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5 August 2020
Netflix has become a fixture in many UK living rooms, with over 13 million households using it to stream TV and films. It no longer offers free trials to new customers, but we've a host of MoneySaving hacks to cut costs – including how to save up to £72/year and a trick to watch for just £3/month. Plus we've clever ways to make the most of your subscription, such as adding review ratings and unlocking 'hidden' genres...
Netflix first hit the UK in 2012, and it's quickly become the UK's most popular subscription streaming service, allowing you to watch 1,000s of films and TV programmes via the internet, on your TV or another screen. It boasts loads of well-known series, exclusive Netflix Originals shows such as Stranger Things, Ozark and The Crown, and a wide range of films, including newer releases like Extraction, Marriage Story and The Irishman.
You can watch TV and films on Netflix whenever you like, and pause, rewind and fast forward as you please. Unlike traditional TV, it has categories rather than channels. It doesn't have any adverts apart from occasional trailers for other content on Netflix.
While you can watch Netflix via a web browser on a computer, tablet or smartphone, you'll likely find it easier to use by downloading the Netflix app (although if you watch via browser there are extra hacks you can use).
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Here are our top MoneySaving hacks for Netflix – let us know yours in the Netflix Hacks forum thread.
There are three different levels of Netflix subscription – the more you pay, the more screens you can watch on simultaneously, the higher the quality you can watch in and the more devices you can download to. So depending on the plan you're on, there may be an easy way for you to slash the cost.
Many Netflix users – the "vast majority", according to The Guardian, though Netflix hasn't confirmed this – are on its £8.99/mth standard package. Others pay £11.99/mth for premium.
If you're one of these people, check if you really need to be on a more expensive membership. If you don't need all the bells and whistles – for example, if you only watch on one screen or aren't really fussed about HD or ultra HD – then switching to Netflix's £5.99/mth basic package could save you up to £72/yr.
To do this, all you have to do is log in to Netflix, go to 'Account' and then under 'Plan Details' hit 'Change plan'. You'll be switched to your new plan right away, but won't get money back – you'll simply pay less the next time you're billed, so do it as close to your next billing date as possible. Here's how the different price plans compare:
|No. of screens you can watch on at the same time||1||2||4|
|No. of mobile phones or tablets you can download to||1||2||4|
|Highest definition available||Standard||HD||Ultra HD|
You can pay for Netflix via debit or credit card (including American Express) – your subscription will be set up as a monthly recurring payment. You can also pay by prepaid card, if your card provider allows it, via Paypal or with a gift card.
You can also pay for Netflix via your BT TV, O2, Sky (if you have Ultimate On Demand), TalkTalk, Three, Virgin or Vodafone bill, if you're a customer and sign up through them.
You used to be able to sign up for Netflix via iTunes, but now only those who have already signed up to Netflix via iTunes can continue to pay this way.
Your billing date is usually the date you signed up (although sometimes payment will be taken early, say if you signed up on the 31st but there are 30 days that month). If you cancel before this, your membership will run until your next billing date.
You can ask Netflix to stop using your contact info to show you ads for Netflix via other online services, such as YouTube or Spotify. This will work for those services you've signed up to using the same email address or phone number you used for Netflix. This might be useful if you're a bit of a Netflix addict but are looking to take a break from it.
To do this, go to 'Account' via the website or app, select 'Marketing Communications' and uncheck the 'Use contact information from my Netflix account to send promotional communications on third party services' tick box.
It may sound obvious, but if you're thinking about signing up for the premium plan or you already have, consider whether it's worth the extra cash – it costs £36/yr more than the standard plan and £72/yr more than the basic plan.
To stream and watch video in ultra HD you'll need a screen that can handle it (your TV is the one most likely to be able to, but check your model), plus a broadband speed of at least 25Mb. If you don't have these, you only need to be on the premium plan if your household needs to be able to watch on four screens simultaneously.
While the number of ultra HD titles on Netflix varies, at the time of writing it's about 15% of the total, and the vast majority are from the last three years – so if you mainly use Netflix to watch the likes of Friends or films released before 2015, again a premium plan may not be worth it.
This is a trick to cut the cost if others in your household have their own Netflix subscription – or are thinking about signing up.
The Netflix standard plan, which costs £8.99/mth, allows you to watch on two screens at the same time (and entirely independently, so you don't have to be watching the same thing). This means you could get one subscription, split the cost with your other half, a family member or housemate and pay just £4.50/mth each – a saving of at least £18/yr each – with the added bonus of being able to watch in HD.
Even better, if you live with three others, you can split the £11.99/mth premium plan, which allows you to watch on four screens at once – so you'll pay £3/mth each for Netflix, and you can watch in ultra HD.
What's more, you don't have to worry about messing up one another's watchlists or where you've got up to with a particular show or film, as you can create a separate profile for each person sharing the plan, allowing each of you to tailor Netflix to your tastes.
If you're in charge of the subscription and one or more of those you're sharing it with stops stumping up their share of the fee, you can change the settings to prevent them from accessing the account.
Go to Account > Settings > Sign Out of All Devices, click 'Sign Out' and then change the password. That'll learn 'em.
You can also downgrade the plan if you don't want to be left paying more for one you were sharing, or cancel it altogether at any time.
OK, so this is basically the same point as the one above, but it's worth really ramming it home. As Netflix lets you share your plan with anyone in your home, and its standard and premium plans allow multiple people to watch different content on different devices at the same time, it's almost NEVER worth paying for more than one subscription in the same household. You're usually better off getting a more expensive plan and splitting the cost.
The main exceptions to this would be where you're not comfortable splitting the bill with someone, or where more than four people in one home would want to watch Netflix simultaneously on different screens, in which case even the premium plan won't cut it. Otherwise you'll likely save by sharing a subscription, and get HD or ultra HD thrown in as a bonus.
In 2016 Netflix said it wasn't "obsessed" with enforcing the no-sharing-outside-the-household rule, but it is technically against its rules. We've asked Netflix where it now stands on this but unfortunately it hasn't given us a clear answer – we'll update this guide if and when we get one.
If you don't watch any 'live' television (ie, programmes being broadcast on a TV channel) and you don't watch anything on BBC iPlayer (live or catch-up), then you don't need a TV licence.
So if you only watch Netflix or similar services such as Amazon Prime Video, or catch-up via ITV Hub, All 4, My5 etc, you can save yourself up to £154.50 a year (£157.50 a year from 1 April) by ditching your TV licence. For full details see our Do I need a TV licence? guide.
Netflix doesn't offer a student discount – unlike Amazon Prime, which gives those aged 18+ in higher education Prime Video for free for six months.
But it's happy with people in the same household sharing a plan, so students can share a household's account when at home – and what's more, while the rules aren't clear-cut, it also seems open to them using it while they're away at university during term-time.
In 2016, Netflix said it "was probably OK" for students to use their parents' login when they went to university, with the expectation that they would then subscribe themselves when they leave education and get their own homes.
While it's the biggest, Netflix is far from the only streaming service out there. So don't assume it's the best option for you – alternatives may be cheaper, or you may want to mix and match what you're signed up to, making the most of the various free trials on offer.
To give you an idea of what the best option is for you, there's a clever free online tool, JustWatch, which catalogues what shows and films are shown on different streaming services. It includes more than 20 in total – including free ones such as All 4 and BBC iPlayer – and you can search by title, actor, director or just about anything else you can think of.
If there are specific shows or films you want to watch, check which services have them, then weigh up what the best – and cheapest – option is for you. Here's a quick rundown of how some of the main services compare:
|All 4||Free (£3.99/mth with 14-day free trial to watch without ads)||100s of box sets|
|Amazon Prime Video*||From £5.99/mth (with 30-day free trial)||Popular films and TV incl Amazon Originals exclusives|
|BBC iPlayer||Free – but you need a TV licence||TV series and films shown on BBC, plus some online-only content|
|BritBox||£5.99/mth (with 30-day free trial)||Dramas, comedies, films and documentaries from the BBC and ITV|
|Disney+||£5.99/mth or £59.99/yr||More than 1,000 Disney films and TV series, plus all the Marvel and Star Wars films|
|ITV Hub||Free (£3.99/mth or £39.99/yr with a week's free trial to watch without ads)||TV series and films shown on ITV, plus preview clips of some popular series|
|Mubi||From £9.99/month (with seven-day free trial)||30 hand-picked films a month|
|My5||Free||Shows and films from Channel 5, 5 Select, 5 Star, 5 USA and more|
|Now TV Entertainment||£8.99/mth (with seven-day free trial)||More than 300 box sets plus channels that aren't on Freeview|
|Now TV Sky Cinema||£11.99/mth (with seven-day free trial)||More than 1,000 films with a new one every day|
If you already have a TV subscription, you may find adding to your package works out cheaper than getting Netflix.
As there are so many different digital TV packages out there, offering different content and at various prices, you'll need to check with your provider what the options are. But in some cases this may win – for example, if you've a basic Sky TV package you can get TV series including Sky exclusives on demand for £5/mth by adding Sky Box Sets.
If you watch Netflix while out and about using mobile data, it can be easy to burn through your monthly data allowance in hours – and even exceed it, leading to a nasty surprise when you get your bill.
You can prevent this by changing the settings to limit how much data it uses.
If you're a Three customer and you have some data left in your monthly allowance, you can currently stream via Netflix without actually using any of your remaining data as part of its 'Go Binge' service, as long as you're on one of the following plans:
Provided you've one of these, you don't need to do anything to activate Go Binge – it'll kick in automatically. It also works with Apple Music, Deezer, Snapchat, SoundCloud and TVPlayer.
Not sure if your plan is eligible for Go Binge? Check by downloading the Three app (available for iOS*, Android, Windows Mobile and Blackberry devices), going to the 'Plan' section and scrolling down to 'Active add-ons'. Alternatively you can ask Three via web chat on its contact us webpage* or by calling 333 on your Three phone or 0333 338 1001 from another phone.
You can also use Go Binge abroad in certain countries in line with Three's 'Go Roam' (previously Feel At Home) service, although a fair usage data limit of 19GB applies if you're in a European country covered by Go Roam and 12GB if you're in a country that's further afield and covered by it. For more info on Go Roam, see Cheap Mobile and Data Roaming.
If you stream stuff on Netflix via mobile data but don't want to get carried away and wipe out your monthly data allowance in a matter of hours, there's a simple way to stop yourself from getting sucked into a binge.
By turning off the autoplay feature you'll have to hit play if you want to keep watching the next episode, which will lessen the chances of you carrying on without thinking about it – and also means that should you, say, nod off on a train you won't end up using GBs of data when you're not even watching.
To disable autoplay on the Netflix website, go to 'Account', then 'Playback settings' and then uncheck the 'Play next episode automatically' box.
To disable autoplay on the Netflix app, choose 'Account' from the menu and you'll be taken to the website – follow the steps above from there.
The easiest way to minimise the amount of mobile data Netflix uses when you're out and about is simply to download programmes and films on to your phone, tablet etc in advance, while connected to Wi-Fi.
To do this, open the Netflix app, find the title you want and tap the download icon (a downwards-pointing arrow) on the description page – with series you'll need to download each episode individually.
Your show should then appear in the downloads section of your app. You can store up to 100 downloads on any device at a time.
You've a limited amount of time to watch downloads (depending on the particular licence of that content) – you'll be shown the amount of time left if it's less than seven days, and some will expire 48 hours after you start watching them.
Most, but not all, titles on Netflix are available for download as again this depends on the licence agreement Netflix has for a particular series or movie. This can include Netflix Originals as some are made in partnership with other studios.
How much you can download will also depend on how much storage space you've got on your device – you should allow about 280MB per hour of standard-definition content and around 440MB per hour of HD content. For help clearing space on your device, see our Boosting Phone Storage guide.
When you subscribe to Netflix your account will have an automatically generated 'children' profile through which only series and films suitable for kids can be watched.
This profile contains titles suitable for younger and older children (this can be restricted according to preference). At the time of writing it includes DreamWorks Animation movies such as Shrek and Madagascar, classic kids' films like such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Jumanji, and series such as Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig.
There is also some educational science and nature television, such as Planet Earth, The Universe and Walking With Dinosaurs. (And if you really want to use Netflix as an educational tool, try setting up a profile that only shows programmes and films in a foreign language to help them learn it.)
You can switch the age range of the children profile between 'for older children and younger' and 'for toddlers only'. To do this, open Netflix, select 'Manage Profiles' and 'Children', then choose your preferred option from the 'Allowed TV programmes and films' dropdown menu.
If you've more than one child you can set up a Netflix profile for each of them (you get five profiles per subscription) so you can restrict what they can watch according to their age, and also allow each of them to continue watching where they left off.
The last option available is All maturity levels, based on the '15' suitable only for 15 years and over and '18' suitable only for adults classifications. This obviously should be avoided when setting up a profile for nippers.
If your kids are tech-savvy enough to circumnavigate the children profile, you can set a four-digit PIN to prevent them from switching to another profile and watching something they shouldn't.
To do this, go to 'Account', then 'Parental controls' and enter your account password. Select 'Create PIN', enter four digits of your choice and press 'Save'. You can choose from four levels (little kids, older kids, teens or adults) to restrict by PIN, or restrict specific titles by typing them into the search bar.
You'll then be asked for the PIN whenever you're watching something above the set age range on any profile.
The children profile counts as one of the five profiles you can create per Netflix subscription. If you don't have kids or they don't use Netflix, you can delete the profile by selecting 'Manage Profiles' and 'Children', then 'Delete Profile'. You can then replace it with a new one if you want to.
At MSE we're not huge fans of gift cards, as they can easily get lost or forgotten, plus there's a danger of losing out if the retailer goes bust – see our Gift cards and vouchers guide for full info. So this next trick comes with a health warning and you'll need to weigh up whether to try it. But do it right and you may be able to save on your subscription.
Netflix gift cards are available from lots of retailers, but there are also sites that offer discounts on them. So the idea is to buy the gift cards at a discounted rate, then use them straightaway to minimise any risk. Remember, if there's a problem with a gift card you may need to go back to the retailer you bought it from, rather than Netflix, so always check sites' reviews and T&Cs.
The balance of your Netflix gift card will be added to your account when you redeem it, and your payments will be taken from it until the balance has been used up. If you cancel your subscription while there is still gift card balance on your account, your subscription will continue until it's been used up.
There are two ways to save with discounted gift cards:
The beauty of Netflix from a MoneySaving point of view is that you can dip in and out of subscribing as often as you like, as there's no minimum contract term. That means if you know what's on when, you can ensure you're only paying for Netflix while it has the stuff you want to watch.
To help plan, you can check when something is due to be taken off Netflix within the next 30 days. Open up the info on any series or movie and click the 'Details' tab – if it's due to be taken off soon, it'll say something like 'Availability Until 31/08/2020'.
You can then use this info to tailor your subscription accordingly. For example, if your current series will be gone by the time your subscription rolls into the next month, and there's nothing else on Netflix you're fussed about, you may want to cancel your subscription.
There are also lots of places to check what's being added to Netflix each week, including Netflix's Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, the unofficial New On Netflix UK site, the Radio Times and entertainment site Den of Geek.
You can request shows or films you want to see on Netflix, or something you want to see return – for example, you really want South Park back like nothing else. There are no guarantees your wish will be Netflix's command though – content rights, streaming rights, popularity, cost and more determine whether it can or will license a particular title.
You make requests via the Help Centre using the request TV shows or movies page – Netflix says it may look into licensing your suggestions, depending on demand.
And of course if what you want to watch isn't on Netflix, it may well be on an alternative TV streaming service.
Anyone who has used Netflix before will know how easy it is to spend more time looking for something to watch than you do actually watching it.
While Netflix's recommendation categories can help you find new programmes and films that appeal to your tastes based on what you've already watched, in doing that they seemingly miss out hundreds if not thousands of titles.
The good news is there's a secret stash of codes that let you access every category on Netflix so you can track down comedies, documentaries, dramas and more that you might not see by browsing the customised categories.
Just type the name of the category into the search bar on your browser or app, and you'll be shown related ones. Or you can add a code to the URL – for example, http://www.netflix.com/browse/genre/XXXX – to be shown a different selection.
There are more than 3,000 categories – see the list on independent site What's on Netflix's Netflix ID Bible. Here are a few of our favourites:
'Free' Netflix subscriptions with mobile phone contracts, where you pay the monthly bill and Netflix is thrown in with it for six or 12 months, crop up now and again. So keep an eye out if you're looking to switch mobile contract and subscribe to Netflix at the same time.
As ever, it's usually only worth it if you were already going to go for the particular contract that includes the Netflix subscription in the first place. For example, our analysis found a previous O2 deal with 'free' Netflix was only worth it for high data users.
Netflix says 70% of its users watch on TV, but if you watch it on a good ol' fashioned desktop or laptop computer you can access a number of hacks that you can't use on other devices.
The first reason for this is because computers have keyboards, and Netflix has a number of keyboard shortcuts that make it quicker and easier to use. The second is because on a computer you can watch via web browser, and there are a number of free, unofficial browser extensions that allow you to do stuff with Netflix that you can't when watching on other devices.
Bear in mind that the type of web browser you use will affect what add-ons are available. Google Chrome is your best bet – there are a number of Netflix extensions available for it – while there are a few about for Mozilla Firefox. If you use Apple Safari, Microsoft Edge or Opera, it's worth downloading Chrome to watch Netflix on if you want to use extensions, as unfortunately there are few available for those browsers.
If you struggle to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to what you watch on Netflix, then these browser extensions are for you. RateFlix (Google Chrome) and Useful Scores for Netflix (Mozilla Firefox) add scores from movie and TV rating sites IMDb, Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes to everything on Netflix.
Just add the extension to your browser, go to Netflix and, when you hover the pointer over a show or movie of your choosing, it will be displayed with the rating from all three sites (subject to it having been rated by them) beneath the title.
At the time of writing, MSE Kelvin is still struggling to understand how the Baywatch movie only got 18% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Remember these and you'll no longer find yourself fumbling for the mouse/touchpad at the crucial moment.
For the uninitiated, if you're watching a TV series on Netflix and haven't interacted with it – eg, changed the volume, skipped an intro – once in a while, a message will appear asking, "Are you still watching...?" Netflix says this is to help make sure you don't lose your place (if you've, say, fallen asleep). But many find it an unwelcome distraction (or even somewhat judgemental, if you're in the middle of a particularly bad box-set binge).
The good news is you can stop Netflix from asking if you're still watching, provided you're watching via a web browser, by downloading a free browser extension.
If you're watching via Google Chrome you can download Binge! or Netflix Pause Removal, and if you're watching via Mozilla Firefox you can download Netflix Pause Removal. These (unofficial) add-ons stop the message from appearing, meaning you no longer have to click 'Continue watching' to, er, continue watching.
But if you watch via an app on your phone, tablet, smart TV, games console or any other device you'll unfortunately have to keep putting up with Netflix questioning your viewing habits.
Netflix Party is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to watch Netflix in sync with friends and family, no matter where they are. It does this by synchronising video playback with whoever you add to your watching 'party'. It also includes a group chat feature, so you can instant-message other people in your party while you watch.
All you have to do to use it is add it to Chrome, choose what you want to watch on Netflix, pause it, hit the 'NP' icon in the top right of your browser window and share the URL it gives you with anyone you want to join your group. It also gives you the option of whether to display the group chat and whether to let other group members have the ability to pause, rewind etc.
Everyone you want to add to your group will need access to a Netflix subscription.
You can get more out of your Netflix subscription if you or your kids are learning another language, as watching shows and movies in that language can help you. Yet finding them in Netflix can take ages.
To make it quick and easy, set up an extra profile that only shows content in that language. All you have to do is add a new profile when you open Netflix and give it a name. Then go to 'Manage Profiles', select the profile you've just set up and choose from the 22 languages in the 'Language' dropdown.
Et voila, instant access to all the programmes and films (some are dubbed, some filmed in that language) available in your chosen language in one place.
This video shows how to do it (it's for Spanish, but works exactly the same for other languages).
MSE Jenny found this useful:
At home I've set up a kids' profile that only shows children's shows in French (they speak it with my husband, I'm not just being mean!). It's a brilliant resource – they love a bit of Mon Petit Poney.
If you're setting up a foreign language profile for your kids, you can also make sure that the profile only shows children's programmes by checking the 'Child' tick box – this means only titles suitable for children aged 12 and under can be watched.
You can get new features first by opting to participate when Netflix tests potential changes, before it decides whether to roll them out to every subscriber.
Most of the time these will be features you'll barely notice, such as minor changes to how Netflix recommends content, but in the past those participating have got game-changing features such as the 'skip intro' button and mobile data usage settings weeks before anyone else.
Opting in takes seconds – go to 'Account' and then 'Test participation', and switch the 'Include me in tests and previews' button to 'on'.
Unknown to many there's a wealth of 'hidden' content on Netflix's original series and movies, such as teasers, season recaps and trailers, interviews, announcement videos, bonus videos and original cuts.
To find these, open the Netflix Original of your choice (by hovering the pointer over it on the website or tapping the information symbol on the app), then select 'Trailers & More'.
Before you know it you'll be watching an interview with Orange is the New Black's Taylor Schilling or BoJack Horseman's audition for House of Cards.
Finally, this tip's in no way Netflix-specific, but it's a MoneySaving standard for recouping some cash.
While at the time of writing you can't sign up to Netflix via the top cashback sites, if you have a cashback credit card, you could get up to 5% back if you use it to pay your bill. As always, make sure you pay IN FULL every month. For full info see Credit Card Rewards.
While having a recurring payment set up on a credit card won't have any direct effect on your credit score, be careful that you don't inadvertently go over your credit limit – as that WOULD have a negative impact. More details in our Credit Scores guide.
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