Stream on a Budget: Tips To Save Money on Netflix, Hulu and Other Subscriptions

Quit paying $80 to $100 to watch TV on streaming platforms.

Kourtnee Jackson Senior Editor
Kourtnee covers TV streaming services and home entertainment news and reviews at CNET. She previously worked as an entertainment reporter at Showbiz Cheat Sheet where she wrote about film, television, music, celebrities, and streaming platforms.
Expertise Cord-cutting | TV and music streaming services | Netflix | Disney Plus | Max | Anime | Interviews | Entertainment Credentials
  • Though Kourtnee hasn't won any journalism awards yet, she's been a Netflix streaming subscriber since 2012 and knows the magic of its hidden codes.
Kourtnee Jackson
4 min read
Discovery Plus, Hulu, Paramount Plus, Peacock and Netflix streaming service apps on phones

Hulu, Netflix and Disney Plus may be must-haves, but you can lower costs each month with one trick. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

While it's worth your time, streaming TV can sometimes take a toll on your wallet, right? It's no wonder, with the never-ending selection of TV shows and movies right at our fingertips. Your monthly streaming expenses could easily reach $100 or more, especially with Netflix's extra member fees and rising prices for Peacock, Disney Plus, Hulu and other platforms. But don't worry, there's a way to keep your budget in check.

Are you tired of paying for multiple subscriptions that you use for only a handful of shows? Is it worth keeping all those accounts active if you're not watching anything on them? I don't think so. 

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Check out this approach to cut down on your streaming TV costs.

Rotate all your streaming service subscriptions 

For cord-cutters, shifting from cable to streaming can be a wise financial move. Because you'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 gets dull. But according to Deloitte's 2024 Media Trends report, the average US household spends $61 a month on streaming. The main reasons people cancel their streaming subscriptions are due to price and availability -- or lack of -- engaging content. Media companies call this behavior "churn." We're calling this the rotation method, and you should try it.

The incentive? You save your coin and avoid content droughts. Let's say a series like Percy Jackson or Reacher is set to premiere on a streaming service. Find the total episode count and wait until they're all available at once on a platform. You cancel Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus or other service and then, once all the episodes are available, resubscribe to catch up. 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, 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. 

The strategy can also work if you have a live TV streaming service to watch a particular sport or major event like the Super Bowl. Once the season wraps, cancel the service or move to a cheaper platform with fewer channels, like Sling TV

Need help figuring out the best way to rotate? Follow the tips below to learn how to churn streaming platforms until your wallet feels content. 

Tip No. 1: Cancel your 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, TV Time and Hobi help you track when and where TV shows and movies appear on a streaming service. And JustWatch added a tracker specifically for sports. If you have a smart home device from Google or Amazon, you can set reminders for specific dates and allow a voice assistant like Alexa to notify you of an upcoming bill or streaming release date.

Tip No. 2: Sign up for streaming service deals

Look for discounts on streaming services. For example, Starz regularly offers months-long deals that slash its $10-per-month price. You can also take advantage of the Disney Bundle, which provides access to Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus in a single package for a reduced price. And eligible Hulu subscribers can add on Disney Plus for $2. Lastly, be sure to look for student discounts and check with your mobile carrier to see which ones offer free streaming subscriptions.

Tip No. 3: Pick one or two default streaming services

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: Use monthly billing only

Avoid annual subscriptions and pay attention to your auto-renewal payment dates, even if it means using one of these tracking apps. 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. The only advantage to signing up for an annual plan is when the price is drastically cut down.

Tip No. 5: Don't cancel your subscription, 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 tips on the best VPNs.