This Tool Can Save You Hundreds on Recurring Costs

Happy woman holding hundred dollar bills
Photo by Dean Drobot / Shutterstock.com

Do you know the true costs of all your subscriptions? Most of us don’t!

We’re not just talking about Cosmopolitan, Better Homes and Gardens, People and your daily newspaper.

Typical households subscribe to at least one video streaming service like Netflix and Hulu, a music service, an internet service and cable TV. Throw in Amazon Prime, gaming such as PlayStation, cloud storage, home security, meal services, Dollar Shave Club, dating apps, Sirius satellite radio — and on and on — and the typical family’s monthly subscription bill tops $237 a month, according to a recent study.

No wonder it’s so easy to lose track, especially when you sign up for automatic payments through your credit card or checking account.

Here’s the good news: An app called Truebill can locate all of your subscriptions and easily cancel the ones you don’t want anymore.

How Truebill came to be

Yahya Mokhtarzada says he was so surprised to find he was paying $40 a month for in-flight Wi-Fi even when he wasn’t traveling that he created a program to find such recurring charges. It was so successful, he co-founded Truebill so others could save money too.

“We want to be a consumer utility,” Mokhtarzada says.

“A subscription audit is an important part of being financially healthy,” Truebill says.

“If someone hasn’t done a subscription audit, they don’t know how much they are losing each month.”

“One of the big disadvantages of automatic bill pay is that it dulls the senses,” the company said in a recent blog.

By the time people realize they don’t want [a service] anymore, it takes time for them to cancel it,” Larry Chiagouris, a marketing professor at the Lubin School of Business at Pace University in New York, told The Washington Post. “The real money is in the inertia.”

Truebill does more than competing budget-tracking apps.

Users who take advantage of Truebill’s features see their bills drop by over $60 a month, or $720 a year, the company says.

How it works

Link your checking and credit card accounts to Truebill, which uses bank-level 256-bit encryption to keep your information safe. Truebill uses bank-trusted Plaid, a system used by most personal finance apps, such as Venmo, Robinhood and Acorns, to securely communicate with more than 15,000 financial institutions across the U.S.

Once connected, Truebill tracks your bills and subscriptions and monitors for new charges and sneaky price increases, it says.

Truebill says it will categorize your expenses for you so you know easily where your money is going and what your largest and most frequent expenses are.

It allows you to create a monthly budget, save money for goals, cancel unwanted subscriptions with one click and get refunds.

You can let it negotiate cheaper rates for services like cable TV and wireless phones. Truebill reports success with examples such as canceling services like Audible or CBS All Access, getting outage credits from Comcast, lowering ADT Security bills and getting refunds on overdraft and late fees.

The cost

Truebill’s basic service is free.

With Truebill Premium service — $4.99 a month or just $35.99 a year — you can automate cancellations, create a complete budget and organize your finances the way you prefer with custom categories, automatically save money, allow Truebill to request refunds for overdraft or late fees on your behalf, get priority support including a live chat with customer advocates, and sync your accounts so you don’t have to wait for your bank to send new data.

With “Smart Savings,” a free feature offered to Premium users, you can create a savings goal, schedule automatic transfers from your checking account to an FDIC-insured account and withdraw your money any time, Truebill says.

With bill negotiation, Truebill works to get the best available rate for your service. It charges 40% of the first-year savings. If there aren’t any, there is no charge, it says, noting about an 85% success rate, with an average savings of $180 a year.

With outage protection, Truebill monitors your internet and cable service provider and automatically requests a refund for you for outage periods. If successful, Truebill charges 40% of the refunded amount. Otherwise, it’s free, it says. The average savings, it says, is $96 a year.

More than 1 million people have installed the Truebill app, and several hundred thousand use it to manage their finances, the company says.

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