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Don’t forget to cancel – are you wasting money on subscriptions?

There's no doubt that many of us have relied on subscriptions during the various lockdowns during the pandemic. From streaming services, to beauty boxes, to Beano for the kids (or us!). But now that things are moving back to normal, are you paying for things you don't use?

Though there are often savings to be made by committing to something rather than buying it each time you need it, we think it's also likely you're paying for a subscription you don't want or no longer need.

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

MoneyHelper has a Budget Planner tool which helps you calculate just where your money is going and 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.

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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  • Daniel Elvin / 17 June 2018

    If I am paying for a streaming service and I owe money because of no money in my account, will I get charged extra than the set monthly price?

  • Sarah / 22 February 2018

    I’ve discovered a auto renewal from 2012 for a magazine I bought as a gift , I’ve never been written to in the 6yrs to be made aware it wa due for renewal each year and if I wanted to terminate. Should I of legally been made aware?

  • Ann Britton / 23 October 2017

    I want to cancel this subcription as I have not ordered it. I can only think it is something my 8 yr old has set up. I will be cancelling the subcription. Sorry for any inconvience.

  • Paula / 4 October 2017

    I've had a response to the LinkedIn subscription cancellation query. I am told that they will refund which is a huge relief.

  • Paula / 3 October 2017

    I signed up for a month's free trial membership with LinkedIn which ended today. In order to sign up for this, I gave my card details with a view to cancel just before it expired. I didn't get round to doing this until today. I have hardly made use of the membership, even as a free option and so today when I tried to cancel it I found that the transaction of over £400 is pending. Basically they have already taken a years subscription in advance. According to my bank the money is theirs and they can't cancel the payment. The LinkedIn website makes it very difficult to communicate with them but I can see from their terms that this payment is non refundable. This does not seem fair even if they showed those terms before I signed up. I wasn't sent any reminder, I have no use for this subscription and no longer want it. So on what basis can they refuse to give me my money back? Surely they can't keep money for a service that I no longer need or wish to use? I eventually found a 'contact us' form so have written to them and am waiting on a response but I fear that they will stick rigidly to the contractual terms. I would love to know if there is any recourse. Any comments or advice would be most welcome.

  • Remi Lessore / 24 August 2017

    My friend forgot to cancel his martial arts club membership rolling direct debit for 5 months.
    Is he entitled to a refund?

  • Barry Wood / 4 January 2017

    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