The One Trick Everyone Needs for Canceling Free Trials

Senior Editor
Updated

Thank heavens for free trial periods. They let you try out a service, see if it's to your liking and make an informed decision about whether that's a recurring charge you're happy to pay.

But trial periods have a downside, too: Sometimes, you forget when they're about to end, and that recurring charge winds up on your credit card bill whether you want to pay it or not.

Fortunately, you don't have to depend entirely on your unreliable memory to put an end to any free trial before the billing cycle kicks in. There's a trick I use anytime I sign up for a free trial, and it's right there on my smartphone.

Both Android and iOS devices are equipped with reminder tools that are easily accessible via digital assistants. When I sign up for a free trial, I immediately create a reminder on my phone — and I don't have to use anything other than my voice.

Creating a reminder on an iPhone

For this example, let's say I'm signing up for Apple's News+ service, the $9.99-a-month subscription that provides access to 300-plus magazines along with The Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times. News+ offers a 30-day free trial, so once I've signed up, I'm going to immediately create a reminder to cancel my trial 25 days from now.

That doesn't necessarily mean I will cancel the service; perhaps I'll find I enjoy News+ and want to keep using it. But the reminder provides me with the chance to review that decision — and more importantly, avoid getting charged for something I want to cancel. And setting the reminder for a few days before the trial ends builds in a little cushion so that the deadline doesn't sneak up on me.

On the iPhone or iPad, creating a reminder is as simple as asking Siri to do it, especially if you've enabled the "Hey, Siri" feature, which lets you command iOS's built-in assistant without even touching the phone.

Just say, "Hey, Siri, remind me to cancel Apple News Plus in 25 days." Siri will create a reminder in iOS 12's Reminders app that will prompt you to deal with your subscription on the designated date.

Sometimes, Siri can be a little hard of hearing. (On my iPhone SE, for example, Siri wanted to create a reminder to cancel Apple Music in 25 days. Wrong subscription service, Siri!) Or maybe you prefer to take a more hands-on approach and create the reminder yourself. Just go to the Reminders app — it comes preinstalled on every iOS device — and get to work.

  1. Launch Reminders.
  2. Hit the Plus button to create a reminder and give it a title.
  3. Tap the "i" button next to the reminder to assign a specific date and time using the scroll wheel.
  4. If you want, you can even set a priority on the reminder.

Whether you use Siri or the Reminder app itself, you won't have to worry about your free trial ending and catching you off guard.

Creating a reminder on an Android device

Just as Siri can do all the heavy lifting for you in creating reminders on an iPhone, the Google Assistant on your Android device is more than capable of reminding you when your free trials are about to expire. Here's how to put the Google Assistant to work.

  1. Launch the Assistant and ask it to remind you to cancel whatever free trial you've signed up for. (In this scenario, let's pretend I'm trying out Sling TV, which has a seven-day trial period.)
  2. If you don't specify when you want to be reminded, the Google Assistant will prompt you to provide a date. A notification will appear at the appropriate time.
  3. You can access your reminders from the Assistant. Tap View All Reminders after you've created a reminder, or ask the assistant to "Show me my reminders for this week" to see a list of upcoming reminders.

Credit: Tom's Guide