MasterCard stops free trials automatically billing

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I wouldn't normally write about MasterCard news but for me this a a great near feature rolling out and I am sure it will affect many other people too.

Companies frequently lure us into free trials of a service, with Netflix and Amazon Prime being two of the biggest examples. However, if you don't cancel within the trial period you will get charged. This is particularly bad if it is a yearly service.

MasterCard is putting a stop to this though, they have announced a new policy that will require merchants to get authorization from you before authorising any payments from your card. It will then need companies to provide you with monthly updates with pricing and clear instructions on how to cancel if you need it.

When you sign up for a free trial, giving over your MasterCard card number, 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.

It is not quite as thorough as a double opt in method that would require you to click a link and confirm the subscription but it is certainly a step in the right direction. Hopefully with the instruction requirements it will also means merchants are less likely to make cancelling so hard.

When you allow the merchant to continue billing they will still have 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.

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