22 Apr

Why do We Never Cancel After a One-Month Free Trial?


It’s hard to resist a bargain. And the thought of getting something you are interested in free of charge is a compelling one.

Often, it is the main driver for why we sign up for a one month free trial.  But, what happens when you get to the end of that one month period?  Especially when you haven’t used the trial as much as you thought you would.

Well, Martin Lewis, founder of Money Saving Expert recently explored the powerful psychology behind why businesses offer one-month free trials and why you find it so hard to cancel them.

SPOILER ALERT: It isn’t because they hope you will forget to cancel.

“We as humans don’t like loss – we think of the loss more than of the initial gain in the first place”

It’s no secret that subscription services are on the rise.  We sign up for everything from streaming services to food boxes, flowers, gifts, pamper packs, experiences and more.

But, do we continue to use these things as much as we initially thought we would?

Often, we don’t. And, we know we should cancel, but something stops us from doing so.  Sure, sometimes it is simply forgetting about it, but there is actually something deeper going on.

“It’s the same with gym memberships – people value the opportunity to go even if they don’t use it.” 

Martin believes the matter to be simple.  Humans don’t like to lose something they already have. 

“There are many people who wouldn’t sign up to a movie service they don’t really need if they had to pay for it but they would do it for a free trial.  They go in with a view to cancelling it when their trial ends but at that point they’ve already become accustomed to it and getting rid of it means it’s a loss.  And we as human beings don’t like loss.”

It is focusing on the ‘loss’ part of the equation that encourages us to keep going with a subscription service that is well beyond its use period.

‘What if I suddenly want to use that service in the future, but I can’t because it is no longer there?’

That emotional connection is what prevents us from cancelling a gym membership even though we haven’t been in over a year.  The service has a value to us. We value the opportunity of being able to go.

So, what can you do about it?

Well, Martin has the answer, “we need to recognise our emotional biases and cancel unused subscriptions.”

Basically, that means you have to practically look at a subscription and see if it is worth the regular investment.  Is it something that you are going to get use out of on an ongoing basis?

If not, it is time to be clinical and drop it!

One-month free trials can be a fantastic way to test the waters on a subscription service.  But, it doesn’t have to be a lifelong contract.  You are well within your rights to cancel that subscription and not feel guilty about it if it doesn’t work for you!

A great way to overcome blocks and emotional money connections is to chat with someone who understands the psychology behind money.  And that is exactly what we do here at The Money Mentalist.  We help people push through money blocks and make their finances work for them.

If you are struggling with how to manage your money then drop us an email or click on this link to find a day and time that suits you to have a chat with us – it’s completely free.

The content of this article has been adapted from a piece initially published by MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis.