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Don’t forget to cancel – how subscriptions cost Brits £338m a month

Four in ten Brits continue to pay for a subscription they’re not using.

You sign up with the best intentions. You’ll get fit at the gym or save money by streaming films instead of going out. You might even be tempted in by a free trial.

A few months later you’re still paying for the subscription but are you using it?

Two fifths (42%) of Brits continue to pay for a service they don’t use, according to a survey by Topcashback. Gym memberships are the biggest offenders (55%), followed by magazine or newspaper subscriptions (22%) and credit report services (22%).

The survey also found almost half (44%) of us have forgotten to cancel before a free trial ended, while a quarter of us have carried on paying for a subscription without realising the price had gone up.

It shows just how easy it is to waste money – and not even know you’re doing it. We’ve four simple steps to make sure you are on top of your spending and not wasting money on unused subscriptions.

1. Audit your bank statement

Gather together your most recent bank and credit card statements and take a look at what you’ve been buying. If you notice a regular payment, check if it’s something you regularly use. If not, it could be worth cutting back.

If you can go back a year, you might also pick up on annual payments that auto-renew like travel insurance.

2. See how much you waste on unused subscriptions

The Money Advice Service have a new Quick Cash Finder tool which helps you calculate just how much you would save by cancelling a service.

Enter in the cost of your music streaming or club membership and you might be surprised how much it costs you in a year.

3. Find out when the subscription ends

Any subscriptions you’ve signed up to will have a renewal date. Find it and make sure you put a note in your diary so you know to cancel. For annual contracts, you should ideally do this five weeks before to avoid missing the notice period (often 30 days).

Even better, if you can cancel the subscription as soon as you sign up, it’ll mean you definitely won’t forget later in the year. If you want to carry it on, then it’s easy enough to sign up again.

4. Cancel what you don’t need

If you don’t use it, don’t pay for it. Phone, email or write to the provider and get the subscription cancelled. At times this can be tricky and frustrating but persevere!

Watch out for any penalties if you try to leave early, but also ask if you can get a refund – especially with magazine subscriptions.

It’s worth keeping an eye out for retention deals. To keep your business you might be offered another month at a reduced price. That’s great… as long as you use it. Otherwise you’re still paying, albeit less, for something you don’t need.


Do you pay for things you don’t use? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • Barry Wood / 4 January

    I am at present going through the complaints procedure with Great British Discounts following removing monies from my Bank Account over a period of 6 months.
    They inform me its a result of purchasing a product from Sports Direct as they state (a partner) and passing on personal information to them and I must have accepted their conditions which I strongly refute.
    Fortunately my Bank has refunded the cost and I am now going to seek Legal advise.
    Please be aware of these scams as it will cost you money.

  • Larry / 18 November 2015

    Briefly the scammers are on top of this I gave my bank details for postage of a free sample next thing bank pays out two hundred £s I contacted bank who stated they had to pay when money was still in abeyance without bank help scammers couldn't operate, banks look after them not their customers, disgusting carry on ..

  • RaybanMonster / 30 August 2015

    Yes I've just been through this process before I read this. The biggest culprit was Gym membership ( I am an amateur Triathlete and trust me you don't need it, although I do miss a sauna but I'm off to local council sport centre at much reduced cost for that ) saving £ 800pa

    Next up sky services, cut it back from £64 to £32. Culprit was films, so I'm going Amazon / Netflix for better on demand service saving £ 360pa

  • Sylvia / 29 June 2015

    I'm a member of the AA.I have broke down cover it covers Road site cover. Homestead driving to Europe if my car broke down anywhere I will have it repeated. That's covers me for the hole year. The thing is I never. Driver to this places. An it is very expensive. I need your help.

  • Carlie / 31 May 2015

    When I read Rob Parsons book The Money Secret these things were explained. I cancelled insurance cover on appliances, save the subscription instead and when my television stopped working I was able to buy a new one from my savings.

  • Janet Peare / 31 May 2015

    Thank you for the good advice.

    I've already identified one annual subscription I can do without saving £33 pa. Now trawling my bank account looking for further such savings.

    OK it's only a saving of 63p per week but I'm sure I can spend £33 a year on something I will use to better effect.

  • Floortje Bellefleur / 23 May 2015

    How about yearly insurance, like travel insurance. or bike insurance? They renew every year as well, if you don't cancel.

  • John Talbot / 22 May 2015

    Great British Discounts have ties with Sports Direct.
    Be careful because when you order from Sports Direct you may unwittingly subscribe to Great British Discounts who will on a monthly basis take money from your account by means of a direct debit. Unless you spot it they will continue taking your money and give you nothing in return. You receive no communication from them whatsoever. They refuse to give any refunds.

  • aysha / 21 May 2015

    Hi i gt payed for somthing i didnt subscribe fr and for some reason my mobile account got 33 pounds charge i spoke say i clicked.on agree button.but i.knw 100% i didnt can u help