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.
Here’s how, plus other ways you can cut back on your magazine spend.
Rather watch rather than read? Check out this video?
Free magazines tricks
Get them digitally 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 many will let you do this from their website – even if you don’t have proof of residency. You can find your local library here.
Then once you have your library ID you can sign into its magazine service portal.
Not every library will have this service, 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, 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.
Open a Club Lloyds 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 switching bonus if you close an account at another bank and move everything over so it’s worth keeping an eye out for that.
Free magazines with the Club Lloyds bank account
The magazines available (updated 5/5/20) are:
- Bird Watching
- Country Living
- Country Walking
- Elle Decoration
- Food to Love
- Garden Answers
- Good Housekeeping
- Harper’s Bazaar
- House Beautiful
- Improve your Coarse Fishing
- Men’s Health
- Mother & Baby
- Practical Photography
- Runner’s World
- Steam Railway
- Today’s Golfer
- Woman’s Health
Read online with Amazon Prime
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 75 different magazines including Red, Good Food and Total Film.
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.
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 in-store.
Cheap magazine tricks
Try a multi-magazine digital subscription
If you don’t have the RGB service at your library, you can try a couple of different Netlflix style services where you pay a monthly fee for unlimited access.
The two main ones are Readly and Magzter, and both have free or cheap trials to give them a go.
Both have hundreds of titles, many of them designed specifically for tablets making them a far more interactive read.
Once the trials end it’s a bit pricey at £7.99 and £9.99 a month respectively. However, it’s not bad value if you’d normally buy two or three magazines a month – and even better if you can split the subscription with friends or family.
There are often more ways to save which I’ll share in the link below.
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.
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.