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I never know that expired credit card charges were a thing, or an issue but I have now learnt my lesson.

I have previously been a user of an online automation tool. I never really got on with it and I didn’t plan on renewing the service. I’d seen a few emails from them about how my credit card on file was due to expire, but then I didn’t hear anything. I assumed that as my credit card would expire before the renewal date, my card would not be accepted and I’d not be charged.

On checking my credit card statement this month however – I found that even though the expiry date had passed, my card had been successfully billed! I was absolutely fuming, but also incredibly confused! How had an expired card been used? Why was the payment not been declined by my bank?

I contacted both my credit card provider and the company involved for information.

The company who had charged me responded within a day, and gave me a full refund – but I was still curious as to how it had happened. They advised me that there is new technology which enables updated card information to be transmitted securely to companies by the credit card providers. This article by Visa seems to explain it in a little more detail.

It would appear that to businesses it is being sold as a way of providing their customers with better service – after all, for services you want to continue, if you have forgotten to update your card details, you may end up with a break in your service. This technology would appear to stop this. What about if you don’t want your card to be charged though? I had never heard of this technology, and would most definitely have opted out if I had known about it (according to the Visa article – there should be a way for consumers to opt out – although having checked my online banking account, I cannot find this option with my provider).

I also contacted the credit card provider who advised “When you set up a recurring payment, we will continue to make this payment until we are told otherwise. Therefore, even if we change your credit card details, we will authorise the payment because that is what we have been instructed to do so. This is in place so that when customers receive a new card, they don’t need to get in touch with all of the companies that have payments with to change their details.” Again, it is being pitched as a tool for delivering good customer service. I queried whether from their point of view it is something that a customer can opt out of, but was advised “I’m afraid not, this would be dependent on the retailer. It’s usually best to cancel the recurring payment with them directly to ensure nothing further is taken.” 

This might all seem like common sense, and maybe I’m the only one who didn’t realise this but the lesson of the story is that an expired payment card will not prevent a payment being taken. Whether it’s because your details are being updated by the card provider, or the bank is honouring the recurring payment – it is better to take that extra time and cancel the payment direct with the retailer or service provider just to be on the safe side. I am grateful that I am being refunded the money – but this may not always be the case! This really could save you some money!

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