Do you ignore the teeny type that explains the terms of buying something online? If so, you might be paying more than you bargained for.
Five Shady Card Charges
Average cost per transaction: $53
How it works: You sign up for a service that costs nothing but still requires a credit card number. The reason: The service is free for only a brief period, after which you’re automatically charged a monthly, quarterly or annual fee—until you happen to notice the subscription charge on your bill and cancel it.
Average cost per transaction: $61
How it works: You buy one thing (an online credit report, say) and unwittingly pay for an additional item you don’t want (credit monitoring). It might come from the original vendor or a company that has partnered with that firm.
Average cost per transaction: $46
How it works: You think you’re making a one-time purchase (some weight-loss pills, for example, or a downloaded song), but the transaction converts into an expensive ongoing subscription or membership. Also watch out for auto-renewals—subscriptions that restart without notice at the time of renewal.
Average cost per transaction: $69
How it works: You cancel a subscription, but it returns from the dead. Companies typically chalk these up as errors, putting the onus on you to catch them.
Service and luxury fee
Average cost per transaction: $129
How it works: You’re charged extra for a “luxury” you figure is included with your purchase—like a paper statement of your phone bill or at-home repairs of a cable TV box. But you’re charged for the privilege, unless you realize you need to opt out.