If you’re worried about bills in the year ahead, you are not alone. Saving cash is going to be a priority for us all in 2022. That’s why I’m so pleased to have had such a big response from readers to my recent money saving articles.
I’ve received loads of questions from you about cancelling subscriptions and claiming back cash. To prove the point, I recently went through my finances and saved over £1,000 by cancelling the things I don’t use or need. So here are my tips on how to save a packet!
How to get started
Lurking on your account are countless payments that you might have forgotten about or never authorised a business to take in the first place. Finding them isn’t as simple as it should be though.
My top tip is don’t just check your direct debits and standing orders. Most businesses debit you using a ‘continuous payment authority’ or CPA. These don’t show up on your regular payment list but can be used in just the same way to debit you on a regular basis monthly or annually.
Don’t just check your bank accounts. CPAs are loitering about on your credit card, on e-payment systems like PayPal or even on your mobile phone bill!
Subscriptions and membership services are by far the richest source for refunds and money saving. Millions of people sign up for everything from premium services on dating websites to online magazine subscriptions – and then promptly forget about them. What’s more, because these payments can easily be missed on your statements, you probably don’t realise how many regular subsctiptions you’re paying for.
Start by going back a year and one month through each card, account and bill, which will help you spot both monthly and annual payments. Cancelling is dead easy. You can usually do this through your bank or card provider. I’d email the business too though, if possible, so you have a record of the cancellation in case there’s a problem.
If you didn’t authorise these payments, weren’t told you were going to be debited or you think you’ve been scammed, your bank should cancel the debit right away – and you might even get a refund.
So how are these businesses debiting you without permission? You may have signed up to a free trial and forgotten to cancel or tried out a service, but you simply don’t use it. If you are suddenly being charged for poor value products you didn’t order – or you aren’t even getting anything for your money, it’s likely you’re paying a ‘subscription trap’. It’s hard to contact these businesses – they’re often scams or based abroad (or both). Just tell your bank to cancel and claim back your cash.
Some contracts have significant penalties for pulling out of mid-term with broadband and mobile phones being the biggest offenders. Insurance contracts also catch people by surprise as they are an annual contract where there’s one price each year that is split in to twelve chunks. No-one really gets why this is, but it does mean that you’ll have to pay a variable fee to bail early. Beat this by saving the renewal dates in your diary a month in advance so you’ve got time to shop around and jump ship.
However, if you’ve been overcharged by a business as a result of staying loyal, compare your current payments to what you’d be charged as a new customer. You may be able to claim back quite a bit of cash.
There are some services that we do regularly use – but for some reason we’ve ended up with paying multiple businesses for basically the same thing. The most common ones are cloud storage, anti-virus software, streaming services, obsolete insurance policies, apps and gaming services. You can save hundreds of pounds just by sticking to one service and cancelling the rest.
Martyn James is a leading consumer rights campaigner, TV and radio broadcaster and journalist.