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Strategies to Save

How to Cut Sneaky Subscriptions and Recurring Expenses with Trim

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

 

It’s easy for small expenses to add up and burn straight through our cash. Especially since there are so many subscription and membership services available to sign up for that automatically bill accounts after a free trial.

Trim is a website that wants to help you identify and cancel these recurring costs to save money. You can connect your accounts to Trim, and it searches transactions for recurring payments to merchants that you can cut off.

According to Trim, the service has saved its users $8 million in sneaky expenses, so we’re putting it to the test. In this post, we’ll review the site to see what expenses Trim can identify.

We’ll discuss:

  • How Trim works
  • How much Trim costs
  • Pros and cons

How Trim Works

First, you need to go to asktrim.com to create an account. You can sign up for an account by email or through Facebook. For this review, I chose the email option.

 

Authenticating and setting up your account

After you input your email, first name, last name, and phone number, the website will send you a text message to confirm your phone number.

A confirmation of your phone number is necessary because the website corresponds with you via text message. You can also choose to receive messages from Trim through Facebook Messenger if you prefer. There currently isn’t a Trim app.

Trim needs to connect to your bank and/or credit card accounts to locate recurring subscriptions for cancellation.

Trim supports over 20,000 U.S. financial institutions. If you don’t see yours on the list, you can email Trim for support. Although I find tweeting a company usually gets a faster response.

The syncing of your financial accounts to Trim takes just a few seconds.

You’ll get a text message with the subscriptions Trim has found once the connection is complete. The identified recurring costs will also populate in your account dashboard on the website.

Here are a few of the subscriptions it found for me:

The dashboard breaks down your recurring charges into three different sections. There are subscriptions, utilities, and frequent charges.

Altogether, Trim found:

  • A car insurance payment
  • A Comcast bill
  • A banking account fee
  • Work-related expenses (Bluehost, Grammarly, and Freshbooks)

You’ll probably find like I did that not all charges found will be ones you can cancel or need to cancel. The purpose of Trim is to seek out any surprises.

How Trim cancels accounts

The cancellation aspect of Trim is what I consider the highlight because of how much of a pain it can be to terminate your subscriptions and memberships.

To cancel a service using Trim, you hit the red “Cancel this subscription” link on the website.

You can also message “Cancel (insert service)” to authorize cancellation from your phone.

Trim will contact the company by sending an email or calling. In some cases, like a gym membership, Trim may send out a certified letter.

I’ll be honest, I’ve moved from one city to another and completely forgot to cancel my gym membership before. This feature is one I can appreciate since gym memberships can be a huge hassle to cancel remotely.

Does Trim catch all recurring charges?

I went into this review with a pretty good grasp of the recurring charges that I pay. I was mostly curious to see how many of them the website algorithm would catch.

Trim found many of the biggies instantly.

But I was a little disappointed it didn’t catch items like my Hulu subscription through Apple iTunes.

The FAQ page states that Trim first identifies popular merchants like Netflix that use recurring payments. Then, it goes back through your bills monthly. The algorithm may pick up on other merchants after a few billing cycles.

I reached out to Trim via Twitter to see if there’s a reason Apple iTunes didn’t appear. I figured that would be one of the more popular merchants.

They got back to me the same day. It seems as though Apple charges can be hit or miss.

Extra Trim features

Trim has a few additional bells and whistles. You can review recent transactions of your financial accounts by merchant and category time.

Trim also offers other savings tools. For auto insurance, there’s a section on the site where you can type in your car’s make, model, and year to shop for cheaper insurance rates. You can also look for better Comcast deals through the account dashboard to potentially negotiate a better contract.

How Much It Costs

The Trim website is currently free to use. You’re probably wondering — what’s the catch?

Trim is really free. There are plans to roll out a paid financial advising component. But the basic Trim subscription review and cancellation service is supposed to remain free of cost.

Trim Security

According to Trim, the service uses Plaid security to connect to your financial institutions. This means Trim does not store the usernames and passwords used to access your financial accounts.

Instead, the credentials are sent through Plaid directly to your bank or credit card issuer to retrieve your transaction history. The transaction data Trim uses is read-only so that no changes can be made to your accounts. Trim also uses 256-bit SSL encryption for its own site and databases.

Pros and Cons

Now, for the pros and cons:

Pros:

  • The service is free.
  • Trim finds monthly recurring costs that you may have forgotten.
  • You can delete your Trim account at any time.
  • You can connect Trim to over 20,000 financial institutions.
  • You can correspond with Trim via messaging, which makes managing your account easy.
  • The Trim Twitter account responds quickly if you have questions.

Cons:

  • Trim may not pick up on all sneaky expenses right away.
  • Although there are security measures in place, connecting your financial accounts could be a deal-breaker if you’re extra cautious.
  • Ideally, you want to pay enough attention to your bank and credit card accounts to spot sneaky charges on your own. Trim is a nice shortcut to see if you’re missing anything, but for the long term, try to get into the habit of monitoring your statements.

The Final Verdict

Overall, Trim is an easy-to-use tool that can help you make sure there are no subscriptions from many moons ago still posting to your account.

However, Trim did not catch my iTunes Hulu membership initially, so I suggest you plan to keep your account open for at least a few months to give the algorithm time to identify money leaks.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor here

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Reviews, Strategies to Save

BB&T CD Rates and Review

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

BB&T’s website can leave CD investors wanting more, as the information regarding CDs is fairly basic. Although the bank’s website has as basic overview of certificates of deposit (CDs) stating it offers CDs with terms ranging from 7 days to 5 years with rate information, you need to navigate through a menu and choose your state of residence in order to view current rates.

We called BB&T branches and, on the same day, compared its CD rates with those at other banks and the national averages. After conducting this research, it’s not surprising to see that BB&T makes its CD rates hard to find — they aren’t very competitive.

BB&T CD products and rates

BB&T offers CD terms ranging from as short as 7 days to as long as 5 years. It has 24 CD options, each with different investment goals.

7-day to 60-month Personal CD

For short-term investments, BB&T offers CDs with terms ranging from 7 days to 60 months. These Personal CDs offer a fixed rate of return – annual percentage yield (APY) – along with the flexibility to focus on developing either a short- or long-term investment. It is worth noting that a higher minimum deposit, $2,500, is required for CDs that range for terms of 7 to 31 days.

CD Term

APY

Minimum Deposit to Open

3 months

0.03%

$1,000

6 months

0.05%

$1,000

12 months

0.10%

$1,000

18 months

0.15%

$1,000

2 years

0.20%

$1,000

3 years

0.30%

$1,000

4 years

0.30%

$1,000

5 years

0.30%

$1,000

With the 7-day to 60-month BB&T CDs, there are no penalty-free options for withdrawing your funds before the CD matures. The early withdrawal penalty is the lesser of $25 or 12 months of interest for longer-term CDs. So with smaller initial deposits, early withdrawal penalties will negate any interest you may have earned.

Not only can you find better CD rates at other banks and credit unions for each of the terms BB&T offers, you can also usually secure those rates with smaller minimum deposits. You can see some of the top options in our monthly roundup of the best CD rates.

Can’t Lose CD

As the name of this product implies, whether rates go up or down, you can’t lose – in the broad sense of your investment accruing interest. However, the APY is so low you’re almost certainly going to lose money due to inflation on the longer-term CDs.

At the 12-month mark of this CD’s term, you may make one withdrawal without paying any fees. So if the market rate is higher than what you’re currently getting, simply withdraw the money and reinvest at a higher rate.

If, however, the interest rate you’re receiving is better than what’s currently available, you also have the option of making a second deposit into the Can’t Lose CD (up to $10,000). This locks in the rate for the new investment amount for the remainder of the term. Whether rates go up or down, you’re locked in for the higher rate.

CD Term

APY

Minimum Deposit Amount

Withdrawal Penalties

30-month Can’t Lose

0.25%

$1,000

No penalty for one withdrawal after 12 months

Even when you consider locking in that higher rate, remember that you can find many CDs with better APYs than BB&T’s Can’t Lose CD, regardless of term.

Stepped Rate CD

Creating a CD ladder is a way to stagger your investments so can take advantage of increasing rates. With the Stepped Rate option from BB&T, laddering is built into the CD product. The initial CD starts out at a lower rate and increases each year. BB&T’s 48-month Stepped Rate CD tiers rates this way:

Months

APY

12

0.30%

24

0.40%

36

0.55%

48

0.75%

This particular product allows you to make an additional deposit each year (up to $10,000). So if the interest rate you’re receiving is better than the market, you can invest more money into your existing CD to make a higher return. But if the current CD market is offering better rates than your existing CD, you can simply take advantage of that offer and still make a higher return.

In addition, you may make a withdrawal from what you initially deposited into your Stepped Rate CD after two years. So, again, if the market changes dramatically, you may withdraw your money with no penalty and reinvest in a better option.

An alternative to using the bank’s stepped rate CD is to create a CD ladder on your own, choosing CDs with better rates than those BB&T offers.

Add On CD

The Add On CD option from BB&T offers a 12-month CD with an opening deposit of $100. You’ll need a BB&T checking account and a $50 automatic deposit every month from your checking account into the CD. To get a personal account, you’ll just need to set up direct deposit or maintain a $1,500 balance.

Note that the 12-month Add On CD product is not advertised on BB&T’s website. You need to visit a branch in order to open an Add On CD — contact the bank to learn about the current APY offered on this product.

CD Term

Minimum
Deposit to Open

Withdrawal
Penalties

12-month Add-on

$100

Greater of $25 or
6 months’ interest

Home Saver CD

If you’re in the market for a new home, and you want to earn a little more interest on the money you’re saving, consider the Home Saver CD. Starting with as little as $100, you’ll be able to deposit money earmarked for your new home every month. With this CD, as long as you’re withdrawing the money for use toward the purchase of your new home, you won’t pay any penalties for early withdrawal. But you will need a BB&T checking or savings account set up with a monthly deposit of $50 into your Home Saver CD.

Note that Home Saver CDs are not advertised on BB&T’s website, and you can only open them by visiting a branch. Contact the bank to learn about the current APY offered on this product.

CD Term

Minimum Deposit to Open

Withdrawal Penalties

36-month Home Saver

$100

No penalty for home purchase

College Saver

The College Saver CD is meant for parents or students saving for college. It offers the benefit of starting at a higher APY with the flexibility of withdrawing the money up to four times per year to pay for the cost of attending school. As with the Home Saver CD, you’ll need to have a BB&T checking or savings account with an automatic monthly deposit of $50 into the College Saver. It offers terms of 36, 48 and 60 months.

Note that you must visit a branch to open College Saver CDs, and they are not advertised on BB&T’s website. Contact the bank to learn about the current APYs offered on these products.

CD Term

Minimum Deposit to Open

Withdrawal Penalties

36-month College Saver

$100

No penalty for school costs

48-month College Saver

$100

No penalty for school costs

60-month College Saver

$100

No penalty for school costs

Treasury CD

This CD offers the ability to make additional deposits of at least $100 into your CD at any time and one monthly withdrawal without penalty.

The CD has a six-month term with a variable interest rate tied to the U.S. Treasury Bill — if the rate goes up, you’ll make more money, but if the rate declines, you’ll make less.

If Treasury Bills rise, this can be a great option if you have the $5,000 minimum deposit amount and want a short-term investment with the option to add or remove funds from the CD. You will need to make monthly deposits of $100, and the CD will automatically renew if not cashed out.

CDARS

CDARS, which stands for Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service, protects your principal and interest by making sure your money is placed into multiple CDs across a network of banks to keep your CDs insured by the FDIC (maximum limit for each CD is $250,000).

Other things to know about BB&T CDs

Can customers take advantage of rising rates once they’ve opened a CD?

BB&T has two CD options that allow you to take advantage of rising rates: the Can’t Lose CD and the Stepped Rate CD. Both allow you to make a withdrawal before the CD comes to maturity in case rates increase (certain terms apply). They also allow to make additional deposits in case rates drop and you want to invest more at the existing rate of your CD. However, the current rates on those products are very low, essentially negating the value of their flexibility.

About BB&T

BB&T (Branch Banking and Trust Co.) is a North Carolina-based bank with locations in 16 states – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia – and the District of Columbia.

BB&T offers a mobile app for both iOS and Android devices. While its website is easy enough to use, finding specific information, particularly about rates, is difficult. The bank’s customer service number isn’t much help either, with most questions answered with a suggestion to visit a branch location. To find the BB&T branch closest to you, use its branch locator tool.

The bottom line

BB&T offers some flexible CD deals to its customers, but in general, better CD rates can be found at other banks and credit unions. You can find them on our list of the best CD rates, which is updated monthly.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Ralph Miller
Ralph Miller |

Ralph Miller is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Ralph here

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Strategies to Save

Review: The Aspiration Account

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

The 1.00% APY has one of the highest rates in the country. If you move both your checking account and savings account into an Aspiration Account, you would be able to earn a high interest rate on your money while avoiding the risk of overdraft and enjoying the convenience of only having one account.

Aspiration is a fairly new financial services company that aims to be “the investment firm for the middle class.” In this video (that could pass for a parody if you didn’t realize they were serious), the company proclaims that it is possible to be a “capitalist with a conscience.” Lofty goals are behind the company and the products they have designed. The CEO (Andrei Cherny) was a former Clinton White House aide, and with Aspiration he is trying to take action and create a new type of financial services firm that lives up to his ideals.

All products offered by Aspiration (which includes two investment funds and a cash management account) have the same pricing model. You decide how much to pay. Yes, the fee is set entirely by you, the customer. You can set it to $0 or you can set it to any amount below $10. You can change the fee whenever you want. They provide a service and you decide what it is worth.

Aspiration is making a big bet.

With traditional banking, people are nickel and dimed every month. Make an out of network ATM withdrawal, and you could end up spending $10 in fees. Put your money into a savings account, and earn only 0.01%. By using Aspiration, you could be much better off financially than banking with your traditional bank. And you can do your own calculation and decide how much of that savings you share with Aspiration. They are hoping that you will share enough for the business to continue.

Application Process for the Aspiration Account

Opening an account used to be a bit challenging as you needed to be invited. However, Aspiration has made it as simple as ever to open an account. Simply click on the “Get Started” button on their website and enter your email address.

 

At that point, you should be directed to a page that allows you to open your account online and apply for the account.

 

Create your password, check the box to let Aspiration know you’ve read the Terms and Conditions, and click “Let’s Go!”. Since this is an online account, there will be extensive KYC (know-your-customer) and compliance questions. I was required to provide:

  • Answers to identity verification questions. These are questions generated by a credit bureau. So, you will be asked to provide your social security number, but they ensure that they won’t “run the kind of credit check that will ding your score”. You might also be asked to answer questions about your mortgage payments, car loans, and other credit bureau items to identify yourself.
  • A link to an existing bank account. This is used to provide the initial funds in the account. I put $10 into the account for a test drive. (By doing this, Aspiration also reduces its risk, because you will have gone through the compliance checks of your existing bank).

Once you finish the account opening process, it may take a few days for the account to be open and for you to receive your debit card in the mail. Aspiration has partnered with Coastal Community Bank in a way that is similar to how Simple operated. (Simple, for those who remember, was not a bank. It created the front-end user interface, but partnered with an FDIC-regulated bank).

Aspiration Mobile App

In 2016, Aspiration joined the rest of the financial industry with the launch of their mobile app. Their app allows you to view your Aspiration Account balance and transaction history, remote deposit checks using your phone’s camera, schedule transfers between the Aspiration Account and other bank accounts, pay bills, and track the impact of your spending habits. The mobile app also allows you to use fingerprint authentication to secure the data.
There are two features that stand out:

  1. Their Payments feature
  2. Their Aspiration Impact Measurement (AIM) feature

Payments

Payments is Aspiration’s bill pay feature. Not only does this feature allow you to pay your bills, but it also allows you to pay your friends. However, unlike other bill pay and money transfer features (like Zelle), Aspiration’s Payments feature sends payees a paper check with your name, address, and optional memo if you choose to include one. This feature is available at no charge to the account holder.

Since this feature is sending a paper check, you can expect the payee to receive the check within 5-7 business days from the send date. Fortunately, Aspiration doesn’t limit the number of payments that can be scheduled and they don’t limit the amount of money you can send.

Aspiration Impact Measurement (AIM)

AIM is a pretty unique feature as it allows you to see the impact you’re making on the planet and people based on your spending habits. This feature will provide you with a score that is determined by the types of businesses you frequent. The score is calculated by how the businesses treat their employees, customers, community, and environment. So, businesses are given a score and you’re given a score based on where you do your shopping.

Aspiration shares that they created AIM “so that we can all think about how our everyday spending can make the world a better place.” This may sound very “kumbaya”, but there’s no denying that they’ve created an innovative feature.

What We Like

  • Unlimited, global ATM fee reimbursement: With this account, you can use any ATM in the world and it won’t cost you a dime. Not only won’t Aspiration charge you a fee, but you will be reimbursed any fee charged by the other bank whether they are located in the U.S. or in another country.
  • Zero overdraft and stop payment fees: This is a huge perk as these are some of the “gotcha” fees that you’ll encounter at big banks.
  • Other fees are also fairly lower than big banks: Outgoing wire transfers and receiving an incoming wire transfer will only cost you 82 cents.
  • One of the best interest rates in the market: At a traditional bricks-and mortar bank, you would receive no interest on your checking account, and you would earn only 0.01% on your savings account. With this account, you earn 1.00% on your entire balance. The best online checking account in the market is currently paying 2.02%, but you need to maintain a balance to earn this APY.
  • You no longer need to have a separate savings account and checking account. With that, you no longer need to worry about overdrafts. At a traditional bank, you could end up paying $10 just to have money automatically transferred from your savings account to your checking account if you make a mistake. Because you can keep all of your money in one account, you will not need to worry about overdraft transfers.
  • All deposits are FDIC-insured, up to $250,000 per depositor.

What We Find Lacking

  • Bill pay functionality. While Aspiration does mention that they will be making updates and improvements to their Payments feature, they don’t seem to mention going away from the paper check method. While sending paper checks may be a good solution for a feature that once didn’t exist at Aspiration, it’s still not as efficient as most online bill pay features that other banks offer.

Who Could Benefit From the Aspiration Account Now?

The perfect profile for an Aspiration Account customer today would be:

  • You travel a lot, and frequently need to use ATMs that are outside of your bank’s network
  • You have a lot of cash that you keep in your account and would like to earn interest on that money
  • You are about the impact you make on people and the environment.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Aspiration’s secure website

Alternatives if This Account is Not Right For You

This account is going to get better over time. It won’t come as a surprise if this account starts to become much more competitive.

Depending upon what feature is most important to you, there are excellent alternatives:

  • If you want the highest interest rate, you can earn up to 1.85% with an online savings account with a moderate deposit amount requirement. You can find the best savings account here.
  • If you want to avoid ATM fees globally, but need better bill pay capabilities, you should open a Charles Schwab checking account. You can find that account, and others, on our checking account page.

This Looks Great and Will Get Better. But is it Sustainable?

One of the biggest worries we have at MagnifyMoney is the following: when something looks too good to be true, it usually doesn’t last long. The offer can last for a few years, but eventually market forces will catch up with it.

Providing unlimited reimbursement of ATM fees globally is expensive. Ally originally offered the same perk and then capped that benefit at $10 per month ($120 per year), because it was impossible for them to make money on the checking accounts otherwise. Aspiration does not have a magic formula, and eventually the business will need to make money somewhere.

Often, banks do not make money on checking accounts. Instead, these accounts serve as the foundation account and the bank cross-sells other products. Perhaps this is Aspiration’s plan.

Regardless, the product is very consumer friendly and potentially lucrative. According to CrunchBase, the business has raised over $67 million. Clearly, the business will need to raise more capital as it scales, especially given the low level of customer profitability expected. There is certainly limited risk to taking advantage of the great offer available now. At MagnifyMoney, we just hope that they find a way to make money sustainably. As Ally customers know all too well, it can be frustrating to switch accounts based upon a strong feature (unlimited ATM reimbursement), only to have that benefit taken away when it is deemed too expensive.

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Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Nick Clements
Nick Clements |

Nick Clements is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Nick at [email protected]magnifymoney.com