The cost of free trials, and how Masked Cards can help


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free-trialThey say the best things in life are free. That is, until the trial runs out and your credit card is charged.

It’s happened to the best of us: a tempting offer rolls around and you gleefully give up your credit card information in exchange for a free trial of a product or service. Inevitably, the cancellation deadline sneaks up on you, and you are billed in full for the next month of service, whether you like it or not.

As people get more comfortable using their credit cards online, this classic scenario grows more common. Have you ever tried, or considered trying, a free trial of…

  • Online entertainment, like Netflix or Hulu Plus?
  • Premium social media, like LinkedIn Premium?
  • Discounted merchandise or shipping through Amazon Prime?

When free trials turn pricey

I’m not proud to say that I have signed up for a free trial of all of the services listed above—and shortly after, have forgotten to cancel my subscription before it hit me in the wallet.

Let’s do the math to figure out the cost of these free trials. Here are the amounts that I was billed for:

  • Month of Hulu Plus: $7
  • Month of Business Plus LinkedIn: $60
  • Year of Amazon Prime: $100

Cringe. $167 is a lot to pay for a few free trials and a bout of forgetfulness.

Companies don’t want you to cancel

The FTC warns consumers that forgetting to cancel isn’t the only way to be charged after free trial. Companies can intentionally make cancellation difficult or sneakily sign you up with other sites. You can watch the FTC’s down-the-rabbit-hole of free trials video here.

While the FTC’s site offers advice for avoiding free trial mishaps, Abine has a better solution. Rather than researching company reviews, reading through all the terms and conditions, and organizing your calendar to include cancellation deadlines, simply use a Masked Card. Once you’ve entered the Masked Cards details and are signed up, you can deactivate the card, ensuring that you won’t be charged after the free trial runs out.

How Masked Cards help you avoid charges

Here’s how a Masked Card can help you avoid getting charged once your weeklong Hulu Plus trial expires.


1) Click on the free trial button, and fill out the information page. (Don’t forget to mask your email!)


2) In your privacy dashboard, make a Masked Card for $10 (this is the lowest amount allowed on a Masked Card).

3) Input the Masked Card information when the Hulu Plus sign-up prompts you for payment information.

free-trial-44) Once your free trial is confirmed, return to your privacy dashboard and deactivate the Masked Card that you created by switching the “Active” option to “OFF.” This will refund the remaining masked card value back to your debit or credit card.


Masked Cards let you take advantage of free trials without the risk of getting charged once the trial is over. Rather than relying on your memory (or the trustworthiness of online services), try using a Masked Card the next time you fall for a “freebie.”

7 Replies to “The cost of free trials, and how Masked Cards can help”

  1. Susan Rodriguez says:

    Hi,I wanted to sign up and upgrade to Masked
    Cards ,but my account is blocked for Masked
    Emails after I changed my password. Now I have
    a red lock on the green icon. I don’t know
    what to do. Masked Email prompt comes up
    but won’t let me use it. Keeps referring me
    back to Albine site. Please help. I want to upgrade.
    Thank you. Susan Rodriguez
    PS I use this IPod occasionally Usually
    use my laptop.

    • Hi Susan,

      So sorry for the issues with your account. If these issues have persisted, please email our support staff at support (at) abine (dot) com and they will be able to help you.


  2. John Brush says:

    Most cc orders also request the type of card..such as M/C or Visa. What type of card is the Masked card or does it just retain the type from the real card you enter? Also, i am contemplating using the masked card for my monthly health insurance payment. Can i reuse the same masked cc # each month and just re-enter the amount for the next transaction? I plan to use this tomorrow so would appreciate a reply Monday.


    • Hi John- all Masked Cards are Mastercards. ​For Masked Card subscriptions, since the card is a one-time use “disposable card” you are charged the entire amount of however long you choose to subscribe. Soon, we will be adding the ability to “re-load” a masked card, so that should make the process much more seamless.

  3. Dave says:

    If I understand it clear. The virtual card will be empty after the trial? So companies won’t charge the membership to the customers from the real card? Is it similar to a gift card?

    • Ben Foster says:

      That’s more or less correct. You have to manually go into your Blur Dashboard once the free trial has started and refund the Masked Card (it’s now a “Refund Masked Card” link instead of an on-off switch). The refund will go to the credit card you used to create the Masked Card.

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