Great Advice for Grads 2020

How to Stem ‘Subscription Creep’


From Netflix, Spotify and Amazon Prime to Blue Apron, Birchbox and beer of the month, your debit or credit card statements are likely littered with subscriptions that are costing you dearly. Not that all subscriptions are bad. You might be happy to pay a monthly fee to work out at the gym or type in Microsoft Office 365. But maybe the benefits of subscribing to credit monitoring or razors by mail were, uh, more fleeting. Recurring charges can be insidious, some eating away at your wealth when you don’t value the subscription anymore. Three $30-per-month subscriptions don’t sound like much until you realize they total nearly $1,100 per year. Inertia leads to a dozen free trials morphing into mainstays on your Mastercard. (Maybe not much longer, though. Mastercard has said it will require merchants to get your approval to proceed with charges after a free trial ends, although it applies only to physical-product subscriptions, like home-delivered sampler boxes.) “The situation with subscriptions could end up being death by a thousand cuts when it comes to your budget,” says Bruce McClary, spokesman for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. Adding to the problem are so-called gray charges, deceptive and unwanted credit and debit card charges that stem from misleading sales and billing practices. They total more than $14 billion a year among U.S. cardholders, or $215 each, per a 2013 study by industry research firm Aite Group. Here’s how to spring-clean recurring charges so you can spend on things that matter to you more.



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