Over one million subscriptions ditched as cost of living bites

Households ditch costly subscriptions to tackle the cost of living

lady checking her online banking on her phone
(Image credit: getty images)

As the cost of living takes a grip, with a number of costs going up from April, households have started to ditch those ‘lockdown subscriptions’ in a bid to save some cash, according to Lloyds Bank.

The bank found that many were being forced into a ‘subscription audit’ - this is when we take the plunge and cancel all those subscriptions we no longer use, want or can afford.

Over 1.2 million subscription payments were cancelled by customers, using banking apps for Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland, over a 10-month period, between June 2021 and March this year. 

“People are looking to take control and budget household spend”, said Philip Robinson, director of payments at Lloyds Bank. “Our customers have stopped over a million subscription payments to date, with streaming services by far the most popular stop.” 

This follows a massive 70% hike in new subscription payments, which we saw during the first lockdown period.

Which subscriptions are we cancelling? 

Lloyds found the most common subscriptions we cancelled were TV, film and music streaming services, with 47% ditching the likes of Netflix, Spotify or Prime.

Gyms and slimming club memberships account for 8% of cancellations, followed by computer software at 7%, financial subscriptions, like signing up for credit score services at 4%, gaming at 3% and subscription boxes, which cover everything from beauty boxes to snack packs and alcohol subscriptions for beer, wine or gin.

According to cashback site TopCashback the ‘average’ monthly subscription costs £17.65, and we typically take an average of six months to cancel, which wastes £105. 

Check contract terms before cancelling

If cash is tight, your instinct may be to quickly cut back and cancel any unwanted subscriptions, but it pays to check the terms and conditions first.

“You can make big money savings by cancelling subscriptions and memberships, but there can be a hefty price if you are still locked into a contract”, warns Martyn James, consumer rights expert at Resolver, an independent complaints resolution service. 

Gym memberships, cinema season tickets and TV packages often mean signing up for a minimum term of one year.  If you want to cancel, check the website for cancellation terms, as even if you want to pull the plug when your contract ends, you may still need to give a month’s notice ahead of its expiry.

With other services, like beauty box subscriptions or delivery services, these may run on a 30 days ‘rolling contract’ basis, which means you may be able to cancel at any point, providing you give 30 days notice. 

Some companies may allow you to temporarily ‘pause’ subscriptions for a limited time, like snack box companies, or gyms.

The golden rule is to always check the small print, and always wait until you’re beyond any minimum contract terms, otherwise, cancelling a direct debit may mean the company comes after you for the cash.

Sue Hayward

Sue Hayward is a personal finance and consumer journalist, broadcaster and author who regularly chats on TV and Radio on ways to get more power for your pound.  Sue’s written for a wide range of publications including the Guardian, i Paper, Good Housekeeping, Lovemoney and My Weekly. Cats, cheese and travel are Sue’s passions away from her desk!