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Smart Buying

Break the Cycle of Recurring Subscription Fees

These apps track your regular monthly charges, and a couple will even cancel those you don’t want.

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Maybe the meal delivery kits are piling up uneaten at $60 a week, or you no longer feel the need to pay $19.95 a month for a credit-monitoring service. Or maybe you never listened to Apple Music after the try-it-free offer converted to $10 a month. Neglected subscriptions or free trials that sneakily convert to monthly charges on your credit card statement can add up to hundreds of dollars each year.

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Of course, you can (and should) scour your bank and credit card statements yourself for unwanted charges and take the necessary steps to cancel them. But if other priorities have put this task on a back burner—or you dread the inevitable sales pitch that often accompanies cancellations—a handful of services promise to do the dirty work for you, or at least give you a nudge with a monthly reminder of how much you’re paying.

Services that can help. Trim, Truebill and the basic version of Prosper Daily are free services that round up your regular subscriptions or recurring payments into a neat summary that you can see in the app or on a web dashboard. Trim and Truebill give you an update each month, and you may get more alerts if a recurring cost rises or falls or a new subscription appears.

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But identifying these pesky charges is only half the battle. What if you want to cancel them? Prosper Daily (formerly BillGuard) takes a Tinder-like approach, letting you swipe right on charges you accept and swipe left on those you don’t recognize or want to dispute. The company won’t dispute a charge for you, but you have the option of investigating further (such as searching for contact information via Google from the app) and flagging it as potential fraud to warn fellow Prosper Daily users.

Trim and Truebill take it a step further by canceling the subscriptions for you. If you spot a recurring charge you want to get rid of, you let them know (via text, Facebook Messenger, in the app or online). Both services will get in touch with the company. They will even sit on hold on the phone or send certified mail on your behalf.

Trim and Truebill recently expanded their money-saving services by flagging late-payment and overdraft penalties and offering to request a courtesy refund for you. (Truebill estimates that it is successful about one-third of the time.) Prosper Daily’s premium version ($9.99 per month or $83.88 for one year) partners with an identity-protection service to help you deal with potentially fraudulent charges.

In exchange for the convenience of these services, you’ll hand over your bank or credit card log-in details (but not card numbers), and sometimes any personal details required for cancellations, such as your billing address. They encrypt your log-in credentials, securely connect to your financial institution and have “read only” access to your accounts. Trim has two-step authentication if you use its texting service.

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If you’d like to use these apps for their subscription-monitoring capabilities but are nervous about handing over your personal details, you can get tips on how to cancel hundreds of subscriptions at www.truebill.com/how-to-cancel.

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