Should You Share Your Netflix Password With Others?

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Many people share accounts for paid services to cut down on the cost, but have you ever considered if this is okay? Is it acceptable to share your Netflix password with other people, and should you do so?

Let’s take a look at the reasons for and against sharing your Netflix (or another streaming account) password to help you consider your approach to this issue.


Reasons to Share Your Netflix Password

We’ll start with the pros; why might you share your Netflix password, and what are the justifications for this?

1. To Cut Down the Cost

The biggest reason most people share their Netflix password is to reduce the price each person pays. Two people paying $7.75 a month each to watch Netflix on the same account makes more sense than each one paying the full $15.49 for their own account.

Since the Standard account lets you watch Netflix on two screens at once, you can argue that the other screens are “going to waste” if someone isn’t using them. If you don’t have a second person in your household using the other screen, what’s the harm in having your best friend watch it at their house?

2. Sharing for Short-Term Access Only

When this post was originally published, we ran a survey to gauge how people felt about password sharing. Several respondents made a distinction between letting someone use your account on an ongoing basis, and short-term usage such as watching a particular movie or giving the service a try.

In these cases, you might let a friend sign into your Netflix to watch one movie so they don’t have to pay to rent it. Since Netflix doesn’t offer a free trial anymore, you could also let a friend try it for a weekend before they sign up.

This may lead to your friend signing up for Netflix if they like it after getting a taste of it, which is the ideal outcome for the company.

3. Netflix Isn’t Stopping You (Yet)

Since Netflix doesn’t have any strong protections against account sharing, there’s no obligation to stop doing it. While Netflix has tested measures to crack down on sharing, these are only in certain regions and the company has let this go on for years.

Given this, you can argue that since you pay for the account, you can use it however you see fit if Netflix doesn’t prevent you from doing so.

4. “Household” Is Open to Interpretation

Netflix is OK with you sharing one account across multiple people in your home, as evidenced by the option to have multiple profiles. While “household” refers to people living under one roof, there are blurry lines here.

For example, if it’s OK to share an account with your girlfriend who lives with you, why can’t you share the same account with a long-distance girlfriend? Is it wrong to stop letting your daughter use your Netflix account when she moves to college?

Many people see no problem with letting a loved one continue to use their password in situations like this. If you’re close enough with someone for them to live with you, they can be considered part of your “household.”

Reasons Not to Share Your Netflix Password

On the flip side, why should you keep your password to yourself?

1. Security Concerns

You should know that sharing any password involves some amount of risk. Once you give someone your password, they could give it to other people without your consent. And if you (foolishly) use that password elsewhere, giving it to someone else exposes multiple accounts.

We’ve covered all the reasons why sharing your Netflix password is insecure.

2. It’s Against Netflix’s Terms

The Netflix Terms of Use state:

The Netflix service and any content accessed through our service are for your personal and non-commercial use only and may not be shared with individuals beyond your household.

…the Account Owner should maintain control over the Netflix ready devices that are used to access the service and not reveal the password or details of the Payment Method associated to the account to anyone…

This clearly condemns sharing your Netflix password with anyone you don’t live with.

Sharing your Netflix password is not illegal, so you aren’t going to have the government come after you. At worst, you’ll have your account terminated. Though lots of users do this, it can still feel wrong to break the terms.

3. Awkward Payment Situations

Sharing a Netflix password with a friend can introduce uncomfortable scenarios around the payment. As the account owner, you have to pay each month no matter what.

If you decide to split the cost but your friend(s) don’t send you their share, you’ll have to eat the cost or demand that they pay. Assuming they don’t change their ways, you might be forced to run through the steps for a hacked Netflix account to boot them off.

Financial issues like this can tear friendships apart, so consider carefully if you trust people to pay their share, or be cool if you have to remove them.

Not All Account Sharing Is the Same

In the original survey mentioned earlier, we discussed how sharing the password for a streaming service isn’t the same as other kinds of sharing. For example, it isn’t equivalent to lending a Blu-ray to a friend, since you can’t watch a physical copy of a movie while your friend has it.

There were also comparisons to letting a friend borrow your membership card for a wholesale store like Costco. Costco’s page on card sharing says that you can bring two guests with you per visit, and you can assign a free secondary household card to someone who lives with you.

But since only members are allowed to make purchases, is it wrong to let someone borrow your Costco card for one shopping trip so they can prepare for a party? It’s against the terms, yes, but since your friend is paying for their items, does this cause any harm? Like the point mentioned above, the frequency of sharing can have an effect on how we view it.

Share Your Netflix Password at Your Discretion

With all this considered, whether you share your Netflix password is up to you. You might draw a distinction between family members and non-family, or choose to only let people in your house use it. This issue represents the idea of Kant’s Categorical Imperative: if one or two people share a password it’s no big deal, but if everyone did this, Netflix would have to crack down.

Each company has its own way of limiting how many people can use an account. Thankfully, there are lots of shareable accounts that aren’t limited to people in your household.

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