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23 September 2022

Still being charged for a ‘free trial’? Here's how to cancel a recurring payment

Is your credit or debit card still being charged for a ‘free trial’? Try a chargeback.

The Banking Ombudsman, Nicola Sladden, has received “numerous complaints” from people frustrated their bank can’t cancel recurring payments from their credit or debit card.

Customers may have recurring card payments set up for a subscription to a streaming service, antivirus programme or free trial.

While a bank can cancel a direct debit from a bank account, it cannot cancel a recurring payment that comes off a credit or debit card.

The authority for recurring payments is handled through the card provider (usually Visa or Mastercard). It’s “notoriously difficult” to cancel the payment without the co-operation of the business being paid, Sladden said.

“The only way to cancel these payments is with the business providing the service. If it ignores the cancellation request, the bank can’t stop the payment – but it can recover it through a chargeback,” Sladden said.

A chargeback means a bank can reverse a payment if a seller has debited an account after the customer has cancelled the service.

Your bank may need evidence of the cancellation, so keep any correspondence you’ve had with the service provider. For more information, check out Credit card chargebacks.

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