Save money on streaming services with these hacks and strategies

May 15, 2020

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If we had to guess, you’re probably spending a lot of time watching television these days. Same here.

With so many movies and shows — to say nothing of all the different streaming platforms — to choose from, it can be hard to narrow it down. The good news is there’s no wrong answers on which streaming service is best. Each platform has its pros and cons, as well as different price points and programming.

Use this guide to figure out which platforms you should sign up for (or convince your family that, yes, you really do need another). We don’t judge.

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To save money on your streaming purchase, you can take advantage of services such as Rakuten and get valuable cash back. Combine that with one of the best cards for streaming, too, and it’s like getting paid to binge-watch television.

For most streaming platforms, you’ll want to use a card like the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services), Chase Freedom® (5% cash back in the second quarter of 2020) and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card (2x).

The information for the Chase Freedom has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.          

Better yet, if you have The Platinum Card® from American Express, you’ll get a $20 monthly streaming credit from May through December 2020. In fact, the credit applies to all of the below, except Amazon Prime Video.

So, whether you want to watch all your favorite sports teams or catch up on the latest crime drama, these are the best ways to save money right now on some of the most popular streaming services out there.

Netflix

In 2019, this was the second-most popular video streaming service in the country behind YouTube. It also features some of our favorite travel shows, such as David Chang’s “Ugly Delicious,” “Restaurants on the Edge,” “Dark Tourist” and “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.” You can also stream “Outer Banks,” the latest overnight sensation in the U.S. In fact, there are so many travel shows it might take you an entire day just trying to decide which one you want to watch first.

Of course, you could also binge-watch “The Office” for the 50th time. You know what they say about sparking joy, right?

How to save: Subscriptions start at $8.99 per month, but you can get a free, 30-day trial by signing up with your email.

As mentioned before, you can use your $20 monthly credit from the Amex Platinum toward this charge. And if you use T-Mobile, you may be able to get your subscription for free if it’s included with your plan.

But you’re not out of luck if you don’t fall into either of those categories. Since you can buy Netflix gift cards on Amazon, you should keep an eye out for offers where you can use one American Express Membership Rewards point to get 20% off your order. It’s an easy and incredibly inexpensive way to save money on Netflix.

Related: Stuck at home? Stream these 12 movies to cope with travel wanderlust

Hulu

Hulu is to Netflix what Hilton is to Marriott. They’re two of the biggest names in the game, and it’s hard to pick just one. At the end of the day, they (somewhat) compliment each other. Many people find that Netflix has better television shows, while Hulu has a better movie selection.

Queue up “Hotel Mumbai,” “Under the Tuscan Sun,” “Changeland” and “Amélie,” or stream newly popular shows such as “Little Fires Everywhere,” “Normal People” and “Mrs. America.” You can also watch Anthony Bourdain‘s “No Reservations.

How to save: Subscriptions start at $5.99, and you’ll get the first month free. You can also sign up for a free week-long trial here. Plus, if you sign up for the bundle deal, which includes Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN, you can save 25%.

Hulu is also available on Rakuten, where you can get $1 off your purchase, as well as Coupon Cactus, where you can get $3 back. You’ll want to check CashBack Monitor regularly for the latest offers.

Bonus points — pun intended — if you use shopping portals to earn extra miles for signing up for Hulu. American Airlines is currently offering 150 bonus miles, United is offering 100 bonus miles, Delta is offering 60 bonus miles, Alaska is offering 150 miles and Southwest is offering 70 bonus points.

Amazon Prime Video

If you have an Amazon Prime account, you’ll automatically have access to Amazon Prime Video.

Unlike Hulu, Netflix and most streaming services, which include unlimited access to programming, you might have to pay to rent or buy certain movies or shows through Amazon. That said, though, there’s a huge collection of free content you can stream.

Some of our favorites include “Succession,” “Hunters” and “Joker.” There are more travel favorites here, too, including “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” “Catch Me If You Can” and, of course, “Anthony Bourdain Explains Everything.”

“Sully” is also streaming here. Sully, of course, is Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who safely landed US Airways Flight 1549 on New York’s Hudson River after it hit a flock of geese and lost engine power. His namesake movie is based off that story.

How to save: For Amazon Prime Video, since it’s connected to your Amazon Prime account, you’ll want to pay for your membership with one of the best cards for Amazon, such as the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card. Unfortunately, the Amex Platinum streaming credit doesn’t cover Amazon Prime Video.

You can, though, get 5x Membership Rewards points on Amazon purchases if you’re targeted for an ongoing Amex Offer. You should also keep an eye out for sales where you can get $30 off a $60 purchase using 1 Amex point, and buy Amazon gift cards you can use to pay for Prime movies and shows.

If you have a Chase card, you’ll want to keep an eye out for offers where you can $15 off a $60 purchase using 1 Chase point. You might also be targeted for Chase Offers where you can get $5 back on Prime Video purchases.

Related: 8 Amazon hacks you’ll want to know before your next order

Disney+

The Disney theme parks (well, most of them) might be closed for the time being, but with Disney+, you can keep the magic going. The platform, which launched in November 2019, is a relative newcomer to the scene and has been surging in popularity during the coronavirus outbreak.

Here, you’ll find travel favorites such as “Moana,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “National Treasure,” as well as classics like “Frozen,” “The Lion King,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin” and “The Little Mermaid.” If you need an extra dose of Disney, “Imagineering” and other behind-the-scenes original shows will do the trick. Better yet, Hamilton, one of Broadway’s top shows, will be streaming on the platform come July.

How to save: Memberships start at $6.99 per month, or you can get the aforementioned bundle that also includes Hulu and ESPN+ for $12.99 per month. You can also get $12.50 in cash back by using Rakuten. Sign up for a Disney+ subscription here and, if you’re not ready to commit just yet, opt for the seven-day free trial. If you know you’re going to love it, pay for a $69.99 year of Disney+ all at once instead of month-to-month to save.

Disney+ is also available via online shopping portals, including American Airlines (750 miles), United (400 miles) and Southwest (550 points).

Additionally, if you have an eligible Verizon plan, you’ll get one month of Disney+ for free. This includes both Verizon Fios Home Internet as well as one or more unlimited Verizon data plans.

Related: 9 ways Disney theme parks will be different when they reopen

EPSN+

While you might not be watching any live sports these days, ESPN+ is prime for sports fans who want to relive the glory days. It includes exclusive sports archives from the MLB, NHL, MLS, Serie A, FA Cup, Top Rank Boxing and more, as well as ESPN+ Originals like The Boardroom, Sneaker Center and NBA Rooks.

Since it has all ESPN original programming, you can watch the famed “30 for 30” documentaries, as well as old sporting events. You can watch all of the Michael Jordan documentaries, as well.

How to save: Memberships start at $4.99 for ESPN+, and again, you can save 25% if you bundle with Disney+ and Hulu. By doing so, you’ll pay only $12.99 per month.

You can also sign up via online shopping portals, including American (250 miles), United (150 miles), Southwest (200 points) and Alaska (200 miles). That’s not all: You can get $12.50 cash back on Rakuten, $6 back on Mr. Rebates and $12.50 on TopCashBack. You’ll want to check sites like CashBackMonitor to see what offers make the most sense for you.

Sling TV

Sling TV lets you stream live television from a ton of your favorite channels, including CNN, MSNBC, Bravo, USA, E!, FX, Lifetime, HGTV, A&E and more.

If you — like us — also have a bad case of travel wanderlust, you’ll want to tune in to National Geographic or even the Food Network to get a virtual escape from the world for a moment.

How to save: Sling TV is offering new customers access to free, primetime television and movies between the hours of 5 p.m. and midnight EST every night. With it, you’ll have access to more than 50 live channels, as well as free cloud DVR service and over 50,000 on-demand movie titles. You can also have simultaneous viewing on three screens if you need to establish a bit of personal space at home.

But you’ll have to act fast if you want to get the deal — the offer expires Friday, May 15.

That’s not all, though. If you have an Amex card, you’ll also want to keep an eye out for Amex Offers to save some money on the service moving forward. We’ve seen ones offering $10 back after you spend $25 or more on Sling TV, up to two times. Keep in mind you can use this in tandem with the aforementioned $20 monthly Amex Platinum streaming credit.

The service is also available through online shopping portals, including American Airlines (750 miles), United (400 miles), Southwest (550 points) and Alaska Airlines (550 points).

Bottom line

There are so many platforms to choose from, and these are just a handful that should be on your radar. Thankfully, many of them offer bundles or promotions that let you try the service before committing to a standard membership.

By taking advantage of cash back, shopping portals and even credit card perks, you’ll also be able to save a good chunk of change no matter which program you choose.

Now if you’ll excuse us, we have some shows to watch.

Featured image courtesy of Dennis Fischer Photography/Getty Images.

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