51% of Americans say they get unwanted subscription fees
Have you ever subscribed to a free steam browsing trial and ended up unwittingly paying for the service for months? You are far from alone.
A Bankrate survey of 2,497 American adults found that 51% ended up with unwanted fees related to a subscription or membership. A separate study by Chase Bank found the number is actually much higher – 71% of Americans waste more than $50 a month on unwanted subscription fees.
It’s easy to forget about a free trial
These fees can come from anything from a video or music streaming service to a wine delivery club and online guitar lessons.
Linda Sherry, director of national priorities for Consumer Action, said the pandemic has caused many people to sign up for different online programs and services to liven up their daily lives.
But as anyone who’s ever purchased a subscription online knows, most of these plans automatically renew or don’t remind users when the trial period ends.
“It’s no surprise that people are paying for things they don’t want or use,” Sherry said in a statement for the study.
Perhaps because they are more present online, young people are slightly more likely to waste hard-earned money on unnecessary subscriptions. About 58% of millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) and 57% of Gen Z (those born between 1997 and 2012) reported recent unexpected subscription charges.
It’s not just the young and the rich
As the age group ages, they are also less likely to incur unwanted charges, although this number never drops below 43%.
Although wealthier households are more likely to accumulate expensive subscriptions, the differences between income levels are small: 59% of households earning more than USD 100,000 or more per year faced unexpected costs, while 49% of households earning less than USD 50,000 per year also experienced it. .
The most likely suckers were from subscriptions to places like Costco or your gym (31%), audio streaming services (23%), newspapers and other media (12%), games (12%) and food delivery plans (10%).
To prevent charges from accumulating, Bankrate recommends tracking all your subscriptions in a spreadsheet and setting up a calendar notification for the last day of a free trial.
If you’ve already been charged and notice it in the first few days, the provider’s customer service may be able to reverse it for you.
“Unwanted subscription fees are a significant issue for consumers,” industry analyst Ted Rossman said in a press release. “[…] Some merchants are surely not following the rules correctly, and in other cases consumers are overlooking key details.”