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Smartphones & gadgets

Money-saving tip: See all the apps you’re paying for and cancel the ones you don’t use

Do you have ongoing subscriptions to streaming services like Hulu or Netflix? Chances are you do. Most of us use at least one streaming service for entertainment, whether for listening to music, podcasts or binge-old movies.

While subscription entertainment apps like these can help pass the time during the pandemic, they also come with ongoing charges that can cost a lot of money. You may not even realize how much you’re spending on these types of subscriptions since most will automatically charge your accounts each month. Tap or click to find out how to stream whatever you want and save.

Streaming services aren’t the only offenders draining your bank account, either. Pricey app subscriptions may also be costing you a boatload of cash each month, and you may not even realize you’re paying for them. If you’re worried about what you’re shelling out for iPhone and subscription apps, you can put a stop to the charges by completing the steps below.

1. Check with your app store

If you want to keep track of ongoing subscriptions, the easiest way is to check your app store. It’s easy to download an app with a free trial followed by a monthly subscription fee and forget that you did it.

Or, you may think that uninstalling an app will cancel a subscription, but it won’t. Uninstalling a subscription app won’t stop the monthly payments. You have to cancel the subscription to get the charges to stop.

If you don’t get unwanted apps canceled, those ongoing fees can quickly add up with $3 here and $5 there. The only way to know if you’re paying for unwanted subscription apps is to track your ongoing subscriptions. You should do this for all devices, including your iPhone and iPad.

To check what subscriptions you’re paying for in the App Store:

  1. Open the App Store app.
  2. Click the sign-in button or your name at the bottom of the sidebar.
  3. Click View Information at the top of the window.
  4. On the page that appears, scroll until you see Subscriptions, then click Manage.
  5. Click Edit next to the subscription that you want.
  6. Tap Cancel Subscription. (Or if you want to cancel a specific subscription but keep some others, tap Choose Individual Services.) If you don’t see Cancel, the subscription is already canceled and won’t renew.

2. Restrict in-app purchases

There are times when your kids or partner will sign up for ongoing subscriptions without you knowing it. This happens if you share devices or let your kids use your phone on occasion. It can also happen if you download an app and accidentally sign up for a subscription during the account creation process.

If you want to stop this from happening, you can take the time to restrict in-app purchases. If your apps are restricted, you won’t be banned from making purchases forever. You’ll just create a PIN code to allow purchases. That may seem like a hassle, but it will keep you and others from accidentally signing up for subscriptions or ongoing purchases in the apps you use.

To restrict in-app purchases on your iPhone or iPad:

  1. Go to Settings > Screen Time on your iPhone or iPad
  2. Tap Turn on Screen Time
  3. Tap Continue, and then choose This is My [device] or This is My Child’s [device]
  4. Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions and slide the toggle to the left to enable
  5. Tap iTunes & App Store Purchases
  6. Tap In-app Purchases and set to Don’t Allow

Related: Check your phone! iPhone apps with 3.5 million downloads are stealing money

3. Review your bank statements

Don’t just review your subscriptions in the App Store. Check your bank statements for unusual or ongoing charges that you don’t recognize. You may pinpoint a Hulu or Netflix subscription or a few app purchases that you forgot about.

You can get bank statements from your online bank portal, and it’s a good idea to look them over at least once a month. Print your statements out and go over the charges line by line. If you find something you want to cancel, contact the company right away to get the account closed. Otherwise, you may end up paying for another month of useless services due to cancellation terms related to your account.

4. Review your email

If you aren’t checking your email for receipts, you need to start now. It’s not uncommon for ongoing purchase receipts to land in your inbox, and they don’t always show up in your main email folder, either.

You may need to check your spam or trash folders, too. If you don’t, you may miss something important. It’s easy for email client filters to mistake auto-receipts as spam, so they could be kicking them into your junk folders automatically.

When you come across emailed receipts, use the contact information that’s included to cancel the subscriptions you don’t want. You can go directly to the website and log in to your account or cancel the subscription online or through the App Store.

5. Download an app designed to fight recurring payments

Want to be sure that you’re fighting the good fight against recurring payments? Download an app to help out. Tons of apps were created to help identify and cancel ongoing subscriptions for you. Doing this will keep you from overlooking anything.

Note, though, that you’ll have to give these apps access to your accounts as part of the setup. All of these apps are encrypted to protect your personal and login information, so it’s safe to do so.

Truebill is one of the better app options to help you cut down on unwanted recurring payments. It can even help lower your bills or reach savings goals since it offers other personal finance services, too. You can also use it to monitor ongoing payments, which will help you to identify any unwanted charges being made to your accounts.

Mint is another useful option — and it’s got a ton of handy finance features. The downside is that Mint won’t cancel subscriptions for you, but it does make it easier to monitor your bills, bank accounts and credit cards. That will help keep recurring charges from going unnoticed. Plus, if you use Mint to monitor your finances, you can check the recurring payments tab, which will help you identify any useless subscriptions.

6. Keep an eye on virtual payment apps

Once you’ve cleared out unwanted subscriptions via email and the App Store, you should take the time to check the virtual payment apps you use. You may have signed up for a subscription and paid for it via your PayPal account or Apple Pay. Those charges won’t show up on your bank statements, though. You’d have to check your PayPal account to find them.

Related: An easy way to slash your monthly charges

To keep track of all your subscriptions, be sure to regularly log in to your payment accounts and look for ongoing charges. Cancel any unwanted subscriptions you see. Once that’s done, you’ll need to check back on your accounts to make sure they were canceled. It’s not uncommon to find more charges after canceling a subscription. If you miss that step, you could be missing more automatic charges to your account.

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