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Netflix has come a long way from its 1998 start of mailing rental DVDs to consumers. There’s no doubt that today it reigns as one of the most popular streaming services out there, gaining the No. 2 spot in U.S. News & World Report’s list of best on-demand streaming services of 2024 for its expansive library and "friendly pricing."
According to Netflix's fourth-quarter 2023 earnings report, the company had about 260 million paid global members, up about 13 million from the previous quarter. But is Netflix the right streaming service for you? Explore how much Netflix costs and how the cost per month could fit into your overall budget.
Netflix costs $6.99 to $22.99 per month, depending on your subscription plan. It offers three plans: Standard With Ads, Standard and Premium. A former popular choice was the Basic plan at $9.99, but Netflix recently eliminated this option for new or rejoining members and is beginning to phase it out entirely.
Users can cancel anytime. They can watch for the rest of the current billing period, and service ends when the next billing cycle starts. Customers who pay with credit or debit card also have the option to pause service for a month at a time rather than canceling, for up to three months.
Netflix subscription cost
Netflix offers only monthly subscriptions; there's no option to pay yearly for a discount.
Standard with ads: $6.99 per month
With the Standard with ads plan, subscribers can access the majority of Netflix’s library in full high-definition and watch ad-supported film and television on two supported devices at a time. Supported devices include your smartphone or tablet, smart TV, laptop, or a streaming device such as Roku or Google Chromecast.
Users can download on two supported devices.
Standard: $15.49 per month
The Standard plan is similar to the Standard with ads plan in that users can watch or download Netflix on two devices at a time, but have the added benefit of watching unlimited ad-free movies and shows.
In previous Netflix offerings, users could share passwords with friends and family not living in the same household. But in May 2023, Netflix cracked down on password sharing, telling U.S. customers that their Netflix account “is for you and the people you live with — your household.” Customers now must pay $7.99 per month to share their account with people outside their household. Under the standard plan, users can add only one “extra member” outside their household.
Premium: $22.99 per month
Premium subscribers have unlimited ad-free viewing and can use up to four devices simultaneously, with the capability to download content onto six devices. Enhanced viewing features, like Ultra HD and Netflix spatial audio, set Premium subscriptions apart from the other options. Premium users also have the opportunity to add to the account two extra members not within the same household for shared access, at $7.99 each per month.
Regardless of which tier seems the most suitable today, price increases are on the horizon. The price of major ad-free streaming services has escalated by 25% in the past 12 months, The Wall Street Journal reported in October 2023. While Netflix has been one of the few that has not increased prices since 2022, it is expected to be planning a pricing change now that the Hollywood actors’ strike is over.
How do streaming services fit into your budget?
When deciding whether to add a new streaming subscription or adjust your current ones, it's a good idea to reevaluate your budget. The 50/30/20 framework can be helpful; it means you allocate up to 50% of your income for needs, including minimum payments on debts, 30% for wants, and 20% for savings and debt paydown beyond those minimum payments.
Streaming services fall into the category of wants, or the 30% available from your take-home pay. There’re a few ways to approach fitting streaming services like Netflix into your budget.
First, consider all the expenditures in your wants category — are there ways to save elsewhere, like reducing online shopping or cutting back on restaurant visits? Freeing up funds from other wants can make room in a budget for costlier streaming options.
Likewise, reviewing the number of monthly subscriptions you have and reassessing whether you still use and want them all can help keep a budget on track. Ask yourself: How much do I use each service? If I have to choose one, would I rather have subscription A or B?
If you’re a credit card user, check your rewards categories and see if you earn cash back or bonus points for subscription services. While it may not be worth opening a new card for these perks alone, it can be a nice complement to an existing budgeting strategy.