Finances & Money Frugality

Netflix: To Keep or Not To Keep?

We’ve been Netflix* customers on and off for the last 3-4 years, alternating with Blockbuster Online when certain deals come along, or nothing at all during the regular TV season. Right now, we’re back with Netflix mainly because Blockbuster has proven itself unworthy through late deliveries and sending random movies from our queue (even though the top movies are listed as available). But with my classes starting back up and the TV season back in full gear, we’re deciding whether we want to keep Netflix or not.

Costs and Benefits of Netflix

We’ve reduced down to 2 movies a month ($14.83/mth after taxes) from three, and we’re going through about 4-6 movies in a good month. Looking at those numbers, we’re only doing marginally better than just renting directly from a Blockbuster store. But Netflix offers a much wider range of movies AND TV shows from its online catalog than a Blockbuster store could ever offer. If we hear about a good classic movie and want to rent it, good luck finding it at Blockbuster.

Another benefit of Netflix is not having to leave the house, except to check the mail. Granted, the negative is having to wait for the movie to get back to Netflix and wait for the next one. Turnaround time is usually 3 days (Day 1, mail out. Day 2, Netflix confirms receipt. Day 3, get new movie).

Netflix Versus Nothing

So the first decision is whether we want to ditch Netflix entirely and not pick up any other movie service. As I’ve mentioned, Blockbuster sucks, and there’s really no other competitor in the market (wait, wait, I’ll get to Redbox in a moment). Also, as I’ve mentioned, we have more than enough to watch on TV and to keep us busy right now (school for me at least), so movies are a less-needed form of entertainment right now.

Savings: $14.83 per month

Netflix Versus Redbox

While we could probably do fine without renting movies, there are some new releases we would like to watch. There’s a blockbuster in walking distance to our home, but movies cost over $4 a pop there. In the same plaza, there’s a Redbox movie kiosk. If you’re not aware of Redbox, it’s a kiosk with a few dozen movies inside for $1 per night. There’s no subscription required and you’re just charged for the nights you keep the movie.

Oh wait, we already canceled a movie service in favor of Redbox back in 2007: “Blockbuster vs Redbox“.

If we were to rent the 4-6 movies per month that we’re currently doing, and returning the movies the next day:

Savings: $8.83-10.83 per month

Netflix Versus Library

I know I would get hounded if I didn’t mention the library as an option for renting movies. The movies are free, but in exchange, you have a limited selection and have to wait for new releases to make it to the shelves. You can request movies from other library branches (if your library system is large enough) and place a hold on a movie, but if you just want something to watch other than TV, you can pick from dozens of movies on the shelves (VHS and DVD formats).

I have a feeling if we chose this option, we probably would just go to Redbox and spend the $1 (since it’s more convenient) rather than borrow from the library. But at least I’m aware it’s an option for those times we go to the library to borrow books (about once a month).

Savings: $14.83 per month

Which Will We Choose?

I’ll admit that right now I think we’ve watched all the interesting movies in our queue (with 61 movies in the queue remaining, counting TV series), and we’re just keeping it because we just got billed for the next month. You can’t get a refund for a partial month, so if we canceled now, we’d be short-changing ourselves another 3 weeks of movies.

Most likely we’ll put our Netflix account on hold rather than completely cancel it, just so we can retain our ratings history and current queue, and then reassess the situation at the end of the semester.

Anyone else in this boat? Do you love or hate Netflix?

Try Netflix for Free for 14 days

As a note, if YOU would like to try Netflix, and haven’t had the service before, you can try Netflix for 14 days free*. You can cancel online very easily without having to call anyone (trust me, I’ve done it numerous times before).

* Affiliate Link

About the author

Clever Dude


  • @fern: Yes, misunderstanding. I get 2 out at a time. It’s “unlimited” per month, but it really comes out to about 20 movies max per month (2 every three days for 30 days).

  • My guy has souped-up cable (HBO, Showtime, On Demand) AND we get Netflix. We even still go to the theaters (yes, upwards of $10 per ticket, I know). I would ditch the cable in a second, but he wants it for reasons I don’t fully understand. You guys, however, might do well to suspend your account because you only go through 4 – 6 movies a month. You could see how much you miss it for a month and then make your decision.

  • Stick with Netflix, its the best! Not only can you put it on hold for a couple of months if you are not utilizing it, but also if you stop netflix service I have heard they keep your queue around for 2 years.

    You can’t beat it for winter in MN, even the closest redbox is too far when its -20. Sometimes if we are not going out even the mailbox seems too far!

    cheap entertainment, convenience, blu-ray upgrade for $1 a month, no extra trip for returns…

    Why not!

  • We never really ever run out of Netflix movies in our queue. We go through about 4 movies a month, but our queue keeps growing. Now that they have the “watch now” streaming option included with the subscription, I am thinking about getting one of the netflix dvr services. We love this service.

  • Hey Cleverdude, I read that you were thinking about putting your account on hold while you’re trying to save a few bucks. That seems to be the popular trend right now in this country.
    Just incase you aren’t aware, if you place your account on hold with Netflix, its only a 90 day hold at max unless you continue to extend it out. If that 90th day comes and you forget about it, but dont want to reactivate yet, it’s going to automatically reactivate…may catch you off guard.
    But, if you cancel your account, the remaining movies in your queue will stay on file with Netflix for up to 2 years. And your ratings and history and everything else will remain on file as well, so you dont have to worry about losing that information.
    When you reactivate the account after an indefinate time, just log out and back in and viola!

  • Catching up on older CD posts…

    I am just now giving Netflix a try. I have been using my public library for 4-5 years for DVD’s (in addition to books, etc.), with the assumption that I would eventually run through everything they had to offer and want to start using a pay model again. And honestly, that really hasn’t been true. I tell my friends I use “Libflix” – it’s like Netflix except it’s free (at my library anyway) and you don’t have the exact same delivery control.

    A feature that my library offers through the online catalog is Suspending your Holds. Say for example, you’re going on vacation; you don’t want items to show up when you can’t use them, so you freeze your holds. This keeps your ‘place in line’ and you can un-suspend the hold when you are ready for the item. Most library users in our system also use this feature to control when items come to them, not unlike a Netflix queue. Sure you have to wait a few weeks until you are the #1/next person in line for the latest, popular movie but if you have enough items in your hold list, and you keep feeding your hold list with forthcoming titles, you will eventually catch up and have more items available than you can reasonable watch. I hope that made sense. In essence, you end up with a long line of things on hold and while you’re going through one chunk of materials, the next is freeing up.

    At this point, I’m looking for things that the library or even our amazing independant rental store doesn’t have, so I’m giving Netflix a try. I don’t think I’ll give up the library but just supplement it for awhile. I am so glad to find out you can place a hold on Netflix instead of just cancelling (and re-upping later). Very cool news. Thanks!!

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