How to Watch CBS All Access for Free (now Paramount+)

I'm a big fan of Star Trek. Not quite cosplaying level and going to conventions but I enjoy the shows.

I've enjoyed everything from TNG onward – including the much-maligned Enterprise series (I enjoyed that too) – and so I was excited when CBS announced they'd be bringing the series back.

Yet, when CBS announced a few years ago that the Star Trek: Discovery would only be on their CBS All Access streaming service – I passed.

Then they announced a show with Captain Jean-Luc Picard — OK, now you got me.

That led me to my next question… is there a way to watch it for free?

Not 100% free but they offer free trials and a way to get it for free, at least a little while.

You can time your free trial and binge any show you want. CBS All Access, now Paramount+, releases episodes on a weekly schedule, unlike Netflix which releases them all at once (Disney+ also drips them out like a traditional TV series).

To watch a show for free, you'll just have to wait until the last week of the season to sign up.

On March 4th, 2021, CBS All Access was renamed Paramount Plus. It's a major rebrand (and expansion of content) of CBS All Access and so everything below about CBS All Access still applies – it's just under a new name with a lot more content.

Limited Time Offer: One Month Free

For a limited time, CBS was offering a free one-month trial if you use the code FINALFIGHT.

It works for either plan, so if you're just doing the free month, you might as well avoid the commercials!

Then remember when your month ends because you'll be billed at the regular price ($5.99 or $9.99). This is still a great way to see if it's worth it for you, a whole month of shows for free rather than the regular 7-day trial!

What You Get with Paramount+

Paramount+ has 30,000 episodes on demand from some of the most popular shows on TV today (this is a massive increase from CBS All Access, which had around 10,000 episodes). Shows like NCIS, God Friended Me, Hawaii Five-O, Seal Team, Survivor, Late Show, Young Sheldon, and soap opera stalwarts The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful. You also get a ton of shows in the archives like Cheers, Gunsmoke, Frasier, Family Ties, Happy Days, Macgyver, all the previous Star Treks (DS9, Enterprise, TOS, TNG, and Voyager). It's really a huge catalog of classics.

You also get the live broadcast, which includes NFL on CBS.

CBS All Access Originals ShowsThey also have several originals that are available only on Paramount+:

  • No Activity
  • One Dollar
  • Star Trek: Discovery
  • Star Trek: Picard
  • Star Trek: Short Treks
  • Strange Angel
  • Tell Me A Story
  • The Good Fight
  • The Twilight Zone
  • Why Women Kill

Paramount+ has two plans for All Access:

  • Limited Commercials – $5.99 per month
  • Commercial Free – $9.99 per month

If you are willing to pay for a full year, the price drops a little:

  • Limited Commercials – $59.99 per year (~$4.99 per month)
  • Commercial Free – $99.99 per month (~$8.33 per month)

How does this compare to CBS All Access' competitors?

Before the expansion to Paramount+, CBS All Access was OK but not great compared to other streaming options. With the expansion to Paramount+ and its library of movies and other shows, it's not getting pretty close (or better) depending on which shows you really like.

Netflix has a huge catalog and starts at $9 per month without any commercials. Hulu has an advertisement-supported plan at $5.99 per month and a no-ads version at $11.99 per month, so CBS is slightly cheaper. But Hulu has content from a lot of different networks, not just one.

All Access Streaming Free

One place you can check is with your existing cable provider – you may be able to get the streaming Live TV option for free. You will have to set up an account and link your cable provider to know whether that's the case.

Paramount+ Free Trial

The standard promotional offer for Paramount+ is a free 7-day trial (this is the same as CBS All Access previously). Everyone can get this offer.

From time to time, they have offered a longer trial or a discount when paired with other services. But at the moment, a week is all they offer. If that changes, we'll update this post with the latest information.

If you're not sure if this is a good fit, I recommend checking out our list of the Best Online Streaming Services for more ideas.

What Changes with Paramount+?

Your existing CBS All Access login will work on Paramount+ (in fact, all the CBS All Access pages redirect to Paramount+). In that respects, nothing changes except you get more content!

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About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a forty-something father of four who is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Vanguard's Blog. He has also been fortunate to have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Entrepreneur, and Marketplace Money.

Jim has a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Information Technology - Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. His approach to personal finance is that of an engineer, breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized easily understood concepts that you can use in your daily life.

One of his favorite tools (here's my treasure chest of tools,, everything I use) is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.

He is also diversifying his investment portfolio by adding a little bit of real estate. But not rental homes, because he doesn't want a second job, it's diversified small investments in a few commercial properties and farms in Illinois, Louisiana, and California through AcreTrader.

Recently, he's invested in a few pieces of art on Masterworks too.

>> Read more articles by Jim

Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank or financial institution. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  1. Laurie Blank says

    We are big Star Trek fans too!! You’ve got to try a Con sometime. We went to GalaxyCon last year and it was a blast. We met Jonathan Frakes, Bill Shatner and a bunch of others. I wouldn’t call us typical Con people, but it was a great time and we’re planning on going next year too. It was fun to meet the people behind the characters and to see all of the interesting costumes. Oh, and great tip on CBS All Access! 🙂

    • Jim Wang says

      I haven’t been to a Con since I was a kid! There’s an Awesome Con coming to Washington D.C. – never been to it but it sounds like we might have to go! 🙂

  2. Mary McGhee says

    Myself and many others have made the decision to drop all cable and only watch free tv! If CBS continues to charge, then we won’t watch CBS! Plain and simple! Plenty of other free optionss are available!

    • Charles M Barnard says

      So I assume that you don’t feel that the people and organizations who put their time, sweat and money into art deserve to be compensated?

      I suppose you only listen to free music, news etc.

      Artists make your world more enjoyable, yet you are unwilling to pay even a tiny price towards their compensation and living expenses?

      Where would you be if nobody was willing to pay for whatever you do?

      I understand cutting costs to the minimum to get by, but the artist is economically the same as a butcher, baker, truck driver or other worker.

      Even the Bible says that the worker must be paid.

      As a band producer, I know that even just the training for an actor or musician is expensive, the arts require a lot of practice time and not infrequently expensive equipment.

      Please rethink your position with a bit of compassion?

      • kate r says

        I paid via watching commercials. Every streaming show has already been cost recovered from them. Since cbs wants $6 AND for me to watch commercials perhaps it’s you that should rethink your response. CBS wants it both ways which is purely greed.

  3. bryce frazier says

    I object to the very concept of CBS All Access. I know why they did it. There is more money to be made as an individual channel as opposed to being included as part of a cable “package”. I will not support All Access

    • Jim Wang says

      I think that more and more people are cutting the cord so these companies have to come up with streaming to recapture that income.

  4. Trixie says

    We signed up because of Picard & got hooked on a couple of other shows. Problem was CBS all access isn’t ALL access. They only had several episodes in each season. You didn’t get all episodes all seasons on several shows. Waste of money to me. I was looking forward to seeing several tv series again in full w my kids,

  5. Brenda March says

    Was really looking forward to watching the spin off from The Good Wife “The GoodFight” and started watching it last year on CBS when we were able to and really liked it. I refuse to go to CBS all access so I guess we will miss out. Very disappointed that they didn’t just have it on regular CBS like they did with The Good Wife.

  6. Pat says

    Before CBS cut everyone off from their cable and satellite company to try to squeeze more money out of their customers. We watches CBS more than any other channel. Well that has ended we will not be blackmailed into paying more than we do now..

  7. Keith Smith says

    Your content has at least one error in it. The series “God Friended Me” was never on ‘CBS All Access’ (except while the show was airing) and is not on Paramount+ either.

    I came across your article while searching for a reason that a CBS show would not be on CBS’s primary streaming platform.

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