Kathleen Blum, vice president of shopper insights at C+R Research, Chicago. CRResearch.com
How much do you think you spend each month for subscriptions you’ve forgotten about? A recent survey shows that people think they’re spending about $86 per month on subscriptions. Reality: They spend an average of $219 a month.
Why is this happening? More and more businesses have settled on the simple logic that asks, Why charge a customer once when we can charge him/her repeatedly? The subscription model is being used everywhere now for TV and phone apps to apparel and cosmetics, even for pet care. Many companies offer free trials, hoping that customers will forget when the free period expires and just start paying. Example: Many people sign up for a streaming service just to watch one show, then forget to cancel the service. And when businesses debit your checking account or credit card, instead of sending you a bill, it’s easy for you to forget that it is even happening. The most commonly forgotten subscriptions are mobile phone and Internet apps, followed by streaming services.
Zap those apps. Tracking down all your subscriptions could prove a monumental task…and some companies give you a hard sell when you try to unsubscribe.
Several apps exist to help you keep track of what you’ve signed up for. Some also will cancel unwanted subscriptions on your behalf, although you’ll have to pay extra for that service. The irony is that these, too, are subscription-based apps…but you’ll generally save enough to make them worthwhile. How they work: You plug in your financial information, and the apps track down all recurring charges so you can sort out which to cancel and which to keep.
Rocket Money: This popular service, formerly known as Truebill, tracks your subscriptions for free, but a cancellation concierge requires an upgrade of up to $12 per month. RocketMoney.com
Trim: The company claims to save its average user $213 annually. Free 14-day trial, then $99 per year. AskTrim.com
Mint: Mint will identify your subscriptions. Subscription cancellation requires a $4.99-per-month upgrade to Mint Premium. Available only to iOS users. Mint.Intuit.com
Billshark: Known mostly for its bill-negotiation prowess, Billshark also cancels subscriptions on your behalf. It charges $9 per cancelled subscription. Billshark.com
Check with your credit card issuer. Many card companies are offering subscription-tracking services. Chase “Saved Account Manager” and Capital One’s “Eno” both let you see all the companies holding your card’s information. If you see an unwanted subscription but have trouble when you try to cancel, the card issuer can intervene on your behalf.