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One Way to Save Money on Netflix, HBO Max and Other Streaming Services

Avoid spending too much on streaming TV by using this clever tactic.

Discovery Plus, Hulu, Paramount Plus, Peacock and Netflix streaming service apps on phones
Sarah Tew/CNET

House of the Dragon and Andor may be among the shows that have top billing on your TV screen, but you probably don't want streaming services to be one of your highest monthly bills. You can watch lots of great series and movies across dozens of streaming services, but even subscribing to five of them could easily cost you more than $50 a month. (Just look at the latest pricing news for Disney Plus.) We're going to show you a trick that can help save you money.

Think about this: You subscribe to one or more services like NetflixHulu, Disney Plus or HBO Max, stream until your favorite series ends its season run, then look for the next thing to watch. But is it worth keeping multiple subscriptions active if you're not actively watching anything on them? I don't think so. 

Here's a breakdown on our money-saving strategy and some tips on how to become a master at it. 

Read more: Best Live TV Streaming Service for Cord Cutting in 2022

Rotate your streaming services

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For cord-cutters, leaving pricey cable packages behind in favor of streaming is a win for the wallet. Because we're able to sign up for monthly plans, it's easy to jump into a streaming service and jump out when prices increase or content dries up. According to Deloitte's 2022 Media Trends report, the biggest reasons people cancel their streaming subscriptions are because of pricing and lack of fresh content. Media companies call this behavior "churn." We're calling this the rotation method. 

The benefits? You save cash and avoid content droughts. Let's say a hot title like House of the Dragon or The Real Housewives is set to premiere on a service. Note the total episode count and wait until they're all available at once on a platform. You cancel HBO Max, Disney Plus or other service and then, once the episodes are available, resubscribe to catch up on your faves. Alternatively, you can start streaming a show midseason to cut costs. My monthly guide on which streaming services to cancel can help you keep up.

The downside? You won't have immediate access to every show you want to watch and will have to wait until the full season airs. And since many streaming services release new episodes weekly, rather than all at once, you might not be caught up at the same time as your friends. If you're someone who prefers to watch episodes immediately when they drop, you may decide it's worth it to have multiple subscriptions at a time. If you have patience, however, you can save some money. 

Read more: Best Streaming Device for 2022: Our Picks from Roku, Google, Fire TV and Apple

The strategy can also work if you have a live TV streaming service to keep up with a particular sport. Once the season wraps up, cancel the service and save big, or move to a cheaper platform with fewer channels like Sling TV.

Cassian Andor wears a poncho and looks intense in Andor

Would you want to pay for three months of Disney Plus to watch Andor when you can catch all 12 episodes in November for the price of one month? 


Tip No. 1: Cancel your streaming subscription before getting charged 

Set calendar reminders for your billing cycle and upcoming TV show or movie release dates. Give yourself enough warning to begin or end a subscription. Apps such as JustWatch, V Time and Hobi help you track when and where TV shows and movies appear on a streaming service. And JustWatch recently added a tracker specifically for sports. 

Tip No. 2: Sign up for streaming service deals

Look for discounts on streaming services. For example, Starz is offering a special rate of $3 per month for six months, which cuts its regular monthly rate of $9 down to a third of the price. You can also take advantage of the Disney Bundle, which provides access to Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus in one package for a reduced price. And eligible Hulu subscribers can add on Disney Plus for $3. Lastly, be sure to check with your mobile carrier to see which ones offer free streaming subscriptions.

Read more: Best Streaming Service Deals From Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile

Tip No. 3: Pick one or two default streamers

Subscribe to one or two must-have services for the year, and select only one or two more options to fit your monthly budget. Rotate the bonus service(s) according to what you want to watch, ensuring you don't miss your favorite shows while sticking to your monthly spending cap.

Tip No. 4: Stick to monthly billing

Avoid annual subscriptions and pay attention to your auto-renewal payment dates. Your billing cycle can help determine when it's the best time to quit a service, even if you've only signed up for a free trial.

Tip No. 5: Don't cancel your streaming service, pause it

Hulu allows you to pause your subscription for up to 12 weeks, and Sling has a similar option with stipulations. Check with your streaming provider to see if you can take a temporary break without canceling.

Give it a shot, and if you don't like it you can always resubscribe. For more excellent tips on streaming TV, check out this guide to Netflix's hidden tricks and our recommendations for the best internet services.