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Free yourself from ‘zombie payments’ by taking the Current Account Clean-up Challenge and save £360 a year*

10 January 2017

People are being urged to take the ‘Current Account Clean-up Challenge’ to detox their bank accounts and free themselves from long-dead ‘zombie payments’ that may still be lurking on their bank statements.

  • Gocompare.com Money is encouraging people to take the ‘Current Account Clean-up Challenge’ and free themselves from unnecessary payments;
  • 69% of people admit to wasting money and 57% say they haven’t reviewed their direct debits and standing orders in the last 12 months;
  • Gocompare.com Money provides step-by-step guidance on how to clean-up your regular payments. 

People are being urged to take the ‘Current Account Clean-up Challenge’ to detox their bank accounts and free themselves from long-dead ‘zombie payments’ that may still be lurking on their bank statements.

The call comes from Gocompare.com Money, who reckon the average person could save £360 a year by simply going through their current account and credit card statements and taking an axe to contracts, subscriptions, direct debits, memberships and standing orders they no longer need.

New research reveals that people waste £360 a year (£30 a month) each, on average, through regular payments for goods and services they no longer use, want or need.  TV and film subscriptions top the suspect list with just a fifth (19%) of people saying they pay for satellite TV subscriptions with channels they hardly watch, while 8% think their Netflix (or similar service) is a waste of cash.  

Subscriptions to no-longer wanted magazines (6%), gym memberships (6%) and apps that are hardly used (6%) were also revealed as areas of unnecessary expenditure along with Amazon Prime membership (5%), wine club membership (5%) and charity donations paid by direct debit (5%).

According to the research, 57% of UK adults haven’t reviewed their direct debits and standing orders in the last 12 months. 14% of those surveyed said if they went through their current account and credit card statements they could definitely find ways to save money,   and 7% already know there are subscriptions, donations and memberships they could and should cancel.

While on average people are paying £30 a month for things they don’t use or want, some people are forking-out considerably more.  Over a fifth (22%) are paying over £40 a month, 14% spend over £50 each month, while 6% estimate they waste over £100 per month on unnecessary items.

Matt Sanders, head of money at Gocompare.com, said, “Regular payments such as direct debits and standing orders can take a lot of the hassle out of managing your finances.  They ensure that bills are paid automatically and payments are not missed or late.  In some instances, such as energy bills, payment by direct debit can actually qualify you for a discount.   

“On the flipside, however, unless you regularly review your bank and credit card statements you can end up making regular payments for things that you no longer want or use.  Once set up, direct debits and standing orders are all too easy to overlook and forget about.”

Matt Sanders continued, “It is important to get into the habit of checking your current account and credit card statements.  Read through these documents to check for overpayments, changes to terms and conditions including fees, and for errors, fraudulent payments or omissions.  Reviewing your statements throughout the year will also help you spot any areas of unnecessary expenditure, helping you to save money by not paying for things that you don’t want rather than cutting back on the things you do.”

1. Make time to review your statements

Bank and credit card statements aren’t riveting reading but, it’s important that you take the time to understand them. 14% of people admit they don’t spend enough time managing their finances and 13% confessed to not checking through their bank statements every month.  So, make time in your diary – give yourself an hour to do a big annual check properly – at a time when you can concentrate on the job in hand.

2. Get your bank and credit card statements out or log on to your online account

Most regular payments will be monthly, but some may be quarterly bi-annually or annually – so ideally you will want to be able to access your statements over the last 12 months to be sure you’ve got everything.

If you haven’t kept copies of your bank or credit card statements, your provider should be able to get them for you or give you a list of all the regular payments from your account.

3. Look for direct debits and standing orders and identify what they are for

Go down your statement and identify all your direct debits (often shown as ‘DD’ on statements) and standing orders (‘SO’).

A direct debit is set up when you sign a mandate to let a company take a fixed or variable amount of money from your account.  You are entitled to contact your bank to cancel a DD instruction any time you like.

A standing order is an instruction from you to your bank to pay a fixed amount at regular intervals. You can set up a standing order to keep on paying indefinitely or to end on a certain date or after a set number of payments have been made.  You can also change the payment amount or cancel an order whenever you want.

If you see a payment you don’t recognise, perhaps because an abbreviation or acronym has been used, contact your provider.  They should be able to clarify who the payment is being made to. 

4. Check your statements for continuous payment authorities (CPA)

A continuous payment authority (also known as a recurring payment), is when a regular payment is taken by a company from your debit card or credit card.  Businesses such as gyms, subscription websites and telecoms (including mobile phone contracts) may use this type of payment method.  A CPA gives them the power to take money from an account whenever they want and they can change the payment amount.

Spotting a CPA on you bank statements can be tricky as payments may not be taken on the same day each month and the amount can vary.  You can cancel a CPA through the company which was taking the payment.

For more information on cancelling a continuous payment authority (recurring payment) visit:  http://www.gocompare.com/credit-cards/cancelling-continuous-payment-authorities/

5. Check contract terms and cancellation rights

Before cancelling payment for any goods and services you’ve identified as surplus to your requirements – check whether any terms and conditions (such as exit penalties and notice periods) apply and if you have paid several months in advance, whether you are entitled to a refund.

- ENDS -

Notes to editors:

*On 1 December 2016, Bilendi conducted an online survey among 2,006 randomly selected British adults who are Maximiles UK panelists.  The margin of error-which measures sampling variability-is +/- 2.2%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and regional data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of United Kingdom. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.