Subscription services deliver products or provide services, usually on a monthly or annual basis, that consumers need and want. Subscriptions can be a useful part of a frugal lifestyle, or they can become a drain on your budget if they are not managed well. I just canceled several subscriptions that I haven’t been using including one that I forgot about until I saw the charge on my bank statement, saving me more than $20 a month.
Many subscriptions have free trial periods where you can try out the service before you have to put out money. Here are some free subscription boxes services that start out free, or just involve shipping costs initially.
1. Amazon Prime
This service offers a 30-day free trial that gives you access to Prime Video, 2-day free shipping on qualifying products, and Amazon Music. The services are awesome–I am a Prime member who has gone long past my free trial. You do need to give a credit card number to get the free trial, however, and it will be charged $119 at the end of the 30 days for a full year of benefits. If you don’t want to get the whole year, be sure to cancel before the 30-day free period ends.
Trending Deals: Start your Free Trial from HERE
Also an Amazon product, Kindle Unlimited gives you access to about 600,000 e-books on your Kindle, and you can read as many as you want each month. The free 30-day trial gives you a chance to try out the service and see if you will read at least $10 worth of e-books in a month. The plan I have lets me borrow up to 10 titles at a time, more than enough to keep me busy.
Trending Deals: Access your Free Trial from HERE
For streaming TV, it doesn’t get much better than Hulu and Netflix, with Hulu being the superior choice if you don’t have cable and want to stream your favorite shows as the season unfolds (Netflix offers most TV shows as a whole season a few months after it ends). Hulu also has original content and offers different subscription plan levels depending on whether you want to watch commercials or not. You can get any plan level free for the first 30 days, even the no-commercials one, which is $12 a month after the trial ends.
Trending Deals: Stream your favorite episode from HERE
This online learning community offers classes and tutorials for everything from business skills like coding or SEO marketing to hobbies like gardening or crocheting. Some content is offered free, and you can get a 30-day free trial of the premium content before having to fork out $15 a month or $99 a year to continue the service.
Trending Deals: Start your Free Classes from HERE
5. Gwynnie Bee
This service provides women’s clothing rentals and sends you a selection every month to wear and send back–a constant stream of “new” clothes to wear without having to constantly shop and stuff your closet with even more clothes that you will probably get tired of after a few wearings. You get a free subscription box for the first month and the second month is 25 percent off, with the subscription covering sizes 10 to 32.
Trending Deals: Get a Free bundle of clothes from HERE
6. Naturebox, Graze and Try the World
These are all snack subscription services that offer healthy snack boxes filled with items to try each month. Naturebox and Graze focus on healthful offerings, while Try the World offers healthy snacks from a different country or culture each time. All of these offer a free trial subscription box, with some just asking for a few dollars shipping and handling.
This service sends you a print book every month that is chosen by their curators (you get to pick from 5 chosen titles), and you can get your first book for free with coupon code “USESPF,” saving you the usual monthly cost of $14.99. Gift memberships can be even less if you give at least 6 months at a time.
Trending Deals: Dig out a Free book from HERE
8. Nadine West
This clothing subscription service sends you items each month, but you only keep the ones you want. Normally there is a shipping cost to send the items, but it is free for the first shipment. Another great clothing service for those with no time to shop.
Trending Deals: Get your first Free box from HERE
9. ABC Mouse
This service provides online educational games, books and other activities for preschool children to jump-start their development and get them ready for school. You can get a 30-day trial to see if you think it’s beneficial for your child or children. If you do, you will pay $9.95 a month, and annual memberships are half price.
Trending Deals: Take your 30-days Free trial from HERE
If your kids like to read, they can read as much as they want on their tablets with Epic, an ebook subscription service just for kids. Up to 4 kids can use the same service with customized profiles, and they can try it for 30 days for free or get 3 months for $3. After the free or discount period, the cost is $7.99 a month, with gift memberships being available for around $6 a month if you gift a full year.
Trending Deals: Start Epic’s Free Trial from HERE
These services ship a selection of coffees each month, with Blue Bottle offering espresso and iced coffee options along with regular ones and Bean Box specializing in coffees from the Seattle and Portland areas. Both services offer a free subscription box to start. Blue Bottle then offers one or two-week boxes from $8 to $40 depending on how much coffee you and your household expect to drink. Bean Box is monthly and costs $18-24 depending on your plan.
12. Scent Trunk
This service creates a personalized perfume scent based on your likes and preferences. You start out with a free kit that contains samples of 6 scents to try so you can direct the creation of your own special scent. Then, if you want to get the scent sent to you each month, you pay $11.99.
Trending Deals: Get Scent Trunk Free Kit from HERE
Walmart sends out a beauty box of samples and beauty tips based on their products each season for just the cost of shipping, which is $5 per box. They also have a men’s grooming box for $7 shipping that comes with a travel bag to keep the products in. The men’s box is a great way to get sample size products to take on vacation this summer.
Trending Deals: Get your Free beauty box from HERE
This shaving subscription box offers a 2-week free trial that includes a razor and blade, shaving gel, and a travel cover for the blade. Plans go from $15 to $35, with bigger plans offering supplies for the whole family. It is similar to Dollar Shave Club, which doesn’t offer a completely free trial but also has introductory offers as low as $1 and seems cheaper as a monthly subscription than Harry’s.
Trending Deals: Start your 2-week Free Trial from HERE
One caveat to be aware of with most free trial subscription plans is that if you are required to enter credit card information, you will be charged for an installment of the subscription when your free trial ends. If you don’t want to continue the subscription, be sure to cancel it before that time. When I sign up for a free trial, I typically write the date when the subscription is set to end in my calendar/day planner so I don’t forget.
When I have forgotten to cancel, I have had some success with calling the company’s customer service department to get a refund. The sooner after you are charged, the better luck you will probably have to get your money back. This has worked best with magazines that auto-renew and once when a product was billed as a “free sample” and the auto-renew information was buried in the fine print of the offer.
Don’t be afraid to speak to a supervisor and make your case if you feel you were unfairly charged. Asking for the supervisor will often escalate the process enough that they will refund your money even if it was your fault, just to resolve the situation.
You will be less likely to get your money back if a subscription box has already been shipped since you have received the goods that you “ordered” when you signed up for the trial.
Subscriptions as Gifts
Giving subscriptions and subscription boxes as gifts can be advantageous because you can often spread out the cost over several months and payments. If you are particularly strapped for cash, you can usually use the free trial subscription box to delay the payment of the gift until you have more funds, which can be convenient.