These sneaky fees may be costing you big money


Do you review your credit card statements line by line every month? If you don’t, there might be charges on your bill that you didn’t even realize were there!

They are referred to as “gray charges” and they’re costing consumers big bucks.

Read more: 11 fees you should never pay

How to stop these sneaky credit card fees

According to a study a few years back, there are 233 million of these hidden credit card charges and fees each year, adding up to $14 billion in 2012 alone. Of those hit with a gray charge, the average transaction was $61.

Gray charges explained

What exactly is a gray charge? It could be a magazine subscription that started out as a free trial or a club membership that you never canceled. These are typically charges that you agreed to in the fine print and simply forgot about.

5 common types of gray charges

  • Free-to-paid: After a free trial period, you’re charged a fee unless you cancel or return the goods.
  • Phantom: After you pay for something, you’re billed for an additional product or service from the seller or a third party.
  • Zombie: Subscriptions or memberships that don’t end after being canceled.
  • Unintended subscription: You make a one-time transaction, but it turns into an unwanted ongoing subscription.
  • Membership: You agree to receive and pay for merchandise until you cancel.

What you can do

Go through your monthly bank statement, line by line, and identify any charges you don’t recognize — even if it’s for just a few bucks!

After you identify these unwanted charges, call the company right away and cancel the auto-renewing service or subscription. You may also be able to dispute the charges, especially if there’s a billing error.

There’s also a free service called Trim that analyzes these types of charges and offers to cancel them on your behalf.

Important note! 

Once you cancel the subscription, service or whatever the charge is for, make sure to ask for a copy of the cancelation confirmation — either by mail or email. And keep that confirmation! If you get it emailed to you, just print it out and save it for your records. If that sneaky fee pops up on your statement again, you’ll have proof to dispute it.

Read more: Banks collect $14 billion from this one fee (but you can avoid paying it)


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