Productivity Windows

5 Ways to Get Cheap Microsoft Office and Word Licenses

Simon Batt 24-01-2020

Microsoft Office is a useful tool for both study and work, but it doesn’t come cheap. If you’re looking for the cheapest way to get Microsoft Office, there are methods you can use to get the productivity suite for a fraction of the price.

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Here are some ways to get Microsoft Office cheaply versus buying it full-price at the store.

1. Use Microsoft’s Student Office Plans

If you’re wincing at Microsoft Office’s price because you’re a student, you may be entitled to Office 365 for free. Not all students can claim this offer, as your institute needs to enroll with Microsoft to benefit from this plan. However, it’s worth giving it a shot to see if you can get Office for free.

To check if you’re eligible, head to the official Office 365 Education page and enter your school email address into the box. If you’re eligible, you should receive a code for Office 365, which you can use right away.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t a lifetime gift. Once you graduate from your current school, Microsoft may check up on you to see if you’re still eligible.

If you’re not, you’ll have to buy Office out of pocket. Not to worry, however; you’re still eligible to purchase Microsoft’s alumni deal at $12 for a year.

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2. Use Microsoft’s Office Online Website

Did you know that Microsoft Office can be used online for free? It’s not getting an Office license per se, but it’s an excellent way to use Word without paying anything.

If you head over to Office.com, you’ll find the entire Office suite ready for you to use. All you need to do is log in with a Microsoft account, and you can start using Office at no extra cost.

Office Online supports uploading, editing, and downloading Office files from your computer. If you have a Word document you want to read, but you have no word processor, you can upload it to Office Online to read it.

So, what’s the catch? Office Online doesn’t have the full range of features that Office 365 has, and has a lot of useful features missing from it.

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Microsoft will continuously remind you of this as you use it, prodding you to purchase a subscription while you use Office Online. However, for a free alternative to Microsoft Office, it fits the bill.

If you want something with a bit more power behind it, be sure to try the best free online word processors The 8 Best Free Online Word Processors Online word processors come in all shapes and sizes. Use these select picks to choose the writing tool that's right for you. Read More . Not only do they have more features than Office Online, but some of them are compatible with Office’s file types.

3. Use the Mobile Office Apps for Android and iOS

Speaking of free Office software, you can also find each component of Office for free on mobile. Again, it’s not strictly getting an Office license, but it’s still advantageous if you want to save money legally.

Both the Android and the iOS app stores have them, and Microsoft is working on a more extensive, all-encompassing Office app for release later down the line.

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Download: Word | Excel | PowerPoint | OneNote | OneDrive (Android)

Download: Word | Excel | PowerPoint | OneNote | OneDrive (iOS)

4. Use Third-Party Retailers and Hunt for Sales

If you want to purchase Microsoft Office legitimately, it’s worth checking for Microsoft Office deals from verified sellers. Some of them may have some great Microsoft Office 365 deals, and others may even list Office for a lower price than Microsoft themselves.

For example, the Microsoft Store currently lists Office 2019 at $149, but how much is Microsoft Office on, say, Amazon?

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As it turns out, you can buy an Office CD on the Windows Amazon store for a lesser amount. This is a great way to save money on Office while still going through legitimate channels.

5. Get Microsoft Office Cheap on Gray Market Stores

If none of the above work for you, the gray market is your best bet. Gray market websites can offer a huge Microsoft Office discount that’s hard to resist.

These websites are called a “gray market” because people sell keys without the blessing or authorization of the original developer or publisher. This means there’s no surefire guarantee that you’ll get what you pay for, or that the developer will support the purchase.

So, why bother with gray markets? Simple; their unbeatable price.

While Microsoft sells Office 2019 for $149, and Amazon sells it for $109, Kinguin currently sells keys for as low as $47—a saving of $100 over Microsoft.

The Moral Issues of Gray Market Stores

Before you grab a key from a gray market store, however, consider why these keys are so cheap in the first place. A price cut like this doesn’t come without a few downsides, after all.

First, make sure you know who you’re buying from. Gray market stores will often work like eBay, where individual people and small companies list the products. As such, scams can happen, to the point where some gray market stores ask for an additional cost to protect your purchase.

Also, a seller may put a key up for a low price because it’s an OEM key. These aren’t as desirable as retail keys, as you can only install an OEM on one machine, and one time only. If that machine is lost or breaks down, you’ll need to wrestle with Microsoft tech support to get a reactivation. If they say no, you’ll have to buy Office again.

Finally, gray market stores are a goldmine for thieves. Criminals can steal credit and debit cards, then use the funds to purchase a lot of Office keys. They can then flip the Office keys on gray market websites for a lower price than retail, then direct the profits to their bank account.

What Is an OEM Key?

We briefly touched upon OEM keys above, so it’s worth going into detail on what these are. You should consider OEM keys when buying a license to avoid any future headaches.

OEM stands for “Original Equipment Manufacturer,” and keys labeled as OEM are intended for computer builders. If you’ve ever bought a computer or a laptop that came with Office pre-installed, there’s a good chance that it uses an OEM key.

Computer manufacturers and builders purchase the OEM key and immediately install it onto a device. You can’t use an OEM key to install Office on multiple machines; that’s what the retail version is for.

As such, if a computer with an OEM version of Office is stolen or fails, you can’t re-use the key on a new computer. Some OEM keys will even identify if you change the hardware on your machine and make the OEM invalid.

OEM keys are cheaper than buying retail Office suites, so manufacturers can supply Office with their computers without hiking up the price. This is how manufacturers can sell laptops with Office pre-installed at around the same price as the retail version of Office.

Despite using them outside their intended use, buying an OEM key by itself isn’t illegal. Just as long as the key was bought through legitimate means, there’s no reason to worry about the legality of buying OEM keys.

If you like the idea of buying cheaper OEM keys, be sure to read our guide on what OEM products are What Are OEM Products and Why Are They Cheaper? OEM stands for original equipment manufacturer. Should you buy OEM products, or is there a catch that'll set you up for trouble? Read More for more details.

Improving Your Productivity For Less

Microsoft Office‘s price can be prohibitive, but it doesn’t have to burn a hole in your pocket. By using the free versions, finding a cheap deal, or using a gray market website, you can get your hands on this powerful productivity suite for less.

If you’d rather use a free alternative to Office, be sure to try the best free Microsoft Office alternatives The 7 Best Free Microsoft Office Alternatives Microsoft Office is the king of office suites, but that doesn't mean it's the right one for you. Here are some other office suites you might like better! Read More instead.

Related topics: Microsoft Office 2019, Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Office Online, Microsoft Office Tips, Microsoft Word, Office Suites, Software Licenses.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Don
    January 31, 2020 at 6:54 pm

    Where is office.com and online Word, Excel, etc.? The Office.com link only goes to Outlook, Calendar, etc.

    • Dennis Samuel Primm
      February 1, 2020 at 4:40 am

      Yes, go to https://www.office.com/ and "Sign In".
      You'll find the web page the author is speaking of.
      The apps are: Outlook, OneDrive, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Skype, & Calendar.
      Good luck!!!

    • Ron MVP
      February 1, 2020 at 6:24 am

      Office Online is the replacement for "Office 2010 Starter" and "MS Works". It is the dumb brother of locally installed Office. The Office Online version of the applications have severe feature limits. They are adequate for simple documents. They can open files created by the desktop version without breaking "advanced" features, but those features won't work.
      .
      One main limit of Online apps is that they don't support macros.
      Another is that they have relatively small file size limits.
      .
      Up until a few months ago, the Office HUP (Home Use Program) did offer massively discounted (ie $15-20!) one-time payment licenses for Office Professional Plus. Then MS (dis)"improved" the offer to Office 365 with only a 30% discount ... . Talk about milking the cash cow!
      .
      Amazon, Ebay, and most online retailers should be considered "grey market". Amazon talks big about making sure to sell only legitimate products, but I constantly see complaints from makers of bootleggers under cutting them, and putting them out of business (buyers of bootleg copies complain to original maker about defects and poor quality!). Complaints by original product makers are ignored. The only online store I would consider legitimate is the online arm of a chain that has physical stores.
      .
      Frankly, I even suspect the Office offer you cited on Amazon. I've seen legitimate sales of Office Home for $20 off, I have never seen a sale I know is legitimate for a larger discount.
      .
      Another discount offer you could have mentioned is the Military discount. Many branches of the military have arranged either HUP discounts or discounted prices in the PBX. So for active or retired military should check with their branch to see if they can get a discount.
      .
      Finally, as much as I HATE to say it, Office 365 HOME should be considered probably the best discount deal if you take full advantage and share it with 5 other people. 6 people for $100 per year works out to $16.67 EACH. And if they take full advantage of installing it on 5 computers at the same time takes the price down to $3.33 per computer per year. And its an even better "deal" if you use your full allotment of 60 minutes skype time to make long distance video-phone calls.

      • mafaco
        February 3, 2020 at 11:03 am

        Finally, as much as I HATE to say it, Office 365 HOME should be considered probably the best discount deal if you take full advantage and share it with 5 other people. 6 people for $100 per year works out to $16.67 EACH. And if they take full advantage of installing it on 5 computers at the same time takes the price down to $3.33 per computer per year. And its an even better "deal" if you use your full allotment of 60 minutes skype time to make long distance video-phone calls.

      • Brian Boru
        March 22, 2020 at 9:28 pm

        Ron, you forgot the 1TB cloud storage per user in the 365 Home.

        You make some useful points, but your credibility is damaged by comments like…
        [most online retailers should be considered "grey market"]
        …That is absolutely false.

        If you don't have the ability to distinguish between good stores and bad, good sellers and bad, that's a different thing—like knowing which offline stores and sellers to avoid, or which news outlets are unbiased.

  2. WhoCares
    January 31, 2020 at 1:31 pm

    This is not the first time this article has been posted so why are we seeing it again as though it was just written recently? Another way that you may be able to get a cheap license is through your employer if they participate in an employee program that offers such discounts.

  3. Thant Zin
    January 29, 2020 at 5:26 pm

    Why don't you talk about this?

    https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/home-use-program

    • Dennis Samuel Primm
      February 1, 2020 at 4:21 am

      That seems like a good deal, but I hate Office 365. I'd rather purchase a disk of the regular Office and not have to pay Microsoft all of the time for their service.

    • Dennis Samuel Primm
      February 1, 2020 at 4:22 am

      That seems like a good deal, but I hate Office 365. I'd rather purchase the good ole Office on a disk and pay a one time fee and be done with it.

    • Brian Boru
      February 1, 2020 at 8:57 pm

      I agree, we currently pay $20/year for each copy of 365 our family uses—and it'll be $16 as soon as we find a 6th to share our plan.
      I think it's great value with the monthly updates—eg the new Excel functions—and not having to mess with discs is a definite bonus.

  4. dsrgfdtgh
    January 25, 2020 at 12:21 am

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    • Dennis Samuel Primm
      February 1, 2020 at 4:23 am

      What are you talking about???