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How to Save on Netflix – Can You Get Netflix Free?

Looking to save on Netflix subscription, and can you get Netflix free? I'll teach you how to save up to $143.88/year on Netflix, while still getting access to the movies you want to watch.

couple sitting on couch with tv remote with text overlay "how to save money on netflix"

Remember those Friday nights perusing your local Blockbuster, checking out your weekend's DVDs with a coke in hand (chocolate chip cookie dough bites for me, thank you very much)?

Then came Netflix, and our lives changed drastically. While browsing the digital shelves might not be as rewarding, it certainly is more convenient.

I mean, no due dates? No shipping fees? No leaving your couch?

Pretty sweet.

But what about that monthly fee you're paying?

We were on the plan that allowed 2 DVDs at a time, for a total of $11.99/month.

Well, your local library might bring back some of that Blockbuster magic. It's one of the best ways to save on Netflix!

Curious How You Can Use Your Library like a Blockbuster?

While I've used Interlibrary Loan ever since learning about its magic in college (I used to work as a librarian, aka the coolest federal work study job ever), I've never used it for getting my hands on the DVDs I want to watch.

So this made me wonder, what if our library could fulfill our $11.99/month ($143.88/year) Netflix queue for free?

Could it be our free Netflix?

I went through our Netflix queue as is, and searched for each of the DVDs on our library's homepage, and then if it wasn't available there, on the ILL page.

Honestly, I was shocked with what I found: 100% of our Netflix queue is available for pickup from the library just two miles down the road.

How to save money just became a heck of a lot easier.

ILL is the sharing economy at its best.

With all of the libraries across the nation, it's likely that one will have a book, DVD, audio book, etc. that you want. But instead of you having to drive to Nebraska for a copy of Straight Outta Compton, you just order the DVD through your local library (either in person or online) and they will order it from whatever library has it, then have it shipped to them for free.

Meaning you can now get the material at your local library whenever it comes in for free. And of course you return the item to your library as well, who will then ship it to wherever it's supposed to go to next.

How convenient!

Not only that, but in our library's ILL system, you can start a queue just like in Netflix, called “Things to Checkout”.

Each library has slightly different rules. Ours has the following:

  • Maximum of 5 ILL active requests at a time (includes pending and checked out ILL requests)
  • ILL requests count towards your maximum of 30 holds allowed per cardholder
  • Checkout time is 3 weeks and no renewals are allowed

Patience, of course, is a necessity if you're going to do this. For our library's ILL system, you have to wait between 2 and 6 weeks for delivery. But honestly, you wait that long (or longer) for items in the mid-range of your Netflix queue anyway, right?

Let's look at more ways to save money on your monthly Netflix subscription – especially if you want to stream!

Pay for Netflix through iTunes, with Free Gift Cards

Did you know that you can pay for your Netflix through iTunes?

Hint: Netflix states on their website that they no longer allow new accounts to pay by iTunes, only existing iTunes members who already pay by iTunes can continue doing so. 

I’ve got a pretty fun strategy you can use to score free iTunes gift cards, and then pay for your Netflix from that.

Step #1: Sign Up for a Free Swagbucks Account

Have you heard of Swagbucks? It’s a way to search the internet (like Google), and you get rewarded for doing so. You’ll earn SBs (swagbucks) during your normal use of the internet, and then you can redeem those points for actual gift cards (or cash, through PayPal).

I’ve been using Swagbucks since 2012, and have a lifetime earnings of 372,296 SBs (hint: that's $3,722.96 in cash to my PayPal account!!).

screenshot of swagbucks earnings, lifetime is 372,296 SBs

Step #2: Go to Swagbucks and Search

After you get your free account, set Swagbucks as your home search page. That way whenever you open up your internet, you’ll remember to search through Swagbucks instead of google. The rewards will start coming!

Step #3: Redeem Your SBs for an iTunes Gift Card

You’ll need the following SBs to redeem for an iTunes gift card:

  • 500 SBs gets you a free $5 iTunes gift card
  • 2500 SBs gets you a free $25 iTunes gift card
  • 1000 SBs gets you a free $10 iTunes gift card
  • 1500 SBs gets you a free $15 iTunes gift card
  • 5000 SBs gets you a free $50 iTunes gift card

Pssst: Swagbucks often has discount offers where you’ll need less SBs to get your deals. See below? Currently three iTunes gift cards are “on sale”!

Where else can you buy discounted iTunes gift cards? Through your Costco or Sam’s Club. They sell them in bundles, at a small discount. You could buy a pack and pay for your Netflix for several months at a 5%-10% discount.

Pay for Netflix through Discounted Netflix Gift Cards

Did you know that Netflix has gift cards? What if you could buy those gift cards at a discount, and then pay for your subscription that way? Well, then you would have found a legitimate (but not-well-known) way to save on Netflix subscriptions!

Note: their website says that you cannot currently use Netflix gift cards if you pay for Netflix using iTunes or Google Play.

Raise.com offers a tiny discount on Netflix gift cards:

screenshot of Raise Discount Gift Cards for Netflix

I know, I know. that's hardly any discount at all! You can add a bit to your discount by stacking your deals — meaning, sign up for a Rakuten account and shop for your discounted Netflix Gift Cards on Raise.com through Rakuten.com. This way, you'll earn 1% cashback.

Ready to layer your discount one more time, to squeeze a little extra savings out? Then pay with a credit card where you get cash or points for purchases. Here's how this looks:

  1. Sign Up for Rakuten
  2. Shop for Netflix gift cards through Raise.com or other gift card discount sites
  3. Pay with your cashback or rewards credit card
  4. Apply your Netflix gift card to your Netflix subscription and save money

What are YOUR favorite, not-well-known ways to save on Netflix subscriptions? Please do share below!

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Amanda L. Grossman is a writer and Certified Financial Education Instructor, Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Frugal Confessions. Over the last 13 years, her money work has helped people with how to save money and how to manage money. She's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, LifeHacker, Real Simple Magazine, Woman's World, Woman's Day, ABC 13 Houston, Keybank, and more. Read more here.


Thursday 17th of March 2016

Good post, Amanda. You made me laugh when you said you went to Blockbuster for DVD's. I thought you were going to say tapes. I know, showing my age. We have access to two fantastic library networks. Both top rated in the country. One is big city library, the other is local county. Pay $1 to transfer?!? Boy I didn't realize how spoiled I am. It is truly amazing the resources we have access to besides books: toy lending, computer classes, online courses, meet the author seminars (among others), career guidance center at one branch. I could go on but I won't. Thanks for reminding me just how lucky I am to have free access to so much.

Amanda L Grossman

Friday 18th of March 2016

Haha--I'm sure I picked up a few VHS tapes in my day;).

I've been wanting to check out the genealogy classes at our library; also baby/toddler storytime! Both are free. I'm glad you have great resources as well.


Wednesday 16th of March 2016

Some libraries are great, like yours and others are like WNY libraries. We have to pay $1 to transfer something, not via ILL, but within our system just to our local branch. I have not even looked at ILL because I doubt it would be worth it. I'd rather pay a little more overall and have more libraries like yours.


Wednesday 16th of March 2016

Darn on having to pay that $1, Ginger! I've never encountered that, so thanks for letting me know.

Pamela Car

Wednesday 16th of March 2016

Streaming is a great add on, but new movies are what people were always looking for when they went to the local video store to rent. Netflix DVD has the new movies, the old movies, and the best depth of independents and foreign movies. I still would think DVD's would be what the main stream would be looking for. You could get them other places, but unless you are an infrequent watcher Netflix still offers the most economical choice. I am quitting for a bit, but I will probably go back in 6 months or so and move around from streaming to DVD depending on what is available.


Wednesday 16th of March 2016

Very true, Pamela. I mostly was looking for new movies in Blockbuster days as well.

Emily @ evolvingPF

Tuesday 15th of March 2016

Very interesting! I've been using the local library pretty heavily recently for books, and although I scoped out the DVDs when I first visited it I have yet to check any out. I've definitely been thinking of downgrading our Netflix subscription (we have both DVD service and streaming, which seems like overkill) but maybe it would be a good thing for our TV consumption to make access to shows a bit more difficult, such as by switching to getting titles only from the library.


Wednesday 16th of March 2016

Ahhhh yes--I have considered dropping our access to so much television myself!


Tuesday 15th of March 2016

Hi Amanda! Couldn't agree more with the library as a resource. We've been reiterating that idea to friends and family for years. Our local library has a *decent* selection of DVDs and CDs. BTW I like how you liken the library to the Blockbuster days, it's so true.

But it's not hard to not have library-envy with some libraries in larger towns. Their selection can be just huge! Some are able to reciprocate with borrowing, others not. The ILL system is the way to go.



Wednesday 16th of March 2016

Hi Joe! I'm in Houston, but not near the downtown central library. Ours has about 100 DVDs always on its shelves--I wonder if that's a 'normal' quantity or not?

Also, I like that your promote libraries (says the former federal-work-study librarian;)).