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Netflix, YouTube, Spotify and more: This app helps you get control of your subscriptions

Truebill lets you track and manage all of your subscriptions -- and cancel them if it can't negotiate a lower rate.

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Can't keep track of your subscriptions? Maybe you need an app to see them all in one place. 

Getty

Do you know how much you spend each month on all of your subscriptions? While COVID-19 continues to limit our real-world activities and the everything-as-a-service model expands its reach, we've seen our news, entertainment and other subscriptions multiply. Last year, Americans signed up to one extra streaming service on average. That means the approximate annual household spending for streaming sites went above $500 for the first time, according to a survey by J.D. Power. 

It's not hard to see why. We're lured in by free trials and promo codes -- and stay captive with features like AutoPay and auto-renewal. If your subscriptions are out of control, you're not alone.

One possible solution: another subscription. (I know, I know, but hear me out.) Truebill is an app that helps you identify and cancel subscriptions you no longer use. It can also help you negotiate lower rates for the ones you want to keep. Intrigued? Read on to learn how it works -- and whether it's worth the money.

Truebill

Like

  • Can negotiate some monthly bills on your behalf
  • Helps manage your monthly cash flow
  • No-fee payday advance

Don't Like

  • Limited budgeting capabilities
  • Hefty upfront costs
  • Overwhelming amount of data

What is Truebill?

Founded in 2015, Truebill is a financial app designed to analyze your spending and save you money on bills and subscriptions. Truebill tracks your expenses, maps out where your money is going and notifies you when bills are almost due. It can also help you cancel subscriptions and negotiate on your behalf to bump down some monthly expenses.  

Available for both iOS and Android devices, Truebill claims it has helped over 2 million customers save over $100 million and cancel over $1 million in annual subscriptions. 

How does Truebill work?

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Truebill canceling Audible.

Truebill

You'll get started by downloading the app, creating an account and connecting your bank accounts and credit cards. Truebill uses Plaid -- a secure financial data sharing service -- which acts as a go-between to safely sync your financial accounts. If you use a major bank or larger credit union, you shouldn't have a problem connecting them to Truebill. But some smaller banks and fringe applications might not be supported by Plaid. If that's the case for you, Truebill won't be particularly useful.

After syncing your accounts, Truebill analyzes your recurring payments to flag subscriptions and utilities -- such as your cell phone -- to see if it can save you money. You'll also be able to view your cash flow, credit card balances and spending patterns. 

The free version shows you bill negotiation recommendations and offers that could save you money. It conveniently provides customer service information, so you can call to negotiate the bill on your own. But you'll need to sign up for a Premium account if you want to have Truebill negotiate your bills for you.

How much does Truebill cost?

If you want to upgrade beyond the free version, Truebill Premium offers a sliding scale, adopting a pay-what-you-can model from $3 to $12 a month (the $3 and $4 options are billed annually). Truebill also offers a seven-day free trial for the Premium tier. 

Free features

Subscription management

Truebill will compile all your recurring expenses in one place. At a glance, you can see how much you're spending on subscriptions. If the app fails to cancel any subscriptions you know of, you can do so manually.

The free version provides contact information for the service you want to cancel. All you do is hit "cancel by phone" or "cancel by email," and the number or email address pops into your phone, allowing you to quickly dial or compose an email without looking up the company's information.   

Budgeting tools

Truebill's budgeting feature tracks your earnings, bills and other categories. Based on your past transactions, it predicts how much you could save in a given month. It comes with three standard budget categories: rent, utilities and subscriptions, and the free version only allows you to add two more categories, such as "eating out" or "pet expenses." 

How does that compare to other money management services? Mint, a free budgeting app, lets you create a simple budget and add unlimited spending categories. Quicken's Simplifi also tracks spending by category and allows you to add more as needed but costs $3 to $4 a month. 

Spending tracker

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Truebill budgeting tool.

Truebill

The platform's spending tracker helps you see where your money is coming and going each day across multiple categories. Truebill updates your balances once every 24 hours, so real-time changes aren't reflected in the free version. It does, however, send you a heads-up of upcoming expenses, like your rent or credit card payments. 

A particularly helpful tool is Truebill's "left for spending" feature, which shows how much you have remaining after factoring in your bills so you can plan ahead and avoid low balances.

Mint's interface is clean and streamlined, but Truebill's upcoming recurring bill timeline is a tad clearer, and dare I say more fun to use.

Low balance alerts

If your bank balance runs low, you'll get pinged with a notification in the app. You can set the threshold amount for each balance. And speaking of notifications, Mint and Truebill both allow you to receive push notifications on upcoming bills and changes in your credit score (see below). Truebill takes this a step further and offers alerts on bill increases, large transactions and your subscriptions.  

Credit score 

If you're working on cleaning up your credit or starting from scratch, Truebill has partnered with Experian to provide a free credit score. Mint also offers a free credit score, but Simplfi does not.

Safety and security features 

If you're out in public or would like some privacy while using the app, you can set Truebill's interface to "scramble" mode. This masks transactions and other personal info so you (and anyone nearby) won't be able to see sensitive data. 

Premium features

On top of the free account features, signing up for the Premium service will also give you these added benefits.

Bill negotiation

Truebill's major selling point is that it does the legwork, negotiating to try to lower your bills. First, you'll need to connect your account or upload a photo of your bill. If Truebill can lower your bill, the app knocks down the cost right away or issues you a one-time credit. 

It's important to note that while Truebill can save you hundreds, there are some upfront costs. Truebill charges 40% of any savings it gets for you -- and it takes the payment immediately.

For example, if Truebill saves you $240 annually on your cell phone bill by negotiating your monthly cost down from $80 to $60, the company will bill you for 40% of that annual savings upfront. In this case, you'd have to hand over $96. Though you'd still save an additional $144 over the remainder of the year, you'd have one higher bill in the near term. So if you can't afford to pay more immediately, you might be better off using the free version and negotiating on your own.

Paycheck advance

If you have a Premium subscription, you can tap into the Payday advance feature to receive up to $125 in advance of your next paycheck. This amount will then be deducted automatically from your next paycheck, free of interest or fees. After the money drops into your bank account, you can tip Truebill, but that's entirely optional. 

Overdraft and late fee refunds

Should you get dinged with an overdraft or late fee, Truebill can provide a script to help you get that money back. While it is a helpful feature, Truebill won't flex any negotiating muscles to get your late fees refunded.

Real-time account balance

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Check your upcoming bills in Truebill.

Truebill

Instead of experiencing a lag between data from your financial accounts and when it appears in Truebill, your account balance will show up in real-time if you have Premium. This could be worth the extra money if you tend to run into issues with cash flow and need to make sure there's enough in your account to cover incoming bills. Of course, many bank apps offer the same for free.

Smart savings account

Truebill has partnered with NBKC Bank to enable people with Premium-level accounts to open an automated savings account. I'm not a huge fan of this feature right now since you won't earn interest like you could with a high-yield savings account. It is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., though.

Credit report access

Premium subscribers receive a free credit report, while free subscribers have access to only their score. Although there are other ways to get a credit report for free, it's a handy feature if you need it. The information is well presented and easy to understand. 

In-app chat support 

Only Premium users can chat with a customer service rep through the Truebill app -- if you have a free account, you'll need to send a message to the Support team and wait for a response. This seems like an odd Premium-level feature, as some apps and financial platforms offer support via chat in real-time for free. 

Export Data

Unless you're using Truebill to keep track of expenses that are tax-deductible, you most likely won't use this feature. But if you do need your data exported for any reason, you can grab it.

Account Sharing

If you have any joint accounts, you can create shared budgets and track spending with one Truebill account. This feature might be worthwhile in the future but is still in beta testing, so it's fairly limited.  

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You could save money by canceling subscriptions you no longer need. 

James Martin/CNET

What I like about Truebill

Negotiates and lowers bills on your behalf

We all pay for convenience in some form or another, and Truebill knows that. It's a great tool for analyzing your subscriptions and helping you lower your monthly payments to put more cash back in your wallet over time.

Built-in features to avoid gaps in cash flow

Truebill's free version has a robust suite of features to help you every month: It tracks recurring bills and subscriptions, provides low balance alerts and offers a daily "left for spending" feature. These components can help you save on monthly bills, stay within budget each month and avoid paying late or overdraft fees. 

Payday advance without fees

If you could use a small advance before the next paycheck, you could find the payday advance of up to $125 helpful, particularly since there is no interest charged for this service. This feature alone could be worth the cost for Premium. 

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More and more of us are paying for multiple streaming subscriptions. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

What's not as impressive

Limited budgeting capabilities 

Unlike similar free or lower-cost money management apps out there, the free version of Truebill doesn't offer a lot of budgeting features. You can only add two categories, which could make it difficult to manage your money. 

Hefty upfront costs

If you're using the bill negotiating service, you'll need to budget for the upfront fee Truebill charges whenever it saves you money. This is on top of the $3 to $12 a month (that's $36 to $144 a year) you'll pay to be a Premium member. These costs might be difficult if you're already struggling with cash flow.

Overwhelming amount of data

This might seem like a positive, but for anyone new to budgeting and money management, the amount of data offered can feel intimidating.

Alternatives to consider

  • Mint. Intuit's Mint is a money management app that lets you see your recurring bills, track your spending and save for goals. Mint also offers a free credit score. Cost: It is free to use, but expect to receive offers. 
  • Simplifi. Quicken's Simplifi is designed for tracking cash flow, budgeting, keeping watch on spending habits, making positive shifts and developing habits to save for specific goals. However, there's no credit score, bill tracking or negotiating features. Cost: It breaks down to $4 a month, or $3 a month if you pay annually. 
  • Trim. Like Truebill, Trim analyzes your financial information through linked accounts and finds ways to help you save. Besides subscriptions and bills, Trim can also negotiate to lower your medical bills. Cost: Trim has a free version and a premium version for $99 a year. It charges 15% of the amount you saved by having Trim negotiate bills on your behalf. 

Is Truebill worth the price?

Truebill's budgeting features can be useful for free users. And while negotiating bills can be helpful, the Premium subscription may not have much long-term value. If you know you have bills that you could be paying less for, or that you keep forgetting to cancel, you could pay for a monthly account, negotiate your bills upfront and then downgrade to a free membership. You'll still need to pay for at least one month's subscription -- plus the 40% fee on your savings that Truebill charges -- but you won't need to keep paying monthly for budgeting services you can get for free elsewhere.