We have all been there – we get an email or ad pop up on our social media telling us about a free trial that we can sign up for. It might be for a music streaming service, TV streaming service, audiobook service, or even a subscription box. Since it’s free, there’s no harm in doing this, right? Well, today’s frugal tip is a cautionary tale of any free trial offers that you may receive.
I am all about free things. I mean, who isn’t! So free trial offers aren’t necessarily bad, but they aren’t necessarily good either. They can be great if you are smart about when you sign up for something like this, but they can also be harmful to your financial wellbeing.
The key to being smart about free trials is taking note of certain things about the trial offer. Are there end dates? Do you have to provide them your credit card info? Is there a link or email that you know of to cancel the trial offer?
Let’s say you get an offer for one free month of a new streaming service that you’ve been wanting to get. Great! Take this offer! Why not get this at zero cost for a month? Especially if you know you only want to watch one show or listen to one album. You can use that month and then never pay for this service again. Or maybe you aren’t sure if you want to subscribe to this service. A free trial is a great way to test out a new service.
Typically when you sign up for free trials you need to create an account and sign up with a credit card. If this is free, why do they need your credit card info? Well, there are terms to this free trial. This free trial is still a subscription and after your first free month, you will begin being charged for this service. Here is where you need to take note of the terms and conditions. Will you be automatically charged after the first month? If you are, you need to put a reminder on your phone for a few days before the subscription ends to make sure you cancel it. Is there an email or link to cancel this subscription? You need to save that email or link so you can easily cancel.
Most subscription services that offer free trials aren’t the most expensive services. Maybe around $5 to $20 a month. This isn’t the biggest issue if you forget to cancel after the first month, but you are throwing money out if this is a service you don’t actually use. There are many people who forget to cancel their free trial offer and are paying hundreds of dollars because they have never canceled their free trial offer! Don’t let this be you.
It is so easy to join a monthly subscription service of any kind, especially when it’s free. These companies make the process very painless. It’s harder to cancel though. Sometimes you have to jump through hoops. Sometimes you have to call someone. For some, this inconvenience of canceling is why they never cancel, especially when it might only be $5 to $10 a month.
Here is a bonus tip for you. Let’s say you mean to cancel a subscription after the free trial but you forget because life happens and you get busy. We have all been there! You see on your credit card app that you were charged for this service but you want to cancel. Don’t fret. Most companies will refund your money if you catch this auto-charge within a few days of it being charged to your card. I’ve had this happen to me before. Don’t even just let a company charge you. Always take action as soon as you can. If they say no, then you can make sure you cancel at the end of this next month. But if they do refund your money and cancel, then you’ll have learned a really great lesson. Sometimes it takes this one time of an auto-renewal that you meant to cancel to put a system in place for how you manage these free trials.
Don’t be afraid of free trials, but be organized and on top of this. Like I said before, free things are always great but you may have to pay the price if you don’t pay attention to the small details of this free trial.
Let me know, have you ever signed up for something for free and forgot to cancel? The first time I ever did this was for audible when I was in high school. I didn’t realize they would auto-charge me and that was a pretty big bill to pay when I was 16! Recently, I’ve done this with Amazon Prime, but Amazon is great and they refunded me since I didn’t use my account.
Thank you for listening to this episode of No Fear Finance. No Fear Finance is part of Amalfi Media. Check out Amalfimedia.com for other podcasts, videos, and blogs. I’ve started a Keto Blog so if you’ve ever been curious about Keto you can check out my posts!
Until then, have a great weekend and see you all next Saturday.