How To Get Cheap Magazine Subscription & Renewal Prices

How To Get Cheap Magazine Subscription & Renewal Prices
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One simple secret to save a bundle on magazine subscription and renewal prices.

• Money & Finances: How-To • Money & Finances: Saving • Money & Finances: Tips & Tricks

As magazines struggle to remain relevant in a world of free, online information their subscription tactics have taken a turn for the worse. Enter the Continuous Service Program, or CSP for short.

The idea behind the CSP (which goes by other names as well) isn't new, but it is a new tactic for magazine publishers to be using. The concept is simple as it's just an "auto renew" style system that automatically keeps renewing your magazine subscription annually. Years ago you would subscribe for a year or two (or more) and when your subscription ran out the magazine publisher would try to get you to renew again, often with some sort of "renew now and save" deal.

Today, more and more publishers are using CSP style programs that auto renew your subscription. In theory, this doesn't seem like a terrible idea but when you look closer you see that you often don't have any choice in the matter. Meaning, when you subscribe to many magazines now you are automatically agreeing to enroll in their CSP without any way to opt out of it.

Sure, they give generous terms like "cancel at any time" and likely will even give you a pro-rated refund when you do cancel. The catch is that they know how lazy most people are and that most people will simply accept the renewal and the full subscription price each year. And that's the problem. Gone are the days of getting a "renew now and save" deal. Or are they?

How To Beat Continuous Service Programs

Whenever possible tell the publisher you don't want their CSP. Make it known that you have no interest in their magazine if they're going to be greedy and not offer an opt-out solution. That's right, stop subscribing to the magazine completely! When they send offers, use their pre-paid envelopes and send a note saying how you're canceling until they drop their CSP or offer an opt-out option.

If that isn't an option and you must subscribe then pay with a check. If you pay online or via the mail and use a credit card they will auto-bill you each year. If that happens you're less likely to pay attention and simply pay your bill as usual. Pay by check and now they have to come to you for payment to keep your subscription going. When that happens cancel your subscription. Yes, cancel it! Better yet, cancel it right as you get your last issue before the auto-renewal (set a calendar reminder to go off for that date).

Don't worry, there is more to this system. Wait a week or two later and you'll certainly get a renewal offer that is far less than the auto-renew price you would have paid. In many cases, these offers are half of the normal renewal price (which is often a fraction of the cover price). It may say "best offer" or some other marketing nonsense but don't believe it.

Don't bite on this bait as a better offer is coming. Wait another couple (or three) weeks and watch how they send an even better offer. Don't worry, when you do choose to resubscribe (even if a month or two has gone by) the publisher is almost certainly going to send you a back issue or two to make sure you don't miss an issue. How does this deal look? Sometimes, but not always, a third deal will come along that's even better but usually the second deal you get is plenty good.

So that's it. Pay with a check. When your last issue arrives cancel your subscription (via mail or online). Skip the renewal deal they offer and wait for the second one. This is a system I've been using for years on dozens of magazines and it's so constant you could set your watch (or at least a calendar) by it.