New York Times Paywall: Read Online for Less

Last Updated Mar 18, 2011 1:19 PM EDT

The news was inevitable, though still disappointing: Starting March 28, The New York Times will begin charging readers for full access to its Web site, as well as its smartphone and iPhone applications.

The good news is the applications will still be free to download, the Top News section will remain free and readers can view up to 20 others articles for free per month. But after the 20 article limit, you'll need to choose a subscription:
  • $15 every four weeks for access to the Web site and a mobile phone app
  • $20 for Web access and an iPad app
  • $35 for an all-access plan
So what are the best ways to get your online New York Times fix for less?

Get a Print Subscription
If you sign up for home delivery of The New York Times you'll get full access to its Web site on any device at no charge. This applies to all print subscribers, no matter what type of plan you have - daily, weekday or Weekender. The newspaper is currently running a deal where you get 50% off the regular subscription rate. If you pay by credit card, the introductory rate lasts for 12 weeks. If you pay by mail the discounted rate lasts for 8 weeks.
Let's do some math: The most expensive delivery plan is the Daily plan, currently on sale in New York for $5.85 per week or $23.40 every four weeks. That is still $11.60 less than the most expensive web package. After the introductory rate expires - say, after 12 weeks if you pay by credit card - the delivery plan becomes $46.80 per month and no longer saves you money. So it's up to you to decide if it's worth it to at least just save for the first three months. Keep in mind that you can cancel your Times subscription at any time.

If you want the souped up web deal for $35 a month, the following home delivery choices can help you save:
  • Choice A: Monday through Friday Weekday plan for introductory $3.10 per week (then $6.20 per week)
  • Choice B: Saturday through Sunday subscription for introductory $3.15 per week (then $6.30 per week)
  • Choice C: The Weekender, which comes Friday through Sunday for introductory $3.80 per week (then $7.60 per week)
If all you want is basic Web access, which costs $15 a week, go with home delivery Choice A or Choice B. You'll save a little bit each month, at least during the introductory period.

Delivery rates may vary, by the way, depending on where you live. In San Francisco, for example, the cheapest rate is for a weekday subscription - $3.70 in the short term, going up to $7.40. So West Coasters, you may want to try another option, like the following.

Access Through Facebook and Twitter
There's a loophole in the paywall: If you click on a New York Times article on Facebook or Twitter, you'll be taken directly to the Times Web site for free, on an unlimited basis. With so much newspaper traffic driven by social networks, The Times presumably wants to maintain its relationship with those users ... perhaps until it can figure out a better way to charge them. So follow your favorite Times writers, or sections, on Twitter - and click through to what they post.

Take Advantage of an American Express Offer
You may be able to get even better deals on print subscriptions. I just received an offer in the mail yesterday - the same day the New York Times announced its web subscription plans - from my American Express card. It offered me 50% off The Weekender, the Friday through Sunday subscription package, for six months - much longer than the introductory period the Times offers directly. And with the subscription comes full, free access to the Times Web site, as we know. The offer expires April 30, 2011; call 1-800-354-3116 or go to their Web site.

Can you suggest any other ways to get the Times online for free? Please log in and comment below to let us know.
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    Farnoosh Torabi is a personal finance journalist and commentator. She is the author of the new book Psych Yourself Rich, Get the Mindset and Discipline You Need to Build Your Financial Life. Follow her at www.farnoosh.tv and on Twitter at @farnoosh.

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