Magazines for Free or Cheap

By Linsey Knerl on 21 March 2010 (Updated 24 March 2011) 8 comments

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This article shares tips from the newest episode of Dealista, our podcast that'll help you get more for less.

It’s hard to justify spending cover price for magazines — ever. That’s why we recommend that you don’t. If you’d still like to read your favorite issues (and borrowing them from the library is something that doesn’t appeal to you), then go ahead and subscribe. Just follow our tips to be sure you get all your subscriptions for far less than newsstand prices.

How to Get Magazines for Free

The ultimate solution is to pay nothing for your magazines. No trial subscriptions, no credit-card needed, no money ever. This is how I currently get about half of my best magazines. The key is to know where to look, and to expect that you won’t always find a free offer when you really need it (If you’re set to run out of your favorite subscription, you most likely won’t be getting a freebie in time to keep it coming.) If you like a bit of unpredictability, or would like to try some new genres of magazines, then freebies is the way to go.

In addition to checking out our Daily Deals for freebies, I suggest visiting Deal Seeking Mom, ConsumerQueen, or Money Saving Mom, and looking for their magazine deals. They’ll most likely direct you to some of the major free fulfillment sites, including:

RewardsGold.com — You can’t sign up for a freebie through this site without a direct link or invitation (registration isn’t open to everyone). But once you’ve found an offer on a freebie board, you very likely to get the magazine you sign up for. You’ll have to answer a few questions on shopping preferences (what kind of perfume you use, for example), and provide your mailing info. Once you’ve done this, the mags are almost certain to come. I’ve gotten TV Guide, Newsweek, Woman's Day, Parents, and Ladies Home Journal through this site with no money out of pocket.

Mercury Magazines — Another company mentioned frequently on freebies and deals sites, these go very quickly! Answer questions about your line of work (putting down homemaker should still get you in), and provide your mailing info to be eligible. Visiting the home page may get you various digital offers at any time, but the best magazines (like the recent Fitness offering) are found through exclusive links only.

ValueMags — This site is another one that freebie boards mention frequently. Check out their offer main page to see if any good digital magazines are being offered — while you wait for good print magazines to pop up!

How to Get the best Magazine Deals Online

Sometimes you’ll still need to cough up some cash to get the magazines you REALLY want. That’s OK, as long as you go through the publisher as the last resort and never agree to pay full price. Here are my favorite discount dealers.

Amazon.com — Offering just about every magazine available, it often has great $5 and $10 subscription deals. Don’t forget, you can always add magazine subscriptions to any existing merchandise order to total $25 — and score free shipping!

Best Deal Magazines — I’ve used this service many times. Most of their magazines are marked down into “buckets” of $4.69, $5.95, and under $10. They also offer gift cards, which is perfect for giving someone a magazine gift, when you’re not quite sure if they’re more Maxim or Martha Stewart Living.

Magazine Price Search — This useful search tool allows you to type in the name of any magazine for a price comparison across several magazine sites. (Hint: This is especially useful if you are looking for a specialty magazine that is not offered on very many sites.) It will also tell you which sites DON’T carry the title.

How to Negotiate Your Existing Magazine Subscription

One of the best ways to save on magazines, especially those you already subscribe to, is to negotiation pricing from the distributor directly. Getting those renewal calls can be annoying, or you can turn them into an opportunity to talk them down on price. Remember, they want your business!

Your wiggle room will vary by company, and some will want to lock you into a several-year deal, but usually you can ask for up to 50% off the asking price for a 2-3 year renewal. Perfect for those who know that they will definitely want 48 more issues of Car and Driver and don’t want to pay full price.

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link to Amazon.com

Dealista is a collaboration between Wise Bread and Quick and Dirty Tips, the producer of popular podcasts such as Grammar Girl, Money Girl, Winning Investor, and Mighty Mommy.

If you enjoyed these tips you can find more in our show's archive.

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Guest's picture
gt0163c

I get many, many magazines for free and can verify that these sites (and a few others) really do work. I don't get bills, rarely get subscription phone calls (maybe because I'm not home a lot) and it all works well. The used bookstore near me will buy recent magazines, so I've turned it into a small money maker. It's not a lot, but it finances my monthly comic book habit. Some magazines also regularly include grocery and personal care coupons (mostly womens and home magazines. Although I was finding free dog biscuit coupons in Entertainment Weekly for a few months a while back). So that's another benefit.

Other places to get free magazines are through various points programs. Coke rewards, erewards, frequent flyer programs where you never get enough miles for a free flight or upgrade and various other, similar programs provide other resources for free magazines.

Linsey Knerl's picture

I use do to Coke rewards when I drank soda.  Now I've found that I have more than enough magazines without it.  (But it's still a great resource -- especiall if you drink the stuff or can find bottle caps w/ codes in the park or at sporting events.)

Also, I like to give my gently used, but still current, magazines that I'm finished with to the local nursing home.  The residents don't get to read much new content, and they really appreciate it!

Thanks for the comment :)

Linsey Knerl

Guest's picture

About five years ago I gave up magazines entirely. Why? There's a reason you can get cheap/free magazines: they are full of advertising. The advertising is not only in the ad space, by the way. There are tons of product reviews and plenty of product placement sprinkled in.

I'm not saying you must buy what you see in the ads, but I have noticed that my drastically limiting my exposure to ads in print and other locations, I've changed my consumer habits quite a bit.

By the way, while many blogs have some kind of advertising, I find it's not nearly as intrusive as what you can find in print. . . and I find the writing to be just as good!

Guest's picture
Carrie

If you have a few miles languishing in an account with an airline you rarely fly, you can cash them in for mags.

Linsey Knerl's picture

There is definitely validity in your point.  Over-commercialization of many of my favorite mags has made them undreadable, in my opinion.  (I don't care personally what the editor thinks is the hottest mascara this season.)  I do think that there are possibilities to use magazines as the "anti" to consumer culture, however.  Some of my new faves include ReadyMade, CountrySide, Grit, and Family Handyman -- which focus more on DIY than Buy-it-now.  You can read how I get my money's worth here, if interested. 

Thanks for your comment!

Linsey Knerl

Guest's picture

Thanks for posting this. I have recently used some of these methods to get free magazines and a couple I was unaware of. While I do most of my reading online, I still appreciate an actual hard copy magazine every once in a while.

Mike

Guest's picture

oh really??Thanks for your post..It gives me a very good idea..maybe I'm too late but I'll try this tips..

Guest's picture
Home2go

You can get pretty much any magazine for free, but you do have to follow the blogs mentioned above and know when the offers are available. All you have to do is fill out a survey in order to get the magazines free. As other comments have noted there is no hassle or obligation after that.