Why You Need To Check Your PayPal Account for Automatic Payments

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Do you make online payments with your PayPal account?

You may be agreeing to recurring charges from your account without realizing it.

While many subscription services allow you to set up PayPal as a monthly payment option, there are other businesses that can gain automatic payment authorization after a seemingly standalone transaction.

As a result, you may want to check your account settings for potentially unwanted billing agreements.

And if you find some… Don’t worry! You likely haven’t agreed to let them have more money without you knowing. And there’s a fairly painless solution to eliminate the agreement moving forward.

In this article, I’ll walk you through what these automatic payments are, how to find out if it’s happening to you, why this authorization is acquired, and how you can revoke recurring charge privileges via PayPal’s website.

Table of Contents

What Is a PayPal Automatic Payment?

First, let’s look at how PayPal actually defines automatic payments.

According to PayPal: “An automatic payment, also known as a subscription, billing agreement, or recurring payment, authorizes a merchant to charge you without signing in to your PayPal account. This is something that sets up on your first checkout with the merchant. The terms of the authorization will be available in your PayPal account.”

Note that there are three different terms being used. Though they’re broadly classified as automatic payments, they’re not all treated the same in terms of the level of access you’re giving a business.

Why Do These Businesses Have Automatic Payment Access?

It makes sense that a subscription-based business, such as a streaming service or newspaper, would have terms and conditions that make it possible for them to pull the amount owed for their subscription each billing cycle if you choose PayPal as your payment method. You’re signing up for recurring charges with this type of agreement.


But you may find that businesses with which you’ve completed just a single transaction are also set up for automatic payments on your PayPal account.

Did you know you were setting up a billing agreement with those merchants at the time of that transaction, too?

It’s true. Perhaps the best explanation for this comes from one of PayPal’s moderators, who answered a similar question from a concerned customer about automatic payments:

“Many merchants employ billing agreements/automatic payments in their checkout. This feature enables future purchases to go through without having to gather as much information. You would still acknowledge and initiate the payments unless it is marked as a subscription.

This is a common practice, and in the course of the transaction, there is information regarding the process. This does not necessarily mean that there will be any recurring payment unless stated, only that next time, they will be able to process your purchase with a minimum of fuss. In situations where there is a recurring payment agreement being created, that agreement information would also be shown at that time.

The merchants who employ this feature may require this as part of the checkout. The optional aspect of it would be to abandon the transaction and opt not to purchase from them.”

Are There Unwanted Automatic Payments on My PayPal Account?

Full disclosure: This article is a result of a recent conversation I had with an acquaintance.

We were discussing the merits of the PayPal Cashback Mastercard®, which is a cash back credit card with no annual fee that awards 3% back on all purchases you make with PayPal and 2% back on everything else.

The person I was speaking with expressed concerns about using PayPal as a payment method because of a negative automatic payment experience they had in the past. They told me that I should look at my personal account to see what they meant.

So, I did. And what I found might be surprising: There were more than 45 automatic payment agreements associated with my account.

While a few of those were active recurring monthly payments that I chose to make through PayPal, many of them were from businesses with which I had only made one or two transactions. And some of those were years ago.

You can check to see what type of automatic payment agreements you have on your account by following these steps:

  • Log in to your PayPal account via the web.
  • Click on the “Settings” button located on the top right corner of your screen.
  • Select “Payments” from the horizontal menu on the “Settings” landing page.
  • Select “Automatic Payments” from the “Payments” page

It’s a good idea to take a look. You’ll be able to identify any unwanted automatic payments that make you uneasy, and you may also find some unused subscriptions you can eliminate to save money.


How To Remove Authorization for Automatic Payments

If you find that you have unwanted automatic payment authorizations on your account, don’t panic. There’s a fairly painless remedy.

First, you’ll want to follow the steps I listed above for locating your automatic payments within your PayPal account.

Next, you’ll want to click on the individual automatic payment and press the “Cancel” button if it still shows as active:

PayPal automatic payment option
Image via PayPal

You’ll then be prompted to verify that you want to follow through with that action, followed by a confirmation screen when you’ve successfully removed permission.

You also should receive an email from PayPal confirming that the change has been made to your account. This note will include a reminder that cancelling an automatic payment setup does not necessarily absolve you from owing a business money for service.

PayPal has a useful video that walks you through the step-by-step process for removing this authorization:

Did you know about automatic payment authorizations with PayPal? Did you find unwanted authorizations on your personal account? Will this change the way you use the digital payment giant in the future? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the Clark.com community.