On Your Side: ‘Trimming' unnoticed membership charges

A free trial always sounds like a good idea until it turns into a monthly membership with the charges often going unnoticed. However, there is a new way to ‘trim’ your credit card bill – for free!

Christian Romero was paying for services he wasn’t even using.

“We sign up for things that we think are free on the front end and then after a month or two, they kick in the charges,” said Romero.

Once those freebies expired, they changed to charges -- unwanted and unnoticed month after month.

Thomas Smyth, founder of asktrim.com, says he has a free solution to the problem. The new money-saving service is called Trim.  In the program, users grant read-only access to their credit card accounts.

Trim then scours your statements searching for recurring payments, and sends you a text to alert you to the charges. If you see something you want canceled, you simply text them back.

“We never see or store your log-in credentials,” said Smyth.

Thanks to Trim, Romero found he had been paying for an extra Netflix account for years. He also had another 50 dollar monthly membership he didn't need.

“A lot of times when I'm going back and reviewing my finances, I'm only reviewing things that are over a certain threshold,” said Romero. “The smaller expenses get lost in the shuffle.”

Trim canceled both accounts on Romero’s behalf using key pieces of information to authorize his account.

“Specifically, the date and amount of the last transaction is really important,” said Smyth. “Otherwise, how do they know we're writing them on your behalf?”

There are some services that cannot be canceled directly through Trim.

“To cancel LifeLock, you have to call in to answer a bunch of security questions and then give your full social security number,” said Smyth.

Trim also can't get you out of a contract. What they say they can do is save you money, and 13,000 subscribers say they are believers.

The most commonly canceled subscriptions are credit monitoring services, Gogo inflight internet and gym memberships. Smyth says most of their customers save on average of $15 a month.

Romero says he'll stick around since the savings have been surprising.

“Not too many things like that are free,” said Romero. “So I think it's worth it to try it out.”

If you prefer not to grant read-only access to your accounts electronically, there is an option to manually send in copies of your credit card statements.

For more information on the service, click here.

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