Let’s face it: many of us don’t pay enough attention to what streaming services we are subscribed to — and paying for. Especially now, when there are more and more services vying for our attention, it’s easy to go for a trial subscription, or to decide that you’re going to subscribe “just for a couple of months,” and then completely forget about it. Meanwhile, your charge card is being pinged every month.
For example, over a year ago, Matthew Inman, the comics artist who creates the site The Oatmeal, reported (to his apparent chagrin) that he had been paying for Netflix’s DVD subscription for the last 13 years:
(For our younger readers: yes, Netflix started out as a DVD rental service and then segued to the streaming service it is today.)
So it may be a good idea, especially if your income is a little tight, to check your current streaming subscriptions and drop the ones that you haven’t used for several months. (After all, unless you’re grandfathered into an especially good deal — and that’s happening less and less these days — you can always re-up again if there’s something on the service you want to watch.)
One thing to be aware of: during the process of canceling a streaming service, you may need to go through several pages or pop-ups urging you not to cancel or to at least settle for a less expensive (and usually less feature-filled) version of the service. So be prepared.
Here’s where you can go to cancel some of the more popular streaming services.
Netflix currently offers three different plans: Basic for $9.99 a month, Standard for $15.49 a month, and Premium for $19.99 a month; the differences between the three involve video quality and resolution.
You can find your current subscription status at Netflix by clicking on your personal icon in the top-right corner and choosing Account. This will take you to your account page, which will give you all your information about your current account. On the left side of the page, look for the Cancel Membership button.
You can’t just join Prime for its streaming services; you have to pay for the entire package for $14.99 a month or $139 a year (after a 30-day trial).
If you’re a member of Amazon Prime and decide you want to cancel, you can go to this page and click on the “End Membership” button.
Be aware that if you’ve paid for an annual membership, your refund — if you get one — will depend on how many of your Prime benefits you’ve used, including deliveries, streaming movies, etc. When you begin the process, the cancellation page will tell you if you are eligible for any type of refund. If the refund is small (or non-existent), you might be better off simply disabling the renewal option (go to the Membership Management section at Prime Central) so that you can still take advantage of the benefits of Prime membership until your subscription ends. Also, if you are sharing the membership with another adult in your household, only the primary member can cancel the account.
Note that, according to Amazon, you can also pause your membership temporarily by going to the Membership Management section.
If you want to completely close your Amazon account and delete all of your data, you can go to this page.
HBO Max has been going through a number of changes lately. For one thing, the service is merging with Discovery Plus, so nobody is quite sure how that will affect the type of content it provides. Currently, you can pay $9.99 a month or $69.99 a year for a subscription with ads; if you want to avoid the ads, it’s $14.99 a month or $104.99 a year.
In the meantime, the service can be subscribed to either independently or through a number of different providers, such as the Apple App Store, Google Play, and a bunch of others. The best way to find out how to drop the service is to go to HBO’s help page on canceling your subscription or trial and click on the appropriate link for directions.
According to HBO, you should try to cancel one or two days before your billing cycle renews.
If you’re attracted by the content on Apple TV, you can get it for $4.99 a month after a seven-day trial. (If you buy an Apple device, you get it free for three months if you apply for it within 90 days.)
Instructions for canceling your Apple subscription can be found here. In short:
- To cancel on your Mac, go to the App Store, click your name (at the bottom of the page) and then Account Settings (at the top). Scroll down to the Manage topic, look for Subscriptions, and click on Manage. Click on Edit next to the subscription you want to cancel and select Cancel Subscription.
- On an iPhone or iPad, go to Settings, select your name, then Subscriptions. Select the subscription you want to leave, and tap on Cancel Subscription.
While you are encouraged by the site to take Hulu as a bundle with HBO Max and ESPN Plus, you can subscribe to Hulu alone. Prices are currently $6.99 a month for a with-ads plan and $12.99 for an ad-free plan. However, costs are going up as of October 10th, 2022; at that point, you will pay $7.99 a month for the with-ads plan; $14.99 a month for the ad-free plan. There are also other plans available.
Hulu offers instructions on how to cancel here — and makes sure that you know that you can both cancel anytime and re-up anytime. You can also pause your subscription for up to 12 weeks. If you cancel, your canceled subscription will last until the end of your billing cycle.
Since, like HBO Max, there’s a good chance you’ve signed up through a third party such as Amazon, Verizon, or Sprint, there are several links on the page where you can get specific instructions.
YouTube TV is one of those services that offer a wide range of channels, including many that used to only be available via cable. It costs $64.99 a month.
As with Hulu, you can either cancel or pause your YouTube TV subscription (links for either process are on the same page). Pausing is a good option if, for some reason (a vacation, a work project, temporary financial difficulties), you don’t want to use the subscription for anywhere from four weeks to six months. You won’t be able to use the service during that time to watch or record, but your already-recorded content will be saved. Once the pause is over (either via a pre-selected date or if you manually end the pause period), your billing will recommence.
If you want to leave YouTube TV entirely, select Cancel Now on that same page. You will still have service until the end of your payment period; after that, you’ll have another 21 days to view the recorded programs in your library.
If you don’t choose to bundle Disney Plus with Hulu and ESPN Plus, it comes to $7.99 a month or $79.99 a year.
To cancel your Disney Plus subscription on the website, go to your profile icon in the upper-right corner and then click on Account. Find your subscription level under the subhead Subscription, click on that, and then scroll down to where it says Cancel Subscription. As with most other services, you will still have access to Disney Plus until the end of your billing cycle.
Note that canceling Disney Plus TV does not cancel your general Disney account.
Paramount Plus offers two plans: the Essential plan for $4.99 a month or $49.99 a year, which comes with “limited ads,” or the Premium plan for $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year, which promises “No ads except live TV & a few shows” and the ability to download shows. You get a one-week trial.
Like several of the other services here, the way you cancel your Paramount Plus subscription depends on how you subscribed in the first place. If you subscribed through the website, then go to paramountplus.com, click on your user initials in the upper right-hand corner, select Account, and then scroll down and select Cancel subscription.
If you subscribed through another service, you’ll find the directions here.
Peacock, owned by NBCUniversal, is the only service listed here that has a free version; according to its list of plans, you can watch over 10,000 hours for free (although the content will invariably be interrupted by ads). It also has two paid services: Premium, which gives you additional ad-supported content for $4.99 a month or $49.99 a year; and Premium Plus, which for $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year, removes the ads and lets you download the content.
In other words, if you don’t want to pay for the service anymore, you can simply downgrade by going to your account page and going to Plans & Payments > Change Plan > Peacock Free. You will be switched to the free plan at the end of your billing cycle.
If you signed up for Peacock through a different service, you can find directions on how to downgrade here.
ESPN Plus is mainly available via third-party providers, such as DirecTV, YouTube TV, or a cable provider. It is also often bundled with Disney Plus and Hulu. The price depends on the supplier you subscribed through.
If you originally subscribed directly via the web and want to cancel your subscription, log in and select Manage > Cancel Subscription. Otherwise, if you subscribed through one of the services mentioned above, your best bet is to go to this page, which links to all of the ways it’s possible to cancel, depending on how you originally subscribed.
Update September 30th, 2022, 10:35AM ET: This article was originally published on January 15th, 2021. Paramount Plus and Peacock have been added; others have been updated to account for service and price changes.