3 Ways a ‘Free’ Trial Won’t Ever Cost You Money Again

The sooner you implement these strategies, the sooner you’ll start saving.

Natalia Lusinski
Aug 6, 2020 · 3 min read
Woman at desk writing down expenses.
Woman at desk writing down expenses.
Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

A “free” trial can often cost much, much more if you forget you signed up for it. But there are ways to not fall victim to paying the price.

After all, it happens to the best of us: We see an online class, membership, or streaming service that we have to have — or at least try out for “free” for 30 days. Soon, it slips our mind; before we know it, that “free” trial ends up costing us hundreds of dollars.

But those days are gone. If you implement the three strategies below, you can start saving money right now and put it toward online classes, memberships, or streaming services you actually want to keep once the free trial period ends.

1. Look through your bank and credit card statements.

I know, you may be thinking that you already know where all your money goes — you’re not needlessly paying for a hidden membership. But that’s likely not true.

By skimming your last bank and credit card statements, you can look for recurring charges that come up, like that “free” gym membership you forgot about (even pre-pandemic) or that streaming service that gave you a free month, yet you never logged in again. So that “free” month has actually cost you many months. In fact, according to a 2017 survey by CreditCards.com among 1,002 U.S. adults, 35% had signed up for an account without realizing they’d agreed to automatic payments.

Let’s say the gym membership is $29.95 and the streaming service is $9.99. Right there, you have about $40 you can put into savings — or another cause — each month instead. Personally, I’d automate those subscription costs into your savings since you didn’t even realize you were spending the money each month anyway.

2. Contact the company.

Although some companies are sticklers when it comes to reminding you that you checked a box and agreed to their terms and conditions — i.e., you committed to paying them each month once your trial period ends — others will work with you to get the charges reversed.

If you honestly forgot that you signed up for “x” membership, it’s worth a try to email or call customer service. There are no guarantees that they will refund you, of course — and it may also depend on how much empathy the person on the other end of your email or call has — but you never know. I’ve had success doing this, but not every time; however, some of the time is better than none of the time.

3. Utilize calendar reminders.

It’s beyond easy to sign up for a company’s free trial, then forget to cancel your membership — and then you see that you were charged the full amount next month (or several months later). Perhaps you tried emailing or calling the company, but they only reminded you that you checked a box agreeing to pay “x” amount starting “y” date and said they couldn’t help you. So you’re out of luck.

But from now on, here’s how to not make that mistake again. When you sign up for a “free” trial, go straight to your phone or physical calendar and mark the date that the trial ends. Then go to a few days before that to remind yourself that “x” free trial ends in “y” number of days — in other words, by this date, you’ll decide whether or not you’ll keep it. Otherwise, cancel it immediately, before the expiration date.

This has saved me a countless amount of money a countless number of times, and can help you save money, too.

So, see? By doing the above, a “free” trial won’t ever cost you money again.

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Natalia Lusinski

Written by

Digital nomad/journalist/editor with words in Business Insider, Lonely Planet, etc. Submit now to the all-new Hidden Baggage: https://tinyurl.com/yxt562eo. :)

Hidden Baggage

Stories about (hidden) baggage we all carry in areas like travel, love, money, work, & mental health.

Natalia Lusinski

Written by

Digital nomad/journalist/editor with words in Business Insider, Lonely Planet, etc. Submit now to the all-new Hidden Baggage: https://tinyurl.com/yxt562eo. :)

Hidden Baggage

Stories about (hidden) baggage we all carry in areas like travel, love, money, work, & mental health.

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