This is genius, and it is simple — which, in this case means “basic,” not simple as in “absolutely no work involved.” But it takes just three easy steps to save 15 percent on these streaming services every month — and you might pay nothing at all.
- Step one: Join Netflix and/or Hulu using an Apple device (iPhone, iPad, Apple TV or, for the old-school among us, iPod Touch).
- Step two: Buy some iTunes cards at a warehouse club, where you’ll save 15 percent. (Don’t belong to a warehouse club? No problem! Later on we’ll show how to save in other ways.)
- Step three: From now on, pay for your streaming account(s) with iTunes cards.
That’s it. You’re done. Well, at least until your account runs out of iTunes scrip and you need to add more.
In addition to the annual savings, here are two more advantages:
- No credit card needed: Not everyone has (or wants) a credit card. Paying for Netflix and Hulu via iTunes means you don’t need to associate a payment method with your account. (Here’s a link from Apple Support that explains how to opt out.) This, of course, means …
- More privacy: Setting up an account without a payment method means one less chance for your credit information to be stolen. The fewer times you have to put your card info out there, the better.
What if I’m already a member?
That depends. If you created your Netflix and/or Hulu account with an Apple product, you’re all set. Just set up your account to pay with iTunes cards.
If you’ve got an account that wasn’t created with an Apple product, you’ll need to cancel your subscription and rejoin. That’s a teeny bit of a hassle, we’ll admit. But you have to do it only once, and it’s worth it: Assuming you get cards for 15 percent off, you’ll save anywhere from $14.38 to $21.58 per year — every year.
This could be just one more piece of the saving-money puzzle for those living on tight budgets. Sarah Heidal Forrest, an at-home parent of two in the Seattle area, says the tactic “compensates for the recent (Netflix) price hikes, and is certainly better than the rewards points I get on my credit card.”
And what if I’m not a warehouse club member?
You can still save even if you don’t live near a warehouse club, or simply aren’t interested in joining. Gift card resellers regularly offer discounted iTunes cards; look for the best deals at an aggregator site called Gift Card Granny.
Generally you’ll save about 9 percent this way. Short-term sales also crop up, though, so set up alerts at your favorite resellers.
(Pro tip: Some resellers, including Cardpool and Raise, can be accessed through cash-back shopping sites like Ebates and MrRebates. Buy there, and you’ll get about an extra 1 percent in the form of a cash rebate.)
Some retailers offer special deals on iTunes gift cards, especially around the holidays. Forrest signs up for Black Friday email alerts from DealNews (a Money Talks News partner) and also does a little sleuthing on her own. Last year she got 20 percent off at Best Buy: a $100 iTunes card for $80.
Retailers offer deals at other times of the year, too. You might see deals such as getting a free $10 gift card when you buy certain products.
Or you might get some retailer scrip. For Black Friday 2017, Walgreens offered a $10 store card to those who bought at least $30 worth of iTunes cards. Using the store card would free up $10 from your budget – money you could put toward more iTunes purchases.
Coupon websites like Retail Me Not and Savings.com sometimes offer special deals. Through the rest of this month, the Coupon Cabin site is offering a 25 percent cash rebate on iTunes purchases; you must be a Coupon Cabin member and also meet a rebate threshold.
The moral of the story: Do a quick search for “iTunes gift card deals” before buying.
Did you say something about not paying at all?
Free entertainment — now there’s an idea! Here are four ways to get Netflix and/or Hulu for zero dollars per month:
- Grocery rebate apps: Mary Hoover, who blogs at Mission: to Save, says that apps like mobiSave, Ibotta and Checkout51 let you cash in for gift cards. For more information, see “15 Smartphone Apps That Can Make You Money.”
- Rewards programs: Sites like MyPoints and Swagbucks let you earn points for shopping, doing online searches and playing video games. When cashing in, obviously, you’ll choose “iTunes.”
- Rewards credit cards: Already have one? Check the gift card rewards for iTunes. Don’t have one? Money Talks News breaks down the best rewards cards for you.
- Ask for what you want: Next time a relative or friend asks what you want for your birthday or a major holiday, you know what to do, answer along these lines: “I’m really interested in experiences more than more stuff. So an iTunes card would be just great!” Bonus: Family and friends will find you much easier to shop for now.
What are your favorite tips for saving money on entertainment? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.