Update Jan 15. Well, there is a rather big catch here: MasterCard has updated its blog post to explain that when it said 'free trials', it meant free trials of physical goods. That means things that get sent to your door and not the online kind. This is annoying but also means there's now a fantastic idea up for grabs for other banks. Who will be first?
Original article below...
Tired of losing money because you forgot to cancel a free trial? One bank card provider’s here to provide a lifeline to the forgetful among us.
Companies like Amazon and Netflix are very generous when it comes to offering you free stuff. You can easily get a month of Prime benefits or streaming content for free in a number of different ways.
However, the catch with this is that you always have to put in your credit card details before you start getting your free benefits.
It’s useful if you want to continue the service after your trial ends, but is also a very handy way for companies to siphon off a month or two’s subscription fees from users who didn’t intend to continue but didn’t remember to go through the multiple pages and guilt-trips that cancellation requires.
However Mastercard, provider of financial services and credit and debit cards, has decided to step in. The company has announced a new set of rules (via Engadget), of which the bottom line is companies now have to ask your permission at the end of free trials to go through and charging you.
At the end of a trial, you will get an email or text from the merchant in question, which will clearly state the company’s name, the payment amount, the payment date, and information on how to cancel should you wish to do so.
You will also get a receipt (again with cancellation instructions) at the end of every month of membership, or whatever period of time your subscription applies for, meaning that you can more easily keep track of your payments, rather than being unpleasantly surprised when you check your bank statement and find those monthly renewals have added up big-time. Particularly if they suddenly increase, like Netflix’s have recently.
If you already have a Mastercard card, then go forth and apply for free trials with aplomb. If you don’t, then let’s hope they take a leaf out of its book and implement similar rules soon.