Enjoy free trials of streaming services, then earn rewards

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As millions of Americans remain stuck at home due to the pandemic, many big-name video streaming service platforms are offering free trials to hook customers in. Savvy streamers who continue subscriptions after trials end can earn significant cash back by putting their subscriptions on the right credit cards.

Here’s a breakdown of the latest streaming service free trials, tips for making the most of these platforms and a list of the best rewards credit cards for streaming services.

Apple TV+

  • Regular price: $4.99/mo.
  • Plan options: Apple TV+ and Apple One bundle
  • Free trial period length: 7 days or 1 month with Apple One

Unlike streaming giants Netflix and Hulu, which first hooked viewers by licensing popular shows and movies before venturing into original content, Apple TV+ has dived headfirst into original content. In fact, original content is their main offering.

Star-studded shows like “The Morning Show,” featuring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell, and “The Oprah Conversation,” hosted by the media mogul herself, guarantee an entertaining weeklong streaming service free trial.

Apple TV+ has a smaller library than the major players in the streaming world, so explore their selection in depth during your trial to make sure there’s enough to keep you hooked in if you subscribe.

Sign up for a free trial of Apple TV+.

Discovery+

  • Regular price: starts at $4.99/mo.
  • Plans: discovery+ and discovery+ (Ad-Free)
  • Free trial length: 7 days

With access to 55,000+ episodes of more than 2,500 shows, you’ll have plenty to watch during your weeklong free trial of discovery+. What’s included? Shows and movies from channels like HGTV, Food Network, TLC, Animal Planet, Discovery, A&E, and Lifetime.

Nature lovers will rejoice in BBC’s “Planet Earth” and “Blue Planet.” Foodies are in good company with celebrity chef hosts like Guy Fieri, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis. Interior design buffs can get their fill of “Fixer Upper” and “Property Brothers.”

Sign up for a free trial of discovery+.

Hulu

  • Regular price: starts at $5.99/mo.
  • Plan options: Hulu, Hulu (No Ads), Hulu + Live TV, Hulu (No Ads) + Live TV
  • Free trial period length: One month for Hulu or one week for Hulu + Live TV

Hulu has something for everyone. It’s home to TV favorites like “Modern Family” and “Younger” and critically acclaimed original content like “Normal People,” “Ramy” and “The United States vs. Billie Holiday.” The streaming service also has great add-ons, like live TV and premium channels like HBO and SHOWTIME.

With Hulu’s Watch Party feature, you can watch shows and movies and chat with up to seven friends over the web.

If you’re a student, you can subscribe to Hulu for only $1.99 per month after your free trial of the streaming service ends.

Sign up for a free trial of Hulu.

Paramount+

  • Regular price: starts at $5.99/mo.
  • Plans: Limited Commercials and Commercial Free
  • Free trial length: 7 days

CBS All Access is now Paramount+. This new streaming service includes content from networks like CBS, BET, MTV, Nickelodeon, and Smithsonian Channel. You can get your fill of 24-hour sports and news during your free trial with access to CBS Sports and CBSN. If you have little ones to entertain, they’ll love watching “Peppa Pig,” “Blue’s Clues” and “Dora the Explorer.”

Paramount+ is also producing original content, so be sure to check it out during your free trial of the streaming service.

Sign up for a free trial of Paramount+.

Peacock

  • Regular price: starts at $4.99/mo.
  • Plans: Peacock, Peacock Premium, Peacock Premium Plus
  • Free trial length: 7 days

Peacock is NBC’s foray into streaming. The platform is home to NBC classics like “30 Rock,” “The Office” and “Parks and Rec,” and a changing selection of popular movies, which currently includes “Despicable Me” and “E.T.”

While you can always watch Peacock for free, you can test Peacock Premium and Peacock Premium Plus plans during a weeklong free trial. Peacock Premium comes with more shows and movies, original content, live sports and events and next-day access to episodes of NBC shows. Peacock Premium Plus offers all of those perks plus an ad-free streaming experience and offline watching.

Sign up for a free trial of Peacock.

Prime Video

  • Regular price: $8.99/mo.
  • Plans: Prime Video and Amazon Prime with Prime Video
  • Free trial length: 30 days

The online marketplace for everything under the sun also has its own streaming service that offers a generous free trial. You can spend a month perusing the wide selection Prime Video has to offer, which includes blockbuster movies like “Knives Out,” bingeable shows like “Downton Abbey” and critically acclaimed originals like “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” You can also pay to rent or buy premium shows and movies.

If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you likely already have Prime Video included in your membership. Students can get an extended six-month free trial of Amazon Prime, with Prime Video included, and then access Prime for only $6.49 per month. Prime members who choose no-rush shipping on Amazon orders can receive credits to use on premium Prime Video rentals and purchases.

Sign up for a free trial of Prime Video.

SHOWTIME

  • Regular price: $10.99/mo.
  • Plans: Stand-alone plan and add-on plans through various streaming services
  • Free trial length: 30 days

Most people know SHOWTIME as a premium add-on channel for cable and other streaming platforms, but did you know that SHOWTIME also has a stand-alone streaming service? While the add-on version of the network’s free trial is usually only a few days long, SHOWTIME offers its direct customers a whole month to check out their selection. Use your trial to binge popular shows like “Billions,” “Shameless,” and “Homeland.”

Sign up for a free trial of SHOWTIME.

YouTube TV

  • Regular price: $64.99/mo.
  • Plans: YouTube TV
  • Free trial length: 14 days

YouTube TV is perfect for people who want to cut the cord. This service lets you stream more than 85 TV channels in real-time, including local stations, without committing to an inflexible cable bill. Subscribers can even add premium channels like HBO, SHOWTIME, and STARZ to their plans.

YouTube TV’s people-pleasing selection includes sports channels like ESPN and the NFL Network, kid-friendly stations like Nickelodeon and Disney Channel and reality-show driven channels like Bravo and TLC.

Unlike the other platforms on this list, YouTube TV doesn’t offer on-demand streaming, but it does let you record live TV. Take advantage of the two-week free trial to see if YouTube TV is right for you.

Sign up for a free trial of YouTube TV.

How to maximize your streaming service free trials and subscriptions — and earn credit card rewards

Use these tips to make the most of your streaming service free trials and subscriptions.

  • Keep track of when the trial ends to avoid being charged for a subscription if you don’t want to continue the service. Many streaming services will let you continue to watch content up to the date that the trial ends even if you cancel earlier.
  • Sign up for only one free trial at a time to make sure you can take full advantage of each service.
  • Start a trial when you know you’ll have lots of free time — like a long weekend, vacation, or school break — to maximize watching time.
  • Even if you sign up for a trial to binge a particular show, don’t forget to see what other content the platform has to offer. Explore the library and sample various types of movies and shows.
  • When signing up for a paid subscription after your free trial ends, bill it to a credit card that offers maximum cash back or points for that type of purchase. We share the best credit cards for streaming services in the next section.
  • If you subscribe to multiple streaming services, stagger or sync up payment dates to make managing your accounts easier. Most streaming services bill you the first day after your trial ends, so keep that in mind as you plan trials and subscriptions.
  • Think carefully about sharing logins. A recent Bankrate survey found that 35 percent of U.S. adults have used someone else’s login credentials to access video streaming services. While sharing account access could save you money if a friend reciprocates with a password for another platform, it presents a security risk and is getting harder to do. For example, Netflix has begun cracking down on password sharing.
  • If you find you haven’t used a streaming service for a while, cancel your subscription.

The best credit cards for streaming services

These are the best credit cards for streaming services because they offer impressive cash back and points rewards for using them to pay for your streaming subscriptions.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

  • Earn 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1 percent) and select U.S. streaming subscriptions; 3 percent on transit purchases (including ride-shares, trains, buses, tolls, parking and taxi) and U.S. gas stations; 1 percent on all other purchases
  • Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership, up to $200 back. Plus, earn $150 back after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits.
  • Annual fee: $95 ($0 introductory annual fee for one year)
  • APR: 13.99 percent to 23.99 percent variable

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers generous cash back in some pretty useful everyday categories, including select streaming services. To qualify for 6 percent cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions 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, SHOWTIME, Apple TV+ and YouTube TV.

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

  • Earn 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, then 1 percent); 2 percent cash back on one everyday category of your choosing: grocery stores, gas stations, or restaurants; 1 percent on all other purchases
  • Earn a $150 bonus when you spend $500 on eligible net purchases within 90 days of account opening
  • Annual fee: $0
  • APR: 13.99 percent to 23.99 percent variable

The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card is a great option for those who don’t mind tracking spending categories and are interested in skipping an annual fee. The U.S. Bank Cash+ offers 12 categories to choose from each quarter for its 5 percent cash back, including TV, Internet and streaming services. Qualifying streaming services include Disney+, Hulu, YouTube and Netflix.

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.

The information about the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Written by
Ana Cvetkovic
Personal Finance Writer

About the author

“As a self-taught entrepreneur, I turned to podcasts, books, blog posts from sites like Bankrate and CreditCards.com, and fellow business owners to learn how to manage my business’s finances. I am passionate about making information about business and personal finance more accessible and easy to understand.” - Ana Cvetkovic

Experience

When Ana’s family moved from Serbia to the United States when she was four years old, she never expected her version of the American dream would involve starting a business. By the age of 23, Ana leveraged her college food blog, Better Than Ramen, to land her first freelance writing client in the restaurant technology industry. Since then, her side hustle has developed into BLOOM Digital Marketing, a marketing agency that services all kinds of clients. Ana’s interest in finance developed out of her own entrepreneurial journey. As a business owner, she has first-hand experience with the topics she covers for Bankrate. As a finance expert, Ana has ghostwritten for CFOs of fintech companies and authored resources that help small business owners, finance departments, and everyone in between. You can learn more about Ana’s work on LinkedIn, Twitter or her website. Ana holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from the George Washington University.
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