Each year when I go to renew the subscription for my antivirus software I am given the fine print on checkout that my account is on autopay and each year going forward they will automatically charge my credit card for the next year’s subscription. There is the option to turn that off, but they don’t make it easy to do so. As you’ve guessed by my saying I renew each year, I’ve gone ahead and turned off the autopay soon after renewing.
How Many Autopay Services Do You Have?
How many services do you have that automatically renew or extend your subscription using autopay? If you’ve cut the cord with cable TV, you probably have this set up with your streaming services. If you have apps on your phone that have a subscription, you probably have this set up for autopay or auto-renew.
Unless you track your expenses closely, you may be spending money on services that you haven’t realized you are continuing to fund. The fine print on some websites indicate that after the initial period, the company will continue to charge the credit card to extend services unless the customer opted-out of that option.
I have seen this with websites that I’ve used for magazine subscriptions, purchasing website services, and the above-mentioned antivirus software. Another source of continuing charges is from companies who offer a “free trial” but require a credit card to initiate the service. Frequently, they will start regularly charging the credit card after the free trial period ends.
Didn’t Realize You Did This? You Are Not Alone
According to a study by Creditcards.com, 35% of respondents indicated that they had set up an account that continued to charge their credit card via an autopay that they had not realized. Even more interesting, young people (18-34 year olds) were more likely to let the charges continue rather than canceling them! 42% of respondents also indicated that it was difficult to get out of the automatic charging.
I can attest to the difficulty. In the case of the antivirus software, selecting the option to stop autopay resulted in a message that implied I was canceling the subscription itself and not just the autopay renewal! Likewise with another website, it took quite a while to figure out how to remove the autopay option.
The benefit to the company for this autopay option is obvious, as it provides a regular stream of income to the company. But this also leaves the responsibility with the customer to decide whether to continue purchasing or not. The problem is that you may be continuing to pay for apps or subscriptions or streaming services that you no longer use or watch. If this is the case, then you are handing over your hard-earned money to a company you don’t really even want to purchase from anymore!
How To Control The Leaking Wallet or Purse
If you are looking to reduce your expenses so you can start saving these charges, checking your credit card statement regularly is a good idea. Look for recurring monthly, quarterly, or yearly charges from companies you’ve done business with in the past. If they are recurring charges, go to their website and look in the “account” or “profile” or “billing” options to find out how to turn off the recurring charges for those services you no longer want.
But how can you control spending if you want to continue purchasing these services? Turning off the auto-payment function is a useful tool. By turning it off, it subtly causes you to reconsider at renewal time if this is a service you still want. Rather than passively just purchasing again and again, you have to make a conscious decision whether you want to continue the service, and one month or year you may decide that it isn’t worth the money.