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Cost of Unused Paid Subscriptions

Convenience comes at a cost especially when it comes to subscription services. In a bid to uncover the true cost of subscriptions, a  survey on behalf of Self Financial collected views from 1,972 Americans, of which 1,925 (97.6%) said that they use paid subscription services such as Netflix or HelloFresh.

The results highlight the most popular subscriptions services, the price attached to them, how many paid subscriptions are going unused and more.

Key Findings


Paid Subscription Services

To establish the current state of paid subscriptions in the U.S. a survey on behalf of Self Financial asked respondents a series of questions about the current subscriptions they have in place and the impact these have on both their finances and everyday lives.

4.2 subscriptions is the most common number across the U.S.

The number of subscriptions people have can differ hugely based on a number of factors like household income, expenses and amount of free time. Therefore we were keen to establish the average number of paid subscription services people per household.

The survey found that 4.2 was the average number of subscriptions respondents currently have.

In terms of ranges of the number of paid subscriptions, 42% of survey respondents who subscribe to paid subscriptions have between 3 and 4, followed by 31.9% who said they currently have between 1 and 2 paid subscriptions.

Number of paid subscription services
Number of paid subscriptions Percentage of respondents
1-2 31.9%
3-4 42%
5-9 19.8%
10-15 4.9%
16-19 0.8%
20+ 0.6%

Monthly payment plans are most common for subscriptions

Payment plans for subscription services can differ across all service types. The aim is convenience for the customer, so which is the most common payment schedule in America?

The survey found that most people pay their subscriptions monthly with it being the top result for 68.6% of our respondents who currently have paid subscriptions. Paying weekly came in at 2nd place with 14.2% of the subscribers surveyed.

What is the most common subscription payment plan you have in place?
Payment plan frequency Percentage of respondents
Weekly 14.2%
Bi-weekly 4.5%
Monthly 68.6%
Every 3 months 6.7%
Every 6 months 1.9%
Annually 4.1%
Every 3 years 0.1%

$45.90 is the average monthly cost of paid subscriptions in the U.S.

Subscription models can come in all shapes and sizes, designed around the customer's needs. But how much on average are Americans spending on their paid subscription each month? 

The survey revealed that the average monthly cost of paid subscriptions in the U.S. is $45.90. When analyzing the most common price ranges of paid subscriptions, most subscribers, 71.7%, spend between $1 and $50 on subscriptions each month. In 2nd place for the most common monthly cost of subscriptions at 15.8% was $51-$99. 

How much Americans spend on paid subscriptions per month combined
Amount per month ($) Percentage of respondents
$1-$50 71.7%
$51-$99 15.8%
$100-$150 9.5%
$151-$200 2%
$201+ 1.1%

Two people on average use paid subscriptions in the home

A big draw for people when using subscription services is that they are able to share their experience with their household. The survey asked our respondents how many people are using subscriptions within their home.

28% of the subscribers surveyed said that two people used their current subscriptions, including themselves. This was followed closely by 25.1% who said three people in the home share subscription services.

Value for money is top benefit for U.S. subscribers

There are a whole host of reasons people may choose to subscribe to a subscription service. While convenience may be the main one that comes to mind we wanted to identify what main benefits of subscriptions.

Offering good value for money came in as the most common thing subscribers said they enjoyed the most about their paid subscription service at 55.4%. Convenience (23.3%) and quality of service (11.6%) came in as the 2nd and 3rd most common benefits.

Top 10 benefits of paid subscriptions
Rank Reason Percentage of respondents
1 They offer good value for money 55.5%
2 The convenience 23.3%
3 Quality of service 11.6%
4 Improves my quality of life 4.4%
5 It makes me feel good 2.6%
6 = Makes other people happy 1.1%
  Is a nice treat for myself 1.1%
8 =  Easy to cancel 1%
  Enjoy the shows 1%
10 Enjoy the surprise each month (for box subscriptions) 0.4%

21.5% aren’t budgeting for their paid subscriptions

To understand the impact paid subscriptions are having on the average American’s monthly finances, the survey asked subscribers if they factored them into their monthly budget. 78.5% said that they account for their paid subscriptions while 21.5% don’t. Of those that don’t keep subscriptions in mind when budgeting, 10.2% admitted that they don’t do a monthly budget at all.

Nearly three quarters, 72.6% told us that not budgeting for their paid subscriptions had a negative impact on their finances. While 27.4% said they hadn’t been impacted negatively by not allocating a budget for their paid subscriptions.

Of those who don't budget, the below were the most common impacts on finances. The main negative outcome of not budgeting for paid subscriptions for the subscribers surveyed was overdrawing their bank account (18.53%).

Main outcomes of not budgeting for paid subscriptions
Rank Outcome of not budgeting Percentage of respondents
1 It hasn't negatively impacted my finances 27.41%
2 Went into overdraft 18.53%
3 Had to cut back other outgoings 13.90%
4 Got into debt 11.58%
5 Reduced paid subscriptions 11.20%
6 Had to borrow money from a relative or friend 9.65%
7 Had to take out a loan 7.72%

Unused Paid Subscriptions

To better understand how many paid subscriptions are going unused we asked the subscribers we surveyed if any of their paid subscriptions were still being paid for each month despite not being used. 

We defined ‘unused’ paid subscriptions as those being paid for but that had not been used in the past 30 days. This took into account the popularity of monthly paid subscription payment schedules [1] and 30-day free trials [2] in the U.S.

57% of survey respondents said that they have at least one paid subscription going unused, while 43% said they currently use all their subscriptions each month.

Are any of your paid subscriptions going unused?
Answer Percentage of respondents
Yes 57.04%
No 42.96%

Most subscribers have 2.2 paid subscriptions going unused

Next the survey asked those who had unused subscriptions how many paid subscriptions they currently have that haven’t been used in the past 30 day. 

The results showed that most subscribers have 2.2 subscriptions that they aren’t using each month.

If we look further into ranges for the number of unused subscriptions, just under half of the subscribers, 48.4% said that they have between 1 and 2 paid subscriptions going unused.

Paid subscriptions going unused
Number of unused subscriptions Percentage of respondents
1-2 48.4%
3-4 30.1%
5+ 19.7%

Subscribers are wasting an average of $20.16 per month on unused paid subscriptions

Next the survey asked those who had paid subscriptions going unused, how much they were paying for their unused subscriptions each month.

The monthly average value of unused paid subscriptions was revealed to be $20.16. 

When looking at the most common ranges for the number of unused subscriptions we found the most common to be $1-$50 at 86%, followed by $51-$99 at 7.7%.

Monthly cost of unused paid subscriptions
Number of unused subscriptions Percentage of respondents
$1-$50 86%
$51-$99 7.7%
$100-$150 3%
$151-$200 1.8%
$201+ 0.6%

83.3% of subscribers intend to cancel unused paid subscriptions

The survey asked those who had paid subscriptions going unused if they had thought about canceling them. 83.3% said that they intended to cancel unused paid subscriptions, while 16.7% intend to keep their unused paid subscriptions in place.

For those intending to cancel or that had canceled paid subscriptions this year we wanted to understand the reason behind this decision. 

Looking to reduce expenses came in as the main reason for canceling unused paid subscriptions at 41.7%, with a further 14.6% saying that they don’t use them anymore.

Top 5 reasons Americans are canceling unused paid subscriptions
Rank Subscription model Percentage of respondents
1 Looking to reduce expenses 41.7%
2 Don’t use any more 14.6%
3 Found a better deal elsewhere 12.7%
4 Found better service elsewhere 8.7%
5 Only needed for a limited time 6.8%

Lack of free time is stopping 47.8% of subscribers from canceling their unused paid subscriptions

For those looking to cancel their unused paid subscriptions we then wanted to establish what had held them back for not doing so earlier. 

Nearly half, 47.8% of people admitted that the main reason for them not canceling their unused paid subscriptions was lack of free time. The second most-common response at 21.7% said that the company had made it hard to cancel.

Top 5 reasons Americans are putting off canceling unused paid subscriptions
Rank Reason for not canceling Percentage of respondents
1 Lack of free time 47.8%
2 The company made it hard to cancel 21.7%
3 Subscription automatically renewed 17.1%
4 Forgot to cancel 6.7%
5 Locked into a fixed term contract 4.8%

The survey went on to ask if those with paid subscriptions had ever forgotten to cancel a free trial and then been locked in to a paid subscription.  The results showed that  68.5% of respondents with paid subscriptions have encountered this issue.

To find out if technology could play a part in preventing this in the future, the survey asked our subscriber respondents how they keep on top of their paid subscriptions. Just over a third, 36.7% of people prefer to set up and handle their subscriptions on a desktop computer, with 19.8% saying that they monitor their subscriptions on their mobile phone.

Amazon Prime is the most common unused paid subscription

The survey asked the respondents who currently have unused subscriptions which of the 10 most popular paid platforms [3] they subscribed to but had not used in the past 30 days.

Amazon Prime was shown to be the most common paid subscription that they hadn’t used in the past 30 days (59%). Walmart+ came in 2nd place at 14.2%.

Top 10 paid subscriptions going unused
Rank Subscription model Percentage of respondents
1 Amazon Prime 59%
2 Walmart+ 14.2%
3 Chewy 10.1%
4 Dollar Shave Club 7.7%
5 Instacart Express 3.4%
6 HelloFresh 2.3%
7 Shipt 1.4%
8 Thrive Box 0.7%
9 Barkbox 0.6%
10 Grove Collaborative 0.5%

HBO Max is the most common unused paid video streaming subscription

To drill further into the matter the survey then asked these respondents with unused subscriptions which popular video streaming platforms [4],review-2625.html that they subscribed to but had not used for the past 30 days. HBO Max came up as the most unused paid video streaming subscription at 33.9%, with Disney+ in 2nd place at 27.7%.

Top 10 paid video streaming subscriptions going unused
Rank Subscription model Percentage of respondents
1 HBO Max 33.9%
2 Disney+ 27.7%
3 Amazon Prime Video 14.3%
4 Hulu 8.2%
5 Netflix 7%
6 Apple TV+ 3.5%
7 Sling TV 2.1%
8 Peacock 1.4%
9 YouTube TV 1.1%
10 Fubo TV 0.8%

Sharing Paid Subscription Logins

With the topic of sharing logins with people outside of your home in the news, we wanted to know how common this is. Especially with Netflix cracking down on password sharing in Latin America, Canada, New Zealand and Europe, saying that they will charge more for people that share their logins with people they don’t live with. [5] It can cost more to share subscriptions but is ultimately a cheaper solution than individual subscriptions  

The survey asked the subscriber respondents if they shared their logins for paid subscriptions with people outside of their household. The majority, 69% said that they did, and 31% said they didn’t. 

On the other side of the sharing logins debate we asked the subscribers if they used other people’s logins. 63.2% said that they use other people’s logins for subscriptions like streaming, while 36.8% don't. Of those that do use other people’s logins, 53.8% said that they contribute to the cost of the subscription.

58.1% of paid subscription customers share logins to save money

So what are the main reasons people are sharing logins for their paid subscription?

The most popular reason at 44.2% was to save money. The joint second most common reason for sharing paid subscription logins at 8.4% was that people said they couldn’t afford it on their own and that they needed to split the cost of their subscription services.

A further 7% of the subscribers surveyed said they shared logins with others to share the experience with friends and family. In 5th place, 5.8% said that they shared logins or used someone else’s to gain access to more subscription services. 

Top 5 reasons for sharing paid subscription service logins
Rank Reason for sharing logins Percentage of respondents
1 To save money 44.2%
2 = I can’t afford it on my own 8.4%
  To split the cost of subscription services 8.4%
4 To share the experience with friends and family 7%
5 To gain access to more subscription services 5.8%


The survey was conducted via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform collecting responses from 1,972 Americans from a range of backgrounds between June 8 and July 1, 2022. 

The demographic breakdown of respondents is as follows:



To establish how many paid subscriptions are going unused, the survey conducted on behalf of Self Financial asked a number of questions in the survey related to paid subscription services including cost, usage, subscription model and preference and household income.

‘Unused’ paid subscriptions were categorized as those that were being paid for but had not been used in the last 30 days to tie into the popularity of 30-day trials.


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