SiriusXM Prices and Packages - Car Talk (2023)

  • Craig Fitzgerald
  • 3/9/2023

If you just drove off the lot in a shiny new vehicle, chances are pretty good that SiriusXM Satellite Radio is (A) a standard feature on your radio and (B) free of charge for a certain period of time. If you’re coming to the end of that trial, you’re making decisions on whether to keep the service. Or, if you just bought a used car with the functionality embedded in your audio system, you’re wondering whether to start up.

The answer -- like the answer every good attorney will give you to any question -- is “It depends,” on a lot of factors, not the least of which is you can currently do a 3 month trial of SiriusXM for one dollar to help you make your decision:

  • Did you have the service and enjoyed it? If the answer is “Yes,” then there’s a compelling reason to stay with it. If the answer was “not really,” then you already know the answer to this question.
  • Do you use the extended features of SiriusXM? SiriusXM is about more than just good radio. Services like NavTraffic can help you negotiate around heavy traffic spots, and find your way through unfamiliar cities. NavWeather can alert you to heavy storms coming your way. TravelLink can assist in making your next vacation much more pleasurable by finding the cheapest gas, booking hotels, locating parking spots and electric vehicle charging stations. If any of these concierge services are useful, you’re going to want to sign up.

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PackageMonthly FeeAdditional FeaturesMonthly Fee

SiriusXM Packages

The quickest way to figure out whether or not SirusXM is right for you is to figure out exactly what you’re getting out of it. There are three different SirusXM packages available that are applicable to you if you’re interested in listening while you’re driving. (There are two others if you want just access at home, but since this is Car Talk and not House Talk, we’ll leave those aside for now).

The packages for listening in the car are:

  • SiriusXM Select: SiriusXM Select is basically all of the music stations available, all the comedy stations, all the news stations, plus the bulk of the sports channels with the exception of Major League Baseball.
  • SiriusXM All Access: SiriusXM All Access gets you everything in SirusXM Select, plus two Howard Stern Channels, plus Major League Baseball.
  • SiriusXM Mostly Music: As the name implies, “Mostly Music” is ...well, mostly music.

We compiled the chart below to give you an easy way to compare the packages:

Sirius XM SelectSiriusXM All AccessSiriusXM Mostly Music

How to choose a SiriusXM package

Your decision on which package to choose comes down to these questions:

  • Do you want NFL and Howard Stern? If the answer is “YES,” then you’ll want SiriusXM All Access. There’s no other way to get the content you’re looking for without selecting the service’s most expensive package.
  • Are you interested in artist-specific stations? SirusXM has relationships with a number of artists, and features many curated stations that focus on the music of those artists, plus provide additional content like call-in radio shows, features focusing on certain parts of their history and more. Here are the stations that SirusXM currently operates that focus on those artists. Artists include The Beatles, Elvis Presley, the Grateful Dead, Bruce Springsteen, Phish, Dave Matthews Band, Tom Petty, U2 and more. If you don’t select SirusXM All Access, you can get these channels with SiriusXM Select and save a few bucks every month.
  • Are you only interested in music stations by genre? Sirius Mostly Music will cover you for a “selection” of the ad-free music channels, but you won’t get all of them. You’re going to miss the artist-specific channels. You still get 85 or so music channels, plus some talk radio as well.

Here is the music channel lineup:

Channel NumberChannel NameChannel TypeGenreDescription

SiriusXM vs. Streaming Services

When satellite radio first launched in the 1990s, it represented something that terrestrial radio just couldn’t offer: Hundreds of channels, customized and curated for whatever kind of listening you loved. Especially for fans of talk radio, it got down to granular levels that the AM and FM bands just couldn’t compete with.

But in the intervening years, a lot has changed. Streaming services like Pandora, Spotify and Apple Music have taken ownership of the music industry, and they’re the go-to options for hard-core music listeners. Services like Apple Podcasts and Stitcher stream even more specific talk listening right to your phone, offering variety that SiriusXM just can't.

So why bother with SiriusXM at all with all these streaming services available? There are a number of really good reasons:

  • Curation: Streaming services in general have algorithmic curation. Do you listen to a lot of AC/DC? Spotify and Pandora are going to serve you more, and serve you things that are kind of like AC/DC. Buuuuut not really. How many times have you been listening to music you like and suddenly, Spotify is serving up a song from a band you’ve never heard of, that you’d never listen to otherwise, and that you really, really don’t like. It happens every single day. The algorithm is good, but sorry, it ain’t that good.

SiriusXM still relies on old-school program directors and on-air talent to curate music that you’re more likely to listen to. XM21 (Little Steven’s Underground Garage) is a good example. Do you like the Ramones? Good, because every song played on that channel is either the Ramones, bands that influenced the Ramones, or bands the Ramones influenced. And on top of that, there’s good on-air talent that provides information about those songs you may not have known. And they’re breaking new music in that genre, too, something that simply is not happening anywhere other than a few college or community radio stations around the country.

  • Integration: The major advantage to SiriusXM in the car is that it’s native to almost every OEM audio system sold in the United States in the last 20 years. The band already exists on your radio, all you have to do is turn it on. It works seamlessly with no additional hardware, and you can save your favorite stations right along with your favorite AM and FM stations.

  • Satellite Coverage: There are a whole lot of places in this country where streaming services just don’t work. You’re depending on a signal on your phone -- or through the onboard WiFi now available in many cars -- for your listening. If you’re out in the middle of nowhere, you’re going to be disappointed if you rely solely on streaming services.

You can start in California and end up in Massachusetts and listen to the same SiriusXM channel from coast to coast with barely an interruption, because it’s satellite based and the whole country is covered. The only dead spots you’ll notice are when tree cover is particularly thick, but on the highways, you hardly ever lose signal.

  • Artist Support: If you care about artists getting paid for their work, streaming services like Spotify and Pandora simply do not pay artists enough, and they’re belligerent about it. Spotify currently pays somewhere around the laughable $0.00318 per stream, but that’s not even the reality of what artists are seeing. Classical violinist Tasmin Little earned just £12.34 (about $15.67) for five to six million streams, for example.

SirusXM, on the other hand, is working under a much more strict royalty requirement, as set out by Congress. “Unlike terrestrial radio, SiriusXM is required to pay copyright music royalties to recording artists, musicians and recording labels that hold copyrights in sound recordings (the actual recording of a work) that were fixed after February 15, 1972. Like terrestrial radio, SiriusXM must also pay music publishers who hold copyrights in musical compositions (or the lyrics and music) through their collective organizations such as ASCAP and BMI. The U.S. Music Royalty Fee offsets royalties payable by SiriusXM to composers, publishers, recording artists, musicians and record labels that hold copyrights in musical works and recordings.”Nobody’s getting rich off of SiriusXM royalties, but at least it’s not the near theft that’s happening with the streaming services.

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How much does SiriusXM cost?

The base price for subscriptions is $16.99 for SiriusXM Select, $21.99 for SiriusXM All Access and $10.99 for SiriusXM Mostly Music, without any applicable discounts.

Can you get SiriusXM Satellite Radio for Free?

If you just bought a new car, chances are you have SiriusXM for free for three months. There are also discount programs that can get you free access for a limited period of time.

Does Honda have SiriusXM Satellite Radio?

Yes. Every manufacturer currently offers a radio with SiriusXM built into its capabilities.

Editor's note and disclaimer: Car Talk is supported by our fans, readers and listeners. When you click on some of the links on our website, we may receive referral compensation. However, you should know that the recommendations we make are based on our independent editorial review and analyses.

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