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Really stretch your Office 365 Home or Personal plan

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to stretch up to three extra months out of your Office 365 Home or Personal plan.  In other words, 15 months for the price of 12.

This is based on the experience of reliable users who can stretch the proverbial penny better than most.  It’s how the Office 365 is currently working, but it might change, more on that at the bottom.

We’ll show you how to do it and the downsides to watch for.

Stop Auto-Renewal

Just another good reason to turn off Office 365 auto-renewal.  Auto-Renew lets Microsoft to charge you full price on the first possible date.

Go to My Office Account | Manage Account | Services & subscriptions and look for ‘Renews automatically ….’ then Change | Turn off auto-renew.

Microsoft presents you with two stark warnings that you’ll ‘lose access’ on the expiry date but, as we’ll see, that isn’t entirely true.

Click Confirm cancellation.  Now you can control when and how much you pay for Office 365.

Downside: Microsoft will seriously pester you to enable Auto-Renewal.  Warnings on the Office account pane and on the Office site.  The only more annoying harassment from Redmond is the eternal prompts to use Edge instead of your preferred, and superior, browser.

Office 365 expiry doesn’t mean cutoff

When your Office 365 plan expires, your Office software does NOT immediately stop working.  The software gradually degrades in stages until it only works in a read only mode.

It’s this ‘grace period’ you’re taking advantage of.  There’s no need to renew until the software stops working or is about to. readers report that the grace period is as long as THREE months.  Whatever the real cutoff date is, you’ll see it well in advance.

When your Office 365 plan expires, you’ll start getting warnings each time you open an Office program.

Full details of your account status are on the File | Account pane …

Downsides: it’s a little annoying but you can get rid of the alert bar warnings.  You’ll need to warn others sharing the Office 365 Home plan, so they understand what’s happening.


On the real expiry (ie cut-off) date, or just before, renew your Office 365 plan.  Then restart your Office programs they’ll pick up your new plan expiry and the warnings will disappear.

Ahhhh, I hear you say, but when you renew Office 365 it will extend the plan from the original expiry date.  You’ve gained nothing but a delayed payment.  NOT true!

An Office 365 renewal is effective the date you renew not the expiry date of your last plan.

In the above example, the customers Office 365 expired in October but the software wasn’t disabled until late December 2017.  When he added another year to Office just before Christmas Day, it was effective from then until Christmas 2018.

Be careful

Microsoft might change their expiry policy at any time and especially if too many people do this trick. That’s not a big deal because even if Microsoft drastically reduces the ‘grace period’ you’ll still get plenty of warning about the cutoff date.

You can buy your Office 365 renewal product key at any time, ready to apply to your account when you’re ready.

Did your ‘mileage’ vary

As they say in America ‘Your mileage may vary’, meaning that your experience might be different to others.

We’d be interested in hearing from readers who try ‘stretching’  their Office 365 past the expiry date.  How long did you Office Win/Mac keep working after the expiry?  Any problems.  Use our Feedback page to let us know, thanks.

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