Survey: 42% of people still pay for subscriptions they don't use. Are you?

Diane Wilson Image
Tuesday, September 13, 2022
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A survey found that 42% of consumers forgot they are still paying for a subscription they no longer use, most are from the free trial.

Online subscriptions could be costing you money and you don't even know it.

A survey found that 42% of consumers forgot they are still paying for a subscription they no longer use. Many of those happen after you get enticed by a free trial for an online streaming service or a monthly subscription service for clothes or personal items, and then you forget to cancel it after that trial is over. If you have to put a credit or bank card in to get the free trial, know that once that trial is over, you will start getting charged if you don't cancel.

If you agree to a contract for a certain period, most subscription services have an automatic renewal.

"It's always a good idea to you know check your bank statements or credit card statements to make sure you aren't getting charged for subscriptions that you don't want anymore that you don't use anymore because then you're just throwing money away," Meredith Radford with the BBB of Eastern North Carolina said.

You also need to be aware that scammers often impersonate online subscriptions, like Netflix or Spotify, and send you emails or texts claiming your password is compromised and ask you to click on a link to verify your account. Never do that. Always go directly to the company's website and log in to your account to see if you need to take action.

Here are more tips from the BBB when it comes to online subscriptions:

Do plenty of research. Take time to research a company before you sign up for a subscription or trial. Do an online search of the company including the words "scam" or "complaint" to reveal any red flags you should be aware of.

Investigate free trials. Free trials can be a good way to get to know a company and try out a product, but make sure you understand how they work. Before you sign up, find out how long the trial period lasts, what exactly you are agreeing to, and how and when to cancel if you decide not to subscribe. If any of this information is confusing or unavailable, take your business elsewhere.

Understand how auto-renewal works. Auto-renewals are a convenient way to keep your subscription current if you decide you like the service. On the expiration date, the company charges your credit or debit card and the subscription renews for another period. Keep in mind that companies must send you a renewal notice, which is a brief reminder that your subscription is about to renew, ahead of time. Always check your bank and credit card statements to make sure the cost is what you expected.

Know how to stop a subscription. There are three ways you can stop automatic payments from your bank account according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Contact the company to revoke payment authorization, call and write your bank or credit union informing them you've revoked payment authorization, and/or give your bank a "stop payment order." Usually, contacting the company to revoke authorization is sufficient to cancel a subscription, but monitor your bank statements closely anyway.

Cancel unwanted subscriptions early. You can usually cancel early and still enjoy the remaining time left on your subscription for that billing period.

Periodically review your active subscriptions. If you aren't careful, you could lose track of what subscription services you are paying for. Figure out how much you are spending on subscriptions. Periodically, review your subscriptions to make sure you're still using them.