How To Tame Those Auto-Renewal Subscriptions

I can’t be the only one who does this:

  1. I hear about a new (or new-to-me) genealogy site…or an existing one that appears to have a record I want.
  2. I buy a subscription, vowing to cancel the site sucks or I don’t need it anymore.
  3. I forget that I even have a subscription to that website.  A year goes by.  The subscription auto-renews.
  4. I become cranky (well, crankier than usual) when I realize that I spent money on a site I don’t use.

I’ve gotten more disciplined about tracking these things, but my system isn’t perfect.  While looking for something else on my credit card company’s website, though, I found a solution:  Virtual Account Numbers.  Your credit card company assigns you a virtual credit card number that is different from the one you normally use.  You can specify how long it’s good for and how much it’s worth.  Then you order your subscription using this account number (which looks just like a regular account number—whoever you’re buying from won’t know the difference).  If you set it up to expire well before your subscription auto-renews…well, it won’t.  The site you’ve subscribed to will treat it just like any other expired credit card number, and they’ll contact you for a new one.  Then you can decide whether you want to give them one or not.

These seem to be designed for people who are nervous about shopping online, but I think it’s handy for this as well.  I’m not sure if all credit card companies offer it, but both of mine do.  Citi calls them “Virtual Account Numbers,” and Bank of America has them listed under “ShopSafe.”

Cool, huh?

Photo by Andres Rueda

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