There are plenty of streaming services to choose from, but Netflix remains the biggest one – with beloved classic movies and shows such as Friends to unmissable originals such as The Witcher.
Unlike many other rivals, Netflix offers numerous plans to cater to different budgets and needs. But what’s the best plan for you? We’ve compared Netflix Standard with Ads, Netflix Standard and Netflix Premium and categorised them into whose best suited for what. You can sign up now on the Netflix website.
Before we break down the three plans, here’s a couple of things to consider when signing up for Netflix. You can also check out the best TV shows and movies on the platform right now. We also have a similar guide for the Disney+ tiers and the Spotify Premium plans.
The lowdown on Netflix plans
The first thing to be aware of is that Netflix no longer offers a 30-day free trial. Instead, there’s sometimes a chance to have a free upgrade to a higher plan during your first month when you sign up.
Therefore if you’re joining Netflix for the first time and aren’t sure about going for a pricier plan, sign up on one of the lower plans and take advantage of the upgrade without having to pay extra for 30 days. When your trial ends, you’ll be given the option of staying on your current plan or switching to the higher one.
You can only register one payment option to your account, but if you’re happy to do so you can share your email address and password with members of your household so they can make their own profiles. Make sure that the information you share isn’t sensitive – such as using the same password for your internet banking.
Note that you can’t share a password with anyone who doesn’t live in your household, though they can be added to your account for an additional fee as extra members.
If you want to split payment for your account, then you can either get people to set up a simple standing order, pay via PayPal and split the cost through here, or use something such as Monzo. You can create up to five profiles across all of the plans, but the type of subscription that you have will affect things such as simultaneous streaming.
If cost is your main concern, we’ve also totted up what a monthly subscription will cost you per year. However, keep in mind that you can only pay for Netflix monthly – no annual plans are offered. You can cancel a monthly rolling subscription at any time.
Some TV packages such as Virgin and Sky also offer Netflix as an add-on in their bundles, so if you plan on going with these for your entertainment needs you can put it together with your TV bill and have everything go out at once.
Is Netflix Standard with Ads for me?
Cost: £4.99/$6.99 per month (adds up to £59.88 or $83.88 per year)
Best for: Those who want to spend as little as possible and don’t plan on sharing Netflix
Netflix Standard with Ads is the newest tier from the streaming giant. Whilst its the cheapest tier on the list, there are many restrictions to keep in mind.
The number of ads depends on the content you’re watching, but typically there will be a couple of pre-roll ads, and then either one or two mid-roll ad breaks. The ads themselves can last anywhere between 30 seconds and 75 seconds – though they aren’t as intrusive as some other ad-supported streaming platforms.
The main downside of this Netflix tier is that it is missing some major third-party shows and films, including The Office, The Good Place, Arrested Development and Skyfall – the content missing will depend on your region. You can find out more with our hands-on of the Netflix tier.
The quality of the streaming is 1080p, and there are no simultaneous streams or downloads available – so we recommend this tier for individuals only, really.
Is Netflix Standard for me?
Cost: £10.99/$15.49 per month (adds up to £131.88 or $185.88 per year)
Best for: Those looking for a balance of cost and perks, small groups
The most popular plan on Netflix is the all-rounder Standard account. The step-ups from the Standard with Ads plan (besides the obvious lack of commericals) include two simultaneous streams, two devices to register for downloads and a nice boost when it comes to your resolution.
On Netflix Standard, you’ll be able to stream up to 1080p, so your picture quality will be reasonably good for whatever you’re streaming on.
Double the simultaneous streams make this account good for friends who watch Netflix around the same time as you, or multiple family members who like to tune in from different parts of the house. But again, this plan still doesn’t give you the max amount of screens that you can have.
Consider who you’ll be sharing your plan with, and what’s the maximum amount of dosh you want to fork out each month.
Is Netflix Premium for me?
Cost: £17.99/$22.99 (adds up to £215.88 or $275.88 per year)
Best for: Large groups and tech whizzes
If cost is no concern – or you’re sharing your account with a big number of people – then it’s worth considering Netflix Premium.
If you want to get the most out of your 4K telly or laptop, then the Premium tier of Netflix offers Ultra High Definition (UHD), which is 4K streaming. Of course, be aware that not every single show and film on the platform is available in 4K – it’s mostly newer releases and they’ll be labelled as such (find out more in our guide to watching Netflix in 4K).
Large groups and big families will also be happy to take advantage of Netflix Premium, as it includes four simultaneous streams and four devices to store downloads on, making it the easiest account for sharing amongst your household, if that’s your main goal.
Of course, if all these streams are taking place in one household (and all are in 4K), keep in mind that you’ll need a fast broadband connection to avoid any buffering issues.
Note that the price of Netflix Premium increased on 18 October by $3/£2 per month.
What about Netflix Basic?
Cost: Only for existing members – £7.99/$11.99 per month (adds up to £95.88 or $143.88 per year)
Best for: Cost-conscious individuals or pairs, those with older TVs
Netflix Basic is no longer an option for new and returning customers, but if you’re already subscribed to this plan then you can stay on it until you cancel or change.
Netflix Basic still has access to the entire library of TV shows and movies, so you’re not missing out when it comes to content. The main restrictions are down to the resolutions you can stream in and the number of simultaneous streams.
Netflix Basic now offers streaming in high definition (HD), which is 720p. This applies across any device – your TV, phone and laptop. If you’re watching Netflix on an older TV that isn’t capable of higher definitions, then this won’t be a real sticking point for you.
Though Netflix allows you to make up to five profiles across all plans, the Basic version only allows one stream at a time, which means no simultaneous streaming. Therefore if you want to get Basic, you’ll have to be content with it either being exclusive to one device in your household or be very good at juggling your watching habits with your family or friends.
You’re also only allowed to download content on one phone or tablet, so this is something to keep in mind if you like to stream on the go.
Basic uses the least data, but you can adjust data usage in other plans. The price of this increased on 18 October by $2/£1 per month.
So, which Netflix plan is the best?
Honestly, that comes down to you and your watching habits.
If you just plan on streaming the odd thing here and there and are only watching on one device, then you can save some cash with Standard with Ads. If you’re at the other end of the scale and want the best picture quality, plan on streaming a lot and splitting your account with friends, go for Premium. Or alternatively, get the best of both worlds when it comes to price and perks and stick with Standard.
Consider who you want to split the account with, the effect this will have on cost, and the type of devices that you can watch your content on – there’s no point in 4K streaming if you don’t have a 4K device! And remember – you can always switch between accounts until you find the one that’s just right.