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Forgot To Cancel a Subscription and Want a Refund? Here’s What You Need To Know

Ashley Ferraro, Product
Mar 12, 2024
 Min Read
Manage Your Subscription Payments With Virtual Cards

As the subscription model becomes more prevalent and the number of subscriptions per person increases, consumers need to be more vigilant about their spending. In a Forbes survey from 2023, 50% of participants reported that they’d forgotten to cancel a subscription after a free trial, and 47% admitted to paying for a subscription they didn’t use.

Failing to cancel in time usually means you won’t get your money back, but that’s not always true. Some companies may decide to issue a partial or full refund in certain cases, especially if you request it sooner rather than later.

If you forgot to cancel a subscription and want a refund for the lost sum, refer to this article for guidance. It’ll provide you with advice for navigating the refund process. You’ll also learn some helpful tips on how to protect yourself from unexpected subscription expenses in the future.

Keep in mind that the content in this article is valid as of January 2024. Please visit the merchant’s official website or contact customer support for the most recent and specific information.

A photo of a woman using a computer with her hand over her face
Source: Vasilis Caravitis

What To Do if You Forgot To Cancel a Subscription

Once you realize that you’ve failed to end a subscription or free trial in time, you should initiate the cancellation process immediately. Your eligibility for a refund in case you forgot to cancel a subscription depends on the company that’s billing you. You can check the company’s refund policy by:

  • Browsing help center articles
  • Reading your contract or the terms of service
  • Contacting customer support

If you’re billed for the subscription through a third party, such as Apple, Google, or Amazon, refer to that company’s policy. 

Some companies may offer a cooling-off period, allowing you to get a refund if you request it a few days after the subscription renewal. In general, subscription charges are non-refundable, but the company may make an exception on a case-by-case basis. For example, some Apple users claimed that they were able to get refunded for a subscription they forgot to cancel. Other users suggest that canceling and requesting a refund soon after renewal may increase your chances of getting your money back. Particular sources even state that Apple provides the option “I didn’t intend to renew a subscription(s)” when you’re selecting a reason for your refund request. 

However, refunds are never guaranteed. The company reserves the right to issue or refuse refunds at their discretion. It’s best to get in touch with customer support to get case-specific information.

How To Ask for a Refund

To request a refund in case you accidentally forgot to cancel a subscription, you should fill out the form on the official website or contact customer support through one of the available means. In the latter case, make sure to provide all the relevant information, which may include:

  • Personal information, such as your name, phone number, and email address
  • Information about your subscription, such as the chosen plan and its start and end date
  • The reason for requesting a refund

It may take a few days or longer for the company to receive, process, and reach a decision about your refund request. In the case of some companies, such as Apple, you can check the status of your request online.

If the company refuses to refund you in full, you may be able to request a partial refund.

A close-up photo of a person holding a smartphone
Source: Ono Kosuki

What To Do in Case You Were Denied a Refund

If the company fails to respond or refuses to provide a refund, you can try disputing the charge with your credit card issuer. You may be able to do so via:

  • Phone support (the number is typically located at the back of your credit card or on your credit card statement)
  • Email
  • The banking app
  • Mail (the address can typically be found on the credit card statement)

You should know that forgetting to cancel a subscription may not be deemed a valid reason for requesting a chargeback. The option is intended to protect consumers in case of fraud, billing errors, and damaged or undelivered goods

If the merchant and the credit card issuer decline your refund request, there’s not much else you can do besides take measures to ensure you never forget to cancel a subscription again.

How To Stay Away From Unwanted Subscription Charges

Take the following steps to prevent unwelcome subscription costs in the future:

  1. Cancel immediately after signing up.
  2. Turn off auto-renewal.
  3. Set a reminder.
  4. Use a subscription management app.
  5. Sign up with virtual cards.

Cancel Immediately After Signing Up

Some companies may not notify you when your free trial or subscription period is about to expire. If you’ve provided your billing information when signing up, you’ll likely be charged automatically when the next subscription period starts.

The good news is—you can discontinue your subscription immediately after signing up and keep using the service until the end of the billing period in most cases. Keep in mind that this may not be true for free trials and that you may lose the benefits as soon as you cancel. Before taking any steps, read the company’s Terms and Conditions so you know what to expect. 

Turn Off Auto-Renewal

If the company doesn’t allow you to cancel immediately without losing access to your subscription, try looking for an option to turn off auto-renewal. Once you deactivate auto-renewal, you won’t be billed automatically when the free trial or billing period is up. You can then either pay manually to keep your subscription or cancel it if you don’t want it anymore.

A photo of a person typing on a laptop keyboard
Source: Karolina Grabowska

Set a Reminder

In case the option to cancel immediately or turn off auto-renewal is unavailable, it’s advisable to set a reminder so you can end the subscription before it’s too late. You can set reminders using your calendar, planner, note-taking app, or any other tool on any device.

Make sure to set the reminder a few days before the scheduled payment date as the company needs time to process your request. 

Use a Subscription Management App

If you have multiple subscriptions, a subscription management app can help you keep track of them. This type of app typically sources information about your recurring payments from your financial accounts or statements, gathering and organizing it in one place for easier management. 

Many apps also come with additional features such as alerts for upcoming payments and price increases, spending trend analysis, and budget management. You may also be able to get the app to cancel subscriptions for you, usually if you pay extra or opt for a paid plan.

However, before signing up for a subscription management app, make sure it’s from a reputable company that employs high-level security measures. 

Sign Up for Subscriptions With Virtual Cards

Sometimes, a company may accidentally double-charge you, overcharge you, or charge you even after you’ve stopped the subscription successfully. While such situations are not common, and you can usually get your money back, it’s best to be proactive and protect yourself from accidental charges by using Privacy Virtual Cards to pay for future subscriptions. 

Virtual cards are linked to a real funding source but shield your financial details with random numbers when checking out. With virtual cards, you can protect your account against potential fraud, as well as enjoy additional features that allow you to control your online spending—especially if you choose a comprehensive virtual card provider such as Privacy

A photo of a person using a laptop while holding a payment card
Source: Kindel Media

How To Keep Your Subscription Spending in Check With Privacy Virtual Cards

Privacy Virtual Cards allow you to transact online without worrying about unwelcome charges or misuse in case your sensitive information becomes exposed in a data breach. You only need to sign up for Privacy and provide your debit card or bank account information, and you’ll be able to generate multiple virtual cards quickly and effortlessly. 

Learn about the two types of Privacy Cards in the following table:

Single-Use Card Merchant-Locked Card
  • Closes minutes after you complete the first purchase

  • Works best for one-off payments and transactions with new merchants you haven’t bought from before

  • “Locks” to the first merchant you purchase from

  • Is ideal for your favorite merchants and recurring payments, including subscription services like Adobe, NordVPN, Philo, and LinkedIn Premium

Privacy Cards include additional features to help you manage subscription expenses:

  1. Spending limits—You can set a spending limit on your virtual card, and Privacy will block all exceeding charges. That way, merchants won’t be able to bill you more than the agreed sum.
  2. Card pausing/closing—If you decide to cancel a subscription, you can close or pause the card you used to pay for it, and Privacy will decline all future charges. This can be your backup in case the merchant accidentally charges you during or after the cancellation process.

Privacy—Payments and Card Management Made Easy

You can generate, use, and manage your Privacy Cards with ease thanks to the browser extension and mobile app.

The Privacy Browser Extension auto-populates virtual card numbers at checkout, enabling fast and seamless payments. It’s available for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge, as well as Safari iOS if you’re on an iPhone or iPad. With the Privacy mobile app for Android and iOS, you can create and manage your virtual cards on the go.

Get To Know the Privacy Signup Process

To start using Privacy and take control of your spending, follow the steps listed below:

  1. Create an account
  2. Enter the information needed to verify your identity
  3. Link a bank account or debit card
  4. Request your virtual cards

Privacy gives you three plans to choose from—discover their prices and benefits in the table below:

Plan Price Benefits
Personal Free for domestic transactions
  • 12 virtual cards a month

  • All card controls

  • Access to the browser extension and mobile app

Pro  $10/month
  • 36 virtual cards a month

  • Everything in Personal

  • No foreign transaction fees

  • Priority support

  • 1% cashback on eligible purchases (up to $4,500 a month)

  • Ability to mask transaction info on statements

Premium $25/month
  • 60 virtual cards a month

  • Everything in Pro

  • Dedicated account management

Privacy — Seamless & Secure Online Card Payments
Checkout securely online by creating unique virtual card numbers for every purchase. Avoid data breaches, unwanted charges, and stolen credit card numbers.
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