HBO Max and more offer free streaming trials — earn rewards after they end

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As millions of Americans remain quarantined due to the coronavirus, many big-name streaming platforms are extending limited-time offers on their services. Here’s a breakdown of free trials offered by some of the most popular U.S. streaming services.

HBO Max

HBO’s new streaming service is offering seven days free of charge. After, the service costs $14.99 a month. If you’re already an HBO Now customer, you may get automatic access to HBO Max.

HBO Now

HBO Max’s sister streaming service, HBO Now, is providing a seven-day free trial ($14.99 per month thereafter). You can cancel up to 24 hours before your subscription renews in order to avoid the next month’s charges.

Hulu

Hulu plans start at $5.99, but you can currently get a free trial for 30 days when you sign up. According to Hulu’s site, if you cancel your membership during your free trial period, you won’t be charged.

It’s important to note you may already have access to Hulu if you’re signed up for Spotify Premium.

Netflix

Netflix is also offering a 30-day trial. If you cancel your membership online before the end of the trial period, you won’t be charged the standard $8.99 monthly fee (or more depending on the plan).

Quibi

Mobile streaming service Quibi launched on Monday, April 6, 2020, and offers TV shows in the form of short, easily-digestible segments.

When you sign up, you get 14 days free of charge. After that, plans start at $4.99 a month and increase to $7.99 a month for ad-free viewing.

Disney+

The free trial period for Disney+ isn’t as impressive as other streaming services, but it’s something; get seven days free when you sign up. After that, you’re charged $6.99 a month.

Keep in mind if you’re a Verizon Unlimited customer (or switch to Verizon 5G Home Internet), you’re eligible for a free year of Disney+.

Apple TV+

Now, you can get a free, seven-day trial of Apple TV+. If you purchase a new Apple product, such as an iPhone, Apple TV, Mac or iPad, you can receive a significantly longer one-year subscription to Apple TV+.

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime is offering Prime Video free for 30 days ($13 a month after). If you’ve utilized this free trial in the past, understand you’re only eligible once every 12 months.

YouTube TV

Stream live TV free for one week when you sign up for YouTube TV. The service costs $49.99 a month, but you won’t be charged until the trial period ends.

Sling TV

Although Sling’s free trial is quite short compared to its peers’ offerings (3 days free, $30 a month thereafter), it’s worth noting. 

Choose between Sling Blue and Sling Orange (same price, different channel offerings) and watch news channels like CNN, MSNBC and Fox News, as well as kids and movie channels like Nick Jr. and A&E.

CBS All Access

Now, get seven days free after choosing your CBS All Access plan and preferred payment.  After, you’ll be charged $5.99 or more per month depending on your plan but can cancel before the end of your free trial period to avoid the charge.

Showtime

New subscribers can get Showtime free for seven days via Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, your TV provider and more. You’ll be charged $10.99 a month after your trial ends unless you cancel your subscription before your seven days are up.

Post-free trial: How you can earn rewards on streaming services

Though free trial periods are a thoughtful gesture (and surely appreciated by those practicing social distancing and abiding by stay-at-home orders), these services still come at a cost after the fact.

A recent Bankrate survey found 42 percent of U.S. adults have used someone else’s account information to access a subscription service — either video streaming, music streaming or online journalism — presumably to save money. In doing so, survey respondents said they’re saving an average of $513 a year.

If you split the cost of a streaming service with family or friends, it may benefit you to charge the service to a credit card that offers rewards on streaming services.

Bankrate’s list of top credit cards for streaming services

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Rewards:

  • 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1 percent)
  • 6 percent back on select U.S. streaming services
  • 3 percent on transit purchases (including rideshares, tolls, parking and taxi)
  • 3 percent at U.S. gas stations
  • 1 percent on all other purchases

Welcome bonus: $250 back in statement credit when you spend $1,000 in the first three months of card ownership

Annual fee: $95

Editor’s take:

Earning as high as 6 percent anything (points, cash back or miles) on select streaming service purchases is more or less unheard of — unless, of course, you’re talking about the Blue Cash Preferred.

To qualify for 6 percent cash back on select U.S. streaming services with your card, the purchase, in most cases, must be made with the provider directly rather than a third party. A few of the providers that qualify for cash back rewards include Netflix, Hulu, Spotify and YouTube TV. You can view the full list, here.

If you’re approved for the Blue Cash Preferred on or before May 31, 2020, your timeframe to earn the welcome bonus is extended by three months.

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

Rewards:

  • 5 percent cash back on two categories you choose (including TV, Internet & streaming services) on your first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases each quarter.
  • 2 percent cash back on one everyday category of your choosing
  • 1 percent cash back on every other eligible net purchase

Welcome bonus: $150 bonus when you apply online and spend $500 in eligible net purchases within 90 days of account opening

Annual fee: $0

Editor’s take:

The U.S. Bank Cash+ is a great option for those who don’t mind tracking spending categories and are interested in skipping the yearly charge to own it. The U.S. Bank Cash+ offers 12 categories to choose from each quarter to earn 5 percent cash back on up to $2,000 in combined spending, including TV, Internet and streaming services. The rest of the cash back calendar can be found here.

A few examples of qualifying streaming services include Disney+, Sling TV, YouTube and Netflix. If you’re interested in viewing additional sample merchants, you can do so, here.

Unlike the Blue Cash Preferred, the U.S. Bank Cash+ doesn’t charge an annual fee — but your spending on streaming services will be capped at $2,000 per quarter in combined spending with another category of your choice. Realistically, if you don’t spend more than $667 a month on streaming services, this cap won’t mean much to you.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

Rewards:

  • 3X points on popular streaming services, travel, gas and dining
  • 1X points on other purchases

Welcome bonus: 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in the first three months ($200 cash redemption value)

Annual fee: $0

Editor’s take:

The Wells Fargo Propel is a solid no annual fee choice that earns you an unlimited 3X points on eligible online streaming services. According to Wells, you can earn bonus rewards points on Apple Music®, Hulu, Netflix, Pandora®, Sirius XM Radio Inc. and Spotify Premium.

You’ll get a lower rewards rate on streaming services compared to the options listed above, but you also won’t owe an annual fee — unlike the Blue Cash Preferred — or be tied to a quarterly category cap like the U.S. Bank Cash+.

One unique feature of the card is its cell phone protection benefit. If you pay your cell phone bill with the Wells Fargo Propel, you’ll be protected from damage or theft of your device (a deductible applies). This perk may come in handy if you use your phone for streaming music and videos in public spaces.


Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.