reason, security camera subscriptions all seem to have "Plus" somewhere in the name, but they otherwise vary in cost, the number of cameras supported and how long recordings are stored in the cloud. Some may include added features such as facial recognition and enhanced video resolution. It's likely that you'll also have a couple of different subscription options from the same service provider.

So what, exactly, do you get with that monthly subscription for your camera? You'll find an explanation of subscription services for Arlo, Blink, Eufy, Nest, Ring, TP-Link and Wyze below. These are all brands we at CNET have tested and recommended. 

The Arlo Pro 4 outdoor security camera mounted to the exterior of a home's porch.
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 tad more expensive than many competitors, but the high quality and premium features help to justify the cost. 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 cost Cameras Cloud storage Upgrade features
Secure $5 1, or unlimited for $13 per month 30 days N/A
Secure Plus $18 Unlimited 30 days In-app 24/7 Emergency Response  
Safe & Secure Pro $25 Unlimited 30 days Video 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.
Blink

Blink security camera subscription details

Amazon's Blink cameras present two subscription options: Blink Basic Plan and Blink Plus Plan. 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 cost Cameras Cloud storage Upgrade features
Basic Plan $3 1 60 days N/A
Plus Plan $10 Unlimited 60 days Extended 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.

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

Eufy security camera subscription details

Note: Select Eufy security cameras and video doorbells were recently discovered to have sent data to the cloud despite claims of "local-only" storage, even when cloud storage settings were disabled by the user. Eufy confirmed that preview images, or thumbnails, of videos were "briefly and securely hosted on an AWS-based cloud server," and has since assured CNET the company will "be more clear about the use of cloud for push notifications in our consumer-facing marketing materials."

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 Cost Cameras Cloud storage
Basic Monthly $3 per month 1 30 days
Basic Annually $30 per year 1 30 days
Premier Monthly $10 per month Up to 10 30 days
Premier Annually $100 per year Up to 10 30 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.

A Google Nest Cam sits beside a planter.
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 or Nest Aware Plus. Conveniently, both subscriptions are good for an unlimited number of devices, so you don't have to upgrade to a higher plan or pay more for multiple versus single device coverage.

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.

Google Nest camera subscriptions

Plan Monthly cost Cameras Cloud storage Upgrade features
Nest Aware $6 Unlimited 30 days N/A
Nest Aware Plus $12 Unlimited 60 days 24/7 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

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 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 cost Cameras Cloud storage Upgrade features
Basic $4 1 180 days N/A
Plus $10 Unlimited 180 days Extended warranty on all eligible devices
Pro $20 Unlimited 180 days 24/7 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.
Amazon

TP-Link 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 cost Cameras Cloud Storage
Kasa Care Plus $3 1 30 days
Kasa Care Premium $10 Up to 10 30 days
Tapo Care Premium $3.50 per camera up to 3 cameras, or $12 for up to 10 cameras 1, 2, 3 or up to 10 30 days

Without a monthly subscription, you'll only have access to the free features on your Kasa or Tapo camera, but those can be impressive on their own. 

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

Wyze security camera subscription details

Wyze stands out for its exceptionally low prices on quality cameras and the same can be said regarding its subscription services as well. Wyze is the only major security camera company to offer a free subscription (kind of), and the most expensive plan will only cost you around $4 per month.

The drawback is that cloud storage is only good for 14 days and you'll need a separate subscription for each camera regardless of the plan -- Cam Plus Lite, Cam Plus or Cam Protect -- you choose.

Wyze camera subscriptions

Plan Monthly cost Cameras Cloud Storage Upgrade features
Cam Plus Lite Varies 1 14 days N/A
Cam Plus $2 1 14 days Unlimited event video length, back-to-back recordings, package detection, Wyze Web viewing 
Cam Protect $4 1 14 days 24/7 professional monitoring, friendly faces recognition 

Now about that "free" plan, Cam Plus Lite. Wyze lets you choose the price you pay for the plan, even if that price is $0. They do humbly ask that you contribute something ($2.48 would cover their operating cost to provide the service), but payment is not required. 

If you're feeling generous, or maybe a little guilty, and want to pay for Cam Plus Lite, you might as well go ahead and opt for the standard Cam Plus plan. At $2 per camera, Cam Plus offers 14 days of cloud storage and person detection (the two perks of Cam Plus Lite), and bonus features such as unlimited video recording length, back-to-back recordings and smart detections for packages, pets and vehicles.

Wyze Pan Cam v2
Chris Monroe/CNET

Home security camera monthly subscriptions compared

Brand Single camera Unlimited cameras Cloud storage Extra perks
Arlo $5 $13 30 days Up to 4K resolution, smart notifications, video object detection with AI
Blink $3 $10 60 days 90 minutes continuous live streaming, video sharing, rapid video access
Eufy $3 $10 (up to 10 cameras) 30 days None
Google Nest $6 $6 30 days Intelligent alerts for familiar faces, smoke/carbon monoxide alarms and breaking glass
Ring $4 $10 180 days Rich notifications, video sharing, download up to 50 videos at once
TP-Link $3 $10-$12 (up to 10 cameras) 30 days Activity notifications with snapshots
Wyze $0-$4 N/A 14 days Person detection

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, 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?

No. Virtually all 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.