Well with the lockdowns ending the new competition basis for service providers is a dizzying array of ways to optimize the rising inflation in streaming services, delivery and car services. So here’s a master thread on this. It’s inverted from normal. That is it covers categories rather than providers:
Someone finally noticed that streaming isn’t making money so there are massive price increases right now. Fortunately, there are still lots of ways to optimize but you have to pay attention. I’ll update this on major changes and this is ordered by value to us:
- Amazon Prime. This is an obvious bit if you are already paying $130 a year, then Amazon Prime is a great deal thrown in. They allow account sharing which is great! They don't have as many first run shows, but Witcher is great.
- Apple TV+. This is a surprise winner for us mainly because they have such small but good content. It's part of Apple One that does seem less painful but that does cost $32/month mainly for the data storage. To remind everyone, that is iCloud+ at 2TB and Music, so I think of the AppleTV+ as free. They also have MLB Friday Night Baseball although I never really watch that. We love things like Ted Lasso, Invasion and they are adding a few movies as well now.
- Disney+ and Hulu (and ESPN+ till October). There is change coming, but through October, you get ESPN as well (which I don't watch), but with an American Express Platinum card, you get $20/month digital credits and the $19.99/month nicely fits into that. We actually use this more than you think although Star Wars (Andor, Mandalorian, you know the good ones) and NatGeo are the main ones.
- Netflix. It is sad that Netflix keeps falling down the list as the goto service, but they've been raising prices like crazy. With T-Mobile, you get a NetFlix Standard subscription for $16/month for free which is great. We pay the $9/month Premium upgrade to get to their full UHD service and up to six screens, although their most recent move to prohibit watching anywhere moves them further down the list. Still they have a nice catalog of obscure foreign films (they must have gone crazy with that). And they charge an additional $8/user who has their own account and password. Premium is the only one with UHD, so at $20/month, it would be hard to continue with them on a regular basis without the T-Mobile $16/month incentive.
- MLB.TV If you are a T-Mobile subscriber, you get MLB free, you have to wait each year for their Tuesday deal, but if you like baseball, this is nice.
- Kanopy. This is mainly for older movies but it’s free from your library.
Then these are the services where I use rotation and deal to look at them and with frequent activation bonuses on Rakuten, this is not a bad way to rotate and bing. The easiest way to get these are the frequent offers on Bank of America, Chase or American Express that typically give you a few months free:
- Paramount Plus. This is the one service I wish I could get ad-free mainly for the Star Trek content and they have the latest Transformer movie too. The ad-driven version of this is unbearable.
- Showtime. I get $1/month deal for a few months to bing these things. I think I have this for $1 via an American Express offer, but its pretty worthless
- Paramount Plus with Showtime. This is now $12/month and $30 free, so if you want to bing watch and then cancel, this is probably the best way. I don't find much on showtime though. This is basically ad-free.
- Max. No great deals right now that I can find
Honestly, I don't value these ad-driven sites at all, no time in the day, but here they are:
- Peacock Premium. I never watch this, but you get this ad-driven thing for free with your Xfinity subscription. It's supposedly worth $6/month, but the ads 🙁 They have Premium Plus with fewer ads, but there are still ads. Yikes. The main thing are all their reality TV shows
While most people love Spotify, we ended up using Apple Music a lot more because, well habit:
- Apple Music. Since we are an Apple household and it's simpler to manage plus you can manage your existing content too. Miss the curation that is Spotify though. Getting this through Apple One is the cheapest way I think. At $7/month it's quite a bargain relatively.
- Amazon Music. OK, until I wrote this post, I didn't realize I actually had this, but Amazon Music for Prime Members is a limited service (it's not Amazon Music Unlimited). Basically, you can stream anything you want but if you are doing offline listening, you get playlists (that is they use radio rules) and it is all ad-free which is nice. So not that useful if you have Apple Music, but noted here for completeness.
Data Storage and Email
Here are my votes for the best plan at the least cost:
- Apple Mail and iCloud Storage. This thing allows up to five domains and it is free if you can believe it. The only inconvenient thing is that you can't use Superhuman (my current favorite mail client) which has that awesome read-is hidden feature. This is called a custom domain and its easy to add. It is for a small business, you get three addresses for up to five custom domains. Handy indeed for small businesses. The main issue is of course that iCloud Storage is Mac only, so if you want something for your Windows and Linux machines, you are out of luck. So we mainly use iCloud Storage for our Apple devices. At $33/month
- Google Workspace (especially for non-profits). I use this sparingly, initially this was because for $6/month, they allowed unlimited storage, but that deal ended, now for $20 you get 2TB free for each user, I find that this is a pretty good company plan. Also note that if you are a non-profit, then Google Workspace is free for you, so that's an amazing deal. For $6/user/month, you get 30GB and for $12/user/month, you get 2TB/user and $18/month you get 5TB/user pooled.
- Google Drive. This is still a free service and we have a grandfathered account so I get 30GB, but the normal amount is 15GB. That is not a bad deal.
Delivery and Taxi Services
These are painful mainly because they are time limited so set alarms on your calendar
- Uber and Uber Eats. This is a great deal you get $15/month (and $20 in December) for these orders. you also get Uber VIP as well vis American Express Platinum. The main issue is that the credits are used or lost each month, so beware.
- Doordash. Through December 31, 2024, you get a year of free Doordash and you get $5/month of Doordash credit, note this only carries over for two months, so use it or lose it. Right now I have $98 of Doordash credits and this is really useful for pickup of things as you don't pay fees. I do this a lot with Dingfelders but the best deal are the frozen Xiao Long Bao and Pork Buns from the 504 5th Avenue location of Dough Zone but it says its unavailable so I don't know what that means, Carmelo's Tacos is also pretty decent.
- Lyft. YOu get Lyft Pink for two years, but remember that this auto-renews, so note when you have to pay. YOu also get 10x total points through March 2025 which is pretty great with Sapphire Reserve and 5x points from Freedom, Sapphire and Ink.
- Grubhub Plus. It’s two years free with Amazon Prime. You basically get free delivery and a 5% discount. But be careful it’s two years only so mark it on your calendar.
Books and Audiobooks
Ok the best things in life are free so here goes:
- Libby. Get a free library card and then you can get many books and audiobooks on loan.
- Amazon Kindle. The best way to get this is to use the Digital Reward Credits that accumulate if you don't want immediate delivery and these are called No-Rush Shipping and Amazon Day Delivery Rewards. These don't apply to Audible books, but that's actually OK for things like text books. YOu can check your balance here and I run up a pretty big balance, they do expire after a few months, so make sure to use them. You can use them for Kindle, eBooks, Digital Music, Appsotre and Video downloads, so the Kindle seems the most useful.
- Amazon Prime REadings. Another service that I don't use too much, but there are lots of free books and magazines and audiobooks from folks like John Scalzi which are pretty great. They let you borrow things and return them. YOu can read them in your Kindle application or on a Kindle reader. And you can listen to the audible narration, the basic way you do that is to get your Kindle and hook up a Bluetooth headphone to it.
- Amazon First Reads. I've actually never read one of these, but they are free every month, so I mechanically order and fill up my Kindle queue