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There’s no shortage of antivirus packages around, and with plenty of big names vying for your business, deciding which to pick is far from straightforward.
One thing you should definitely look for is a good deal – this competitive field breeds competitive prices, and as such, you should usually be able to avoid paying full price for an antivirus product.
We’ll run through some of the ways you can save on your next subscription, and highlight current deals that are worth a closer look.
Use our lab-tested antivirus reviews to help make your shortlist.
1. Tease the shopping basket
This tip can apply to a whole range of products, but it’s definitely worth a try if you’re shopping for antivirus. If you buy direct, companies may offer up savings if they think you’re wavering about making a purchase. If they catch any of the signs, they’ll often pop up a voucher code to ‘save’ you a fairly significant amount of money, so it’s always worth a go.
Simply adding a product to your basket and leaving it for a few days is normally an easy way to get a discount from an antivirus company, although you’ll have to sign up for an account while going through the purchase process to be notified of such an offer.
We’ve even found some websites will pop up a discount if your mouse cursor moves off the page and you switch to a new tab in your web browser. This isn’t always a guarantee; we found Kaspersky’s website did this in 2020 but had stopped doing so in 2021. But if you’ve already picked which antivirus you’re going to buy, it’s worth trying these tricks to ensure you get the lowest price.
2. Turn auto-renewal off (and sometimes on again)
Most, if not all, antivirus companies offer some sort of automatic renewal if you buy directly from them. The downside of this is that you typically get a great deal on your first year and then see a significant price hike – sometimes more than double – after your first year. It’s therefore best to keep it switched off so you can make a decision in your own time as your subscription comes to an end.
What’s more, if the antivirus company knows your subscription is coming to an end and you aren’t set up to automatically pay again, it will usually get in contact multiple times with increasingly big discounts to encourage you to renew for another year. This is worth doing, because otherwise you’re unlikely to get any discount on your second year and beyond.
Some antivirus companies market automatic renewal as ‘continuous protection’, and will even sometimes go as far as suggesting that turning it off could put you at risk. Don’t be put off; there’s only a risk if you completely forget to renew your subscription, but you’re unlikely to do so as your antivirus provider will send you lots of emails reminding you as the expiry date draws closer and you’ll likely receive over-enthusiastic pop-ups from the software itself reminding you of your impending doom.
In some cases, fiddling with automatic renewal can net you further discounts. In the screenshot below, we turned off automatic renewal while purchasing Bitdefender. To try and keep us for a longer contract, Bitdefender promised a second-year deal at the same price as our first year. While you’d likely be able to achieve a discount in year two if you simply waited, if you don’t want to have to think about choosing antivirus again until 2023, this could be a good option.
3. Speak to customer services
If you’re not happy with your subscription renewal price and haven’t had any offers come through on email, it pays to get in touch with the antivirus company on the phone or via live chat. We have had reports from Which? members who were able to get their subscription costs cut in half simply by complaining about their renewal price to customer services.
4. Buy from third-party retailers
While there are plenty of third-party retailers who sell antivirus subscription keys for suspiciously cheap prices, some of the better-known high-street retailers often have some competitive special offers. For example, at the time of writing, Currys was selling a Deluxe subscription to Norton Security for £12.99, far cheaper than the current offer on at Norton’s official website, where it’s £35 (and then £80 after the first year). The only difference we could see was that Currys was selling a product that used old Norton branding (without the ‘Lifelock’ or ‘360’ logos).
Since the year doesn’t matter on antivirus any more – they are continuously updated products activated by a license key – there is no reason not to simply buy this much-cheaper option.
5. Only buy the amount of protection you actually need
Make sure you pick a package that suits your household. Some antivirus companies offer customisable plans that let you pick exactly how many licences you get with your subscription, so you don’t have to overpay. For example, AVG’s subscription service is for one or 10 devices only and nothing in between. Avira and Norton, meanwhile, give you the choice of one, three or five licences while ESET lets you pick any number between one and five, so you don’t have to pay for more devices than you need.
F-Secure, shown below has the widest selection of subscription options we’ve seen; if your household (or perhaps small business) has 25 devices, this company has you covered.
Two top antivirus deals right now
Need some pointers? These are a couple of the best deals we saw at the time of writing.
McAfee Total Protection for one device – £14.99 at Argos
Argos’ price on McAfee’s Total Security package is a whole heap less than the £35 you’ll find it for on McAfee’s website. Read our full McAfee Total Protection review (which has the same underlying protection as Total Security) to find out whether it offers top-notch protection. Or you can buy it now from Argos.
Kaspersky Anti-Virus for one device – £12.49
Kaspersky’s official website offers its most basic antivirus package for £12.49 – half the usual advertised price. This package won’t come with any of the extra features found in its other tiers, such as a VPN and password management, but the underlying protection is the same. Find out how it fared in our tests in our Kaspersky Total Security review, or buy it now from Kaspersky.
Should you pay for antivirus at all?
Of course you might decide there’s no need pay anything for antivirus. Most of the big vendors offer free versions of their software, which offer the same core protection but are missing extras such as parental controls, a VPN or a password manager. Have a look over the features you’re getting in both cases – if you don’t want or need more than the free package has to offer, why pay for it?
Crucially, the core protection on offer with free software usually doesn’t differ to the paid alternative since paying for anti-virus normally only nets you non-security-related extra features.
For more, find out if Windows defender is good enough to protect your PC and browse our guide to the best free antivirus services.