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YouTube shuts down viral 'hack' for getting a cheaper Premium subscription

Some customers were paying as little as $1 per month for a service that usually costs $14 per month.
Written by Artie Beaty, Contributing Writer
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For the past several months, YouTube has been cracking down on the use of ad blockers, going so far as stopping videos from playing if the viewer uses an ad blocker. This was on the heels of YouTube hiking the price of its Premium subscription without notice in June 2023.

Now, the video-sharing platform is targeting customers who are paying a lower Premium subscription price by using a popular hack. YouTube Premium, which offers ad-free viewing, the ability to download videos, and the ability to play videos in the background, currently costs $13.99 per month in the US

Also: How to download YouTube videos for free, plus two other methods

That price varies by country, though, sometimes significantly. In Switzerland, for example, users pay over $18 per month and in the UK, a subscription is nearly $16.50 per month. On the opposite end, a subscription in the Philippines is only $2.83 per month and in Argentina, customers only pay 869 pesos, or about $1.

Some enterprising customers have figured out that, with the help of a VPN, they can trick YouTube into thinking they reside in one of those countries and sign up for Premium under that country's rate, slashing their Premium bill.

This trick has worked for some time, but now -- without warning -- those customers are having their accounts terminated.

"Your YouTube Premium membership has been canceled," a screenshot posted to Reddit from an affected customer explained. That customer wasn't alone, as several others reported receiving the same message. 

In a message to PCMag, YouTube explained the move. "YouTube has initiated the cancellation of premium memberships for accounts identified as having falsified signup country information," a representative wrote. "Due to violating YouTube's Paid Terms of Service, these users will receive an email and an in-app notification informing them of the cancellation."

To prevent people from utilizing this loophole in the future, YouTube will require customers to sign up with a local card tied to an address in the country on the account.

Also: Disney schedules Disney+'s password sharing crackdown. Here's what you should know

Within the past year, two other giant names in streaming -- Disney+ and Netflix -- have each taken steps to ensure that subscribers are paying their fair share.

Crackdowns ended up being quite successful for both Disney+ and Netflix. Will YouTube see a similar spike in people paying up, or will subscribers choose to drop YouTube Premium?

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