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Keeping track of your magazine subscriptions

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I enjoy reading magazines related to my hobbies, for trends and inspiration. But sometimes I get overwhelmed by renewal notices. Keeping track of the expiration dates for my magazine subscriptions can get confusing, especially when I get multiple renewal notices for the same publication.

Sound familiar? Well, here are a few tips to help keep track of magazine subscriptions.

  • Keep a running list of your magazine subscriptions, including account numbers and expiration dates. Since this information is included on most magazine mailing labels, simply clip the label and add it to your list. That way, when you get a renewal notice, you can check the expiration date and decide whether to renew or wait.
  • If lists aren’t your thing, contact the magazine publisher directly – or check the magazine's customer service site for account information and renewal prices. And remember, it never hurts to negotiate the price or shop around for a better deal.
  • Understand that a renewal notice is NOT a bill or an invoice. Some renewal notices may look like invoices or bills, even though the fine print says otherwise. But a renewal notice is simply a reminder about when your subscription expires.
  • Know who you’re dealing with. Renewal offers may come from magazine publishers directly or from third-party companies (unrelated to the publisher) that buy subscriber lists to solicit renewals. Third-parties may charge much more for renewals than the publisher. Your best bet: Call the publisher using the phone number on its website or in the magazine to find out if it sent the solicitation and what it charges for renewal.
  • Consider auto-renewal and payment. Then, you don’t have to rely on renewal notices at all. If you do this, remember that paying with a credit card gives you better fraud protections. Also remember, however, that with auto-renewal your subscription will automatically renew until you cancel the subscription.

Have some tips of your own? Feel free to share them here.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


I like this website

i like to read the magazine helpful tips. thanks

One BIG caution: DO NOT subscribe with a credit card! If you ever want to unsubscribe, you'll have a heck of a time. A friend of mine's Mom wanted to discontinue her subscription to "Reader's Digest". However, they put her thru "H" because they kept renewing through her credit card. Just this year, I dropped "Alabama Heritage". I took out a 2-yera subscription last year. Surprise! They sent me a renewal notice THIS year. Yeah, I've lost that year, but I would have anyway.

My bank offers so-called ShopSafe numbers, whereby you create a new credit card number online which acts like a subaccount to your regular credit card. It is valid only for the merchant of your choosing. You may limit the dollar amount and also the time period for which it is valid.

Hi IMP, can you tell what bank offers this ShopSafe option? I watch out for many elderly seniors and this option would be great for some of them. Thank you!

This is a really old thread I came across, so PTFROMPNW has probably figured it out or given up by now, but in case someone else wants to know, Bank of America has the ShopSafe feature.

I don't think you lost a year. A renewal notice has nothing to do with your subscription expiring soon. If you look at your expiration date, you should find that the expiration date is still 2 years from when you started "Alabama Heritage".

I've had the same problem keeping up with auto charges on my iPhone apps. For those you have to login to the app's website with your login and password. I run into app subscription renewal problems when I get a great offer from a third party vendor for maybe a year free - app auto renewed the subscription for $79! There was no billing or renewal notice AND I couldn't cancel once the auto renewal had charged..the best I could have done was login in and cancel the auto renew so I wouldn't have had an almost $100 surprise! I don't know if this is legal not to allow people to cancel so app subscriber beware!

If you use an electronic calendar, add the expiration date to your calendar. Also include an entry to renew that subscription about 1 to 2 months prior to the expiration date. This will allow you enough time to decide if you want to renew and to seek the best renewal terms.

Haave notified a magazine three times about stopping the subscription but we continue to keep getting the magazine

As long as they don't charge you for it, either read it or throw it away. They can't require that you pay for something you have not requested.

Donate! Drop magazines at rehabs (phys,drug/alch,) nursing homes, schools,etc!

Does anyone really believe this information provided is something useful,instead of: people pretending to be useful.. Next we'll see a subject line: Is your house cold?? Followed by,turn on the heat and close the windows and doors... Gimme a break.... Do people require this kind of help??

High sales tactics survival and scam survival is not taught in high school nor college. If you don't like this, don't read it.

For the rest of us, it's a great place to exchange ideas and what hot scams are going around, and what some current creative tricks work. I consider the comment section the best part some times, because of the diverse ideas.

I enjoyed your post! Thank you for posting!

Yea right. They will send renewal amount to a collection agency trying to scare you in to paying. Should be illegal and probably is.

Great article! I get a lot of magazines and I have unsubscribed to some but others I'm still receiving after I've tried many times to unsubscribe!

Accidentally put in my email address! This is my user name!

Publishers-CH magazine supplier renews with No notice, and caused me and overdraft charge at my Bank. I Did not Know of any auto renewal, on these Magazines.

Using a credit/debit card to purchase magazines with auto renewal isn't very smart. You may end up having to report the card as lost to cut off those auto renewal payments. The card issuer with your permission will send you a replacement card under a new number. Another way to watch out for your best interests is to use a credit card with an expiration date that is well before the expiration date of the subscription. Once the auto renewal tries to renew using the credit card in their file it will show up as no longer good because it will have expired. Of course the publisher or whoever will keep trying to contact you for the new expiration date. Just don't answer them and hopefully they will go away--if not use plan B--report the card as lost.

I used to use my credit card with the shortest expiration date as you mention, but now that all my cards have chips, all my expiration dates are at least 4 to 5 years in the future, arrrrrggggg.

When I renew a subscription will photocopy the payt. info with the renewal form, write down the exp date with a F/U date when to SHRED. I keep all subscriptions by alpha in a "SAVE" file folder and always refer to it when renewal notices come in. Fortunately only have two "Auto Renewal" magazine accounts but am thinking about cancelling one of them. However, from reading the above remarks, guess there's a chance there may be a need to "go to battle" so to speak, to cancel. Hope not, tho!

I also go through this with my magazines. It can be dreadful. Every year I buy my daughter In Style for Christmas. If they offer a good deal for 2 years I buy it. This year I did. A few weeks ago another offer came thru from another company $8.00 cheaper. I didn't bother trying to switch its too confusing. I retired to READ magazines, not to be a bookkeeper!! LOL

Earlier I had same problem of auto renewal charge. Since 3 years I subscribe with check and mail them instead of online payment. Since then I face no problems.

IV been reporting this to justice. no response I been hacked into my account took over my phone I would set protection programs they cause my battery to burn out

IV been charge for thing I did not buy my personal pictures and my info of mmy disability benefits so much morei don't know what to do in this account I got all the proof

You can get help with identity theft at You can file an identity theft report, and make a recovery plan to help fix the problems caused by identity theft.

If you were charged for things you didn't buy, you can dispute the charge with your credit card company. This FTC article has information about disputing credit card charges.

I had claimed to have unsubscribed with New York Magazine, but they keep sending my copies as if I had never left them from time to time. I even get calls as if they claimed I'm still with them even though I have asked to cancel numerous times. Then again, if the number isn't official, especially coming from another city, it's probably not them anyway. In all honesty, I have no idea how got on the subscription to this in the first, which my guess is that it had to be through some third party placing me on it.

I am nearly 80 and found these pages of hints while trying to find information to help me in proving that just because I had severe illnesses and loss of memory ( which made me unable to keep up with IRS dates and duties like forgetting to do my taxes, on time), it wasn't fair for the IRS to take my life's savings when I owed them nothing yet was penalized for not filing ---even though I was not trying to not file---I ended up finding lots of information for just normal people who were unaware of the amazing resources that were created by using our taxes to help us during the Obama administration--and made more info accessible to help us. Not to late to appreciate...
I try to Remember these Good Things as an example of what our Government does now for us,.. I have finally been convinced that the old cynical cliche " I'm from the Government, and I I'm here to help you " just could be true!

We need to get back to working together with hope and kindness to make our own lives better!

We need a law that magazine publishers cannot send false notices, as in "your subscription is running out" when there's a year or more to go and envelopes labeled "final notice" when it's no where near the renewal date. There should be an allowed time period before actual renewal date for them to send the notice. Otherwise, n my opinion, they r committing mail fraud. I no longer subscribe to any magazines because of the trickery. Finally took the time to figure out I had paid overlapping renewal prices more than once because I had no quick way to check actual start date of the subscription.

I made my own chart to track magazine subscriptions:

Date Pd. - Publication - Length - Expires - Amount - Check # - Name on Pub.

I do it on the computer but a simple chart on notebook paper would work, too.

I am in the process of trying to cancel magazines my dad subscribed to. He has had a stroke. Really getting the runaround. One magazine doesn't end until 2022 and the other 2019. And there may be more. Just call when they come in the mail. Any insight on what I can do besides not pay the bill?

Try going to the magazine's website, locating the cancellation link, and filling in the required information. Depending on the magazine, the cancellation may take effect right away or it may take a few days.

If you can't find the cancellation link, click the Contact Us link to reach customer service.

I never use a credit card. I only pay by check and mail the insert card into the publisher. Currently, I have a publisher that is billing me like I am overdue and must pay immediately or they will continue to contact me. I did not continue the magazine.

I ordered some magazines from reward you take survey and you earn points and then choose the magazine but lately after a pop-up says subscribe to your favorite magazine for 2.00 you can pk up to 5. That is the one that you need to keep tabs on because when it is time to renew most automatically renew your subscription at the regular price. To avoid this I now use Texture I pay 9.99 a month and hv access to magazines. For some it may be slot you can try it for 30 days but it prevents clutter. I hope Im not breaking any rule for giving this info but I am not connected to them I am just sharing my experience

RD sends me renewal notices every year multiple times, no matter how many years ahead I am (to include being paid up 3 years ahead). The expiration date is encoded at the end of my address on the magazine.

One slick trick RD's ad uses is to say to renew for one year at $19 with "free gift subscription" for someone else. I found that if I go to RD's web site, I can get the absolute best deal at $10 for one year or $15 for two years.

Not all magazines work this way; my wood carving magazines doesn't. But I'm embarrassed to admit how many years I paid the paper advertising price before discovering the web based price just two years ago.

Used to be that you subscribed for a magazine and they sent you issues until your paid up subscription expired.
Then you renewed or not.

Apparently no longer the case. In addition to the endless "renewal notices" received (similar to other consumers), I'm dealing with these:

In one case, my subscription is paid through Jun/Jul 2018, but auto-renewal credit card expired. I was reminded to enter new info, which I did, but new card was not charged for the renewal and my subscription was automatically "cancelled", though I had paid for another 12 issues. I'm currently inquiring with the publisher on this one - no resolution yet.

In another case, I haven't received an issue for several months, though online, my account says paid up, and subscription doesn't end until Nov. 2018. I assume that's because I returned an "invoice" -- which clearly shows me paid through Nov. 2018 -- and told them I would not be sending renewal$ until 2018. Inexplicably, I received one issue as a downloadable version... am pursuing this with the vendor too.

How unfortunate that deliberately bilking consumers is the order of the day. Apparently, magazine publishing is the last refuge of the scoundrel (appolgies to Samuel Johnson). Most assuredly unethical, but probably not illegal.

I tend to agree with the other commentators that consumers should: 1) buy newsstand copies only, and live with the extra cost; 2) purchase only 1 year at a time, and just start a new subscription every year; 3) don't fall for the "gift subscription" offers.

The Smithsonian Magazine sends notices reading
"RENEWAL" with return envelopes. These notices are disguised as bills. Various States call this practice "subscription scams". Also, the threat like extortion, implies a canceling if the subscriber does respond promptly with a payment. I have received 2 notices in Oct 2017 and my subscription doesn't expire till Feb 2018. The 1st read DUE by 11/3 the 2nd Due by 11/15/17. I called the Smithsonian 5 times plus 3 e-mails they refuse to follow the various state laws. If they just would put the customer expiration date on the notice they would be legal and not deceptive. They refuse! Therefore, if you subscribe to this magazine, ignore all renewal notices. Also wait a month and your can re-subscribe and get the price as a New Customer and pay half the renewal price.

I WILL NOT use auto renewal for magazines again. I cancelled Food Network and HGTV because what they were trying to charge me for the new year was over double what the charge to subscribe online through the website. It is sad that they take advantage of repeat customers like that.

I subscribed for Ride magazine in November 2017 and still haven’t had a single copy. Bauer say they won’t give me a refund but keep offering extra copies. Needless to say, these haven’t turned up either. What is my legal status? Anybody have any suggestions?

I have a subscription to Maxim magazine that does not end until 2022. Last June 2017 the magazine stopped coming. Contacted Maxim and they told me Publishers Clearing House instructed them that my hard copy subscription reverted to a digital copy. Called Publishers and they claim they cannot do this, also stated that Maxim had stopped affilliating with them. After further contact with Maxim, I was told Maxim made the decision to end my hard copy subscription. I this legal? My last extension occurred thru Maxim with offer of a gift subscription for a friend.

You could contact the company's customer service or subscription staff again. Look for contact information in the magazine or online. If a company won't deliver something you paid for, you can report that to the FTC at or to your state Attorney General.

I could not find any phone numbers to dill with this problem.

how can I tell if a renewal request is from Amazon, Publishers Clearing House or the magazine itself. Is there a trick I should know or do? VERY FRUSTRATING and I received 2 exact subs. to the same magazine and tried for months to stop them....

A certain company that I will not name here is sending me digital copies ONLY. I paid for a FULL YEAR to this certain magazine to fix it as this is THEIR MISTAKE and not mine. I am not senile and I do not even LIKE digital copies of many things. In other words, I have preferences just like other people do. I am low income due to my very poor health so this cuts money out of my annual budget that I COULD have used to pay bills with, buy food with and to buy stamps for my snail mail and etc. YES, I emailed and also CALLED the magazine company. This is what they said and I QUOTE them precisely right here after speaking and writing to the magazine. TOO BAD --I guess you wont make that mistake again huh? Followed by LAUGHING when I called them on the phone. Emails were NEVER answered aside from the first one I sent them too. Never again.

Just got hood-winked with a magazine company to pay $29.90 monthly for another 3 years, after paying off the same subscription earlier this year. They told me it was a 3 year subscription, when I don't have any record of that. I am so fed up with their tricky and duplicious marketing style, that I vow to NEVER subscribe to a magazine ever again in my life.

What magazine am I being billed for since I don’t teceiv and magazines at all? But yet u deduct $23.45 for it.

I was getting calls from "E-Reader services" about owing them $300 and they told me they would report me to "Collections LLC". We had cancelled all our subscriptions with "Reader Services" and didn't order anything with "E-Reader". Looking online I found that Collections LLC isn't an accredited collections agency and had more than 50 complaints (I stopped reading them). My understanding is that if they can't solicit payment by phone call, only by a letter. Their agency was involved in the scam involving Tech Support and Virus malware removal fees that were never accepted by consumers.

Just discovered my dad has been hit hard with the telemarketing renewal script scam...Over the last almost 3 years a handful of magazine companies have over lapsed & renewed his subscriptions til 2026. He is out over $9,000. He has multiple payments out to each magazine co. but only receives one of each magazine and also not receiving a few others in the mail that he has paid for. I am outraged and embarrassed that my father has fell victim to this situation. I have financial & Medical POA due to his Dementia. I feel hopeless, but hoping due to his lack of capacity to understand the terms of the ridiculous overlapping scripts. And the constant phone calls are pure harassment! Any Help or suggestions out there!

Notice from a magazine I get tells me to re-subscribe because my subscription expiration date is HOM2019.
When's that?


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