How to Get the Best Price on Magazine Subscriptions

If you “buy in bulk” by extending your subscription from six months to a year, you’ll sometimes pay a much higher price per issue.

Why the wide range of pricing and rate setups?

Partly because of the variety of sales agents operating in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Publishers, eager to expand circulation, hire independent businesses to sell subscriptions at rates often less than what the magazine charges directly.

The magazine seller assumes all the promotional expenses and delivers paid-up subscriptions to the publisher — “in effect, a risk-free way of getting subscribers,” says Dan Capell, editor of Capell Circulation Report in New York.

Marketers may offer different deals on varying subscription offers. Lengths of subscriptions range from weeks to years. And you may be offered special discounts because you’re a student, an educator, a professional or simply a “valued reader.”

Most offers are aimed at attracting new readers with discounted prices, said Christopher Irving, senior manager of consumer affairs at Publishers Clearing House. Before the subscription expires, the magazine offers renewals directly — often at substantially higher prices.

So how do you keep your price down? Here are some alternatives to subscribing directly with publishers:

You may already be a winner. Publishers Clearing House and American Family Publishers together sell about 30 percent of all new subscriptions for mass-circulation magazines, said Michael Pashby of the Magazine Publishers of America.

And the companies offer more than the chance to win millions of dollars. They also offer some Cheap Magazine Subscriptions.

A one-year subscription to Ebony, for example, costs $12.97 through Publishers Clearing House, compared with $16 direct from the publisher.

“We’ll beat any other offer which is available to the general public,” promises Irving of Publishers Clearing House.

American Family Publishers usually has prices that match those of Publishers Clearing House. A year of Ladies Home Journal goes for $10, compared with $12 through the magazine. American Family Publishers will not match lower prices offered directly from magazine publishers.

Both sellers also offer the benefit of dealing with well-known national companies. And both will allow you to pay for your magazines in installments.

Fund-raisers. You can do well by doing good if you buy magazines from schools and other charitable organizations.

Rock-bottom prices. Some of the best deals can be found at Below Wholesale Magazines Inc. and Delta Publishing Group. Both say they’ve cut out the frills and expenses of the giant marketers.

“We don’t have a contest of any sort,” said Cliff Schwartz, president of Below Wholesale. “No sweepstakes, no $10 million. Just the lowest prices on your magazine subscription.”

Students, educators pay less. Educational rates “are by far the best deals,” Pashby said, because the magazines want to make young people regular readers.

University Subscription Service recently offered a one-year subscription to The Wall Street Journal for $87 — far below its regular $164 rate.

Bargains on the Internet? A search through cyberspace found one service selling subscriptions: NetQuest. But prices were generally what you could get directly through the publisher, with little or no discount.

Ask for discounts. If you prefer dealing directly with publishers, you can still save. Just call the publisher’s toll-free circulation number, cite the lower prices you’ve seen and ask for a matching rate. “Almost without exception,” Capell said, “they’ll honor the request.”

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