As of January 2020, the average millennial had 17 paid media and entertainment subscriptions, while the average Gen Zer had 14 (according to Statistica). With the explosion of subscription services, ranging from video games to streaming services to productivity tools, there are no shortages of options to choose from.
Doing a free trial allows us to sift through the endless services available and pick ones that provide value to us. But, if we are not sure about the service, we may not want to provide our credit card information to do a free trial. In my own experience, there have been many times where I was in the process of signing up for a free trial and then stopped after realizing I needed to put a card down. Sometimes, it was because my card was not in immediate reach. Other times, I felt it was not worth the effort.
In any case, there are several reasons why someone might not want to provide their credit card info for a free trial. We will go over the incentives for requiring credit card info from a business standpoint, using fake credit cards, and alternatives to consider for the credit card info.
- Most companies require credit info for their free trials to increase conversion rates of potential customers to paying customers.
- Using a fake credit card for a financial transaction is illegal in the U.S.
- An alternative to using a fake credit card is to use a virtual credit card. It is linked to your actual credit card account but uses fake data to make the transaction.
- If you do end up using a real credit card, most companies allow you to remove your credit card data immediately after you start the trial. If not, you can email them to request this change.
Why Free Trials Require Credit Card Information
There are several benefits to requiring credit card info for free trials from a company perspective. The rationale is that once you have added your card details, you are less likely to cancel your subscription after the trial ends. On the flip side, if you got asked to provide your details after the trial ends, you are less likely to do so because it requires positive action from you.
Vet Potential Customers
As companies start shifting to subscription services models, competition is ramping up quickly. For example, in the digital streaming space alone,Netflix faces strong competitionfrom Apple TV+, Disney+, Amazon Prime, HBO, etc. With growth prospects commonly used to measure success, driving subscriptions is key to continued expansion and growth.
By prompting users to put down their credit card details when they sign up for a free trial, companies can use that as a signal to identify serious, potential customers. If a customer does not want to put their details down, they were probably a freeloader or less likely to convert to a paying customer anyway.
Ask for Forgiveness, Not Permission
If the subscription service has a low monthly or annual cost, people are more likely to continue paying or even forget to cancel it. When I first signed up for Amazon Prime as a student, I used the free trial for a few months. Because I got busy, I completely forgot my trial period ended and found out months after it expired that I got charged for an annual subscription. At that point, it was not worth the effort to cancel my subscription for that year because it was almost over.
The point of a free trial is to get you hooked with the service and choose to continue it, but having your credit card on file makes it more likely for the company to get money from you. If you like the service and choose to keep it, great the company has gained a new customer. If you cancel the service, the company does not lose much. But, in most cases, that is less likely to happen.
Most people forget when to cancel, especially if the trial lasts more than a few days. Some people may contact customer support to cancel the service after the first charge, but the company will still get a month of fees from you unless you take time to dispute the charge. Or, if the service costs only a few bucks, you might not even notice. Now, the company has a customer that does not even know they are paying for the service. Regardless of whether the customer is using the service or not, the company is making money.
In most scenarios, locking you in early on gives companies a higher chance of converting you to a paying customer.
Understanding How Credit Cards Work
When you use a credit card to pay for a good or service, your card details get sent to the merchant’s bank. The bank then gets authorization from apayment card network processor, such as Visa or Mastercard. Once they get authorized, your card issuer will verify your info, including whether the card number is linked to an active account and your name and billing address, to approve or decline the transaction.
If your transaction gets approved, the merchant receives your payment, and your credit card’s available credit gets reduced by the transaction amount. At the end of the billing cycle, you will need to pay off your bill by the due date or riskaccruing debt at a high-interest rate.
Before using a credit card, we recommendunderstanding its benefits and costsand looking forcards with cashback rewards.
Using a Fake Credit Card for Free Trials
Now that we have provided some context, let’s go over what you came here for using a fake credit card for free trials.
Fake Credit Cards are Completely Illegal
When you use a fake credit card, you are committing credit card fraud it is illegal! Even if the card gets declined, you could still get in trouble with the law for intent to defraud in many jurisdictions.
From a company standpoint, they expect a certain number of people to convert to paying customers. That is why companies are offering “free trust” in the form of free trials. If they felt this strategy was not cost-effective, they would not offer free trials to potential customers.
How Fake Credit Cards Work
If you enter a fake number for an online purchase, it probably will not work due to the transaction verification process we mentioned earlier. A fake number is likely to get rejected immediately either because it lacks sufficient funds, or fails the validation checks in place.
Most websites these days have built-in functionality to perform basic validations on credit card info. Sometimes, sites will also initiate a temporary hold on your card to confirm that your card is valid and active. In the scenario where you do manage to enter a fake card number successfully, once a payment request gets initiated after your trial ends, your subscription may get turned off immediately.
Fake Credit Card Generators
You can use a website such asFake Card Generatorto generate completely free unique random numbers linked to real card accounts for temporary use. But, most of these sites state that they are for e-commerce testing purposes only and will typically only be valid for one or two purchases. They likely will not work at a physical store, and some online stores might not accept them.
The Alternative: Virtual Credit Card
If you have concerns over security or privacy, you can use a virtual credit card or prepaid gift card to sign up for free trials or make online purchases. Virtual credit cards are unique, randomly generated credit card numbers linked to your actual bank account, but contain fake credit card info. You can use them to make transactions without revealing any of your real banking info. Similar to a burner phone, think of virtual credit cards as burner cards for one-time usage.
Most virtual credit cards give you the option to easily lock and unlock your cards, as well as set maximum charge limits, giving you complete control and protection. Before signing up for a virtual card, make sure to do some research to find a vendor you trust and is completely reliable.
One of the benefits of using a virtual credit card is that you can sign up for a free trial, such as a streaming service, without worrying that you will get charged afterward when the free trial period ends. Because the vendor will not have access to your actual bank account, they cannot automatically charge you.
Physical Credit Cards vs. Virtual Credit Cards
Physical credit cards are a form of payment that can get used both online and in-store. While they have become more secure with the introduction of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, you still face risks of getting identifying info stolen if a merchant,such as Target, gets hacked.
Virtual cards are very similar to physical credit cards, as they include a 16 digit card number, expiration date, and security code. However, a virtual credit card allows you to make more secure online payments by adding an additional layer of security to your account.
Because virtual cards are typically limited to a specific transaction, merchant, or spending limit, it is harder for fraudsters to abuse your card. Thus, you can feel more confident to pay online or sign up for a free trial.
Are Virtual Credit Cards Legal?
Virtual credit cards are perfectly legal and available today for mainstream use. Major credit card companies, such as American Express, Capital One, Mastercard, and Visa, issue virtual credit cards to customers for additional security for online purchases.
Additionally, they havevirtual credit card generatorsthat can get used for credit card verification purposes, such as free trials. However, these are meant for testing purposes, not for paying for goods or services. If you tend to forget to cancel subscriptions or do not want to pay fees, VCC generators are a great option.
DoNotPay’s Virtual FreeTrial Card
DoNotPay’s Free Trial Card is a popular option if you do not want to search for online credit card generators or put in real card info for free trials. A few advantages of the card are that it is easily accessible, protects you from automated subscriptions, and does not link back to your funds.
When using the Free Trial Card, you can use any address or name you’d like, and a virtual card number and expiration date will get provided for you. Additionally, with the DoNotPay app, you can use a temporary email address to sign up for free trials. The temporary email address is then forwarded directly to your real email, but the tracking info will get removed so companies cannot place you on email marketing lists.
A Fun Option: Prepaid Gift Cards
If you have any prepaid gift cards on hand, whether from rebates, attending webinars or from family and friends, you can use them to sign up for free trials. As long as the card has not expired, you should be able to enter the prepaid card information like a credit card. Most places simply want to verify that the card you are entering is valid, so this is a great way to use debit cards that may have limited or no balance on them. Note that some merchants will do a pending hold on the card. So, depending on the amount of the pending charge, there is a chance that this process may not work.
Get Rid of Unwanted Subscriptions
If all this seems like a hassle to you, we recommend being more selective with the types of subscription services you sign up for. Over the past year, I discovered a few subscription services I was interested in, ranging from Japanese snacks box,Bokksu, to sustainable fashion subscription box,Frank and Oak, to gift box,Smoko. However, after doing some cost-benefit analysis, I realized I did not need these services, so I decided not to sign up.
Look through all your bank statements to find existing subscriptions. For each subscription service, decide whether you should keep it or not based on the value it provides you. If you notice a charge for a service that you do not use or do not find valuable, cancel it. If you have family or close friends using similar services, consider sharing subscription services to lower costs, such asSpotify’s Premium FamilyorNetflix’s Premium Plan.
The Bottom Line
While it is not the end of the world if you try to use a fake card for free trials, it is credit card fraud. If you have concerns about your info getting leaked, consider using virtual credit cards instead. If money is an issue, be more proactive in tracking your free trials and subscriptions.
We are not financial advisors. The content on this website and our YouTube videos are for educational purposes only and merely cite our own personal opinions. In order to make the best financial decision that suits your own needs, you must conduct your own research and seek the advice of a licensed financial advisor if necessary. Know that all investments involve some form of risk and there is no guarantee that you will be successful in making, saving, or investing money; nor is there any guarantee that you won't experience any loss when investing. Always remember to make smart decisions and do your own research!
Requesting credit cards for free trials will help you get more qualified leads, better conversion rates, and shorten your sales process. Not requesting credit cards for free trials will lower user barriers, generate more leads, avoid refunding, and build trust with your users.Why do you have to give credit card info for free trials? ›
In short, having no credit card requirement allows for more trials, but asking for payment details leads to more of those trial users paying once the trial is over. Despite this, people are more likely to stick to their guns after ninety days if they weren't asked for credit card information during the trial.What happens if you use a fake credit card and it works? ›
Mistakes happen, but intentionally giving false information, like your age or income, on a credit card application can land you in legal trouble, including being charged with theft by deception and larceny. Penalties vary, but can include: fines, probation, community service or jail time.Can I use fake credit cards for free trials? ›
When you use a fake credit card, you are committing credit card fraud it is illegal! Even if the card gets declined, you could still get in trouble with the law for intent to defraud in many jurisdictions.Do free trials show up on credit card? ›
Depending on your credit card provider, this active card check might show up in your account as a charge from us. This might be a figure such as $0.01 or the full first payment you'd make after the trial ends (based on the plan you are trialling). If you see this, no money has left your account.Can you cancel free trials without paying? ›
Here are three things to know about free trial offers: 1. If you don't cancel on time, you'll be charged. Usually, you have to give your credit card number for a “free trial.” That way, the company can charge you if you don't cancel before the trial period ends.How can I avoid paying for free trials? ›
Avoid Paying for Subscriptions When Your Free Trials End
One way to avoid going past a subscription's free trial period is to cancel right after signing up. You won't have to worry about remembering to do it at the end of the week or month or whenever the trial ends.
- Cancel payment and still enjoy the freebie. ...
- Set a reminder for the day before. ...
- Use a Mastercard for certain kinds of trials. ...
- Go virtual. ...
- Pick up the phone.
The penalties for credit card fraud in California can vary depending on the circumstances and severity of the case. On the low end, it is a year in county jail and a $1,000 fine. On the high end, it is punishable by up to three years in county jail and a $10,000 fine. Credit card fraud is also a federal offense.Do credit card frauds get caught? ›
So, how often do credit card frauds get caught? Unfortunately, the answer is not very often. Less than 1% of all credit card fraud cases are actually solved by law enforcement. This means that if you are a victim of credit card fraud, your chances of getting your money back are pretty slim.
Misdemeanor Credit Card Fraud
If caught, the thief may face fines up to $1,000 and up to one year in the county jail. Often, thieves are ordered to pay restitution to cover the losses suffered by their victims. In some cases, thieves are charged with multiple crimes, including both misdemeanors and felonies.
Virtual credit cards are completely legal and available for mainstream use. In addition to virtual credit card numbers issued by the major card companies, there are also VCC generators. This option is legal to be used for card verification purposes that do not involve financial transactions, such as free trials.Is it safe to do free trials? ›
While offering a free trial of a product or service is perfectly legal, consumers should still be wary. The fine print of those offers end up costing consumers hundreds of dollars. It's important to understand how free trial offers work so you can avoid feeling scammed by less than honest business practices.Why do free trials charge $1? ›
It's an authorization hold to confirm your payment method linked to Roku Pay is valid. You may see authorization holds when you: Add or update your method of payment.Do free trials actually work? ›
Still, despite the risks, a free trial is an excellent sales strategy that can lower your cost of new-customer acquisition. Free trials work best for companies attempting to sell an intangible product or service, such as software, apps, games and analytics.How can I get a free trial on my Iphone without a credit card? ›
- Access the Apple Music website.
- Scroll down until you reach the Start Your Free Trial section.
- Pick the plan you want.
- Click on the Try it for free button below the price.
- Select Try It Free at the bottom banner.
- Click on Sign Up With a New Apple ID. ...
- Hit the Continue button.
CyberGhost is a popular VPN service that offers three free trial periods: a one-day free trial on desktop, a seven-day free trial on mobile devices, and a 45-day money-back guarantee. The service's one-day free trial doesn't require any credit card or payment details.How can I get a free trial of Netflix without a credit card? ›
- Go to Netflix official website.
- Use your email address to get started.
- Then you will see an option of 30 days free trial on the screen.
- It will open a new page, you need to enter a new password to create a new account.
- Select your favorite Netflix plan.
It's an authorization hold to confirm your payment method linked to Roku Pay is valid. You may see authorization holds when you: Add or update your method of payment.Are free trials actually free? ›
But free trials aren't really meant to be free. The goal is to introduce you to a product or service and then hook you so you decide to keep it (and pay for it) beyond the trial period. Either that or the company is hoping you just forget to cancel so it can automatically start charging you.
CyberGhost VPN is the only premium VPN service to offer a free trial period. During this trial period, you can get access to every single feature and VPN server so you can get a clear picture of the benefits of using our VPN app.What VPN has a free trial? ›
|VPN||Free Trial Duration||Payment Details Required|
|🥇ExpressVPN||7 days (mobile only)||Yes, except for Android free trial|
|🥈CyberGhost VPN||1 day (desktop) 3 days (Android) 7 days (iOS)||For mobile devices|
|🥉Private Internet Access||7 days||Yes|
|IPVanish||No free trial||Yes|
The good news! In most of the world, it is perfectly legal to use a virtual private network, or VPN.Is there a totally free VPN? ›
VPNBook. VPNBook is another totally free VPN; there are no bandwidth caps or service limitations, and there is no premium service.Which VPN has a 30 day free trial? ›
VyprVPN is an affordable, high-performance VPN service that offers a 30 day risk-free trial with all subscription plans. This Switzerland-based VPN has a great lineup of VPN apps that are reliable, secure, and user-friendly with built-in leak protection.Why did Netflix remove free trial? ›
To make the viewers pay for viewership, the company removed the free trial offer. Netflix used the same technique to lure people into subscribing through their original shows like The Crown, Ozark, and others.Does Netflix cut money for free trial? ›
Netflix has said that it is testing new offers in India. Therefore, any new user who will subscribe to Netflix for the first time will now have to pay Rs 5 for first-thirty days.What apps like Netflix have a free trial? ›
9 Great Netflix Alternatives That Offer Free Trials
- Peacock. ...
- Hulu. ...
- BritBox. ...
- Shudder. ...
- Sundance Now. ...
- Amazon Prime Video. ...
- HBO Max. ...
- The Criterion Channel.
Here are three things to know about free trial offers: 1. If you don't cancel on time, you'll be charged. Usually, you have to give your credit card number for a “free trial.” That way, the company can charge you if you don't cancel before the trial period ends.Are free trials safe? ›
While offering a free trial of a product or service is perfectly legal, consumers should still be wary. The fine print of those offers end up costing consumers hundreds of dollars. It's important to understand how free trial offers work so you can avoid feeling scammed by less than honest business practices.
While it's common for internet companies like Amazon (AMZN) to offer free trials, 48% of respondents say they have forgotten to cancel a free trial before being charged by an auto-renewal. Some consumers have expressed their frustration over this phenomenon on social media.