ONLINE SHOPPERS, MEDIA consumers, and app lovers are increasingly sucked into the world of recurring payments. On the bright side, subscription services offer convenience. They also establish a relationship between the company making a product and the person buying it; if you’re on the buying side, it means paying only as long as something is valuable to you. Plus, subscriptions often come bundled with perks. (Like, for example, this publication. You should subscribe!)
But they can also add up in a serious way, leaving your wallet lighter each month. Ever signed up for a free trial, then realized you missed the fine print and have been paying a monthly fee for something you don’t need or use? I recently discovered, for example, that I was paying $15 per month for HBO through Amazon’s Prime Video channels, even though HBO was already a part of my cable package. How did this happen? I likely opted in as part of the setup process of an Amazon device. Once I poked around in my account settings, I realized I was paying needlessly for other stuff too.
Now is the perfect time to evaluate your subscription services. Free up some extra holiday cash, and liberate your budget before the new year.App Check
Apple has pushed app subscriptions for the past couple years, even offering a sweeter revenue share to app makers who keep subscribers for a year or longer. But Apple has also made it ridiculously difficult to find a list of apps you’re subscribed to if you’d like to unsubscribe.ADVERTISEMENT
If you’ve decided that the coloring book app you subscribed to a while ago is no longer worth $5 per week or $10 per month, here’s what to do: Go into your iPhone’s settings and scroll down to iTunes & App Store. Tap on that, then tap on your Apple ID at the top of the screen. Hit “View Apple ID.” Scroll down to “Subscriptions,” the seventh option on the page. Click on each subscription listed there, and a “Cancel Subscription” option will be there.
Google’s app subscriptions can be found in a much more obvious place. If you’re on an Android phone, open the Google Play app. If you have more than one Google account, check to make sure you’re in the right one. Tap on the menu, then tap “Subscriptions.” Select the subscriptions you want to cancel.
You can also apply restrictions at the OS level of your phone to prevent you (or your child) from making in-app purchases, which can add up very quickly. On iOS, this is located within Screen Time, under Content & Privacy Restrictions. On Android, go into Play Store settings and require a passcode or fingerprint for any purchases.Prime Time
Amazon’s subscription services extend well beyond paying $119 per year for fast and “free” shipping. There’s also Subscribe & Save, Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Music, Kindle Unlimited, Audible, and more, if you can believe it. Not only did I recently discover that I was paying for HBO’s streaming service through my Amazon account, but I also learned I had been paying for Kindle Unlimited ($9.99 per month), likely because I had signed up for a 30-day trial at some point. That’s $25 per month for services I didn’t need.
To check your Amazon subscriptions, log into your Amazon account and head to Account & Lists. From there, navigate to Memberships & Subscriptions. Use the drop-down tool to check out your Active Subscriptions, as well as your Cancelled and Expired Subscriptions. Choose the Active Subscription you want to cancel and cancel it
Did you subscribe to an app through your iPhone or iPad? Maybe it was a free trial subscription that requires a monthly fee to continue. It could be one of Apple’s own services, like Apple Music or Apple Arcade, or a third-party app like a password manager and music-streaming service.
If you use the service on your Apple device, you can unsubscribe there. That sounds convenient, but how does it work? Here’s how to cancel a subscription from your iPhone, iPad, or computer.
Unsubscribe on iPhone or iPad
To view and cancel subscriptions from your iPhone or iPad (or iPod touch), navigate to Settings > [your name] > iTunes & App Store. Tap your Apple ID. From the pop-up window, tap the link to View Apple ID. Enter your password or sign in with Touch ID or Face ID.
Choose a Subscription
At the Account Settings screen, tap the entry for Subscriptions. Here, you can view your active and expired subscriptions. Tap an active subscription you want to cancel, then tap Cancel Subscription (or Cancel Free Trial). Tap Confirm and you’re done. A service you are already subscribed to will remain active until the end of that billing cycle.
If you’re still on a free trial, the account may close right away. If you have a free or discounted trial subscription, make sure you cancel it at least 24 hours before the trial ends. Otherwise, the subscription may renew automatically before the cancellation is processed.
Resubscribe on iPhone and iPad
If you change your mind about a subscription before or after the expiration date, tap the subscription you want to bring back and select a payment option. If the app offers multiple subscription options, choose the one you want to pay. Confirm your changes and re-subscribe.
When you subscribe to an app, Apple generates a random Subscriber ID unique to you and the developer. If you cancel your subscription for an app and don’t resubscribe within 180 days, your Subscriber ID is reset.
Unsubscribe in iPhone App Store
You can also cancel a subscription by going through the App Store. On your mobile device, open the App Store app. Tap your profile icon on the upper-right. At your account page, tap Subscriptions, then select the active subscription you want to cancel.
Tap the link to Cancel Subscription and confirm your decision to cancel it. The subscription will then be cancelled, and your access will be revoked at the end of that billing cycle. If you wish to resubscribe, the service will remain listed with the different subscription options visible.
Cancel Apple Music
If you’re cancelling Apple Music, you can do so via the Apple Music app. Open Apple Music on your device. Tap the For You icon and then tap the profile icon in the upper right. At the Account page, tap Manage Subscription. You can then cancel or modify the subscription at the Edit Subscription page.
Unsubscribe in iTunes
If you’re on a Windows computer or have yet to update to Catalina on Mac, you can also cancel subscriptions in iTunes. Open the app, then click Account > View My Account and sign in with your Apple ID if you’re not already signed in. Scroll to the bottom of the Account Information screen to the Settings section. Click on the Manage link next to Subscriptions.
Cancel Subscription in iTunes
At the Subscriptions window, click on the Edit link next to the subscription you want to cancel. Click on the Cancel Subscription button, then confirm the cancellation. Your subscription stays in effect until the expiration date. If you change your mind, return to the Edit Subscription screen for the subscription. Click on the button to subscribe.
Unsubscribe in Catalina
If you’re running macOS Catalina, you can cancel a subscription in System Preferences. Click the Apple ID icon, then click Media & Purchases and choose the Manage button next to Subscriptions.
Cancel Subscription in Catalina
At the Subscriptions window, find the subscription you wish to cancel and click on the Edit link next to it. Click on the Cancel Subscription button. Confirm the cancellation and then click Done.
Unsubscribe in Mac App Store
On a Mac, you can also go through the App Store to cancel and otherwise manage an app subscription. Open the App Store and click on your account name in the lower-left corner of the window.
At your Account window, click on the View Information link. Scroll to the bottom of the Account Information screen to the Manage section. Click on the Manage link next to Subscriptions.
Cancel Subscription in App Store
Click on the Edit link next to the app subscription you want to cancel. At the next screen, click on the Cancel Subscription button and then confirm the cancellation.
Unsubscribe Through Email
One final option you have is through email. If you saved the confirmation email you received when you first subscribed to the app, you can get to the necessary subscription window even quicker. In the email, click on the link to review your subscription. The Edit Subscription window pops up where you can now review and cancel the subscription.
How to Manage Your Paid Subscriptions
With new subscription services popping up every day, now is a good time to get a handle on the ones you subscribe to. These apps can monitor what you’re spending and help you trim the fat.
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Keep in mind that your Amazon Prime membership has a section all of its own, so you can’t manage it under Memberships & Subscriptions. Amazon also has an annoying policy where you can’t simply downgrade a service; you’ll have to cancel your current subscription and re-subscribe if you decide you want to go with a different or less expensive plan.Play the Game Right
Amazon’s Memberships & Subscriptions section isn’t the only place you should check for services that may have slipped through the cracks. You’ll also want to check your Games and Software Library, which can be found by going to Your Account and navigating to the Digital Content and Devices box.
Facebook also maintains subscriptions for apps and games, so you’ll want to dig through Facebook’s settings to see if you’re being charged for any games you’re no longer playing. From the home page, navigate to Settings from the tiny drop-down icon or from the notification bell. From there, go to Payments. You can deactivate any subscriptions for games under “Subscriptions.”Clouded Judgment
Cloud storage and productivity apps are arguably some of the most useful subscription services you’ll attach to your digital devices. But there might still be room to reevaluate your storage needs and save a few bucks in the process.
If you’re on iOS, go to settings, tap on the Apple ID section right at the top of your settings, and from there, go to iCloud. Under “Manage Storage” you’ll be able to change your cloud storage plan. Unfortunately the only option available beyond Apple’s 50-gigabyte and 200-gigabyte storage plans is a 2-terabyte plan for $9.99 per month. (Right now I’m using 226GB of my 2TB plan, which means I’m hesitant to downgrade but I’m not close to using 2TB.)
If you’re locked into Google’s services you’re probably using Google One, formerly known as Google Drive. On Android, open the Google One app, tap settings at the top, and select Cancel membership. To cancel a Google One subscription on iOS, see how to manage iOS app subscriptions in the first section of this story. To change your Google One plan from the desktop, go to your Google One home page, click on the settings wheel in the upper right, and select “Change storage plan” or “Cancel membership.”
You can easily switch up or downgrade your Microsoft OneDrive and Office 365 plan here. But again, cloud-based services like these are probably something you use every day, and that you might get roped into using again, so consider these carefully before you downgrade.An App for That
If this all sounds like a lot of work, consider a service like Truebill or Trim, which can identify all the subscription services you’re paying for. These can be helpful in spotting other kinds of subscriptions you’ve forogtten about, like an ancient gym membership. Other apps, like Clarity Money, track recurring payments and flag those you might wish to cancel, whether a cable bill or a Birchbox subscription.
Sometimes, though, going old-school is actually the best way to save a few bucks. Print out your last six months of expenditures, grab a highlighter, settle in, and reap the rewards.