Joanie Demer | 

7 Savvy Ways to Avoid Paying Membership Fees

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Membership fees often pay for themselves in convenience, discounts, or points, but not every membership program is useful.

Here are 7 ways to cop free membership benefits for a day, a month, or even years!


1. Snag free delivery service with Amazon Prime and Google Express trials.

We all know Amazon Prime for their fast, free shipping and hassle-free return process. And Prime benefits also include access to movies, TV shows, Kindle books, music, audio series and photo storage.

Activate your free 30 day trial and pay $10.99/month or $99/year for continued membership.

Students with an eligible .edu email address can get an entire 6 months of Amazon Prime for free, then continued membership is 50% off for students. Keep in mind that streaming with Amazon Video is not available during the student trial though.

Another must-have delivery service, Google Express, offers same-day order fulfillment from a variety of major retailers. Products include everyday grocery and household items plus plenty of other options like decor from Pier One and kid stuff from Toys R Us.

Sign up here for 3 free months then keep your membership active for $10/month or $95/year.

TIP: Amazon renews your eligibility for a free trial every 12 months, so if you haven’t been an Amazon Prime member in the past year, you can try it for free again!


2. Buy from Costco without a membership.

You may know that anyone can shop online at without a membership; just remember that you’ll pay an extra 5% over posted prices.

If you’re near a Costco and on the go, their food court is open to all and makes a cheap, delicious snack or meal.

Want to shop the full Costco store without buying a membership? Give a Costco-member friend some cash to purchase Costco Cash Cards — gift cards anyone can use to shop at Costco.

Many states also require that in-store services like optical care, pharmacy usage, and alcohol purchases are open to the public.

Let the greeter know that you are there for one of these reasons.


3. Score free books with Scribd, Kindle and Audible trials.

Ebooks and audiobooks are a great way to access books on the go from any device. These top competitors offer widely varied titles and features, so try them for free before you subscribe!

Scribd’s free month includes three books and one audiobook, plus unlimited access to magazine and news articles, sheet music, and documents. Continue your Scribd subscription for $8.99/month.

Use your Amazon account to get a free month of Kindle Unlimited and explore over 1 million titles, audiobooks, and current magazines. Keep it going for $9.99/month.

You can also use your Amazon account to get a free month of Audible. You’ll get started with one free audiobook and exclusive access to discounts.

Keep it going and get a free book every month, discounted purchases, and free swaps for any book you don’t like. Plus, even if you cancel, you can keep your audiobooks forever. An Audible subscription costs $14.95/month.



4. Check out the online gaming community with free trials on XBOX Live Gold and PS Plus.

You can get more out of your household’s gaming consoles with subscriptions to XBOX Live Gold and PS Plus. Try them free to see if the benefits justify the cost for your family.

Try XBOX Live Gold free for a month and get access to online gameplay, plus capabilities for chat, Skype, Hulu Plus, Netflix, Internet Explorer, Amazon Instant Video, ESPN, and more.

PS Plus offers a two-week trial and provides similar benefits like online gameplay and non-game app capabilities. Membership benefits also include free games every month plus exclusive discounts and betas.

Keep in mind, you’ll need a valid login for third-party applications and a headset for online chat.


RELATED: 8 Ways to Watch TV Without Paying for Cable


5. Try out all the gyms before you decide to buy a membership.

Many gyms offer free passes good for 1 to 30 days so you can try before you buy.

These well-known chains offer free trial memberships. Like:

  • 24 Hour Fitness: 1 day
  • Anytime Fitness: 1 week
  • Axiom Fitness: 1 week
  • Crunch Fitness: 1 day
  • Equinox: 1 day
  • Gold’s Gym: 1 week
  • LA Fitness: 5 days (One pass is good for you and a friend.)
  • Snap Fitness: 1 week if you sign up in person, 30 days if you order a Fit Pass online (Snap Fitness will charge you $8.95 to ship your 30 day pass. Kind of a bummer, but they normally charge $59 to enroll then $34.95/month to pay as you go, so it’s still a good value.)
  • Youfit: 1 day

Smaller local clubs and chains may provide free trials as well.

Free passes are often subject to seasonal and regional availability, so call your location of choice for details.


6. Try ad-free, cost-free music streaming with Google Play and Apple Music.

Music streaming services are now the most convenient and cost-effective plans for broad access to your favorite songs.

Google Play Music offers free access for 30 days to millions of songs, podcasts and playlists.

This service also offers perks like the ability to upload songs you own, download playlists for offline listening, and free YouTube Red.

If you want to continue using these ad-free services, pay $9.99/month for an individual plan or $14.99/month for a family plan with up to 6 people.

Apple Music offers 3 free months for similar audio access including curated playlists and download and upload options.

Continued individual and family plans cost the same as Google Play, plus, Apple Music offers a student plan for $4.99/month.



7. Avoid annual credit card fees by calling customer service.

Many credit card providers waive annual membership fees for the first year.

If that year is up or no such offer was available to begin with, simply call customer service regarding the charge.

After providing your information, politely state that you want to use their credit card but do not wish to pay the annual fee. If they refuse, ask if someone else may be able to help you, and you may get transferred to someone with more decision-making powers.

If no one will waive the fee, tell them you’d like to cancel your card.

The credit card industry is both highly competitive and extremely lucrative, so companies will likely waive the fee to keep your business. If not, proceed with the cancellation and find a credit card company who will agree to your terms. (And get a card with a big sign-up bonus while you’re at it.)


Bonus: Use Trim to cancel memberships you don’t want anymore, automatically.

We were so excited when we found out about Trim! Finally, an easy way to manage subscriptions.

Just sign up online, verify your phone number, and link your banking info. Trim will text you a list of all recurring payments.

Reply “Cancel” and the name of the service, like “Cancel Audible.” Trim will text you a confirmation and take care of the rest. And yes, it’s totally free!


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