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  • Writer's pictureJohn Lim

MF 359 : A simple way to manage trial subscriptions

Updated: Jun 16, 2022

Today, I share my simple hack for remembering and managing trial subscriptions so you're not caught by surprise. More at

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Managing your trial subscriptions

Today, we have subscriptions for entertainment, meal kits, even repair services. Part of their marketing strategy is to offer "free trials," to sample their respective goods and services. Often, the services are priced reasonably at just below a $10, $20 or $30 price point. Trial periods can range from a few weeks to several months.

The reality is that many of these are also trip wires for recurring charges on your credit card. If you're not careful, you'll run into multiple $9.99 or $29.99 charges once those trial periods end, especially as many subscriptions are set for auto-renewal.

Below are some simple steps to manage your trials so you can keep only those you want and not get caught off guard.

  1. Credit card or no?: First, be aware which trials require a credit card. Not all do, meaning once your trial ends, you won't be billed anything further. However, the vast majority require a valid credit card and are set to auto-renew so that once the trial ends, you'll start seeing those charges on your statement.

  2. Some trials allow you to cancel right after sign up and keep the trial period. If you're positive you won't renew and just want to try it out, you should go ahead and cancel if that's an option. However, some will end the trial upon cancellation so read the fine print.

  3. Some trials will allow you to uncheck the auto-renew box.

  4. And some others will require to proactively cancel the service just prior to renewal by filling out a cancellation form or contacting customer service.

  5. Calendar it: When you sign up for a trial, check the end period. This should be easy to figure out based on the trial period. Set a calendar or alert reminder on your phone for several days or a week prior to the end of that period. Make it recur daily just to make sure you don't miss it.

  6. Once you've cancelled you can delete the recurring alert.

  7. Evaluate and take action: Once that alert goes off, you should have a good idea whether you want to keep the service (i.e. pay for it after the trial ends). For services you don't want to keep, log into your account and cancel the service or shut off the auto-renew.

  8. For services that require you to do more than check off a box or hit a cancel button, carve out time to go through the cancellation steps which may require a form or contacting customer service.

  9. For services that you *do* want to renew, make sure you're set to auto-renew or re-check that box if you unchecked it during step 1. This is especially important if renewing locks in a discount or better rate than signing up again.

  10. Keep a record: Keep a memo of your cancellations. Often, you'll get a confirmation email that your subscription won't be renewed after the trial period. For cancellations that require you to contact customer service, use an online chat feature if available and have the transcript emailed to you or download it. If you have to call someone, jot down the reps name, the date and time you called, and ask for a reference number (if available and applicable). You can also request an email to confirm the cancellation. Keep these records on your phone, computer, and backed up on a cloud or external drive.

  11. Watch your credit card statements online: Double check to make sure services you've cancelled do not continue charging you after the trial period ends. If a problem occurs, contact the service immediately. Have your record from step 4 handy. With reputable services this shouldn't be a problem but it's always a good idea to check to make sure you're not getting charged for services you no longer want.

  12. And if you forgot to cancel a trial, contact the service to see if they can cancel and refund the charge. It's always best to catch these early if that's the case.

Managing subscriptions is part of our budgeting reality. As more goods and services adapt this model, it's incumbent on us to keep track of what we're signing up for and why. Doing so will help you keep your financial house in order.

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