When you’re considering signing up for a subscription-based service, that almost ever-present seven-day or 14-day free trial can seem like a huge draw.
You think, “Why not give the service a shot for a week or two, especially if it’s at no cost?”
While this logic is sensible, the reality is that there are some considerations to take before giving out personal financial information to any subscription service.
Let’s take a look at a few aspects to consider.
Do I Trust the Company Providing This Service?
The most important thing to consider before signing up for any service online, free or not, is whether or not the company is trustworthy to begin with.
While a large company like Spotify or Apple might be thought of as reliable and safe, companies that you haven’t heard of before should be approached with caution.
For instance, you don’t want to give your personal financial information to anyone before doing some digging to confirm legitimacy.
Do some research online to get a sense of the experiences that other customers have had using this service. Then, confirm that the company doesn’t use any dishonest or misleading tactics in relation to their “free trial” subscription.
An example of dishonest or misleading tactics is advertising a free subscription, but then making actual cancellation of the service upon the end of the trial very difficult or confusing.
Another common tactic is making the monthly fee of the subscription more expensive than advertised. This may include something like a base fee at the price established, but a series of additional charges for other products that are looped-in with the service that surpass the expected charge.
During your decision-making process, be sure that you read the terms of service carefully.
Is the Company Actually Who It Claims to Be?
This is a situation that you’ve probably encountered before.
A pop-up ad for a generally reliable subscription service appears on your browser, offering some sort of extra-special offer or exclusive deal.
While everything looks right — the logo, colors, and style all seem legitimate, the ad itself has an odd URL or the deal doesn’t align with what you’ve heard of previously from that company.
This is where you should trust your gut.
There are plenty of scammers who will use an established and trusted brand to try to steal your financial information. If an advertisement seems slightly off or just too good to be true, visit the company’s website and sign-up there instead of risking identity theft.
Are You Going to Remember to Cancel a Service Before You’re Billed?
Not remembering to cancel a subscription service before the free trial runs out is a very common mistake.
Not only is this mistake common, but it’s also very costly if too many unused subscriptions have gone from free to paid without cancellation.
Many online banking services have made subscription tracking a large part of keeping tabs on your expenses month-to-month.
If you tend to sign up for a bunch of free subscription trials (because hey, who doesn’t love free stuff?), you’re risking the possibility of forgetting to cancel some of those services and paying for a number of things that you don’t need or want.
To avoid overlooking these smaller sized charges, start consistently looking at your checking account transaction history.
Is This Actually a Service That You’re Going to Use?
Even though the prospect of getting something for free can be enticing, it can also end up costing you in the long run, as we noted above.
Before you sign up for any free trial, give some serious consideration to the likelihood that it’s something you would actually want to use in the long run.
Sure, having a basket of fruit delivered right to your door bi-weekly might sound grand when there’s no price tag on it. But is it something that you’re going to want once it costs $25 per shipment?
Maybe you will, but it’s good to actually dive into the practicality of signing up before you do so on a whim.
Learn More About Managing Your Finances
So, there you have it, a few things to consider before you take advantage of free trial offers.
Looking for some more pointers on how to manage your finances?
Our blog is a great resource for some tips on building a strong financial foundation.