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Netflix Has a Quirky, Throwback Feature That's Actually Kind of Useful

Dig deep enough on Netflix and you'll find a surprising way to access movies still in theaters and shows from other streaming services, all on demand.

Netflix logo
A throwback add-on from Netflix gives you access to many more movies and TV shows.
Sarah Tew/CNET

Netflix has thousands of movies and series for you to explore, but after you've seen all the popular TV shows and latest movies that the streaming service offers, it can often feel like there's nothing else good to watch. Well, maybe you're not looking hard enough.

Hidden deep within Netflix's settings lies a remnant of the streaming service's past life that lets you watch movies just recently released in theaters and TV shows that aren't usually available on Netflix -- for an extra cost. And it involves DVDs.

Read on to learn how to get more movies and TV shows from Netflix on DVD. And if you need more great streaming choices, check out the 44 absolute best movies you should be watching on Netflix. If you're more into TV shows, we've got 50 of those you might want to see as well.

Wait a minute. Netflix still sends DVDs in the mail?

Yes, that's right, you can still order DVDs from Netflix. As long as you have a DVD player or a compatible gaming console, you can order DVDs from Netflix to watch movies that are still playing in the theater, like Jurassic Park: Dominion, hard-to-find classics like The Godfather trilogy and TV shows from other streaming services, like Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale.

What are some movies and TV shows that are only on DVD at Netflix?

The range of video available on DVDs from Netflix includes new movie releases, classic hit TV shows, old Oscar winners, classic horror films and almost any other genre you can imagine.

Below is a small list of content you can currently order from Netflix on DVD only:

Check out more new releases and other collections at Netflix's dedicated DVD website.

How do I order DVDs from Netflix?

Before you can order a DVD, you first need to have a paid Netflix subscription, which includes all of the streaming content. The DVD rental option exists only as an add-on to a general Netflix subscription -- you cannot pay for it as a standalone service. 

Currently, Netflix starts at $10 for the basic streaming option for standard definition streaming (480p) on one device at a time.

If you already have a Netflix streaming subscription, it's pretty simple to add the DVD plan, although you cannot do it through the Netflix app. Instead, using the web browser of your choice on your computer:

1. Go to the Netflix website.

2. Log in to your account and select your profile.

3. Hover the mouse over your profile icon on the top right.

4. Click Account > Add DVD Plan.

Netflix account settings

Unfortunately, you can't access the DVD plan on your mobile phone or smart TV.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

Alternatively, you can go to the dedicated Netflix DVD website and click the red Add DVDs button.

You then have three DVD plans to choose from:

  • Basic ($10 per month): 1 DVD at a time, with unlimited DVDs per month
  • Standard ($15 per month): 2 DVDs at a time, with unlimited DVDs per month
  • Premium ($20 per month): 3 DVDs at a time, with unlimited DVDs per month
Netflix DVD plans

Netflix's DVD add-on has no late fees, includes free shipping and you can cancel at any time.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

Once you've added the DVD plan, you can create a list of movies and shows, and Netflix will send you the DVDs in the order you've selected. When you're finished with a DVD, place it in a prepaid envelope and drop it in the mail. After Netflix is notified that your old disc is heading back, your next DVD will ship out.

The DVD plan also includes Blu-ray discs.

Is the Netflix DVD add-on worth the money?

Not sure whether you should pay more to rent DVDs from Netflix? It's a pricey move to make for physical media, but it could be worth the money if you fall into any of these categories:

  • You want better quality watching. Although streaming is convenient, you usually can't get the video quality of a DVD or Blu-ray because your internet is too slow.
  • You want the special features on the discs. DVDs and Blu-ray discs can include outtakes, deleted scenes, director and cast commentaries and behind-the-scenes documentaries that aren't included with streaming versions.
  • You pay for other streaming services and want to save money. If the shows and movies you want to watch from other paid services are available on Netflix DVDs, you could save money by adding the Netflix feature and not paying for other streaming subscriptions.
  • Your internet service is frequently interrupted. You can't stream Netflix without a solid internet connection, but you can watch a DVD whenever you want.