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Avoid expensive services like Sky Store and iTunes and stream new film releases for as little as £3.50… or even for free!

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The very first article I wrote when I set up the blog was about how sad I was to see Blockbuster Video shut down. I still miss it! But since broadband speeds have increased it’s – more often than not – a perfectly good experience to stream a movie straight to your TV.

I do this a couple of times a month, usually to catch up on new releases I missed at the cinema. And I rarely pay anything at all. Yep, that’s right. Zero.

And even if I do have to shell out some cash, I’ll never pay more than £3.50, some £2 less than some of the most popular streaming services charge.

And if you don’t want to stream, there are a few options to get your hands on a DVD or Blu-Ray disc too. So here are my tricks to let you save cash when you rent a film.

Shop around for your rentals

If you’re a Sky Customer then you probably just go to the Sky Store app on your Sky Box and rent films there.  Well, stop. It costs £5.50 for a one-time rental – and that’s just for Standard Definition (SD) quality. A total rip off!!

iTunes isn’t much better with most new release rentals costing £4.49, £4.99 or £5.49. Only a handful of the films I looked at were available for under £3.50.

But shop around and you should be able to get the latest releases at £3.50. Here are the streaming services I use:

This £3.50 price is for SD films. Renting HD will cost you an extra quid, while 4K or UHD tends to be around £4.99 a rental.

Depending on the film you might find these services don’t actually offer an SD option, with Rakuten the most likely to only have HD or higher. Amazon also tends to present the HD version as the displayed price so you need to choose “More purchase options” to find the cheaper SD price.

So it’s worth shopping around between them to so you can avoid being forced to select the higher-resolution version. Even so, that’s still cheaper than doing this via Sky and Apple.

How to watch new movies on your TV

It’s really easy to watch these on your telly. Some smart TVs, such as those from LG or Samsung, will have the apps built-in. Otherwise you’ll need to buy a streaming stick, which can be as cheap as £20 to £25. Here’s my guide to making your TV “smart”, including devices such as Amazon’s Fire Stick and Google’s Chromecast.

Rent films and TV by post for as little as £2.59 a film

Though Lovefilm was closed in 2017, there’s still an option to have films (and TV shows) sent via the post. And it’s cheap. You can get a film for £2.59 sent to your door with Cinema Paradiso (named after the Oscar-winning Italian movie). And it could be even cheaper if you watch four or more new releases each month.

The service offers a 14-day free trial. After that there are three levels of monthly packages, which you can cancel or switch between at any time – as long as you don’t have any discs still at home. The options are:

  • £5.18 p/month for two discs a month, but only one disc at a time
  • £9.98 p/month for unlimited discs a month, but just one disc at a time
  • £12.98 for unlimited films a month and two discs at once.

> Sign up to Cinema Paradiso

Tricks for even cheaper or free film rentals

Even better than both of these is to get an even bigger discount, and better than that is to pay nothing! Here’s how to get these further savings.

Free/£1 Rakuten movie rentals

Take out a trial with Times + (the digital subscription service for The Times newspaper) and you’ll be able to get a free Rakuten movie each month. The trials tend to cost £8 for eight weeks which isn’t such a great deal just to get a rental, but there are regular 30-day free trials or three months for £3 offers. I’ll update any decent deals here.

£1.99 Amazon Instant Video film rentals

If you have Amazon Prime, it’s worth checking what titles are in the regular promotions for members where a selection of latest releases are just £1.99.

Free Chili Cinema movie rentals

There are regular deals for Chili, whether £10 of credit and an Odeon ticket for £5.99 on Groupon or codes to get 50% off movies. I’ll share the best of these on my streaming deals page.

Discounted Google Play film rentals

Every now and then special promotions appear in the Google Play store. These are often for £1.49 rentals, but sometimes you’ll nab a free one. You’ll find them in the banners, just as in the picture below.


Look for discounts like this one in the banners on Google Play

Wait so it’s included in your Netflix, NOW TV or Amazon Prime subscriptions

If you’re already paying for a streaming service then eventually the films will arrive on one of these. Annoyingly it’s tough to tell which one. Personally I’d avoid NOW TV’s Sky Cinema pass unless there’s a deal going on as the tricks above can make it cheaper to watch the films rather than shell out £10 a month.

Rent films from the library

Finally you can pop to your local library and there is often a collection of films to pick from. Unlike borrowing books you will have to pay, but it should only be a few quid.

Most libraries will also let you order films held at different libraries, and you can also reserve discs to make sure you get it next. Once you’ve joined up, also check out if you can access digital loans on e-books and magazines.

Best TV streaming: Amazon Prime vs Netflix vs Now TV

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