How to Stop Automatic Payments to Your Credit Card
Written by: Kristy Welsh
Last Updated: July 27, 2017
There is nothing like having your bill paying set on auto pilot. From your gym membership to the cable bill, just about anything can be set up as an automatic payment. In fact, most vendors would rather have it this way as they are assured they are going to get paid on time.
But what happens when the neighborhood gym keeps deducting your monthly dues long after you terminated your membership? Stopping them can be a hassle, especially if the company you were paying isn't cooperating. If you're having a hard time working with the company that is automatically charging your credit card because they won't answer their phone, here's what you can do to stop the charges.
Read the Contract
First of all, read the contract. Some companies make it difficult for you to contact them. In some cases, the only way per the contract to cancel is to call some non-800 number and you get a 30 minute wait on hold. They may also stipulate that you can only stop the charges in writing, another great way to delay stopping the charges. If you see either of these in the contract, we recommend not setting up re-occurring billing with them.
Contact the Billing Department
If notify the billing department of a certain company in writing that you want the service stopped, it could take up to two weeks for them to process your request to stop. This could be dangerous. Some billing cycles happen at odd times of the month; don't count on the fact that if they received it by the end of the month, the next month's payment won't go through. If you decided to send them a letter, send the letter by certified mail, return receipt requested so that you have proof that you sent it in case they fail to respond. Just the fact that you sent a certified letter should encourage compliance. Their mailing address should be on their invoice. If it isn't, or you can't find an invoice, look them up on the web.
Contact Your Bank or Credit Card Company
You certainly can complain to your credit card company about the charge. As the article link we just gave you points out, you must at least have attempted to contact the company and request the stop. Once you call the credit card company, follow this up with a letter to your credit card company (also certified) outlining that you have notified the billing company, in writing, of your desire to terminate the service. Include the name of the product or service being cancelled and the amount and frequency of the charge. Be sure to keep copies of both letters and the return receipts.
Make it clear to your bank or credit card company the fact this charge is "unauthorized" as some banks will not charge a fee to stop these types of debits.
Close Your Credit Card Account
Closing your credit card account can definitely a hassle as you must wait for a new card to arrive in the mail. You may also have other automatic payments being made through this card so be sure and keep a list of all the services being automatically charged to a card. If the card involved is a debit card, you won't have to close your checking account just tell the bank the card was lost. The will void out your old card and reissue a new card with a new account number on it.
We hope one of the above methods will stop the automatic payments from being deducted from your credit card. If your efforts to stop the charges are still met with no success, contact your State Attorney General office. Most A.G. offices have a consumer protection division and helping citizens who are being taken advantage of is one of the things they do best. Businesses do not like to be investigated by the Attorney General's office and will usually do the right thing after being contacted by them. Another feared agency is the Better Business Bureau — a threat to report to this agency sometimes works wonders.