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Quitting Subscriptions to Netflix, Uber Eats and More? Try These Free Options Instead

If you're giving up some apps to save money, these no-cost alternatives may fit the bill.

Updated Nov. 15, 2022 7:00 p.m. PT

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Written by  Alison DeNisco Rayome Kourtnee Jackson
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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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See at Peacock
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Best for streaming TV shows and movies
Peacock
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See at Crackle
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Best for streaming older movies and TV shows
Crackle
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Pluto TV
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As the cost of household staples keep going up, you may be looking for ways to stretch your dollars, and subscriptions for streaming, groceries and other services could be on the chopping block. And what's better than f-r-e-e?

Popular apps like Netflix are raising prices while offering new choices like a cheaper, ad-based tier. And Peloton raised its subscription prices in June (while lowering the up-front cost of buying a bike). But it still might not be enough to make a dent in your monthly budget.

Many services you're paying for -- including Hulu, Apple Music, Grubhub and DoorDash -- can be swapped for free alternatives. You might not end up with the exact same product, but you can often get pretty darn close. And it might be worth trying if it allows you to stretch your budget further.

Unlike their paid counterparts, many of these free services operate with ads and the streaming services won't let you download content to watch or listen to them offline. But some have deals and decent free trials that you can take advantage of now.

Here's how to replace many of the services you pay for with the best free subscription services we've found. 

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See at Peacock

Best for streaming TV shows and movies

Peacock

Replaces: Hulu

Peacock, NBCUniversal's streaming service that debuted in spring 2020, offers a free, ad-supported tier with about 10,000 hours of content, including TV shows, movies, and some live news and sports. You'll get episodes of current NBC shows like La Brea the week after they air. You can also find past seasons of Yellowstone free on Peacock.

You can sign up for the free version of Peacock without a credit card. You'll need to upgrade to premium (which costs $5 a month with ads, or $10 a month without ads) to watch full seasons of shows like The Office, Young Rock, Vampire Academy and Premier League soccer highlights. You won't find a ton of brand-new movies, either. But the free tier is a great way to discover shows and films you might have missed the first time around, or want to watch again.

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See at Crackle

Best for streaming older movies and TV shows

Crackle

Replaces: Netflix

Crackle is an ad-supported streaming service that offers movies and some TV shows, including original content. You can find a variety of movies including Train to Busan, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In terms of TV, you'll find more than 100 different shows, including a lot of classics such as Highway to Heaven, Alf and Benson. But not every series has all seasons available.

You can stream on Crackle without signing up for an account, and can watch on virtually any device, with apps for all mobile platforms, game consoles and any major streaming device. If you do create an account, you can save favorites, get recommendations and resume playback if you switch between devices.

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See at Pluto TV

Best for free channel surfing

Pluto TV

Replaces: Hulu Plus Live TV (or your whole cable subscription)

One big caveat here: Much of the programming on Pluto isn't the same live TV channels you'll find on pay cable or satellite, even if the channels have the same names. So, while news junkies will find live programming from CBSN, NBC News Now and Bloomberg TV, Pluto's versions of MTV, AMC and CNN are time-shifted or alternate programming from those providers. 

Ultimately, none of that matters, because you're still getting a wealth of streaming video that's truly free (it's ad-supported, of course). There are more than 250 channels, including dedicated stations for CSI, Hallmark movies, Classic Doctor Who and The Walking Dead. And because there are literally dozens of in-progress streams to toggle through in real-time, Pluto offers the best analog to flipping through the myriad channels on a traditional cable system (or paid streaming alternative, like Hulu). You can also browse channels by categories like news, sports, comedy and movies, and find on-demand TV content, though it's mostly crime and reality shows. 

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See at Spotify

Best for streaming music

Spotify

Replaces: Apple Music

Spotify tops CNET's list of the best music streaming services thanks to its easy-to-use interface, extensive catalog and device compatibility. (However, if the Joe Rogan versus Neil Young saga left a bad taste in your mouth, we've got some alternative recommendations.) Plus, you can listen to its full music catalog for free, with ads. If you do want to upgrade, you can choose between four different premium plans (including a student deal for $5) for yourself or to split with others. 

If it's your first time subscribing to Spotify Premium, you'll get a month's free trial.

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Best for ordering food

Just call the restaurant

Replaces: DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates and Uber Eats

I know, it's not exactly a service. But third-party delivery apps such as Grubhub, DoorDash, Postmates and Uber Eats often charge big delivery and service fees that add to your bill -- not to mention the high fees that they charge local restaurants and the tip you need to pay the driver. The best option when you're trying to save money and support local restaurants is to call the restaurant directly to pick up your food or see if it has an in-house delivery service. Lots of restaurants now offer curbside pickup, delivery and other options for staying safe and healthy.

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See at Nike

Best for exercising

Nike Training Club

Replaces: Your gym, or Peloton

Nike Training Club is a free app for iOS and Android with more than 180 home workouts and programs to help you set a workout schedule. You can filter routines based on what equipment you have at home, and find bodyweight-only exercises, yoga and training programs.

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See at MasterClass

Best for learning a new skill

MasterClass Live

Replaces: Online classes

MasterClass offers thousands of online lessons taught by veritable masters in their fields -- we're talking Gordon Ramsey on cooking, Ken Burns on documentary making and Helen Mirren on acting. While an annual membership costs $180, you can find a series of free courses called MasterClass Live available now. These include a session on building suspenseful thrillers with Dan Brown, gymnastics fundamentals and mindset training from Simone Biles and beauty tips from industry mogul Bobbi Brown.

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