Beware of “Sleeper” Subscription and Service Fees

sleep-feesI came across this somewhat disturbing Reddit post today about a man whose elderly father had been paying an AOL subscription that he hadn't been using for over 10 years! When he broke it down – his father had essentially paid out over $2,500 in worthless fees! Ouch.

(Check out the comments on the Reddit post – as they are pretty enlightening about other subscription and fees folks noticed that others (or themselves) had been fallen asleep on.)

This got me to thinking about fees/subscriptions that I may be unwittingly paying for month after month, or that others may need to be aware of too. Let me know if you can think of others in the comments section:

Credit card fees

Awhile back I had a question about this recurring fee that I kept getting on my Discover card statement even though I pay it off every month. It's called CreditSafe Plus Insurance. It's an optional charge that many of us unknowingly sign-up for when we get a Discover card. The insurance provides coverage for your account should you become unemployed, disabled or pass away. While this could prove helpful if you have a $2,000+ credit card balance, its kinda foolish to have if you hardly (or never) have a balance. You can opt-out.

401k and other investment fees

According to FeeX, an online website that helps people become more aware of the fees they are paying on their investments, I paid $13.50 in fees for the month of September. 401k fees and other investment services have definitely become more scrutinized for their fees of late – but it's good to be aware of what you are paying for your account management.

Online subscriptions

I have really come to detest recurring fees. To a point where I cringe every time we “need” to add a new one. For awhile, I was signed up for‘s monthly subscription – which I can write off as a business expense. I also just added a new subscription to a golf website ($8/month) that I enjoy. I'm keenly aware this can become a “sleeper” fee if I'm not mindful. This is why I put this fee on my Google calendar the day before its coming due, so I know I can quit if I'm not using it.

Cell phone fees

By now, I'm sure you've heard of AT&T's $105 million fine for cramming bogus charges to its customers. With monthly cell bills being in the hundreds for folks (especially those with many on the “plan”) and it containing many pages, “sleeper” charges and fees are easy to forget about. A few months ago we were paying for a music service a family member had added but was no longer using. It's good to check these bills every now and then – just to keep the cell phone company honest.


I think gym memberships (among others) are notorious for being “sleeper” subscriptions. We often say, “Oh, I'll get there next month“, or “It's good for me to belong to a gym“. In my case, sometimes my best intentions don't align with my actions and end up costing me serious change.

Any other fees and subscriptions we can tend to fall asleep on?

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  1. HOLY COW! Ten years.

    We’ve spaced out for a few months and had some fitness subscriptions renew on us. It hurts once you realize what’s happened.

  2. There’s nothing worse than having an unexpected charge come out of your account. Well, actually it may be worse when you know it comes out and you let it come out every month without thinking about it. Personally, I really hate the companies that offer free subscriptions or products with a “fine print” disclaimer that starts charging you after the “trial period”.

    • Yeah, that’s a way to “get you”. They are sneaky.

  3. One thing I hate is when a company automatically puts you to be on automatic renewal. For example, I recently signed up to trial of Hulu Plus, I wasn’t aware that they would automatically charge my credit card after one week. I had forgotten and when they charged my credit card it was too late to get refund as the fee is non refundable. Good thing it was only an $8 for one month. I cancelled immediately after. This also happened to me with itunes and angie’s list. It’s very sneeky and should not be allowed. I hate it. Best to remind yourself on a calendar.

    • Oh – I detest that too. Entertainment coupon books is notorious for this and I could name many others. One tip (that is a bit of a hassle for you) is to just close that credit card down.

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