Paying for services you don’t use?

Direct debits can be a convenient way to pay your bills, but they take the control of making payments away from you. 

Whether it be subscriptions to gyms, magazines, dating sites, websites, or any services that we rarely use, these can be easy ways to waste money.

Discovering long-forgotten payments can be quite a common experience, whether it be a direct debit to a gym that you no longer attend or a zoo that you no longer even live near.

You should do an audit of your bank and credit-card statements every 12 months to check if you are paying for things you no longer need.

Some of your regular payments will be quarterly, bi-annual or yearly, so it is important to check all your monthly statements over the past 12 months.

Here are some of the items you may want to investigate when you are doing your audit:

  • unused gym memberships
  • unused streaming services (Netflix, Spotify, Stan, etc)
  • unread magazine subscriptions
  • unread newspaper subscriptions
  • old dating site memberships
  • unused club memberships (golf, tennis, bowls, etc)
  • insurance for items you no longer have in your possession
  • unwanted charity direct debits.

The rise of online subscription services means more people are using direct-debit services, which make it easy to forget about these payments when you no longer use the service.

Online streaming services such as Netflix offer free trial periods for services, but they require a credit-card number on sign-up. In these situations when the free trial ends, the billing starts regardless of whether you have chosen to continue with the subscription or not.

Those who don’t cancel the service before the free trial period ends, will usually be billed for the full month before being able to cancel and, if there are any issues, it can be difficult to get support.

If you do have difficulty contacting a service provider to cancel a subscription, you should send an explicit instruction to the company to cancel the arrangement and forward a copy to your bank or financial institution. By doing this, if the debits continue to be taken out of your account you can request that your credit-card provider reverse the unauthorised transaction.

What services have your discovered that you have been paying for without using?

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Written by Liv Gardiner

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