It seems like every day there is some sort of new technology that comes along and makes life easier. It could be a new feature on a phone that helps you complete tasks or an innovative app that makes day-to-day life more convenient.
There is a cost that comes along with that, unfortunately, in the form of annoyances that we may not be used to. An example of a convenience that could inadvertently become a nuisance is the automatic online subscription payment.
You know how it works. You’ve been thinking of giving that new streaming service a try, but you aren’t sure if it’s worth it. So you opt to try the service for a free month-long trial.
Set It and Forget It
As you enter your payment information, you realize you’ll be automatically charged after a month should you forget to cancel. But of course you’ll never forget, right?
The truth sets in when you see an unrecognizable charge for $9.99 plus tax on your bank statement. OK, you forgot to cancel after that first month, but since you’ve already paid, now you might as well wait until the end of the coming month to cancel.
This is a common beginning to what can become a vicious cycle of paying a monthly subscription fee for a service you forget you have half the time. For many, shelling out $7, $8 or $9 dollars a month may not be the end of the world, but for someone hoping to improve their finances, it can really add up.
Toss in a few other subscriptions, and now you’re paying $30 to $40 a month — and hundreds per year — simply because you keep forgetting to cancel. So how do you avoid falling into the trap? Here are five quick tips.
Check the Service’s Policies
It takes a small amount of extra research, but be sure to seek out the cancellation policy of whichever service you’re trying out.
It’s easy to think you’ll remember to cancel a subscription the day before your free trial ends, but you may not even have to wait until then. Some services such as Apple Music, Netflix and Hulu allow you to cancel during your trial but remain able to enjoy the rest of the month for free.
You’ll then have peace of mind knowing you won’t be charged at the end of the month. You’ll also likely receive a reminder from the service when the month is up, giving you the option to subscribe should you like the service.
Set a Calendar Reminder
While some services allow you to cancel during the free trial but let you keep service for that first month, others may not. For these, take 10 seconds to set up a calendar reminder on your phone to cancel the service at the end of the trial.
Know Your Rights
Most well-known and reputable companies are transparent about their subscription and cancellation policies. They make their customers feel like they’re in control, and that in turn makes customers want to give them business.
Let’s be honest, however. Not every business out there could be described as “reputable.” Some may use predatory subscription and cancellation policies as a main source of revenue. To be sure you’re in the clear, be sure to investigate your state’s laws and regulations, and make sure the service’s policies abide before signing up.
Get the Most Out of the Free Trial
You don’t want to be roped into paying a monthly subscription fee for something you don’t use or don’t like. That’s why it’s important to actively use the service during the trial period to get a feel for whether it’s something you think is worth paying for or not.
If a service is not for you or doesn’t provide as many features as a competing service you’ve tried, then you’ll know to cancel. On the flip side, you may actually decide you like the service and have the funds to pay for it. If so, go for it.
Know Your Software
When buying a subscription service through an online retailer such as iTunes, you need to know how that retailer works.
When it comes to iTunes, be sure to turn off the automatic renewal option.
If you’re looking to get your finances in order, you don’t want to pay for things that are unnecessary. That would include monthly subscriptions to services you don’t use. Be sure to check yourself so you don’t get caught up in the costly cycle of automatic renewals.