How much does Netflix cost? A breakdown of the streamer’s plans

Netflix is the best on-demand streaming service out there, and everyone knows this. In 2020, Netflix saw 31.4% year-over-year subscriber growth for good reason. That’s why the streaming giant charges a premium for its upgraded memberships (and also why it has raised its prices throughout the years).

This is hardly a surprise, though: Keeping millions of subscribers around the world immersed in what is hands-down the finest, largest, and most diverse selection of both licensed and Netflix original content out there isn’t cheap.

So, how much does a Netflix subscription cost? Well, that depends on what exactly you need from it. Netflix’s streaming plans do come with a tiered offering based on the price you’re willing to pay. If you can make do with the most basic offering, you can get away with handing over just $9 as a Netflix subscriber each month, which is less than you’d pay for streaming competitor Hulu with no ads. However, if you find yourself needing a bit more than what the base plan has to offer, you could see as much as $18 for a Netflix plan piling on top of your credit card debt month after month.

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Streaming plans

A Netflix account has three different streaming plans: Basic, Standard, and Premium. But what do each of those tiers translate to in terms of on-demand content?

The actual catalog remains consistent across the board, with a Basic subscriber having access to the same material as those on a Premium monthly plan. Limitations come in the form of resolution — a Basic plan can’t stream above standard definition, while a Standard plan is restricted to just Full HD. The most expensive option, the Premium plan, can tap into content in 4K Ultra HD.

There’s one other notable difference between a Basic, Standard, and Premium Netflix subscription: How many people can use the same account at once — starting at one user with the most economical option and topping out at four with the priciest. That means that four friends and family members can all watch a show on the same account, at the same time, from anywhere in the world.

Split the cost with four friends and it comes out to less than $5 per month.

Plan Price Number of screens at once Resolution
Basic $9 1 SD
Standard $14 2 HD
Premium $18 4 HD + Ultra HD

DVD and Blu-ray

Netflix has remained true to its roots, continuing to run its DVD-by-mail rental service, which preceded the arrival of its streaming platform in 2010 and the meteoric rise of smart TVs and various Roku devices.

As of September, more than 2 million people were still using the company’s mail-in service, checking out DVDs and Blu-rays instead of (or while) taking advantage of its almost limitless catalog of original and licensed content.

The Standard Netflix subscription tier is priced at $8 per month for access to an unlimited amount of DVDs, or $10 per month with Blu-rays thrown into the mix, with rentals limited to just one disc at a time.

However, customers looking to have an exciting night in front of the TV can upgrade to Premium, which costs $12 per month for DVDs or $15 per month to access Blu-rays as well, for the option to borrow up to two discs at once.

Plan DVD price Blu-ray price
Discs per month
Number of discs out at once
Standard $8 $10 Unlimited 1
Premium $12 $15 Unlimited 2

Which subscription is best?

The Standard or Premium plans are great places to get started. Each of these plans allows viewers to get the full HD experience. The stream quality you get with Netflix’s Basic plan will never reach the same standards as these two. Netflix Basic plan subscribers have limited access to standard definition (SD) streams. As an added perk, both the Standard and Premium subscription plans offer sharing, meaning you can view Netflix content on multiple devices.

Of course, users in certain areas are limited to standard definition because of the speed of their internet connection, in which case it is not worth paying the higher price. If it can, the $5 price increase from Basic to Standard is money well spent.

If you have a 4K TV, a Premium account is an excellent upgrade from Standard or Basic. Because a 4K Ultra HD screen has four times the pixels, that means it has four times the resolution of a Full HD screen. Paying a few extra dollars a month to get the most out of your 4K devices is a worthwhile investment, so go with Premium to access Netflix’s 4K Ultra HD content. If you do, you’ll be able to stream popular TV shows like Bridgerton in glorious 4K Ultra HD.

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