Recurring monthly charges on your credit card can be a nightmare. While most companies are legitimate and willing to help cancel your payments when it's appropriate, any company might make an honest mistake. Worse, you may encounter a shadier organization that keeps charging you even after you've canceled the payments. Depending on the circumstances, you may have to take precautions or extra steps to make sure these payments are indeed canceled.
With more and more companies having an online presence, your account settings may already be available online. By visiting the website and logging in to your account, you may have the option to cancel recurring monthly payments without ever lifting the phone. The option to cancel can be cleverly concealed by some companies, but searching the help files and support forums may reveal the cancellation link. After canceling, keep a copy of the confirmation page so you have proof of cancellation to help you with any subsequent disputes.
Calling the Company
Some companies require cancellation by phone, although calling the company is a good idea even if you've canceled online because it gives you a chance to confirm the cancellation. Be prepared to give the representative any account numbers or billing amounts. Often, representatives are instructed to try to talk you out of canceling; if your mind is made up, you need to stand your ground by politely insisting they cancel. If you have the means to record the call, doing so gives you proof of cancellation, but check local laws to verify the legality of recording calls in your area. If the representative refuses to cancel or you have doubts about whether the cancellation was really completed properly, ask for the mailing address where you should send cancellation requests.
Mailing a Letter
If all else fails, you can send your cancellation request via certified mail -- you can also do this to confirm a cancellation you made online or by phone if you have any doubts with regard to whether it was done. By using certified mail, you have proof that you sent the request. If this is a follow-up to a phone call, detail the previous conversation and confirm the representative's agreement to cancel. If this is an initial cancellation request, politely direct them to cancel in clear, authoritative language, so that there is no doubt about what you want them to do. Be sure to give them any information they need to comply with your request, such as your account number. Keep a copy of this letter and the certified mail receipt for your records.
Canceling Through the Credit Card
The bank issuing your credit card can often refuse automatic, recurring payments if you request them to do so. However, if you've authorized recurring payments through a vendor, stopping payments through your credit card does not cancel your obligation to pay. Therefore, always cancel through the vendor first and use a credit card block to protect against subsequent charges. When calling your credit card company, be prepared to offer your account number, billing amounts and billing dates. If you've had a problem canceling through the vendor, the credit card company will often want to know some information about when and how you contacted the vendor and what occurred.
- ConsumerFinance.gov: How do I Stop Automatic Payments From my Bank Account?
- Chargify: Fighting Back: 10 Ways To Prevent Recurring Billing Chargebacks
- Federal Trade Commission: Lost or Stolen Credit, ATM, and Debit Cards
- Investopedia: Fair Credit Billing Act - FCBA
- Bankrate: 7 Tips for Winning a Credit Card Dispute
C. Taylor embarked on a professional writing career in 2009 and frequently writes about technology, science, business, finance, martial arts and the great outdoors. He writes for both online and offline publications, including the Journal of Asian Martial Arts, Samsung, Radio Shack, Motley Fool, Chron, Synonym and more. He received a Master of Science degree in wildlife biology from Clemson University and a Bachelor of Arts in biological sciences at College of Charleston. He also holds minors in statistics, physics and visual arts.