Can You Get Free Music on Your SiriusXM Satellite Radio Legally?

How to Listen to Free-for-a-While or Low-Cost Satellite Radio Music

Photo: Eric Audras / Getty

If you bought a new car equipped with a SiriusXM satellite radio, it probably came with a free three-month or one-year subscription to the service. Then, one day, it didn't work anymore. Whether you are jonesing for The Beatles Channel or can't go a day without Howard Stern, you are probably looking for an affordable—preferably free—way to get them back.

Or maybe you bought a previously owned vehicle with an inactive SiriuxXM radio in it, and you are curious but don't want to buy anything without knowing more.

How Did SiriusXM Deactivate My Radio When My Subscription Ran Out?

SiriusXM can authorize and deauthorize satellite radios at will. Each satellite radio has a unique radio ID that is used when activating it or deactivating it.

The activate or kill codes are sent by satellite as part of the data stream that your satellite radio receives. So when your free subscription ended, SiriusXM sent that code to effectively deauthorize your radio.

Are There Any Hacks to Get All of My Channels Back for Free?

Sorry, but no, nothing proven—despite the rumors of hacks for sale on the dark web. However, there are free trials and super-attractive rates to tempt you back to the service or to introduce new users to it. SiriusXM is an active marketer and changes its offers often. Not all of these promotions will be active at any one time, but they give you a place to start. 

  • Free XM Preview on Channel 1 or Channel 184, depending on your locale and radio, is probably the only channel working on your satellite radio after your subscription runs out. It streams back-to-back promos for different shows on SiriusXM. Buried in among them are offers to tempt new or returning users. The offers change regularly, but it isn't unusual to hear an offer to buy six months of satellite radio service for as low as $5 a month, which is way below retail. Admit it, that's almost free.
  • The Returning Listeners Offer is available only to people with currently inactive radios. The offer changes occasionally. In the past, SiriusXM has offered the first six months of a subscription for $30. After any trial period, unless you cancel, you are billed the regular rate beginning in the first month after the trial period ends.
  • In 2016 and 2017, Sirius opened a free 100-channel lineup for a couple of weeks as a promotion. That announcement is made on the XM Preview Channel or online. It gives new listeners an opportunity to hear just what the service has to offer.
  • When you buy a preowned vehicle with an inactive Sirius SM radio in it, you may be eligible for a free trial in your car. You'll have to ask the dealer about this; not every car is eligible.
  • Any person can get a 30-day free trial for signing up for a SiriusXM subscription. If you don't cancel before the end of the month, though, you are charged the full rate beginning in the second month.

Other promotional offers are occasionally announced at or on XM Preview Channel 1 or Channel 184.

In the case of some offers, you have to give SiriusXM your credit card number. None of the free trials is binding though. You can cancel the service at any time and not incur any additional costs, as long as you remember to do it before the offer expires. If you forget to do that, you are billed the full rate for months outside the trial offer that you keep the service, and you can still cancel at any time.

About SiriusXM Service Expansion

Although SiriusXM is known for its car radio service, the service has expanded.

Satellite radio that was once available to you only during your commute is now available streaming over the internet on your computer, from a desktop satellite radio, and from Android or iOS apps on your smartphone. Amazon's Alexa, Echo, and Dot stream SiriusXM now, as do Roku media player, Sony PlayStation, Blu-ray players, and Apple TV.

In most cases, one All Access subscription covers all these devices and delivers more than 200 channels, so you are getting a lot for your money. That doesn't make it free, but it does make satellite radio a good value.

As of early 2018, an All Access subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio costs $20.99/month.


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