We’ve all been there before: The promotional period on our cable subscription is about to end, meaning our cable bill is about to go through the roof. We call up our cable provider, make a big show about how we’re going to cancel our subscription, and hope we get transferred to their retention department and given a special, one-time-only extension on our promotional rates.
But what if we weren’t the ones who had to do the begging?
A lot of our bills are ripe for discounts, if we only knew where to look. Luckily, like a late-2000s commercial, there’s an app for that.
Several apps, actually. And it’s not just decreasing bills; some apps can cancel your recurring subscriptions altogether. Think you don’t need it? According to a 2016 survey, "62% [of respondents] have paid for unwanted subscriptions or memberships because they failed to cancel an auto-renewal feature." That’s not surprising, considering we now have Netflix, Blue Apron, Amazon Prime, and more on top of our traditional bills.
But now, cutting down on those monthly expenses is as easy as hitting up the app store. Here are four of the best apps for lowering your monthly bills.
Clarity Money: Cut bills, get extras
We’ve highlighted Clarity Money before, and I talked to their CEO Adam Dell here. It’s a pretty nifty financial app. It provides financial product suggestions, has in-depth information on credit cards, and really encourages its users to take action, rather than just giving a passive list of expenses.
One of the ways to take action? Stop paying unnecessarily high bills.
If you have a qualified service provider on your bill (the company has been adding more steadily since launch), Clarity Money can negotiate any potential coupons, discounts, or other savings on your behalf. They then take a 33% cut of the total annual savings.
Clarity Money is a solid app all around for people trying to keep track of their money, and the combination of that and its bill negotiating service sets it apart from other financial apps.
Available on: iOS (Android coming soon)
Trim: A chatbot for Comcast customers
Comcast. You know them, you hate them. They’re not the most hated company in America for nothing.
Trim has Comcast in their sights. Sure, with Trim you can monitor price drops on Amazon to look for the best deal. Yes, you can connect your credit card for rewards when you eat out and use their chat interface to cancel any of your bills.
But the company really has it out for Comcast. They crowdsource service outage information to credit your account. They created a chatbot for the purpose of talking to Comcast customer support. It’s the one time we can be happy that a machine has taken our jobs (because trying to talk to cable customer support feels like a job). Trim is the hero we need.
Trim takes 25% of the savings for successfully credited bills. If they’re not able to negotiate, it doesn’t cost you anything – and Trim still works as a serviceable money-tracking app.
Available on: Facebook Messenger
Hiatus: Stay ahead of your bills
Hiatus is a pretty-looking app that tackles bills before and after they come.
First, Hiatus will provide alerts before a bill is due. This is handy in cases of promotional subscriptions turning into auto-renewed bill vampires sucking your bank account dry. You can even start free trials through the app so they’re automatically canceled before they start charging you.
Then, Hiatus will negotiate your existing bills for you. They use "big data" to determine if your bill is higher than it should be, and negotiate savings on your behalf. Hiatus then charges 50% of the savings total, paid upfront or monthly.
Hiatus charges the highest rate, and is dedicated primarily to cutting your bills, unlike other apps with budgeting components. But it also offers the easiest-to-use experience, which may make it worth the price for some users.
Available on: iOS (Android coming soon)
Prosper Daily: Keep track of rising costs
Prosper Daily may not be a familiar name, but you might have heard of BillGuard, the company it bought and integrated into its personal finance app.
Prosper Daily doesn’t negotiate bills on your behalf, but it provides another valuable service: Tracking your bills and letting you know when they’re increasing. Remember a few years ago when Netflix increased the cost of their subscription and everyone lost their minds? Prosper Daily would’ve been helpful then.
Prosper Daily has also integrated the other protection aspects that BillGuard was famous for. It can scan your transactions and alert you to scams, errors, and unexpected fees, provide location alerts if it looks like your card is being used somewhere it shouldn’t be, and has a number of identity theft protection services (which are paid – it’s how they keep their other services free). Plus, underneath all that is a basic budgeting app where you can track your money and get a free credit score check.
Available on: iOS, Android, web app
One final, important note that was a common theme across each app: There was trouble connecting to any bank account that had two-factor authentication (2FA) enabled. 2FA is a crucial component in keeping your information secure by sending a verification code to, usually, your phone when you go to log into the account.
This may be a deal breaker for you, and that’s hard to fault. You might decide an uncanceled subscription or a bill that’s a little higher than it should be is worth the cost of keeping your banking information safe.
Or, y’know, just look over your monthly bills and keep track of your own bills! There are also apps – like You Need A Budget – that can help with that. You’ll just have to deal with calling the cable company on your own.