Gym, cellphone and insurance contracts: What you need to know
Pay day should be a happy day, but are you one of many people for whom it’s just a day for all your debit orders to go off? When was the last time you checked out some of those debit orders and figured out if you actually needed it or if you could find a cheaper alternative elsewhere?
How can I make my subscriptions cheaper?
When looking at something like your wi-fi bill, gym contracts or cellphone contracts, you should check a few things BEFORE signing your contracts:
- Whether or not your monthly premium can or will increase every year
- The duration of the contract (whether it’s on a month-to-month basis or if you are locked into the contract for a year or two).
- The cancellation policy
- Whether or not there’s a cancellation fee that would need to be paid if you do want to cancel your policy.
- Automatic renewals
- There are times when cellphone or gym contracts just automatically renew themselves.
- These companies need to send you notification that the contract is coming to an end and give you an outline of what your options are.
- “If you can prove that they didn’t send that notification and they continued to debit your account, they can be forced to refund those months of the subscription after your fixed term contract” - Wendy Knowler, Consumer Journalist
Tips for signing these contracts
- Sign up for the shortest contract
- Often with gym memberships, you will be tempted to opt for a longer contract because it could be cheaper, but to protect yourself from potential hefty cancellation fees, it’s better to opt for shorter contracts.
- Read the cancellation policy carefully
- You never know if your circumstances change and you need to cancel the contract. You may move far from where your gym is located, you may not be able to afford the contract anymore etc.
- Shop around for the best quotes
- It can seem tedious and take quite a bit of time, but this is your hard-earned money you will be spending. Take time to shop around for quotes and compare. See where you can get the best bang for your buck. When looking at insurance, it’s also really important to check how much coverage they are willing to give you. Yes, your premium might be cheaper, but are you fully covered?
- Check in annually and compare quotes with competitors
- For long-term expenses like your wi-fi bill, it’s easy to forget about it and not check how much you’re paying every month. You should check this at least annually and compare quotes again. Often, these companies have annual increases that may mean they are now more expensive than competitors.
- If you find that you can get a cheaper subscription elsewhere, inform your current service provider that you have been looking around and found a cheaper alternative. They may suggest a price match or even offer a lower rate so that they can keep you as a customer.
Some other FAQs
Yes, if you consistently make your monthly payments on time each month, your cellphone contract can contribute to building your credit score.
Can unpaid gym membership affect my credit in South Africa?
Yes, any unpaid or late payments can negatively affect your credit score and will be reported in your credit report. This may negatively affect your chances of being approved for credit in the future.
How to get out of a gym contract without paying?
Unfortunately, many gyms will have cancellation fees unless you have actually completed the contract you signed up for. This is why it’s so important that before signing up, you check your cancellation policy and sign up for the shortest contract. This will protect you from paying hefty fees when trying to get out of the contract.