Are monthly subscription boxes worth it?

Story by Sarah Baker, Editor

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Everyone has heard of those weird “something-of-the-month” club subscriptions, but did you know that basically anything you can think of is now available as a monthly subscription box service — from personal care product boxes to bacon-of-the-month boxes.

Being a fan of YouTube, I have seen many sponsored “unboxing” videos from these subscription box services, where YouTubers unbox what they have just received and offer viewers special discounts (like this one). After at least a year of seeing these unboxing videos, I decided to give a few a try and see for myself why these are a thing and if they are worth it on a college student’s budget.

I thought that it would be nice to be surprised once a month with a box of stuff that may make my day and give me something to look forward to. So I did some research and chose four subscription box services with a variety of themes that might intrigue college students on a budget.

1. Graze – a natural snack box. You receive eight samples of healthy snacks with no GM ingredients or artificial colors/flavors in perfectly portioned packs.

I had a discount offer from another Baker student that allowed me to get my first box free. Each box is about $12 (plus shipping and handling). Before your first box, you get a four-snack sampler box as a welcome to the service. You go online and select what snacks you may “like,” “love,” want to “try” or “hate.” You can also choose to have a box show up weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. My sampler box and first box included healthy snacks that ranged from gummies and popcorn to roasted nuts and flapjacks.

For the most part, I really enjoyed this box. Who doesn’t like being surprised with a bunch of snacks? I did, however, choose to discontinue my subscription with the intention of returning once I have a steady income after college. I will definitely reinstate my subscription to this box later.

2. Loot Crate – a gaming/geek-themed box. It is very popular among YouTube gamers.

I selected the cheapest box at $13.99 a month (plus shipping and handling). Each month has a theme, like “Anti-hero” or “Versus.” My monthly box included a T-shirt, socks, penny bank, button and a Q-Figure figurine. The cardboard Loot Crate box also morphed into a hammer.

I chose not to keep this subscription for a few reasons. With shipping and handling it was nearly $20 a month for one box. While that is about average, there are cheaper options for a college student’s budget. Also, I was not particularly a follower of any of the games, movies or shows that arrived in this crate, so I didn’t feel like it was worth it. That is one of the dangers with box subscriptions.

3. Geek Fuel – another geek-themed box that is similar to Loot Crate.

Geek Fuel is a little more expensive than Loot Crate at $17.99 a month (plus shipping and handling). I actually liked the majority of the content included in this box, comparing favorably to my Loot Crate experience, but that will change every month. Out of this whole experiment, this box was my second favorite. I chose not to continue with my subscription because I could only afford to do one of these a month, but when that changes, I might reinstate my subscription.

4. The Book Drop – a hand-picked book of the month service from Bethany Beach Books in Delaware.

I am a big reader and I wanted to try at least one book subscription box. I chose The Book Drop because it was a small business and the books were hand-selected and not mainstream books, so I will receive a book that I wouldn’t usually pick up. There are a few options from children’s and young adult books, as well as generally female and male themed titles. I chose the YA box for $13 (plus shipping and handling). My box included a book that I had not heard of, signed by the author, a few bookmarks and two small excerpt booklets from upcoming books.

This is the only subscription I chose to continue. I think when I averaged out my expectation and happiness with the result of all of the boxes, I found this one the most worth it. In my opinion, one can never have too many books.


I now understand why people like to subscribe to these subscription services, and I have found at least one that I will continue with. I recommend trying some out. Your perspective may change or you may find yourself with the monthly excitement that comes from opening a box with a pleasant surprise inside.

Editor’s note: This is not a sponsored review/article.