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Don’t pay full price when you can get free or discounted magazine copies and subscriptions.

For about 20 years I subscribed to the film magazine Empire (yes I was a young movie addict), but I stopped reading it a few years ago as even special offers and discounts couldn’t justify the price.

However, I’ve found a way to read Empire – and more – for free each month. Hurray!

Here’s how, plus other ways you can cut back on your magazine spend.

Get free digital magazines from your library

Libraries don’t just lend books and DVDs – you can now borrow digitally. As well as (non-Kindle) e-books, magazines are available via your library’s RBDigitial service.

You just need to join your local library and sign up online. Not every library will have it, and the selection of magazines will vary (some incredibly random!), but there will probably be something that interests you.

Once signed up you can access different magazines that can be downloaded to your tablet, phone or viewed on a computer. It doesn’t take much getting used to reading them on a tablet; an extra bonus is you can zoom in on any bits that are a little too small to read.

I’ve regularly download Empire, Lonely Planet, Radio Times and Wallpaper for free, and my wife has chosen Vogue (both the UK and the American version for some reason), Good Housekeeping and Newsweek – and there are dozens and dozens of other options.

After I wrote about this trick a few years ago, reader Pete got in touch to share a few libraries you can join online without ID or proof of residency. So if you don’t have physical access to your local library, try Cambridgeshire, East Sussex, East Riding, Oxfordshire, Hampshire and Barnet

> Find your local library

Open up a Lloyds Club bank account

Every year with this bank account you have the choice of a free annual magazine subscription or six free cinema tickets.

You do need to pay in £1,500 a month to avoid a £3 monthly fee, but you don’t have to keep the money in the account.

There’s also sometimes a £125 switching bonus if you close an account at another bank and move everything over.

Free magazines with the Club Lloyds bank account

The magazines available (updated 1/11/19) are:

  • Bike
  • Bird Watching
  • Car
  • Cosmopolitan
  • Country Living
  • Country Walking
  • Elle
  • Elle Decoration
  • Empire
  • Esquire
  • Food to Love
  • Garden Answers
  • Good Housekeeping
  • Harper’s Bazaar
  • House Beautiful
  • Improve your Coarse Fishing
  • Landscape
  • Men’s Health
  • Mother & Baby
  • Practical Photography
  • Prima
  • Q
  • Red
  • Runner’s World
  • Steam Railway
  • Today’s Golfer
  • Woman’s Health

A less well-known feature that Amazon introduced for Prime members called Prime Reading. Here you get free access to a number of books and magazines.

The selection rotates each month so you won’t see the same titles featured every month, but there’s a decent mix to choose from. At the time of writing you can pick up 43 different magazines including Red, Gardener’s World and Top Gear.

You don’t need a Kindle to read them, in fact they work better if you use the Kindle app on your tablet.

Prime costs £79 a year, though you can get a free 30-day trial each year, and there’s a trick to get it half-price too.

> Read my review of Amazon Prime

Try a multi-magazine digital subscription with Readly

If you don’t have Zinio at your library, you can get a one month-trial of Readly for 99p. This has hundreds of titles, many of them designed specifically for tablets making them a far more interactive read.

Once the trial ends it’s a bit pricey at £7.99 a month. However, it’s not bad value if you’d normally buy two magazines a month – and even better if you can split the subscription with friends or family.

> Try Readly for a month for 99p

Buy a cut-price subscription online

If print is more your thing, please don’t pay full price for a subscription. You’ll almost always be able to find a cheaper deal online.

If you have Tesco Clubcard vouchers, you can exchange 50p in points for £1.50 to spend on a variety of titles.

Sites such as Great Magazines and iSubscribe offer money off full price, though you’re unlikely to get more than 40% off. Occasionally you can also get a free voucher (eg Amazon or Ticketmaster) with a reduced subscription.

From time to time deals appear on deals sites too. We got a year of Vogue for £19 a few years back – a rare discount.

Look for vouchers in papers

At the end of each month coupons often appear to get one of the leading women’s fashion titles (and occasionally men’s lifestyle ones) for just £1.

The idea is to clear old editions before new additions hit the newsstands, so stock can often be limited.

I’ve noticed these in Metro quite often, which has a digital version you can print from.

Haggle for trials and discounts

I’m constantly called by the Empire sales team as a former subscriber. At one point I got 12 issues for less than £10!

There’s no reason you won’t be able to haggle with the magazine publisher direct. Go to their website to find the number and see what you can get.

Just make sure you cancel before the full Direct Debit starts.

Get a weekend newspaper magazine for free

Weekend papers have a good range of magazines, particularly for food and style. If you have a Waitrose supermarket near you, its loyalty schemes give you a free paper if you spend £10.

> Find out more about Waitrose’s myWaitrose card

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