I’ll admit it: I haven’t always been great at budgeting. For years, I’d stand at cash registers doing rapid mental arithmetic to decide whether I could put something on my debit card or if I needed to reach for a credit card.
Last year, I finally buckled down and started tracking my expenses. Once I came to terms with my finances, I started to look for small but regular expenses I could eliminate.
By far, the least of my expenses was my monthly Netflix bill of $8.67 (my subscription plus tax). It’s not a lot, but it seemed like I could find a creative way to get around the expense. After doing a little bit of research, I figured out how to get Netflix for free.
My strategy depends on a credit card and checking account from Bank of America. If you want to follow my lead, you’ll need to use the same accounts — though if you find similar options at your bank of choice, please let us know in the comments!
Here’s how to use these two accounts strategically to get free Netflix — and a little extra cash in your pocket as well.
Sign Up for the BankAmericard Better Balance Rewards Card
This credit card offers a $25 reward at the end of each quarter when you make more than the minimum payment or pay off your balance in full each month. The bank markets this card to users who keep a balance on their accounts to encourage them to slowly pay it down, but I use it strategically. For this trick, you’ll pay off your balance in full every month.
Here’s what my Netflix account costs me each quarter:
$8.67 (monthly Netflix fee) x 3 (months in a quarter) = $26.01
That $25 reward comes pretty close to covering it. However, I would still be paying $1.01 every three months for my Netflix subscription. That’s certainly a good deal, but as a Penny Hoarder, I was up for the challenge of eliminating that expense, not just minimizing it.
So I dug a little deeper to see whether I could boost my rewards. Deep in the card’s Terms of Service, I found my opportunity.
Open a Bank of America Core Checking Account
When I read the fine print, I learned I could get an additional $5 a quarter by automatically depositing my cash rewards into a Bank of America savings or checking account.
You can do the math: That’s $30 a quarter in rewards, which pays for three months of Netflix and even puts a few bucks in my pocket!
I picked the simplest, lowest-cost checking account. It does have one drawback, but it’s pretty simple to get around. Unless you’re a college or high school student, the Core Checking account has a $12 a month maintenance fee. But if you keep a minimum daily balance of $1,500 or have at least one qualifying direct deposit of $250 each month, such as a payroll deposit, they’ll waive the fee. I go with the direct deposit and use that money to pay other bills from this account.
Follow These Steps to Get Netflix for Free
Once you’ve got your credit card in hand and your checking account open, you’re ready to roll:
- If you haven’t already, sign up for Netflix.
- Update your Netflix account to bill your new credit card each month.
- Update your credit card rewards preferences to deposit your rewards to your new checking account.
- Pay your credit card balance in full each month.
- Look for your $30 reward in your checking account at the end of the quarter — that’s everything you paid for your Netflix account, plus a little extra cash!
- Relax and enjoy watching Netflix for free.
Be sure to wait for a new credit card statement to post before you make your payment. One month, I paid twice in the same statement and went into the next month carrying a $0 balance. If you do this, you’re not eligible to receive your quarterly reward — which means you’ll have to bear the cost of Netflix for the next three months.
So long as you avoid that pitfall, there’s nothing standing between you and free Netflix. Now when you settle in to stream your favorite shows and movies, you’ll have the added satisfaction of getting it all for free!
Now that I’ve knocked my Netflix bill off my monthly budget, I’m taking aim at my renter’s insurance, which costs $12.84 a month. If I find an equally creative solution to cover that expense, I’ll be sure to share it with you!
Your Turn: Have you tried this strategy? Do you know of similar rewards credit cards and accounts that could help you use the same strategy at other banks?
Douglas Clinton is a New Englander, an AmeriCorps Alum, a Kentucky Colonel and a playwright whose work has been performed across the U.S and abroad. He lives in Charleston, South Carolina with his fiancee and three cats.