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11 tips to save on the cost of your subscriptions

Our video shows how to save as much as £1,000 per year on your subscriptions

From streaming your favourite films to getting your fill of coffee, many people find paying for a range of subscriptions normal now. But the costs are creeping up.

A total of 1.51 million video services were cancelled in the first three months of 2022, with more than half a million of these due to 'money saving', according to market research firm Kantar.

It also found that around 58% of households in Great Britain (16.9 million), have at least one paid subscription.  

Here, Which? rounds up the latest subscriptions price changes and offers tips to save money on your favourite services, from Amazon Prime to Spotify.

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Subscription price changes

Pret a Manger: The coffee shop chain announced it was increasing the price of its coffee subscription offer by 25% to offset the rising cost of milk and coffee beans. The monthly fee for five barista-made drinks a day went up from £20 a month to £25 on 3 February for new subscribers, and rose for existing members on 16 March. There's currently an offer where you pay £12.50 for your first month.

Spotify: The music streaming platform raised the cost of its Premium Student package from £4.99 to £5.99 a month, Premium Duo from £12.99 a month to £13.99 a month, and its Premium Family package from £14.99 a month to £16.99 a month, in April last year. You can currently get the first month free.

Now: Sky's on-demand streaming service streamlined its plans which led to price cuts and the merging of some passes in June 2021. However, adverts appeared for customers using Entertainment and Cinema passes unless they paid for Boost which went up in price from £3 to £5 a month.

Disney+: Last February, the costs rose from £5.99 to £7.99 a month and the annual charge from £59.99 to £79.90 for new customers. Existing subscribers saw the cheaper rate honoured until 23 August 2021.

Netflix: Customers experienced a price rise in May as its Basic and Standard plans went up by £1 a month, and its Premium plan increased by £2 a month. This means Basic costs £6.99 a month, it's £10.99 for Standard, and Premium costs £15.99. 

Amazon: The technology giant will be upping the price of its monthly and annual subscriptions from 15 September. The monthly membership will rise from £7.99 to £8.99 - and increase of £1 a month. The annual membership will increase from £79 to £95 - an increase of £6. The new price will apply for renewals and new customers starting on this date. See our news story for tips on how to save on Amazon Prime.

  • Click on the episode below to listen to our Which? Money podcast on how to save on subscriptions

Top tips to save on subscription costs

From sharing plans to joining a library - we've rounded up 11 ways to save money on the cost of subscriptions.

1) Share your subscriptions

As Harry Kind explains in the video above, sharing your streaming subscriptions within your household is one of the quickest ways to save money. Most services have plans you can switch to that could help you save, without losing personalised features.

Spotify for example offers a Premium Duo plan for £13.99 a month, perfect for two people in the same household, saving £71.88 a year versus the price of two individual subscriptions.

For larger households, there is the Premium Family plan for £16.99 a month which allows up to six users to get premium benefits, saving a whopping £515.40 a year over six individual subscriptions.

You can also share your Amazon Prime benefits with another person in your household, halving the cost of having two separate accounts.

2) Select the annual option

If you love a streaming site and know you won't want to cancel it, then you could save by buying the membership in one go, rather than paying monthly.

For example, Disney+ costs £7.99 a month, or £79.90 for the year - a saving of £15.98.

While Amazon Prime costs £7.99 a month or £79 for the year - a saving of £16.88.

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3) Rotate monthly subscriptions

Do you really need to pay for all the TV and film subscriptions you enjoy at the same time?

Netflix, Now, Amazon Prime and Disney+ will allow you to cancel monthly subscriptions at any point with no exit fee, so if you can plan what you want to watch you could alternate to save.

For example, if you subscribed to both Disney+ and Netflix (standard) at a monthly rate, you would pay £227.76 a year in total.

However, if you alternated months you would pay just £113.88 a year (six months of Disney at £7.99 and six months of Netflix at £10.99).

4) Do your research and compare prices

If you know you want to watch something specific, do your research to find out which platforms actually have it and shop around for the cheapest one to watch it on.

Free app JustWatch pinpoints where you can find television shows and films. It also compares the best price for streaming what you fancy watching.

For example, Line of Duty and Peaky Blinders are available on Netflix and BBC iPlayer. The cheapest Netflix subscription is £6.99 a month, but if you already have a TV licence, BBC iPlayer is free. 

5) Downgrade your plan

You could save by switching to a cheaper plan.

For example, Netflix has three different plans - basic (£6.99), standard (£10.99) and premium (£15.99).

The basic plan only lets you watch on one screen at a time - but if you live alone and don't share your account with anyone this could be ideal. It would also save you £48 a year.

Amazon Prime also offers a basic membership called Prime Video for £5.99 a month - it doesn't include other benefits such as free premium delivery, but it's worth it if you only want to stream shows. It would save you £24 a year.

6) Calculate if it's really worth the money

If you're only using your subscription a handful of times a month it's probably not worth it.

For example, the Pret coffee subscription costs £25 a month - this allows you to have five hot drinks a day (but you can only redeem one every 30 minutes).

A regular-sized latte in Pret cost £2.95, so if you get three a week it would cost £35.40 a month. That's a saving of £10.40.

However, if black filter coffee is your drink of choice, then it may be worth just buying them individually. A black coffee costs £1.40 and would cost £16.80 a month if you had three a week, so you would be £8.20 worse off if you had the Pret subscription.

Pret coffee shop

7) Make the most of free trials

Some services will give you a free trial before you have to pay.

Music streaming services, Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Amazon Music Unlimited and YouTube Premium all currently give new users a one-month free trial.

This means you can listen to music for five months before paying a penny.

However, remember to diary the date the trial ends or set an alert so you avoid accidentally paying for the next month.

8) Cancel what you don't use

If you have multiple bank accounts and different bills going out from each of them, you could lose track of the subscriptions you are signed up to.

Money Dashboard and Snoop are two apps that can help you get an overview of all your accounts in one place.

Once you have an overview of your finances it should be easy to spot subscriptions you don't need or want anymore.

Some banking apps also have features that make it easier to stay on top of bills. Starling Bank for example offers Bills Manager which allows you to set aside money each month just for your bills so you ensure you don't fall short.

9) Use free alternatives

You can use All 4, ITV Hub and My 5 for free (as long as you are not using them to watch live television).

For free music, BBC Sounds allows you to listen to live radio and has loads of podcasts and playlists - all completely free of charge, it even has a workout anthems playlist which is perfect for the gym.

If you fancy free e-books, magazines and newspapers, join your local library.

10) Check for bundles

Most mobile providers offer free extras with your contract which could give you access to your favourite streaming site for up to two years.

Vodafone offers up to 24 months of Amazon Prime, Spotify or YouTube Premium with certain pay monthly deals, and EE offers a 'special benefit' for the length of the mobile contract. This currently includes BT Sport, Apple Music or Netflix.

It's important to make sure any new phone contract is right for you before taking it out, and make sure you shop around for the best deal.

11) Use cashback offers

You can earn money back on monthly and annual payments if you choose to make them with a cashback credit card. Just remember to pay back what you owe each month to avoid cashback gains being wiped out by interest charges.

It's also worth checking your credit card or debit card provider's app to see if it offers any specific cashback deals on a service you want.

You might also be able to get cashback on purchases using sites such as Quidco or TopCashback.

Get help with the rising cost of living

We know households are struggling right now with the rising cost of living.

Which? is dedicated to offering tips and advice on how to cut the cost of your household bills, essentials and make the most of your money.

Pret a Manger prices are taken from its Regent's Place branch.

This article was updated on 27 July 2022, with information on Amazon Prime price rises.