What "lifetime" subscriptions or memberships do you recommend?
August 19, 2015 11:48 AM   Subscribe

Do you know of a "lifetime" subscription or membership or purchase that you recommend or that seems interesting or a good deal? (An opportunity to pay once and reap ongoing benefits/dividends indefinitely.) In this modern era of low job security, I think I'd like knowing I'll always have a few Nice Things (or simply just reliable things) regardless of what financial turbulence the future may bring, so I'm curious what might be out there along those lines.

I'd like to leave the question wide open to things that wouldn't otherwise occur to me, but I'm unlikely to be in any position to drop six figures on anything (except perhaps a house, which I guess kind of qualifies, but I'm more interested in benefits which are gained over time rather than preserved).
The only "lifetime" passes I currently have are for digital things (eg Minecraft is purchased once and any future enhancements are included), but if you know of anything you'd recommend, digital or not, please share!
posted by anonymisc to Shopping (24 answers total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
Lots of co-op one-time only memberships have great benefits that pay themselves off very quickly.

For instance, at the grocery co-op I work for, we have a membership that costs $60 - one time purchase, good for life, but not required to shop there. With that, you get a mailing every month that includes a coupon for 10% off one shopping trip. Based on the amount of money people spend on groceries monthly, you can pretty much make your money back on the membership in under a year, and from there, the 10% off coupon still comes, every month, for life. I am still shocked at how many people shop there that aren't members - it seems like an absolute no brainer.

REI is another one I can think of where there's a small one-time membership fee (like $20 or something) and you get a return on everything you buy from them, as well as extra discounts throughout the year.
posted by chillin411 at 11:56 AM on August 19, 2015 [6 favorites]

If you're an outdoorsy person, or even just, say, a winter biker, the $20 REI membership pays for itself pretty quickly.
posted by Juliet Banana at 11:56 AM on August 19, 2015 [13 favorites]

you can get lifetime subscriptions to cloud backup services, satellite radio, and VPN services for a pretty reasonable amount of money, maybe you already have those things, idk.

here's a list of places that sell goods with lifetime warranties for replacement or repair

a reddit thread where people list things with lifetime warranties

you can buy lifetime subscriptions to certain kinds of periodicals and magazines (ex rolling stone, national geographic)

the crossfit gym i belong to occasionally extends to certain members an opportunity to purchase a lifetime membership, a big-ass one time payment for unlimited years of unlimited use of the facility. i've heard of this at other small business gyms too, but i've never seen it at a chain gym or a corporate franchise. my coworker paid $6500 for a lifetime crossfit membership here in honolulu and since the regular cost of membership is 125-175+ a month depending on the option you choose, it pays for itself after a few years; in my coworker's case, by the time she retires in a couple of years she'll be training there for free.
posted by zdravo at 12:02 PM on August 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh, speaking of lifetime, the warranty of Darn Tough socks is amazing in that regard. Mail them holey socks, and get new ones sent to you.
posted by advicepig at 12:24 PM on August 19, 2015

I would probably buy a lifetime state parks pass if there weren't certain variables in my life right now. For example, I live in Brooklyn, NY, and the state parks pass is really only useful while I have a car - which won't be forever. Right now I have the three year Empire Passport that gets me unlimited day usage of the majority of New York State parks and I love that I can just roll in to a beach like Robert Moses and point to my sticker.
posted by rdnnyc at 12:43 PM on August 19, 2015 [4 favorites]

You can get lifetime frequent flier status on the legacy airlines, but I don't think there's a way to just buy into it - you have to put in the time to accrue miles (on United, the lowest tier is a million miles). After that, though, you get all the benefits of frequent flier status forever, sometimes with a spouse as well.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:44 PM on August 19, 2015

I have a lifetime membership at Rouxbe, so anything and everything is free forever. I'm not sure they offer that plan anymore but, just in general, a LT membership at a cooking school is a good idea.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 12:47 PM on August 19, 2015

read the fine print on lifetime for satellite radio receivers - given that the radio will have to be replaced every few years, your life time may exceed that of the subscription.
posted by randomkeystrike at 12:47 PM on August 19, 2015

You could get a digital or print lifetime subscription to Jacobin.
posted by earth by april at 12:54 PM on August 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

Koss Porta Pro headphones.

They have fantastic sound and they fold up. If/when they break, you send them back to Koss with $9 and they send you a new pair. I have done this 3 times since I bought my first set ten years ago.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 12:59 PM on August 19, 2015 [6 favorites]

Lifetime memberships to nonprofits, like museums? I have a lifetime membership to a very tiny museum related to an interest of mine, which means free admission and other little perks, and it seemed like a good way to support them and maybe make it so they'll be around longer.

Once upon a time my grandmother endowed a perpetual care fund for the family cemetery plot (to be sure it would be maintained, the hedges trimmed, the stones cleaned, etc)... but at some point years after she did this, the cemetery manager was crooked and ran off with the money. So I don't know whether to recommend that or not - if it had worked out it would be a very good deal, but the promise is only as good as the institution that supports it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:59 PM on August 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

I bought a TiVo lifetime subscription in 2007 and am still using it. It's paid for itself many, many times over. Admittedly this is a service which is now bundled with most cable TV plans, however I think TiVo is a superior product and am glad to have free use of it.
posted by telegraph at 1:15 PM on August 19, 2015 [6 favorites]

$750 for lifetime membership in the NAACP
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:26 PM on August 19, 2015 [5 favorites]

$250 for a lifetime Hostelling International membership - the member benefits are nice and it's handy not to have to renew every single year if you're a regular hosteller.
posted by cadge at 1:35 PM on August 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

It may not match your interests, but 2600 magazine offers a lifetime subscription for US$260.
posted by sindark at 1:52 PM on August 19, 2015

A lifetime membership to your college/university alumni association. I'm a life member of mine. It's handy not having to remember to renew, there are good member benefits, and you can save a lot of money over annual renewals.
posted by SisterHavana at 1:57 PM on August 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think the TiVo lifetime plan is a great deal, but you should be aware that it is for the lifetime of the TiVo unit, not your lifetime.
posted by merejane at 2:49 PM on August 19, 2015

1) I want to piggyback on chillin411's co-op membership suggestion. In addition to a monthly 10% coupon, many co-ops also offer member-only pricing on some items every month, beyond whatever is featured in the generic monthly coupon flyer. Besides the added savings benefit, these offers tend to be more focused on local/regional products, unlike the flyers (which are centralized and feature only large-scale, national brands). Another important aspect of a membership is that it often functions as a "share," meaning that members get to vote on new board members, and therefore influence the direction of the co-op. Oh, and -- as part of the "share" conceit -- there's even a (very) modest dividend returned to each membership.

2) Similar to your Minecraft example, the music production software FL Studio is a one-time purchase, with free updates for life. They roll out a new version every other year, or so, and -- if you've ever wanted to try making music/podcasts/etc. on a computer -- the quality-to-price ratio is excellent.

3) Forgive me if someone already suggested this, but I feel compelled to note that MetaFilter itself depends in part on ongoing subscriptions. ;-)
posted by credible hulk at 3:53 PM on August 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

backseatpilot, I don't know how it is at United, but at American, lifetime status is for the lifetime of the frequent flyer program, not the individual :-) Whether or not that has any real relevance - well, time will tell!
posted by scolbath at 6:26 PM on August 19, 2015

To keep your desktop background looking nice, Digital Blasphemy sells Lifetime Memberships for $200, but only sells one per 24-hour period.
posted by jet_pack_in_a_can at 6:20 AM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I don't know how I got picked for this offer, but I bought a lifetime subscription to Rolling Stone for $99. It expires in 2053, at which time they'll check with me to see if I'm still alive.
posted by DandyRandy at 1:31 PM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Recommendation against Kobalt Tools, and possibly Craftsman has the same issue.

When they replace your tools... they don't guarantee the *same* tool in return. My brother had a nice wrench that snapped (snapped!) and got a really cheap-o replacement from Kobalt when he sent in the broken one. Oops.

REI is a win, but it only gets you 5-10% back, and their gear costs 5-10% more than most other places. The win there is the return policy, not the price. But the returns just got somewhat less good; they're now one-year no-questions-asked, and not lifetime-no-questions-asked.

For political organizations, I'd use the NRA as a counter-example. Prior to the 90's, they did a lot of safety education for firearms, somewhat like the Boy Scouts; it was a good focus! During the 90's, the NRA-ILA became a larger focus, and they've driven monthly subscriptions by banging the political hate drum. If you were a lifetime member supporting educating kids on rifles and marksmanship, you still have your lifetime subscription to what that's become, for better and worse.

For anyone pro-gun-rights; take a look at the NRA nearly blocking the Heller decision, and consider that what the NRA is doing isn't good for anyone except for them. :-/
posted by talldean at 5:58 PM on August 22, 2015

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