How To Avoid Accidentally Paying For A Free Trial

avoid wasting money with online trials

Ugh! This is my absolute biggest pet hate. I despise being lured into trying out a new service online with a free trial only to have them ask me for my card details. I totally understand the idea behind it is removing that barrier to continuing after your trial. I do get it. But the truth is people often take trials to overcome an immediate problem. They also often forget and end up paying for a month or two before seeing that charge coming out of their bank. Thankfully this hasn’t happened to me in a long time because of these two simple steps.

Why Are People Getting Free Trials?

People are trialling more online services to have some fun in isolation. Take Kahoot for example. Kahoot is something used in a lot of offices and schools for learning. A central quizmaster organises a quiz and can have everyone else join in, using their phone to answer questions. It’s cool! It’s also been popular during isolation, as families host quizzes over Zoom. Naturally, this leads to people getting free trials when it’s their time to host.

When it was my turn I used these two steps to avoid accidentally paying for the full service.

Use Revolut’s Virtual Cards

I’ve been harping on about Revolut for quite some time. The digital-only bank recently announced that they had over one million customers in Ireland and also launched Revolut Junior, a bank account for kids. One of Revolut’s largely under-used and brilliant features is their virtual cards.

What Are Revolut Virtual Cards?

Virtual cards are brilliant when shopping online. Staying safe online is important, especially when it comes to your hard-earned money. To avoid using your main Revolut card, the physical one in your wallet, you can create a virtual card. The benefit here is that in the event your virtual card details get leaked online, as has happened this week with EasyJet, you don’t have to replace your physical card.

Avoid Accidentally Paying For Trials With Virtual Cards

Virtual cards can also be easily frozen and you can make as many ask you like. In Revolut, I have a card which I use purely for free trials. The card is nearly always frozen. This means it cannot process payments. When I signed up for Kahoot, they asked for my card details. I entered these virtual card details and unfroze that card in my Revolut app. As soon as Kahoot verified the card was active and real, I refroze it. Now in the event I forget to cancel my trial, Kahoot may try to take a payment but it won’t be processed by Revolut.

If, during the trial, you find that you really do like the service and want to keep it update your card details. I would recommend against unfreezing your card because there’s a good chance there somewhere in the past you’ve done this already.

Next up. Step two.

Cancel Your Trial Immediately

This doesn’t always work but when the service allows it, you are guaranteed not to pay a penny for your trial. After signing up for Kahoot with my virtual card and confirming that everything was working, I cancelled my membership. Your first reaction might be “but I want to use the service”. Most services will allow you to immediately cancel your trial, but complete the remainder of the trial period. After all, that was the agreement. In this case, with Kahoot, I had a seven-day trial. After cancelling, the trial was still active. The difference was that once the trial completed, Kahoot already knew that I didn’t want the service.

If you do want to continue with the service, you can usually easily reactivate too.

If you try either of these tips the next time you’re signing up for a trial, drop a comment below to let us know how you got on!