Microsoft Office 365 buy or renew cheaper or free

There are many ways to save money on buying or renting Microsoft Office / Office 365 here’s just some.  Don’t auto-renew, Home Use program, Military discount, University, School / Education and never, ever buy from Microsoft directly.

You don’t have to be a special person to get a discount. Having a pulse and making a small effort is enough to qualify. has already written about the free options for some versions of Office.

Office 2016: the real startup guide has a whole chapter devoted to saving money on buying or renting/subscribing and renewing Microsoft Office.  Readers have saved more than the cost of the book, simply by using our money saving Office 2016 / Office 365 tips.

Auto Renewal – NOT

The Office 365 automatic renewal option is pushed hard by Microsoft.  They offer an extra month on your annual subscription if you enable auto renewal. They even remind you in the Account pane of Office 2016.

Microsoft says it’s for the convenience of customers.  Whenever a company says that, you can be sure the ‘convenience’ will cost the customer more.

Auto-Renewal is the most expensive way to renew Office 365 and the most profitable for Microsoft has a separate article on how to get the extra month on your Office 365 Personal or Home plan and still pay less.  In short: enable auto-renew to get the extra month but then make sure you renew manually (and more cheaply) before the due date.  Buy the same Office 365 plan from any retailer and use the 25-character Product Key to extend your account.

Home Use Program

You could get Microsoft Office at home for nothing.

Many organizations have volume licences for Microsoft Office products.  One part of those licences is the ‘Home Use Program’ HUP which allows staff to install Microsoft Office at home for little or no cost.

In days past, there was a small charge for the installation CD/DVD but these days it’s all done via download.

It’s up to each organization whether they make the Home Use Program available to staff.  There a lot of misunderstandings about the HUP which lead to companies refusing.  Ask  your workplace and try to get the IT and HR departments to agree.

See our page on the Home Use Program including an FAQ that’s been helpful in overcoming the objections within some organizations.

According to our informants, the Home Use Program also applies for some US Military personnel.

Military Discount

The US and Canadian Military Appreciation Programs (MAP) are still available, though they are not as generous as they were.

The MAP offer is now a discount on a standard Office 365 Home plan for $69.99  instead of $99.99 full price or street price around $80.

For qualifying US personnel, Office 365 is available through your PX or online.

Warning: if you allow Microsoft to automatically renew, they’ll charge full standard price.

To renew at the MAP rate, buy another annual subscription and use it to extend your existing account.

University offer

If you qualify, the University plan is extremely good value.

For $80 you get four years of Office 365, not just one.

Licences for two desktop installs of Office for Mac/Windows and two phones plus 1TB of OneDrive.

The nearest comparison is the Office 365 Personal plan which costs $70 for just one year.

Schools / Education offer

Many schools have licences to use Microsoft Office on their school and student computers.

These agreements seem to vary across the world so we can’t say exactly what’s available in your area.

If you have school kids in your household then it’s worth checking to see what’s available.

See for details.

Never buy direct from Microsoft

If you want to pay the highest prices for Microsoft Office, buy from Microsoft direct.  Some people insist on buying from the Microsoft Store, they seem to think it’s somehow better or more official.  It’s not.

Microsoft Store prices are always high.  Even the occasional ‘special offers’ have higher prices than legitimate retailers like Amazon, Staples, Best Buy or equivalents around the world.

Office 365 Home

If none of the above apply to you, the Office 365 Home plan isn’t a bad option if you buy wisely.

Wise buying of Office 365 means:

  • Shopping around for the best price, not just accepting Microsoft’s online full charge.
  • Renewing manually and not the full price automatic renewal.

Office 365 Home covers up to five people and is the best deal for two people or more.

  • Five desktop licences for Office Windows/Mac
  • Extra features on mobile versions of Office on Apple and Android devices.
  • 1TB of OneDrive storage per person

That can be used by up to five different people in the ‘same household’.  As we’ve discussed before, Microsoft hasn’t explicitly defined ‘household’.  In practice, it can be applied quite broadly since Microsoft isn’t likely to start a detailed check on Home licence use.  For example, students a college could use their parents Home licence for Office, though they’d be better off on the University plan.  We know plenty of young adults who are still part of their parents Office 365 Home plan even though they’ve moved from home.

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