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“I’ve got a renewal notice for my Office 365 subscription saying that I’ll pay $9.99 a month automatically off my credit card. I remember you saying that offers direct from Microsoft are overpriced … does that apply to renewals?” Arnold W. NY
Yes, it certainly does. Renewing direct with Microsoft is often the most expensive way to keep your Office 365 subscription alive. There’s two reasons:
- Monthly payments are more expensive than an annual fee.
- The annual subscription can be bought from a non-Microsoft store at a cheaper price.
Renewing direct with Microsoft is often the most expensive way to keep your Office 365 subscription alive.Many companies take advantage of customer’s lack of attention to renew them on more expensive options than would otherwise be available. Just one example; next time your insurance is up for renewal, compare the renewal price with advertised prices from the same company … chances are you can ring up and get a lower renewal cost.
Microsoft is no different. They hope you’ll just automatically renew and not realize there are cheaper options available.
Standard (expensive) Renewal
Here’s an actual renewal email from Microsoft for an Office 365 subscription in the USA.
The Office-Watch.com readers name and account expiry date have been removed for their privacy
As you can see, the standard path for renewing is to let Microsoft charge your credit card each month. In this case US$9.99 plus taxes. Other renewal offers may have an annual option, but not any that we’ve seen.
$9.99 a month is the most expensive way to get Office 365 Home. It amounts to $119.88 compared to Microsoft’s own annual price of $99.99 – almost $20 difference. As we’ll see, there’s even cheaper options available if you shop around.
Cheaper Office 365 Renewal
There’s cheaper options available if you shop around
The trick to a cheaper renewal is buying another ‘new’ Office 365 package of the same type from another retailer. All Office 365 packs (actually just cards with a product key) in stores and offered online appear to be for new subscriptions. However, Microsoft’s own rules say that renewal is possible buying an Office 365 subscription from a store.
Source: Microsoft’s Office 365 FAQ with our highlighting.
The wording says that you renew through the same retailer that you originally bought Office 365 from. Our tests show that’s NOT the case. It seems you can buy the renewal from any retailer in that country.
In fact, one reader had originally bought Office 365 direct from Microsoft but renewed buying cheaper via Amazon and it worked fine.
How to do it
Find the cheapest price you can for Office 365 Home or Personal. Make sure it’s the same subscription type as you currently have (Home or Personal). Use only reputable retailers. Beware ‘too good to be true’ offers because they probably are.
We found Office 365 Home available for just $73.99 – $26 cheaper than MS’s annual price and almost $50 less than Microsoft’s default monthly pricing.
The PC/Mac download costs $99 but the card posted out to you costs $73.99 – go figure. The difference seems to be that the downloadable key is available immediately from Amazon while the card is supplied by another company (but fulfilled by Amazon).
With either option, you get a ‘Product Key’ the 25 character key which entitles you to a year of Office 365.
Here’s a summary comparison as at 19 September 2015. The prices offered on Amazon will vary but the street prices quoted below seem common.
Office 365 Home
$9.99 paid monthly: $119.88
Single payment to Microsoft: $99.99
Purchased via Amazon US: $73.99 (Key Card posted to you) Max: $45.89 / 38% saving.
Office 365 Personal
It’s a similar story for Office 365 Personal. Here’s the renewal options:
$6.99 paid monthly: $83.88
Single payment to Microsoft: $69.99
Purchased via Amazon US: $59.99 (Key Card posted to you) Max $23.89 / 28% saving.
You can renew your Office 365 subscription well before it expires without losing any of your existing time. It’s quite possible to renew a few months before expiry to give you 13, 14, 15 months or more of Office 365.
However you renew (direct with Microsoft or buying elsewhere) the new term will be added to the end of your existing subscription. Microsoft’s FAQ says that it’s possible to subscribe up to 5 years ahead.
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