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How to Play the New York Times Crossword for Free

As an avid puzzle solver and gaming enthusiast, I‘m often asked how to access the popular New York Times crossword puzzles for free. With over 90 years of puzzle solving history, the NYT crossword is the gold standard that provides hours of mental stimulation. Here‘s my comprehensive guide to unlocking free access.

Get Limited Free Access on the NYT Website

The New York Times provides non-subscribers with some free crossword access directly on their website (

  • Solve the daily Mini Crossword – This bite-sized puzzle is completely free with no limit.
  • Play the daily full puzzle – You can play for free up to 5 times per month before hitting a paywall.
  • Access the Crossword Archives – A selection of older puzzles are available for free solving.
  • This is a great option for casual solvers who just want a quick mental challenge or to build their solving skills. Avid fans will quickly hit the limit but it‘s useful for everyone to bookmark the NYT Crossword page.

    Download the Official App for Bonus Free Puzzles

    The New York Times Crossword app (available on iOS and Android) offers additional free solving options:

  • Unlimited access to Mini Crosswords – Small daily puzzles with 5×5 grids.
  • Free archive access – Varies but provides a nice backlog of Easy and Mini puzzles.
  • 7-day unlimited pass – Activate this free trial after installing the app.
  • I recommend puzzle fans download the app to supplement the website access. The unlimited Mini Crossword is perfect for quick solving on the go.

    Find Promo Codes for Free Trial Periods

    Occasionally online deals provide promotional codes for free 1 or 3 month full access trials to the NYT Crossword. Sites like Reddit, Slickdeals and others sometimes post codes:

  • Be on the lookout for crossword related posts on deal sites.
  • People will share codes they aren‘t using before they expire.
  • Redeem codes on the NYT site or in the app to unlock full access.
  • These free trials give you a chance to experience all the puzzles and features before deciding on a paid subscription.

    Leverage Browser Extensions to Unlock Articles

    While mostly focused on NYT news articles, some browser extensions can help grant free access to crossword puzzles as well:

  • Bypass Paywalls Clean for Chrome and Firefox – Automatically removes paywall blockers.
  • Facebook Pixel Helper – Removes tracking pixels including those sometimes used on NYT Games.
  • Try enabling these if you hit a hard paywall when solving puzzles on the NYT site. They don‘t always work but are worth testing.

    Consider Shared Family Plans to Save Money

    If you decide to subscribe, the NYT Crossword offers shared family plans that allow you to add dependents. Options include:

    Family (2 dependents) $15 every 4 weeks
    Family Plus (4 dependents) $30 every 4 weeks

    Splitting a plan with others helps lower the cost of access if you have family members or friends who also enjoy solving.

    Weigh the Cost Against Your Solving Habits

    Here‘s a quick breakdown of the NYT Crossword subscription costs:

  • Basic Digital Access – $5 every 4 weeks after a discounted first year
  • All Access (News + Crossword) – $15 every 4 weeks after the first year discount
  • Home Delivery (Newspaper + All Access Digital) – Varies by location
  • If you solve puzzles daily and value access to archives and features, a subscription is likely worthwhile. But you can stay free or cheap with sporadic solving. Evaluate your habits.

    Sample the Crosswords then Decide!

    Using a mix of the free access options allows you to experience the joy of solving NYT Crosswords before committing to a subscription. Mini puzzles, free full puzzles, app downloads, promo codes, and shared plans each provide low or no cost ways to access this iconic American word game. Become an informed solver – try the tips above to play for free before you pay!