From Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Sling TV and more, find out what streaming gift cards are and which streaming gift card is best for you.
What Are Streaming Gift Cards?
I’m old enough to remember when the television channel had to be changed with a dial. And after you walked up to the TV to change the channel, you couldn’t just skip from channel 2 to 703 with a couple of keystrokes. You only had about 10 channel options (if the antennae was in the right spot) and you had to work your way through them sequentially, turning the dial slowly to find the show you wanted. There are many things I miss about “the good old days,” but that isn’t one of them.
I’ll save you the history lesson on how we got from that version of watching shows to the one kids know today, but let me just clarify what streaming is for the sake of helping you pick the best streaming gift cards.
In my simple view, streaming is the ability to watch a show (e.g. movie, television show, vlog, live event etc.) over the Internet without having to download the content to your device. There are a variety of streaming services available such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and Sling TV, to name a few, and there are gift cards available for many of these as well. But which streaming gift card is best?
That depends on the recipient.
In the list below, I’ll share my thoughts on how to pick the best streaming gift cards for friends and family members.
Netflix Gift Cards
Netflix is one of the most popular streaming services around, so a Netflix gift card is a good fit for nearly anyone who enjoys movies and TV shows. Netflix programming includes classic television favorites and award-winning original programming. If there’s a show everyone is talking about, like “Stranger Things” or “Orange Is the New Black,” there’s a good chance it’s airing on Netflix.
A Netflix subscription gives the user access to all the content the service offers. That means the recipient doesn’t have to pay extra for newly released movies, concerts, or hot shows–it is all included in one monthly fee.
Redeeming a Netflix gift card applies the amount on the card to the recipient’s Netflix account. If the recipient already has a subscription, then the gift card balance will be added on to the account. And Netflix notifies the user before the gift card balance runs out, so the recipient can add another form of payment as needed.
A Netflix gift card can be purchased online, in stores or delivered digitally, making it a great last-minute gift if you want to send someone an affordable “thank you” present. It’s also an excellent company bonus for a job well done, or a quick, thoughtful birthday gift.
Hulu Gift Cards
If your friend, employee, co-worker, or family member is more interested in current TV, a Hulu gift card may be your best choice. With over 65 channels of live TV with episodes available 24 hours after initial airing, there’s no need for “fear of missing out” when it comes to the latest shows.
Local channel lineups plus Hulu’s original content–“The Handmaid’s Tale” and Marvel’s “Runaways,” for example–offer a broad choice of viewing options. Hulu even offers a wide array of choices with their fee-structure. As of this writing, the fee structure is as follows:
- $5.99 a month with limited commercials
- $11.99 for commercial-free viewing
- $44.99 for the addition of live TV
- $50.99 for live TV with no ads
If you give someone a $50 Hulu gift card, the recipient could decide to pay for a single month of live TV with no ads or stretch the credit into 8-ish months of basic streaming. The recipient can redeem the gift at hulu.com/gift even if the person doesn’t have a Hulu account, but the service will cancel automatically after the gift card expires if the recipient doesn’t add a second form of payment.
Please note: Hulu gift cards cannot be used to purchase some of Hulu’s “Premium Network Add-ons,” such as HBO, SHOWTIME, Cinemax, and STARZ.
Like Netflix, Hulu gift cards can be purchased at grocery stores, ordered online or sent via email for scheduled or immediate delivery.
Amazon Prime Gift Cards
An Amazon Prime gift card provides a plethora of entertainment possibilities. Free with a Prime membership, Prime Video has TV episodes, movies, and original content across all genres. The Prime Video app is available on compatible smart TVs, game consoles, and mobile devices.
Your gift of an Amazon Prime gift card can pay for the recipient’s Prime subscription. In addition to access to great movies and TV shows, he or she will get free one-day and second-day shipping, free books on Kindle, discounts at Whole Foods, exclusive savings deals, unlimited photo storage, music streaming, and more.
Prime members also have the option to subscribe to more than 100 premium channels–such as HBO, SHOWTIME, and STARZ–and to rent or buy other titles that are not included in Prime. Subscriptions cost between $4.99 and $14.99 a month.
An Amazon Prime gift card can be used to pay for a Prime subscription or to order movies or shows a la carte.
Ordering and redeeming an Amazon Prime gift card takes only a moment. Navigate to the Prime Video logo, find the show you want to watch, click on “More Purchase Options,” and then “Redeem a gift card or promotion code.”
Sling TV Gift Cards
A Sling TV gift card offers options to watch live TV, sports, news, and cable channels. With content models harking back to cable models, users can personalize content starting at $25 a month. There’s also the option of adding “extras” based on genres—lifestyle, comedy, etc. Additionally, for another $5 a month, you can record shows onto a cloud DVR.
Probably the least-known of the streaming TV services, a Sling TV gift card may be a good choice if you know the recipient already subscribes to Sling TV or if the recipient is a cord-cutter who is missing the convenience and programming of cable TV.
HBO NOW Gift Cards
HBO NOW is a streaming service that does not require you to have a paid HBO subscription through a cable or satellite TV service. You get all of the same shows (both original series and other) as HBO subscribers for $14.99 per month.
STARZ Gift Cards
The STARZ app provides streaming of the network’s movies, documentaries and original programming. The cost per month is $8.99.
Buy STARZ gift cards in grocery stores.
FandangoNOW Gift Cards
Unlike the streaming services listed above, FandangoNOW allows you to rent or purchase individual titles. There is no cost to create a FandangoNOW account and no monthly subscription. The cost to rent and the amount of time you have to watch a show varies by title. In reviewing the site, I saw new releases for $14.99, last year’s movies at $7.99 and older shows for as low as $2.99. (Buying costs more.)
BONUS: Newer Fandango gift cards (with a PIN) can be used on FandangoNOW .
CBS All Access Gift Cards
With CBS All Access, you can stream live TV plus watch previously-aired CBS episodes and exclusive original series on demand. For $5.99 a month, you can watch CBS All Access with limited commercials, or pay $9.99 a month for commercial-free viewing. Annual subscription rates are $59.99 (limited ads) and $99.99 (no ads).
FuboTV Gift Cards
FuboTV is a sports-dedicated streaming service that provides access to live sporting events worldwide. The basic package costs $54.99 a month, but you can test the service with a free trial.
As of this writing, I could not find a FuboTV gift card.
ESPN+ Gift Cards
ESPN+ is also a sports-dedicated streaming service but their programming consists of live sporting events as well as exclusive original series. The cost of ESPN+ is $4.99 a month or $49.99 a year.
As of this writing, an ESPN+ gift card is not available.
YouTube Premium Gift Cards
Until I did the research for this post, I did not realize you could pay for a YouTube Premium subscription. I have always watched the videos I wanted to watch, suffering through the ads I did not want to see. But you do have the option to pay for a YouTube Premium subscription that gives you access to ad-free videos, downloading for offline watching or listening, ad-free music and more. YouTube Premium subscriptions start at $11.99 per month.
Buy Google Play gift cards to give the gift of YouTube Premium.
How to Pick the RIGHT Streaming Gift Card?
With 11 streaming services listed above, I’m afraid to mention that this list is not complete. There’s Philo, TVision by T-Mobile, Acorn TV, AT&T TV NOW, Disney Plus and more. Other broadcasters and entertainment companies will soon join the effort, making this list even more incomplete.
Putting together this list has me just as overwhelmed as when I thought I’d write a quick blog posts on the best gaming gift cards only to discover that the options included far more than just Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo.
Maybe I do miss the simplicity of the 10-channel dial after all…
But here’s the thing.
You don’t really have to understand ALL the streaming options available. You just need to know which one will work best for the recipient.
When I think about the people I would give a streaming gift card to, I mostly know which services they already enjoy. My sister likes Netflix, my other sister would enjoy Disney Plus and my boys would binge watch ESPN+ for days. My brother is a cord-cutter, so I could see him enjoying Hulu and my mom is a proud Amazon Prime member. So rather than pick a new streaming service for someone who already has a favorite, I would simply give them the gift cards that already match their interests.
If I didn’t know which streaming service someone liked, I would choose a gift card that can be used in multiple ways. The Google Play gift card, for example, can be used for Apps and music if the recipient doesn’t want to subscribe to YouTube Premium. A Fandango gift card can be used at the movies in addition to streaming. And an Amazon Prime gift card can be exchanged for an Amazon.com gift card via Amazon.
Lastly, if you want to give the gift of streaming but are not sure which gift card to give, then try a Visa gift card or Mastercard® gift card. Some streaming services will accept these gift cards as payment.
Happy Gift Carding!
~Shelley Hunter, Gift Card Girlfriend