While Spotify and Apple Music have largely taken over from buying MP3s and CDs, and video services like Netflix and Amazon Video are giving cable TV a run for its money, not all has gone smoothly for our pocketbooks. And no, we're not talking about all the subscriptions you may need if you want to replace cable -- we're talking about the subscription fees themselves.
Due to Apple and Google customarily taking a 30 percent cut of in-app purchases and 15 percent of all subscription fees, some streaming services have had to charge a little extra when you sign up within an app, to cover the extra costs. Yet in some cases, you may find deals, particular in the App Store app, that are difficult to find elsewhere.
Let's show you how iPhone and iPad users can save some money with a few tweaks to how they subscribe.
Managing your subscriptions in the App Store app
First, you may not be aware that you can review all of your app subscriptions from within the App Store itself. To do so, tap your profile picture in the app's upper left corner and then tap on Manage Subscriptions. This will show not only a list of your current subscriptions but also all of your expired ones as well, in reverse chronological order.
If you tap one of these entries, it will show you how much you pay, how often you are billed, the duration of the subscription and whether or not the subscription will auto-renew by default.
The Options section below is where things can get interesting. Take NordVPN, for example. With this virtual private network app, there are no fewer than 15 different ways to subscribe via the App Store app's subscription management section (though some entries may be redundant). But the really interesting thing is that this section surfaces prices that you may not find elsewhere.
On NordVPN's website, the current price for a one-year plan $83.88, billed annually. But in the Options section of the App Store's subscription management page, you can get one year of NordVPN for $68.99. The difference of $14.89 isn't going to break the bank, but it's also like getting two months for free, since NordVPN charges $6.99 if you pay month-to-month.
If you decide that you want a different plan than one you currently have, just tap its entry here in the Options section and then tap the blue Confirm button to verify to Apple that you want to sign up. Note that if you already have a subscription via the App Store, the new plan doesn't cancel the old one. Instead, it gets tacked on at the end of your current plan.
Signing up via a service's website instead of through the App Store
This second strategy may save you even more money in the long run than digging around in the App Store's subscription management section for discounts.
Take Pandora Music, for example. If you sign up for a subscription via the App Store, you will pay $12.99 a month. If that seems $2.99 higher than what most people are paying for a competing service, that's because it is. But Pandora has to charge the higher price to cover the App Store's cut of the subscription revenue. So what do you do as iPhone or iPad user?
In this case, you can sign up for Pandora via the website. Here you'll be offered the industry-standard $9.99 per month. Plus, if you sign up with it directly, it will give you a 60-day free trial instead of the 30-day trial on the App Store. (Pandora Plus, however, has the same price and trial length: $4.99 a month, with a 30-day free trial.)
Over the course of the year, that $2.99 extra adds up to $35.88. That's more than twice what you save by subscribing to a year of NordVPN through the App Store versus the NordVPN website. If you combine signing up for Pandora on its website and NordVPN via the App Store subscription management section, you save over $50.
And that's just two services. If you go through this process with all of your iPhone and iPad subscriptions, you could save a lot more -- or at the least, you'll be able to confirm that you're getting the best prices available.
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