3 Precautions to Follow When Taking Advantage of Free Trial Offers

A free trial sounds like an excellent way to try a mobile app, software, product or paid program without having to pay upfront. However, it's important to understand the terms and conditions of the offer before clicking that sign-up button. Otherwise, you may find yourself paying for a product or service you won't use or have not budgeted for. Keep these tips in mind when utilizing a free trial offer.

1. Read the Fine Print

Before you sign up for a free trial, make sure you read the fine print of the terms and conditions. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for unscrupulous companies to bury essential information so it's hard for consumers to locate.

Sometimes, signing up to receive a free product also signs you up for an additional paid supply of the product. For example, requesting a free bottle of vitamins might sign you up to receive an additional month's worth of vitamins. Your "free" product might come with exorbitant shipping and handling charges.

Or, you may only have a short period (two weeks or less) to cancel the product or service before you're charged for it. Know exactly what you're signing up for before providing a company with your financial information.

2. Make a Reminder of the Cancellation Date

If you decide to forge ahead with a free trial, make sure to note the date and time you have to cancel to avoid being charged. Set a timer or alarm that reminds you the free trial period is expiring.

Should you miss this date, you'll be left with few options for getting your money back. You can't dispute a legitimate charge with your financial institution, and many companies who offer free trials are reluctant to issue refunds.

A company might continue to charge you after you've canceled the service. In this case, you have a better chance of procuring a refund. Always save any evidence of your cancellation and ask the company to provide written proof you canceled the service.

3. Stick with Reputable Companies

Free trials from reputable companies are a practical way to try their service. Reputable companies clearly disclose the terms of the trial and make it easy for you to cancel the service.

Avoid signing up with companies you've never heard of or use fake celebrity endorsements. Stay away from businesses that don't provide clear directions for canceling their service.

Do a little internet research on the company before agreeing to a free trial to learn more about the experiences of past customers. The Better Business Bureau's scam tracker is another tool that can help you determine if a company is legit.

To learn more about creating a budget or saving money for products you enjoy after the free trial, contact CCCU at 702-228-2228 or check out our financial wellness resources.