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Subscriptions or recurring payments are popular because they help ensure your favorite services will continue without interruptions. They’re also popular for companies because they provide a consistent revenue stream. However, there are times when you might need to cancel the subscriptions you have on your credit or debit card. Or, maybe you have a recurring subscription you forgot about or didn't even know you were paying for.

If you need to stop all recurring payments to your cards, this guide will walk you through how to find those subscriptions and how to cancel them, whether you’re using a debit or credit card for these charges.

Common Types of Subscriptions and Recurring Payments

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There are many types of subscriptions or recurring payments nowadays, especially in today’s increasingly app-ified world.

Here is a quick look at some of the most common subscriptions:

  • Autoship or subscription deliveries: Retailers like Amazon or Chewy offer delivery services that automatically ship frequently-used products (like toilet paper) on a subscription basis so you'll never run out.
  • Streaming services: Many of us pay for multiple streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Spotify, and Apple Music. These services let you access movies, TV shows, or music on-demand and, in some cases, watch live feeds.
  • Gyms and fitness programs: Gym memberships and other fitness programs often use a monthly or yearly subscription model.
  • Subscription boxes: Monthly subscription boxes for clothing, skincare, makeup, and other products offer a curated experience for consumers.
  • Game subscriptions: Gaming services like Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Plus are popular among gamers, as they offer special access to games and unique perks for subscribers.

These are just some of the most common subscriptions. Chances are, the number of potential subscriptions will only increase in the coming years. This is why it is important for you to know how to find your recurring charges and cancel them.

How to Find All Recurring Payments and Subscriptions

The steps for finding recurring payments or subscriptions may vary depending on the payment method. However, we'll focus on subscriptions that use your debit or credit card.

Here's how to get started on finding all of your subscriptions or recurring payments:

  1. Make a list of all of your bank accounts and credit card accounts. Start by compiling a list of all of your bank accounts and credit card accounts. Even if you haven't used a card in years, it's possible you may have a subscription or two being charged without you realizing.
  2. Review your bank and credit card statements: Look through your account statements for any recurring charges. If you notice a charge on the same date every month for a certain merchant, you likely have a recurring charge. If you have more than one bank account, do this for each account.
  3. Search your email: You often receive an email when your online payment processes. Search your inbox for terms like “payment,” “thank you,” or “subscription.” This may help you catch all of the subscription payments you missed in the previous step.
  4. Review online accounts: Check your online accounts like Amazon and others and review your payment information. You may have an old credit or debit card that is still linked and is being charged.
  5. Check your app store: Apple and Android have subscription sections where you can see and manage subscriptions on your account.
  6. Use a subscription management tool: Certain subscription management tools, like Rocket Money or Trim, can help you easily find subscriptions charges.
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How to Cancel Automatic Payments

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In most cases, canceling automatic payments should be a simple and straightforward process. However, you’ll want to follow the proper steps to ensure you don’t leave any unexpected charges.

To cancel automatic payments on your credit or debit card, follow these steps:

  1. Check your subscription settings: With some subscriptions, especially streaming services, you can log in to your account and navigate to your billing settings to cancel the subscription. Others might even let you quickly toggle your subscription on or off.
  2. Contact the merchant: If you can’t cancel your subscription online, contact the merchant or company that is charging your card. Some companies might have specific cancellation procedures, while others may be able to process the cancellation quickly over the phone.
  3. Document the cancellation: It’s a good idea to have records of the cancellation request. If you request the cancellation over the phone, note the date, time, and the name of the representative who helped you. If you use a website form, take screenshots and keep email confirmations.
  4. Contact your bank or card issuer: If you are having trouble canceling your subscription with the merchant or company, you may have to contact your bank or card issuer. If possible, do this at least three days before the next scheduled charge to avoid having the charge process for another month.
  5. Monitor your accounts: After canceling a subscription, continue to monitor the account that had the unwanted charges to ensure they don’t continue. If they don’t stop, you may have to follow up with your bank or card issuer and potentially escalate the issue.

The steps to cancel may vary slightly for debit cards versus credit cards, but it should be similar in either case. If you are having difficulty getting a charge off of your account, you can contact your bank and ask if they can block future charges from that specific company or merchant. They might ask you to provide evidence that you have already asked the company to cancel the subscription.

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How to Track Autopay Subscriptions

There isn’t a single “best” way to track autopay subscriptions, but there are a few methods you might consider.

  • Keep a spreadsheet: For instance, a simple spreadsheet might be enough to keep your subscriptions organized. You can have separate columns for the service name, payment date, payment amount, renewal date, and other relevant information.
  • Set a calendar reminder to cancel free trials: Many services may offer free trials and require you to enter debit or credit card information. When you sign up for a free trial, immediately set a calendar reminder to cancel the service to avoid being billed when your free trial is over.
  • Use a tracking app: Another way to track your subscriptions is with certain apps and software. Popular apps include Rocket Money, Mint, YNAB (You Need a Budget), and others. Keep in mind that these apps might need access to your bank accounts to function properly. However, it might be worthwhile if you are having trouble managing all your subscriptions.

The Bottom Line

With more products and services turning to a subscription model, it can be tough to keep track of all your active recurring payments. You should always stay vigilant with your finances to avoid unnecessary charges, as you could incur various fees like overdraft fees if your account overdraws from too many subscription charges at a time.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • When you cancel a debit or credit card, the payment method is no longer valid, so the payment will not go through. However, you may still need to contact the merchant to cancel the recurring charge to avoid incurring any late fees or nonpayment fees by the merchant.

  • You can usually do this by contacting your bank or card issuer and asking them to remove the payment authorization or by issuing a stop payment order. One potential caveat is this may not work if you have signed a contract that obligates you to keep making payments.

  • There are a few apps, like Mint, Rocket Money or Trim that allow you to track and view all of your subscription charges in one place. These tools sync with all of your bank account information and offer additional financial tools like budget tracking and bill negotiation.

  • Canceling a pending transaction isn’t always straightforward because these transactions might be in the process of being finalized, which means it may not be possible to cancel them. Generally, you can either contact the merchant and ask them to cancel the purchase, or try contacting your bank or card issuer and see if they can cancel the transaction.

BH

Bob Haegele

Bob Haegele is a freelance personal finance writer specializing in topics such as credit cards, investing, and banking. He began his career in IT and began personal finance writing on the side after paying off his student loans. After leaving his last job in IT in 2020, he became a full-time freelance writer. His work has been featured in outlets such as Business Insider, Forbes Advisor, USA Today, and TIME. He currently lives as a digital nomad and loves to travel and spend time outdoors.