You’re likely already getting a pretty good deal—but if not, here’s how to save a few extra dollars.

By Kristine Gill
July 13, 2020
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You’ll be hard pressed to save on television streaming apps or rideshare apps these days. That’s because these companies—think Uber, Netflix, Spotify, and more—are already operating at a major discount next to their traditional cable and taxi competitors. Plus, many services are mostly losing money these days (which just means more savings for you). Still, with a little work, you can probably save a few dollars here or there.

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Starting at $8.99 a month, Netflix gives you access to a massive library of classic films and new TV shows, plus Netflix Original productions. You’ll be hard-pressed to find discounts outside of free trial offers, says Michelle Madhok, online shopping expert and founder of deals site She Finds.

“Some streaming services will let you have multiple family members on an account,” Madhok says. “Netflix allows it, Amazon allows it. Others are cracking down.”

If you’re able to split the tab with a relative, it might be your best bet at saving a few dollars.

Netflix also offers a 30-day free trial if you just want to get your toes wet.

Netflix also lets you pay your tab through iTunes gift cards, which some places sell at a discount. Smart shopping expert Trae Bodge suggests browsing Gift Card Granny for discounts on all types of gift cards being sold online.

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Brad Wilson, CEO of Brad’s Deals, says this is definitely a tougher area in which to save, but one streaming service giving some discounts is Amazon Prime.

“There are some student discounts through their site, as well as a six-month Amazon Prime trial,” Wilson says.

Of course, for anyone paying for Amazon Prime simply to take advantage of their free expedited shipping, the addition of Amazon Prime streaming services might be considered an added freebie anyway.

RELATED: How to Budget Money

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Long hailed as a cable-only service for premium subscribers, HBO made the switch to an a la carte streaming package a few years ago, and recently revamped its approach with the new HBO Max streaming service launched in May 2020.

You can pay for HBO Max through your smart TV for $15 a month, or you can plan to package other HBO offerings (such as HBO originals) with other services, such as Amazon Prime, which could knock a dollar or two off your monthly subscription.

HBO offers a free seven-day trial. It recently canceled its student discount but is still honoring the $9.99 price point for those who remain enrolled in the program.

If you’re an AT&T customer, there’s also a data plan that offers HBO at no additional cost.

“Think about which network you do the most streaming through and look for your deals there,” Madhok says. “And definitely keep an eye out for bundles.”

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Unlike other services, YouTube TV makes it easy to share your account with up to four members of your household. The catch? You all have to be in the same zip code. YouTube TV does allow for account holders to travel out of their zip code and use services for up to three months at a time (good news for college students). After that, you’ll need to log in back at the home site before your service resumes.

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When Baby Yoda made his debut earlier this year, Disney lovers leapt at the chance to stream Disney’s behind-the-vault offerings year-round and on-demand. If you weren’t willing to spring for the $6.99 monthly price tag, some users were able to snag deals and discounts instead.

Verizon customers were given a free Disney+ trial subscription for a full year.

You can also package Disney+ with ESPN and Hulu for just $12.99 a month. Keep in mind that Disney+ also includes National Geographic, Pixar, Marvel, and the Star Wars franchises.

“It’s about $13 for all of that, and that’s decent,” Wilson says.

To save on Disney+ only, you can opt to pay for the year all at once for $69.99 instead of the monthly fee, saving about $14 by the end of the year.

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On its own, Hulu with ads is just $5.99 a month, one of the least expensive streaming options on the market. To avoid lengthy commercials—the whole reason you ditched cable in the first place—you can upgrade to the commercial free version for $11.99 a month. But as you saw above, Hulu is also one of the most commonly bundled streaming services, so check out which other options you might want to package your subscription with for maximum savings. 

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Like Amazon Prime, Wilson says Spotify tailors its discounts to younger generations, especially college students. Check out the Spotify Premium Student option.

“Spotify for students includes Hulu and Showtime for about $4.99 a month,” Wilson says.

By comparison, Spotify Premium for regular users is $9.99 a month, without Hulu or Showtime. Just be sure you have an active college student set up the account: Spotify verifies all student emails and IDs.

The reason so many streaming services are targeting young adults is because they’re looking to grab lifetime customers who will subscribe for decades to come, Wilson says.

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Unlike taxi services, ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft are already ahead of the savings game in terms of what they charge. To squeeze a little more savings out of your rides, you can opt for the carpool option.

Your Uber driver will pick up a handful of people headed in the same direction, dropping each person off along the route. You can’t guarantee your arrival time, but you can save by helping the driver to save gas.

Uber also lets you split your fare with friends in the same car. Instead of exchanging money later or forgetting to split the tab on your own, you can split the fare through the app and only pay your share.

“There have been a lot of offers for ride sharing apps to integrate with credit cards,” Wilson says. “American Express is the biggest example of that.”

To qualify, you’ll first need an American Express card.

“AMEX card holders get discounts on a certain number of rides,” Wilson says. “It’s a little more leg work, so it’s not for everybody, but we see that deal a lot, too.”  

When Venmo partnered with Uber, it offered a few initial discounts to users paying through the app for the first time.

Wilson says there’s also a tactic where rideshare companies will try to get you to come back to their service if you’ve been absent for some time.

“If I don't use one for a while, I’ll get a reengagement offer where they say, ‘We see you haven’t used this in a while, here’s $5 off your next three rides or something,’” Wilson says.

Madhok says there are ways to pay lower fares if you can time your ride well.

“If I do a Lyft share to the airport and it’s an off time, maybe like 11 a.m., I’ve found I can go by myself if there’s not enough riders and it can be like 40 percent off,” she says.

If you’re a professional using Lyft, you can create a business account, which gives you a $5 credit for every five business rides you take, Madhok says.

“Those are tax deductible, too,” she says.