MasterCard won’t let companies automatically bill you after free trials

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We’ve all made the mistake of starting a free trial and forgetting to cancel it before the billing period kicks in. Now, MasterCard will protect against this. The company announced a new policy that will require merchants to get authorization from you before hitting you with recurring charges for subscriptions. It will also require companies to provide you with monthly updates with pricing and clear instructions on how to cancel if you need it.

Here’s how MasterCard’s new protections will work: Sign up for a free trial and provide your MasterCard card number for your payment information. When that free trial comes to an end, the merchant will be required to send you a text or email notifying you that you will have to pay to continue the subscription. That message has to include the subscription cost, payment date and merchant name presented clearly so you know exactly who you are dealing with. The message will also have to include instructions on how to cancel in case you decide you’re better off without it.

Even if you opt to give the merchant permission to charge you so you can continue using its service, the company has to provide you with monthly receipts that show you the monthly cost. That should make it easier to track price changes in your subscription so you don’t get hit by unexpected price jumps (looking at you, Netflix). Those monthly receipts will also have to include a guide on canceling the subscription.

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