Welcome to the VICE Guide to Life, our imperfect advice on becoming an adult.
Your friend swears that the grocery delivery service Instacart is the best thing since fast food and insists you gotta get in on it. While you’d love to avoid a trip to the grocery store, your buddy also told you free tattoos from a new shop was a good idea too (and that closed promptly due to health violations).
Sure, signing up for a free trial sounds like a no brainer, but the catch is that they always want your credit card number to “secure” your trial. And if you’re like me, you forget or get too lazy to cancel the service after the trial expires. Your credit card gets hit every month and costs add up. Some companies may even make you think the offer is free but have hidden strings attached, like in order to get the free trial, first you have to pay for something else or commit to the service well beyond the trial period.
One way around this problem is to use a virtual credit card number—a randomly generated, temporary number linked to a specified amount, which is offered by some banks (including Bank of America and Citi) and a few startups (including Privacy and Token).
But don’t count on a virtual credit card to save your ass from free trial credit card purgatory. “I don’t think virtual credit card numbers would protect you at the end of a free trial period,” says Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst at CompareCards. “Even if you gave the company a virtual card number and that number expired, that company would still come after you for whatever payment you owed if you didn’t cancel before the end of the trial period.”
Instead, "make sure to cancel the subscription," Joanie Demer and Heather Wheeler, co-founders of Krazy Coupon Lady, said. The simplest way to help you remember is by setting a reminder on your phone the day before your trial ends to cancel the subscription. It’s also wise to only sign up for one freebie at a time so you don’t lose track. Before you activate any trial, copy the link to cancel or snap a screenshot of the instructions on your phone to avoid scrambling at the last minute, doing it wrong, and getting charged anyway.
You can also multiply your free offers exponentially by signing up with a different email address after your trial expires for services like Amazon Prime. That may be tougher to do on services that ask for your phone number specifically to cut down on this tactic. Still, it's worth a try.
Also remember that free trials can be fleeting. In the past, a friend could easily give you a referral code for free meals on Blue Apron, for instance. Now “new chefs” get three meals free, but you still have to place a paid order. Not so free. Thankfully, freebies often pop back up not long after they disappear. Here are some of the best free trials we found that are available right now:
Five months of free entertainment
Amazon Prime — one free month, cancel anytime. Consider activating it right before Black Friday to save on all your holiday shipping, suggests the Krazy Coupon Lady.
HBO — Seven-day free streaming trial (no cable required), cancel anytime.
Hulu (with limited or no commercials) — one free month, cancel anytime.
Value: $6 to $12
Netflix — one free month, cancel anytime.
Value: $8 to $14
Spotify Premium — one month, must cancel before free trial ends.
You can also get one-week free trials through CBS All Access, ESPN+, Showtime, Starz and many other streaming services.
Four months of free food delivery
Instacart — two weeks, cancel anytime.
Peapod — two months free delivery on orders of of $75 or more
Postmates Unlimited — one week free delivery trial for orders of $15 or more. Must cancel before free trial ends. Available in many major cities.
Foodkick — 30-day free delivery in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens
Value: $4 to $6 for each delivery
20 free snacks
Graze — one free box of eight snacks, plus $1 for shipping.
NatureBox — one free box of four snacks, plus free 30 days free membership. Cancel at no charge within 30 days.
Value: $30 per year
Try the World — one free box of eight snack delicacies, including ingredients you can use for cooking.
Value: $29 to $39
Eight free rides
Uber — free ride credit
Miller Lite free ride program — Use MILLERTIME18 code for Uber ride discount.
Lyft and Uber are also offering free rides to the polls on election day for people in underserved communities.
Four free months of workouts
ClassPass — one free month, cancel anytime, locations in many major cities.
Anytime Fitness — one free week, hundreds of locations nationwide.
CorePower Yoga — one free week, locations nationwide.
Value: $209 for 10 classes
Crunch Fitness — one week free, widespread locations throughout the U.S.
Pure Barre — one free week, offer good if you’ve never taken a class at Pure Barre. Only good at participating locations.
Many other gyms offer free trials too. If the one you want to go to Just ask!
Two months of free services
Ancestry — free two week trial, cancel anytime.
Value: $20 to $40
Match.com — three-day free trial.
Value: $16 to $20 a month
Microsoft Office 365 — one month free, downloads for both Mac and PCs. To avoid being charged, turn off auto-renew option and your credit card will not be charged.
Wag! Dog walking service — one free walk for new customers.
Four free kits or samples
Birchbox — free discovery kit with six-month subscription, which you can cancel within the first month.
Curology skincare — one free trial bottle when you sign up for one of three acne fighting skincare plans.
Hubble contacts — one free box of contacts. Cancel anytime.
Ya Doggie dog food — welcome box with treats, food samples and poop bags for $1. Cancel anytime.
Value: $20 to $30
Follow Gina Ragusa on Twitter.