Auto-pay can be a beautiful thing, whether it's the 7% that goes from each paycheck into your 401(k) or the $9.99 each month that fuels your Netflix binges. What's not so great is paying for something you no longer use — especially when you don't even realize you're losing that cash each month.
But that's the reality for one in three Americans who've auto-paid for a subscription without even realizing it, according to a CreditCards.com poll. About half of those who've seen surprise charges blame forgetting to cancel a free trial before the paid period began.
We get it: Some services bury information about canceling a membership on their site (*cough* Hulu *cough*), and mailed subscriptions can be long forgotten if you move (that's why I've been getting The Economist addressed to a previous tenant for two months now).
The good news is there are tools that will identify your subscriptions — and even help you cancel or lower your bills.
Enter: Trim, an app that analyzes your bank and credit transactions to show you what recurring subscriptions you're paying for. Text the app to get a summary of your accounts, and tell it which ones to cancel. The app then contacts your service provider to cancel your subscription for free; they can also help negotiate a lower bill for certain providers like cable and internet. (They make money by taking a share of the savings on these negotiations, as well as from third-party partners.)
Another free option is TrueBill, which can find your subscriptions, cancel unwanted services, negotiate fees and also update you when a recurring bill changes (like if your monthly gym membership suddenly increases). Speaking of gyms, which generally require a certified letter to cancel a membership, both Trim and TrueBill can handle them for you.
Think about it: A mini-financial review could save you hundreds in unused subscription services each year. You might even be able to get a refund, which about half of respondents who ended up canceling a service were able to lock down.