Subscriptions have been a popular gift for years. Whether it's books, food, clothing, wine, or even pet toys there's a subscription for almost every one, but that means some people receive unexpected charges.
"You register for the service or the product and then have it get sent to the individual you would like to receive it," said Viridiana Quintana, of the Better Business Bureau. "There's so many different products."
Subscription services show the thought that went into a gift, but Quintana says it's important to know the details.
"People need to be aware what they are committing to when they purchase a subscription service," said Quintana. "They're based on a reoccurring basis, whether it's weekly, monthly, yearly, and we just want to make sure that people are aware of the charges that occur."
That means look for cancelation details and any autorenewal agreements so you aren't surprised by a large fee this time next year.
There are also a lot of companies offering different types of subscription services and boxes. The BBB has a list of ways you can protect yourself from scams and make sure your gift doesn't come with hidden price tags.
- Do your research! Look up the company online and see what customers are saying.
- Be careful with free trials. While many companies may offer a box or samples for free, make sure you know exactly how it works. Some may require you to cancel within a certain amount of time or you'll be charged.
- Understand auto-renewal. Don't be surprised by a subscription you've forgotten about! If a service says it auto-renews, that means it will charge your credit or debit card when your current membership expires.
- Know how to end a subscription. There are three ways to end automatic payments. First, contact the company directly. If that doesn't work, then contact your bank and tell them you have revoked payment authorization. Finally, you can give your bank a "stop payment order" which means your bank will not process requests from the subscription company.
- Cancel subscriptions before it's too late. Instead of waiting until the day before, cancel early. Usually, subscription services will let you continue to enjoy your membership until the day you would've been charged for a new membership.
- Watch out for scams. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it might be. Also, if you get a message saying a company needs credit card information for a renewal, it might be a scam. Companies that send renewal notices usually have your payment information already.