We’ve all been there. Somewhere between the military loan payment and the electric bill on your bank statement, there’s a strange charge. You can’t remember spending that money, and it’s not a huge amount, so you shrug your shoulders and move on.

Stop! Don’t let these mysterious charges just go un-researched. You may have just found a grey charge, and there maybe more hiding in your statements.

What is a Grey Charge?

grey charges

photo: Giuseppe Leto Barone – http://flic.kr/p/5zKFdk

A grey charge is a line item on your credit card statement that you didn’t ask for nor “technically” approve. It’s a .99 cent add on for an app you bought, a recurring subscription you forgot to cancel, or an increase in the cell phone bill you never thought to question.

Companies are great at finding grey charges, and they keep right on doing it because most of us don’t make a fuss…or even notice! It’s just a little bit of money, after all. But a little bit has a way of adding up to a lot.

How Do I Get Rid of Grey Charges?

The first step is to identify the charge. Is it an increase in the Internet bill after the promotional period ended? Get on the phone. Often, a company will bend over backwards to keep your business if you ask nicely.

Some companies also use the sketchy automatic renewal to boost their bottom line. You may have forgotten about the service entirely, but you can bet they didn’t. Call as soon as you spot the charge: many businesses will credit back the unused portion of the subscription.

As a last resort, you may need to file a complaint with your bank. This may not get the charges removed, but it will keep the leeches from accessing your account in the future.

How Can I Avoid Grey Charges Entirely?

These charges – and the companies who impose them – are tricky, but you can outsmart them with these tips:

  • Read the small print carefully. Know what you’re getting into.

  • Cancel any free trials well before the ending date to avoid being charged for a service you don’t want.

  • Know when promotional periods end and how to negotiate new discounts.

  • Dispute any unauthorized charges quickly and file a complaint with the company.

Grey charges can put a serious dent in your finances. But if you’re vigilant with your credit card and bank statements and willing to challenge any shady charges, you’ll (usually) come out the victor and save yourself a good chunk of change in the process!

Have you encountered grey charges on one of your statements? How did you get them resolved? Please share your experiences with us!