These days, with the constant threat of scammers and hackers, it’s more important than ever to watch every charge on your credit card bill.
I went online to look at my credit card bill and make a payment and noticed something strange. A certain subscription-based service had charged me a little more than $60.
But I thought I’d just paid that amount a couple of months earlier. Sure enough, back in April, they’d charged my credit card the same fee.
I called the company and inquired about the subscription. At some point, when the “promotional offer” ended, I’d automatically been switched to full price. That meant I went from paying about $6 per month to more than $20. That’s more than triple the amount for a service I don’t use that often over the course of my day.
It’s one of those services that’s nice to have but definitely not a must-have.
When they told me of the price hike, I demanded they cancel my subscription immediately.
Of course, I knew what was happening next.
The operator told me she’d transfer me to someone who could process my account cancellation. She transferred me to someone who instead offered me another promotional offer.
This time around, the promotional offer was actually even less than I’d paid previously and for a year rather than for five or six months.
Of course, I asked what’d happen at the end of the year. She told me the price would return to that $20+-per-month rate. I told her she could go ahead and plan on me requesting cancellation at that time. I will never pay that much for that service.
I resent the little game they insist on making me play every time my subscription ends. If the can afford to give me a “promotional rate” year after year, they could just set that as the price.
There’s a good reason they won’t.
This brings me back to the original topic. How often do you check — really check — your credit card bill?
If I hadn’t actually stopped to look at the charges when I was making the payment, I might not have noticed the difference. That would be especially true if I hadn’t recently paid off that card and was much more aware of what the balance should be.
But because I knew how much the balance ought to be, I was suspicious when it was higher than I expected.
Your credit card bill will list all of your charges. Too often, I think, people gloss over the details and look for the minimum payment due and shoot for that. Even those who pay off their credit cards every month sometimes just pay the balance without thinking about it.
And let’s be honest: credit card companies make it easy to miss details by offering the option of recurring payments. If you “set it and forget it,” to borrow a phrase from an infomercial, you may not notice those surprise charges. Even worse, if you set your payment to cover the full balance and surprise charges have appeared, you might end up with an overdrawn checking account.
So my best advice is simple: check your credit card bill every month. Pay attention to each charge.
In our busy world, it’s far too easy to miss something important.