Many underestimate their monthly subscription costs by at least $100, survey finds

FILE - Two people use an iPhone at a shopping mall in Yantai, East China's Shandong province, on March 26, 2022. (Photo credit: Costfoto/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

From streaming to beauty boxes to food, there are many monthly subscription services available — and recent research suggests that you may be paying for more than you realize.

More than half (54%) of consumers underestimated their monthly spending on subscriptions by at least $100, according to a survey by market research firm C+R Research. Twenty-four percent underestimated by $200 or more. 

The survey included 1,000 U.S. adults and was evenly split among Gen Z, Millennial, Gen X, and Baby Boomer age ranges. It asked people to think generally about the number of subscription services they use, and in 10 seconds, estimate how much they spend per month. Later, they were given more time to individually calculate their monthly subscription costs. 

On average, people misjudged their subscription costs by $133, which is nearly $1,600 a year, according to the survey. 

Not only do consumers lose track of their payments, but they also forget how many services they subscribe to after setting the payments to auto-pay, the survey found. 

About three-quarters (74%) said it was easy to forget about their recurring monthly subscription charges. Meanwhile, 42% said they had stopped using a subscription service but forgot they were still paying for it, with Gen Z being most likely to forget and Boomers least likely. Almost one-quarter (22%) said they felt overwhelmed with the number of subscription services they had. 

A report released earlier this year from media research firm Nielsen also revealed that people are overwhelmed with the sheer volume of streaming options. And the number of people who paid for three or more streaming services also continued to grow over the past three years. 

In 2019, 8% said they paid for four or more platforms. By 2022, that figure jumped to 18%, according to Nielsen. 

Roughly 7% paid for six or more streaming platforms in 2022. 

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How to track your monthly subscriptions

With the increase in monthly subscription services, several companies and banks offer subscription tracking programs and apps. Many of these programs offer a snapshot to people of how many subscriptions they pay for and how much they’re being charged per month. 

About 10% said they use these services, with Mint being the most popular (34%), followed by Truebill (10%) and Chase (9%).

Those who subscribed through Apple’s App Store can manage their subscriptions on the iPhone by going to Settings > [your name] > Subscriptions. From there, people can tap the service they want to cancel and select Cancel Subscription. 

Android users can also do this via Google Play by clicking the profile icon in the app and selecting Payments & subscriptions > Subscriptions to view a list of services. From there, they can choose a service and tap Cancel subscription.

This story was reported from Cincinnati.