Are you building your cable-free streaming package and curious about the cheapest ways to get HBO? Great!
Keep reading to figure out everything you need to know about HBO and the routes you can take to keep more money in your wallet.
What is HBO?
HBO is a cable television company that stands for Home Box Office. You might recognize the name from flipping through television channels. Originally, HBO was the oldest and longest-running subscription television service. They broadcast documentaries, theatrically released motion pictures, documentaries, and the occasional special, including comedy shows or concerts.
In 2015, HBO stepped into the streaming industry with the release of HBO Now, which provided users the ability to access HBO original programming and theatrical films. It did not require a cable subscription to access and instead was a standalone monthly fee.
In July of 2020, HBO changed their streaming service from HBO Now to HBO Max.
HBO offers two subscription options, HBO and HBO Max. Both subscription options have the same base price at $14.99 per month.
HBO Max includes content from:
- All of HBO’s “must-see series, groundbreaking documentaries, and blockbuster movies.”
- DC Comics
- Cartoon Network
- TCM (Turner Classic Movies)
- Sesame Workshop
- Studio Ghibli
- Adult Swim
- Looney Tunes
- Charm City Kings
- Raised by Wolves
They also have the full series of Friends, which was recently removed from Netflix. HBO Max has more than 1,300 movies and over 10,000 hours of programming available.
The typical HBO subscription only includes the must-see content, documentaries, and other films and movies from HBO, with none of the additional content listed above.
Since HBO and HBO Max are the same prices, it’s a no-brainer to go for HBO Max instead. The only instance you would use HBO, is if you have a streaming device that does not support HBO Max. Both Roku’s 2020 models and Fire TV do not support HBO Max as of October 2020, but lots of subscribers hope this will change in the future. A recent DISH Network offer gives new customers access to HBO for free, for 3 months.
It’s no secret that the streaming industry is exploding. As cable subscription costs rise exponentially, more customers are cutting the cord than before and searching for cost-efficient alternatives to keep watching their favorite TV shows and movies.
It can be stressful to decide what you’ll sign up for and what you’ll skip. It’s unrealistic to sign up for every streaming service out there because you’ll end up paying around the same or more than you did when you paid for traditional cable service, so you need to pick and choose which services offer content that you’re interested in.
Netflix is a leading competitor of HBO. Netflix was founded in 1998 but did not gain fame until the early 2010s when their subscription count rocketed to 23 million.
Their basic subscription plan is only $8.99 per month, their standard coming in at $12.99, and their premium subscription topping off at $15.99 per month, which is a dollar more than HBO Max. Many streamers flock to Netflix because they enjoy their wide variety of Netflix original series and movies.
Hulu is another popular streaming platform with noteworthy shows such as Rick & Morty, Bob’s Burgers, and live news channels. Their monthly subscriptions include:
- Hulu with ads for $5.99
- Regular Hulu for $11.99
- Hulu and live TV for $54.99
- Hulu with no ads and live TV for $60.99
They also give a percentage discount if you decide to pay annually instead of monthly.
Disney+ is one of the most recently added streaming platforms, but it has surged in popularity because of its content, including Star Wars, Pixar, and Disney movies.
Disney+ is only $6.99 per month on its own but offers incredible bundles such as Disney+, ESPN+, and ad-supported Hulu for $12.99 per month.
HBO Compatible Devices
Speaking of streaming devices, what is HBO available on? You don’t want to sign up, pay for a subscription, only to find out that your preferred method of streaming doesn’t support HBO or HBO Max.
HBO Max is compatible with the following platforms and devices:
- Apple iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch (with iOS 12.2 or later)
- Android phone and tablets (with Android OS 5 or later)
- PC with Windows 7 or later
- Mac with macOS X 10.10 (Yosemite) or later
- Google Chromebooks
- The latest version of Chrome or Firefox
- The latest version of Microsoft Edge for Windows
- Safari version 10 or later
- Android TV
- Apple TV
- PlayStation 4
- Samsung TV (2016 models and later)
- Xbox One
You can also get creative and stream HBO Max to your TV through apps such as Chromecast, Airplay, or by using an HDMI cable to connect your computer or phone to the television directly.
HBO Max is not compatible with Roku, Fire TV, or the Xfinity X1 TV Box. If you have any of these devices, you will need to settle for the basic HBO subscription.
The Cheapest Ways to Get HBO
Onto the meat and potatoes; the question that everyone has been asking. What are the cheapest ways to get HBO?
The truth is that you don’t always have to pay the full price for HBO. There are many ways to cut down the cost, including free trials, bundles, and qualifying cable plans.
We’ve all been there. There’s a show or movie you’re dying to watch, but it’s locked behind a monthly subscription. So you make a free trial to watch it, but it’s only temporary. Juggling free trials for HBO is doable but challenging and tedious.
Some streaming services will allow you to get a free trial with just an email, but HBO requires credit card information to start a trial. The free trial only lasts for one week before you begin getting charged the full price of $14.99, so you need to cancel the subscription before then or you’re out of luck.
The free trial is only eligible for new customers, so you can’t cancel a free trial and then start it again with the same account. You’ll need to provide a new email address and password, but they won’t recognize duplicate credit card information.
In our opinion, it’s easier to find another option to get HBO for cheap instead of juggling free trials.
Get HBO Max Free With a Qualifying AT&T Plan
If you’re already paying for an internet connection and a phone plan, why not get HBO Max for free as well?
Qualifying AT&T plans include a free subscription that can easily be redeemed through account settings. If you’re not a current AT&T customer, you can always inquire about switching from your current provider. The following packages include HBO Max indefinitely, at no additional charge:
- DIRECTV: Premier and Lo Maximo
- U-verse: U-400/U-450 + U450 Latino
- AT&T TV: Premier
- AT&T TV Now: Max
- AT&T Internet 1000
- AT&T Wireless: AT&T Unlimited Elite
Other plans that are not listed above are not eligible for indefinitely free HBO, but AT&T will still give you anywhere from three months to a year free before they begin to charge you for HBO Max with specific packages discussed below.
Cable and TV Bundles
While AT&T offers HBO Max for free with certain packages, other cable providers offer a discounted monthly rate for HBO Max if you’d like to add it to your account.
Cox is a digital cable and telecommunications provider located in the United States.
HBO Max is included with Contour TV plans, which start at $129.99 per month. They have internet, television, and phone service(s).
Altice USA provides paid television, internet, phone, and original television content through Optimum, a service provider that operates in 21 American states.
All of Altice USA’s existing customers before May 27th, 2020, have immediate access to HBO Max as long as they were subscribed to HBO. They can download it using their Optimum or Suddenlink credentials. New customers will need to pay full price for access to HBO Max.
DirecTV and AT&T
AT&T owns DirecTV, so it can be a bit confusing to navigate their website because the brand names are swapped around often, and you will be redirected to the AT&T website after clicking on certain links. If you don’t want to pay outright for the AT&T plans that include HBO Max indefinitely, the following plans include it free for a year.
Under DirecTV, HBO Max is included for a year with their DirecTV Premier bundle that starts at $134.99 per month, DirecTV Plus at $110 per month, and DirecTV Max at $130 per month.
AT&T TV bundles with HBO Max for one year start with their Choice Plan at $54.99 per month, going up to their Ultimate Plan, which will cost you $69.99 per month.
Not all streaming services are competing against each other. Instead of choosing, you can instead bundle your ideal streaming services into a package and pay less.
If you’re one of the 112 million Amazon Prime members in the United States, then you have access to Prime Video.
Through Amazon Video, you can bundle HBO Max ($14.99) and Cinemax ($9.99) for a discounted monthly rate of $21.99 per month, which gives you a savings of $2.99.
Hulu offers many streaming services that you can add on with your basic or no-ads Hulu subscription, one of these add-ons being HBO Max.
The first week is free, but afterward, you will have to pay the full HBO Max price of $14.99. Some HBO content will be integrated into the Hulu app, and exclusive content will be available only on HBO.
Unfortunately, HBO is no longer offering student discounts at a rate of $9.99 per month like they use to.
Existing customers who had taken advantage of the student discount, when available, will keep being charged at the same rate. Once the student subscription has expired, the account will be charged the full price of $14.99.
Keep an eye out to see if they reintroduce student discounts in the future. You will need an eligible and current student ID to qualify for the reduced price.
The Cheapest Way to Get HBO
HBO Max is one of the most difficult streaming services to find discounts for. Competitors like Disney+ have discount bundles with various streaming services and cable providers, while HBO Max is a bit more exclusive. It doesn’t help that they stopped providing student discounts.
Hands down, the cheapest way to get HBO is through any of the eligible AT&T plans we listed above. With a qualifying bundle, you’ll receive a full-access subscription at no additional cost while paying for your internet and phone plan.
If this isn’t a viable route, then consider bundling HBO Max and Cinemax through Amazon Video. This gives you a savings of $2.99 per month; it isn’t a lot, but it’s better than paying full price.
Juggling free trials is a popular method, but it’s difficult and tedious. You have to create a new account each time and enter the credit card information, then remember to cancel it within seven days so that you’re not charged. We recommend finding another route for cheap HBO.