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 six other ways you can cut back on your magazine spend.
1. 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 Zinio 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 which 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.
** Update 15/11/17: 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 **
2. Sign up to Amazon Prime
A few months ago Amazon introduced a new feature for its 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 Wallpaper, F1 Racing, Good Housekeeping and Time.
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 free 30-day trial each year, and there’s a trick to get it half-price too.
3. Try a multi-magazine digital subscription with Readly
If you don’t have Zinio at your library, you can get a free two week trial of Readly. This has hundreds of titles, many of them designed specifically for tablets making them a far more interactive read.
If you’ve got an NUS card (again, you should, here’s how to get one even if you’re not a student) you can get the first two months for £5.
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.
4. 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 save well over 50% on a variety of titles. A 12 month subscription for a major title should cost between £12 to £18.
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.
These are the best to check
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
Anyone in a big city can also pick up a free magazine a few days of the week – and some are available online for everyone else. Timeout is London only, but Shortlist, Stylist and Sport have a wider distribution (the latter can also be downloaded for free). The NME is free too and you can pick up a copy at these locations.
There are also a variety of free digital issues on Google Play Newsstand app. Often these are “try a free issue” offers, while O2 Priority members can often pick up a copy too.