Welcome to Product Support, a column devoted to helping you get the most out of the gadgets and software you already use.
How many subscription services are you paying for? Personally I can rattle off about ten, and the fees can add up!
Today's menagerie of streaming services is easy to sign up for, but much harder to see in its entirety. Free trials, bundle deals and promotional pricing have their appeal, after all, but they also expire.
Here are a few ways you can better keep track of your various services so that you can get a bird's eye view, without it being a total chore.
Set a calendar alert the second you sign up for a free trial.
Sometimes the simpliest measure can be the most effective. If you're signing up for a free trial -- or even a service you plan on keeping around -- set up a calendar alert that reminds you two or three days before the subscription refreshes. That way you'll have time to cancel if you've changed your mind.
Manage subscriptions from Apple's App Store or the Google Play Store.
If you sign up for a subscription using your smartphone, whether it's an iPhone or an Android, it's actually pretty easy to track and manage what you're paying for.
For iPhone and iPad users:
- Open the Settings app
- Select [your name] located at the top of the screen
- Select "Subscriptions"
If you don't have any subscriptions, you won't see a subscriptions tab. If you do, select it and you'll see all the subscriptions you've signed up for using your Apple ID. It's helpful because it tells you what date the subscriptions are set to automatically renew, as well as the next billing date. You can also cancel these subscriptions directly from this screen (just click on the subscription, and scroll down to "Cancel Subscription" or "Cancel Free Trial."
For Android users:
- Open the Google Play Store app
- Select the menu button (three horizontal lines) located in the top left
- Select "Subscriptions"
Here, it'll show the entire list of subscriptions that you've bought from the Google Play Store and, just like iOS, you can quickly cancel them here. If you don't have any subscriptions through Google, you'll see a "Discover subscriptions" screen with a button that says "Get Started."
Set up alerts on your mobile banking app.
Odds are your bank or credit card has an app. And in lieu of hunting through your entire monthly statement, you can set up specific alerts. It's a feature that Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo and Citibank all support.
You can set up these alerts so that you receive a text, email or push notification whenever you pay for the monthly fee for a service like Spotify, Netflix or Amazon Prime. If you're not somebody who is going to meticulously analyze your monthly bill, it's a good idea to get more familiar with your mobile banking app. Also, they're all free to use.
The catch is that you'll only get this heads up after you've already shelled out for another month. But it's a good way to not let anything slip into the memory hole.
Use a subscription-tracking service.
There are a number of apps and services that are specifically designed to manage subscription services and other recurring bills. Some of them link to your banking and credit card accounts, while others just link to your email. They then gather your financial data and break down your payments into a few easy-to-read categories, like bills, subscription services and one-off payments.
The most popular of these services include Truebill, Trim, Bobby and SubscriptMe. As mentioned, most of these services do effectively the same thing, but they go about it in different ways. Truebill ($3/month) and Trim ($6/month) both link directly to your bank account, but Trim uses an 256-bit encryption to get you some extra peace of mind. SubscriptMe (free) scans your email inbox for receipts and reoccurring costs. And Bobby is an app that will track four subscriptions for free, with just a small fee giving you unlimited tracking. But maybe the easiest answer is to cull your collection of services.