How Your Credit
Card Can Save
You if You Forget
to Cancel a Free Trial
By Kate Dore, Personal finance writer.
Candidate for CFP® Certification.
The pandemic has impacted how Americans spend money in major ways. In April, the New York Times reported big dips in spending on travel, shopping and restaurants. But there have been increases in other areas, like groceries and subscription services.
As stay-at-home orders cancel events, folks are spending more on in-home entertainment. Services like Netflix, Disney Plus and xBox have all seen a boost since the pandemic began. There has also been an uptick in coffee subscriptions and meal kits.
Many services offer a free trial, which makes it tempting to sign up. It can be tough to remember when the promotional offer ends, though, and you may get charged before you realize it. Luckily, there may be another option to solve this problem if you struggle to set reminders—protections provided by your credit card.
The best solution comes from Visa. The company’s new policy, which went into effect in April, protects you from sneaky subscriptions by requiring companies to tell you before they start charging fees.
After you sign up for an offer, Visa requires companies to email or text you the terms of the agreement. They also must send you a clear reminder before the trial ends, along with instructions on how to cancel.
Although Mastercard and AmEx both have their own policies, neither offers the same level of protection. AmEx makes it easy to dispute a charge but doesn’t take a proactive approach with subscription reminders. Mastercard requires companies to alert you before a free trial ends and allow you to the option to cancel. This won’t protect you from digital subscriptions, though: The policy only applies to physical product subscriptions like skincare or healthcare.
In times of increasing uncertainty, you may be looking for ways to save every dollar possible. While the Federal Trade Commission has tried to curb auto-renewals, companies still make money from folks who forget to cancel after free trials. The best way to avoid trouble is always to set a reminder (or two!) so you can cancel well ahead of the deadline.
This article was originally published By Kate Dore, twocents.lifehacker.com.
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