For the past couple of years, savvy cord-cutters have known how to get Paramount+ (the service formerly known as CBS All Access) without paying a dime.
Practically every month, Paramount (the media company formerly known as ViacomCBS) doles out coupons for a month of free service, valid for both new and returning subscribers. As long as you don’t already have an active subscription, you can redeem these coupons repeatedly and never pay for Paramount+. The codes even work with Paramount+ Premium, which has limited ads and provides a live local CBS stream.
This week, Paramount+ announced a new promotion that briefly made me think the company was changing tactics: By entering the code BIRTHDAY at checkout, you can get three months of either the Essential plan for $1 per month (down from $5 per month) or the Premium plan for $2 per month (down from $10 per month). Both deals are valid through March 7.
But while Paramount is loudly promoting its birthday sale with press outreach and a promo video, the company has also quietly continued its free offerings in parallel. (The current free code, per Doctor of Credit, is BETWEENTARGET30WALMART30.) Unless you’re an extreme Paramount+ enthusiast, you should probably skip the birthday offer and stick with the freebies instead.
Free is better than cheap
I first wrote about these free coupons in October 2020, when the service was still called CBS All Access. The process for redeeming them hasn’t changed since then, but here’s a refresher:
Log into paramountplus.com (or create an account if you don’t have one). Important: This coupon only works on the Paramount+ website. Do not sign up using the Paramount+ app.
Select the Premium plan, and make sure to choose monthly billing.
Proceed to the final checkout page and find the box that says “Your Plan.”
Click the blue “Have a coupon code?” link, then enter your coupon (currently BETWEEN) in the box.
Verify that your trial offer shows one month free, and that the total charge is $0, before confirming the subscription.
Jared Newman / IDG
You don’t need to be a new subscriber to redeem these free Paramount+ codes, but you can’t add them to an active subscription. Instead, you must let your subscription expire before entering a new code.
To avoid being billed automatically after your free month is over, cancel your subscription one day after signing up. (I’ve found that if you cancel immediately, it will nullify the free trial.) You’ll still get the full month and your subscription will cancel automatically at the end.
My preferred tactic for remembering to cancel? Use the “Snooze” function in Gmail for Paramount+’s confirmation email, but you can also just add an item to your calendar or ask your phone’s voice assistant or your smart speaker to set a reminder for you.
Jared Newman / IDG
You can cancel online through the Paramount+ account page. To complete the cancellation, you’ll need to reject Paramount’s offer for 50 percent off two months, and then give a reason for why you’re ending the subscription. (I usually just say it’s too expensive. What streaming service isn’t?)
I have no way of knowing whether Paramount+ will continue offering free coupons in the future—the company did not respond to a request for comment on its strategy—so skipping the more widely promoted birthday sale is a bit of a gamble. Still, it’s worth noting that Paramount+ has offered discounts in the past, only to maintain its free coupon pattern for those who didn’t take the bait.
When it first rebranded from CBS All Access last year, for instance, Paramount+ allowed customers to buy a one-year subscription for $30 with ads or $50 without—a 50-percent discount in both cases. Anyone who took that deal missed out on the many free-month coupons that have followed.
Also, the free coupon strategy seems to have worked out well for Paramount. In a press release, the company says it exceeded its first-year growth goals for Paramount+ after rebranding the service from CBS All Access in March 2021, and it ended last year with 32.8 million subscribers. In my previous coverage, the company said it had a lot of success turning freebie takers into paying customers.
That makes sense to me. On a large enough scale, it’s easy to imagine millions of people not bothering to cancel, not knowing that free-month coupons are a regular occurrence, or genuinely loving Paramount+ enough to feel that the full price is justified. And while I continue to insist that you shouldn’t pay for Paramount+, I’m well aware that my soapbox is not especially large.
But for those of us in the know, maybe that’s for the best.
Jared Newman has been helping folks make sense of technology for over a decade, writing for PCWorld, TechHive, and elsewhere. He also publishes two newsletters, Advisorator for straightforward tech advice and Cord Cutter Weekly for saving money on TV service.