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How to spot costly subscription creep and stop it

Apr 25, 2024, 10:10 PM | Updated: 10:43 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — When a big company like Netflix enacts a subscription price increase, it tends to make headlines. Meanwhile, companies that don’t have that high of a profile can increase subscription costs in a quieter, more successful way.

Either way, an extra buck here for that streaming service, an extra buck there for that online retailer, or an extra buck for all those apps that seemed worth it at the time – those costs can creep up on you. In fact, it’s “subscription creep.”

“Yes, you get an email notification when the price is going to go up on a given service. This is kind of what we’re talking about with this whole subscription creep concept,” said CNET managing editor Nick Wolny. “But a lot of people aren’t going to pay attention to that.”

CNET found that $91 is the average total amount Americans spend on subscriptions each month. The younger folks in the millennial generation pay for with an average of $119 per month.

“I think a big part of it as well is that you’re not sure what the price was when you initially signed up for some of these services years ago,” Wolney said.

Price hikes aren’t the only thing adding cost to subscriptions. The free-trial trap continues to ensnare consumers. Nearly half of all U.S. adults say they have signed up for a free trial and then forgot to cancel it. For millennials, that number goes up to 65%.

Wolney said now is the time to take stock of how much money you’re feeding to subscriptions.

“It’s a great time of year, as we’re coming out of winter for people to do that,” he said. “Once a year audit, determine what you’re currently subscribed to do. You still want all of those different services?”

Wolney said there are budgeting apps that can help you track your subscriptions and monitor price hikes. Some of those apps will do that at no cost. It’s another good inflation-busting option to toggle subscriptions on and off when you’re using them or not.

“Cancel it when you’re not using it,” Wolney said. “They’ll keep your card on file. They’ll keep your account information. And then you just restart when you’re ready to restart.”

When it comes to remembering to cancel a free trial, boomers get the bragging rights. Only 28% of that group told CNET that they had forgotten to cancel a trial.

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How to spot costly subscription creep and stop it