There have been many free trials lately due to #STAYHOME from the COVID-19 outbreak. These businesses are offering their services for free in hopes that you will become a paying customer at the end of the free trial. There is nothing wrong with free trials, and I sign up for many of them. In the end, I decide if the service they provide is worth paying for, or I cancel the service.
Some of the problems with signing up for trials is having to give out your email address. Once you hand over an email address, you will begin to receive spam trying to sell you on their product, future products, and even partner products. This can be overwhelming, and get annoying. Emails get lost in your inbox, and it is hard to remember to cancel the service before the trial is up. I have a good process that works well for me so that I can enjoy these free trials without all the junk that comes along with it.
1. Protect your email address
First, I sign up for these trial services using an email masking service. These services allow you to create a unique email address for every account that will then forward to your main inbox. You can later go back and deactivate those email addresses to stop receiving mail. This is better than simply unsubscribing, because if the service ends up sharing your email address with third parties, then you will begin receiving email from many other domains, and will have to try and stay on top of unsubscribing constantly.
My top email masking services are:
2. Protect your credit card number
Next, if you need to add a credit card number in order to start the free trial, you want to protect your real card number. It is not a good idea to just hand this information out to all sorts of services for them to use and abuse or sell. Also, if there is a data breach, then your credit card info can be sold on the black market to criminals. The best way to protect yourself and still partake in these trials is to use a credit card masking service. Just like email, there are services that provide unique card numbers for every account that redirect charges back to your main card. You can set limits such as monthly, yearly, or one time limits, name the card based on the merchant, and turn on or off the card at any time. If your information is stolen or abused, simply turn off the card.
My top card masking services:
3. Remember to cancel your trial on time
Finally, you need to remember to cancel your free trial prior to the expiration date otherwise they will try and charge you for their service. Even if you deactivate your card, they will still try to bill you for the service. The best way to do this is to use your favorite app or software that will allow you to set reminders. I like to use Todoist.com for all my reminders. Once I have signed up for the trial, I add a new task to my Todoist app reminding me to cancel the service. I usually do a few days prior to give myself some time just in case. I set the priority to “P1” so that it shows up as red on my list. This allows me to forget about it until it is time to cancel. I will receive a notification on my phone when the time comes and I can even have a link to the website so that I can make the process quick and painless.