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Home » Budgeting, Frugality

How to Avoid Getting Burned by the Magazine Industry

Last updated by on April 3, 2016

Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I still do (and proudly) subscribe to a few magazines – and I won’t be stopping unless the magazines close shop. My personal favorites are Kiplinger and Backpacker.

That being said, I get awfully tired of magazines and magazine agents that rope you in with a low introductory offer (usually 12 issues for $12 – or something similar) and then ‘conveniently’ increase your subscription price for you through auto-renewal.

What’s worse is that a lot of these introductory offers are through non-legit distribution channels, and you might not even know it. What follows is a simple process that I follow to keep my magazine subscription prices low and avoid magazine scams.

How the Magazine Subscription Industry Works

I have some personal experience with the magazine industry and here’s a little background on how they and some of the other players in their industry work:

  1. Magazines make almost all their money from advertisements. No big surprise here.
  2. Advertising revenue is driven by subscription numbers which influence how much a publication can charge for ads and what advertisers the magazine can attract.
  3. In order to drive up subscriptions (and ad revenue), magazines are often willing to completely subsidize the cost of the subscription itself. They work directly with a number of agents who will usually get most or all of the cut on the subscription user cost.
  4. There are ‘rogue’, or unauthorized, magazine agents out there who go through subscription clearing houses. Go through these guys and you might not see your subscription for months, or ever. They generally give the industry a bad name.

When Signing up for your Magazine Subscription:

Order either through the magazine’s site directly, or through a legit magazine agent. How do you know if an agent is legit? They have direct, authorized relationships with the magazine publisher and offer live customer support. and are two good ones that clear both of these hurdles. But the best and safest is probably Amazon. The last thing you want is to have your personal information sold and/or not receive any subscription at all for the false promise of saving a dollar or two.

How to Get Cheap Magazine Subscriptions (and Keep them Cheap):

Finding discount magazine subscriptions is not that hard. Usually the publisher will offer the lowest authorized price on the magazine subscription that is out there. If you see someone offering lower, there is a good chance they aren’t legit. This should be your starting point.

Now that you have your cheap subscription, the challenge will be to keep it cheap. The magazine publisher usually will automatically begin scaling up your subscription price with each passing renewal. Most of the time they don’t even tell you that it is an increase.

This REALLY makes me mad. Why? For starters, the publisher is saving money by the fact that you are subscribing through them versus elsewhere (remember my earlier point about agencies taking almost all of the cut?). In subscribing directly through them, you are raising their subscription margins. How do they thank you for that? Through higher subscriptions!

Avoid the Magazine Subscription Renewal Bump!

So when your magazine renewal subscription price gets bumped, what should you do? Cancel. And go with an agent, or just re-subscribe through the publisher with another introductory offer (they never stop offering them). And when they raise your price on renewal? Cancel and start fresh again.

It only takes a few minutes of time and it keeps your cost low. Magazine subscription costs can add up quickly if you don’t keep things under control. The only downside  to this technique – you might miss an issue. Oh well, most magazines are online for free these days if you’re that upset about it.

Cheap Magazine Discussion:

  • How have you kept your magazine subscription costs down?
  • Have you been scammed by a rogue magazine agent? What happened?
  • What agents have you been happy with?

Related Posts:

About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 10,000+ others by getting FREE email updates. You can also explore every post I have written, in order.

  • Joe says:

    Nice racket the magazines have going there. Thanks for the tip!

  • Forex Manager says:

    Reading this post made me realize that I am one of the victims of these scheme by some magazine publishers. Thanks for the practical advice.

  • Jessica says:

    My favorite scene is looking at a 17-year-old kid at my front door who says he wants me to buy a magazine subscription from him for $30 because if he get 75 people to do so he gets a free semester at F. University. Uh-huh!

  • chantel says:

    The magazines I read are the same ones my sister in law reads, and her mom buys them for her, so we get together on the weekends and I read them 🙂

  • Richard says:

    I’ve been working in the magazine industry for 12 years now. One thing i can tell you is that you are giving misinformation. Companies like do not go through 1500 separate publishers, they go through a clearinghouse. There are rogue agents out the but not many, about 1 in 50 are not legit and are usually on sites like ebay. But most are legit and do send your magazines. They do undercut the price though making it harder for the agents selling at the authorized publisher rate. So for the consumer these rogue agents are the only reason they get there prices so low which is good for the customer. Its the sites like that get hurt because they can’t compete with the prices.

  • My relatives always say that I am killing my time here at web, except I know I am getting knowledge daily by reading such nice

  • Clyde says:

    I’ll like to order subscriptions through Magazineline and Discountmags but I never heard of any of these two companies. Did anyone order from any of these two websites and can tell me if you had a good or bad experience? Any help will be very much appreciated.

  • joe says:

    My wife started getting two magazines. Out of nowhere came tons of others.this was 4 years ago,we’ve probable received over 1000 magazines since.don’t know what else to do. Everytime we call someone new they try to hit us with fees, and say they’ve spoke with us before(lies),last i checked we owed a few grand to company’s we’ve n never heard of. WOW these type of scams is the reason middle class Americans have retarded debt problems. so everyday I have to rip off my address is off of tons of magazines to worry about (identity theft) and I’m going in debt at the same time. NEED HELP


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