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Expert Q&A

How to manage your paid subscriptions

Those pesky recurring charges can sneak up on you – here’s how to avoid it

Summary

Forty percent of millennials spend at least $75 on subscriptions each month. What do you do if recurring charges have taken over your budget?

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Don’t you feel like everything is a subscription these days? The video streaming market is so saturated, the price of the multiple subscriptions many of us keep is comparable to that of cable. Then there are grocery delivery subscriptions and warehouse memberships, clothing subscriptions, subscriptions for beauty products, fitness and even pet toys.

Do you want more cloud storage? It’s also a recurring charge. Do you like healthy snacks? There’s a subscription box for that, too.

It’s no wonder that we’re drowning in subscriptions. If you’re lost in your recurring charges too, read on to learn how to manage your paid subscriptions and make sure none of them fall through the cracks.

Check out all the answers from our credit card experts.

Ask Ana a question.

Millennials’ subscriptions are out of control

I have a monthly coffee subscription because I’m addicted to one particular brand of coffee. I have a skin care subscription because it works better than anything else I’ve ever picked myself. I have a book box subscription because my editor Emily Sherman knew I was incapable of saying no to new books when she referred me.

And that’s not even half of it.

I’m representative of my generation. According to recent data from Chase, 50% of millennials have at least three recurring payments, and some have more than 10. Further, 40% say they spend $75 or more on subscriptions each month.

Do you know what the worst part is? Forty-eight percent of millennials forget at least one recurring payment they’ve signed up for. I’ve surely been guilty of that myself.

It’s time to take control over our recurring charges. Fortunately, there are some incredible tools that can help us with that.

How to stay on top of your paid subscriptions

You don’t have to rely solely on your memory to gain control over your paid subscriptions. You don’t even have to make them their own category in your budget. Instead, I recommend using digital tools that will do the heavy lifting for you.

Credit card tools

Oftentimes, you don’t have to go too far to gain insight into your recurring charges. Some major credit card issuers offer tools that can allow you to do that right from your credit card account.

For example, if you have a Capital One credit card, you can log in to your account in the app or your browser and ask Eno, Capital One’s virtual assistant, what your recurring charges are. Eno will provide you with a list of all recurring charges on your Capital One credit card. Additionally, Capital One will inform you if any of your recurring payments become higher.

If you’re a Chase cardholder, you can also check Saved Account Manager that tracks where your card info is saved online. One of the benefits of this feature is “Recurring Payment Management” which monitors monthly payments and sends notifications if it finds an irregular charge.

If your credit card issuer doesn’t offer this type of feature, don’t fret – you can use a third-party app that might be even more effective.

Third-party services

My favorite app to keep an eye on subscriptions is TrueBill. After you link your bank and credit card accounts, TrueBill categorizes your expenses and identifies recurring charges. The app offers many features available through other financial tracking apps, such as budget management, but its subscription-specific features make it an excellent choice for managing recurring charges.

In the app, you can instantly get access to your recurring payments and choose to cancel any of them. The app will provide you with options to do so – for instance, cancel by phone or website or view canceling instructions.

You can also go Premium to automate cancellations, but that will require adding another recurring payment to your list. Kind of counterintuitive, isn’t it?

Alternatively, you can track your recurring payment through traditional budgeting apps. For example, popular budget tracker Mint has recently added a feature to track your subscriptions in the app.

Note, however, that it’s a new feature that only tracks certain monthly subscriptions, and it doesn’t allow you to manually categorize a recurring charge as a subscription. For instance, it tracks my Netflix and Spotify charges as subscriptions, but my book subscription is marked under “books” and my coffee subscription under “coffee shops.” Still, Mint promises it’s “working tirelessly” on the new feature, so hopefully it will become smarter in the near future.

Set up reminders

If you’re trying out a subscription but aren’t sure you’ll keep it, set up a reminder to possibly cancel it when the time comes. As soon as I subscribe, I usually tell Siri to remind me to cancel a subscription a day or two before it starts charging me. This little extra step has helped me avoid quite a few unwanted recurring charges.

If you know you’re only subscribing for the length of the trial period, you can usually cancel right away. This way, you’ll still be able to use the service for the trial period but won’t be charged once it ends.

Bottom line

With so many recurring charges and subscription services, it’s easy to lose track. Don’t let recurring payments overwhelm you: Use digital tools to stay on top of your subscriptions and cancel right away if you’re certain you’re not going to use the service once the trial period is over.

And for the subscriptions you keep? Make sure to pay with the best credit card for subscription services to take some of the sting off your budget.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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