Do I get a refund if I cancel a subscription?

When you sign up for a subscription service, you are agreeing to pay a recurring fee, usually monthly or annually, to access that service. However, there may come a time when you decide you no longer want or need that subscription. When that happens, you’ll likely want to know if you can get a refund on any unused portion of the subscription.

Can I get a refund if I cancel a subscription?

Whether or not you can get a refund when canceling a subscription depends on the refund policy of the specific company. Many subscription services do offer at least a partial refund when you cancel, but policies vary widely.

Some of the factors that influence refund policies for subscription cancellations include:

  • Type of subscription service – Physical product subscriptions tend to have more flexible refund policies than digital services.
  • Length of subscription term – Annual subscriptions may offer more refund flexibility than monthly ones.
  • Time left in subscription term – Companies may prorate refunds based on the unused time remaining.
  • Reason for cancellation – Some companies offer refunds only for certain reasons like moving or illness.

The best way to find out if you can get a refund for canceling a subscription is to check the company’s website for its official policy. Many companies outline cancellation and refund rules in their terms of service or on a dedicated support page. Some key things to look for are:

  • Refund timeframes – How far in advance must you cancel to be eligible for a refund?
  • Refund amounts – Does the company issue partial refunds for unused time?
  • Refund methods – Will they refund to your original payment method?
  • Cancellation channels – How do you need to cancel to qualify for a refund?

Common subscription refund policies

While policies vary between companies, here are some of the most common refund rules for subscription cancellations:

Digital services

  • Media streaming – Services like Netflix and Hulu often do not offer refunds if you cancel mid-subscription. Cancelling annual plans early may lead to refunds in some cases.
  • Cloud storage/file hosting – Google Drive, Dropbox and Box prorate unused time and issue refunds when you cancel.
  • Software/apps – Adobe and Microsoft prorate unused time for software subscriptions. App stores generally do not offer refunds.
  • News/magazine subscriptions – Publications rarely offer refunds for early cancellation of digital subscriptions.

Physical product subscriptions

  • Meal kits – Most meal kit companies like HelloFresh offer pro-rated refunds when you cancel.
  • Beauty boxes – Ipsy and Birchbox provide refunds for partial months after cancellation.
  • Clothing rental – Rent the Runway issues account credits rather than refunds if you cancel mid-cycle.
  • Coffee/tea subscriptions – Bean Box and Sipsby typically issue refunds for unshipped boxes after cancellation.

Membership programs

  • Amazon Prime – Amazon refunds the unused portion of annual Prime membership fees when you cancel.
  • Costco – A prorated refund is offered for unused months if you cancel your Costco membership.
  • Gym memberships – Most gyms do not offer refunds for cancelling mid-membership, but some may refund prepaid fees.
  • Subscription boxes – Loot Crate, FabFitFun and other boxes generally issue refunds for unsent boxes after cancellation.

How to cancel subscriptions and request refunds

When you’re ready to cancel a subscription, here are some tips for doing so while still following the company’s official refund policy:

  • Check current billing date – Try to cancel right after you are billed to maximize refund.
  • Follow cancellation method – Cancel via website, app, email, etc. per company policy.
  • Note cancellation date – Keep records of when you canceled and requested refund.
  • Return physical items – Mail back any items received as part of a physical product subscription.
  • Request refund politely – Politely ask about refund eligibility after cancelling.
  • Dispute if needed – File dispute with bank if company refuses to issue refund owed.

Gracefully exiting a subscription and requesting any eligible refund is typically a smooth process when you follow the company’s documented policies. Reputable businesses will happily refund any unused portion of a subscription when you decide to cancel.

What if a company refuses to refund my cancellation?

If you cancel within a company’s documented refund policy window but they still refuse to issue you a refund, you may need to push harder to get your money back. Here are some ideas if a company will not properly refund a cancellation:

  • Chat or call customer service – Talk to a rep to understand why refund is being denied.
  • Send a formal request – Email company requesting refund and noting their policy.
  • Complain on social media – Tweet at the company publicly about the issue.
  • Report to consumer agencies – File complaints with the BBB, FTC or state attorney general.
  • Request chargeback – Ask your credit card company to reverse the charge if goods were not delivered.
  • Threaten small claims court – Let company know you are prepared to sue in small claims court.

Hopefully by highlighting the refund policy and insisting the company stick to it, you will get your money back. If not, taking action via government agencies, social media or even small claims court may finally prompt the company to issue the refund you are owed.

Can I get a refund for an unused gift subscription?

If you receive a subscription service as a gift but end up not using it, can you get your money back? The ability to get a refund on an unused gift subscription depends on the refund policy of the specific company, as well as the type of subscription:

  • Physical subscriptions – Most allow gift recipients to cancel and get refunds for uneaten food, unshipped boxes, etc.
  • Digital subscriptions – Virtual services often don’t offer refunds on gifts but some unused time may be gifted to someone else.
  • Redemption codes – Refunds usually only issued if gift code hasn’t been redeemed yet.

To request a refund on an unused gift subscription:

  1. Carefully read company’s gift policy – look for refund, transfer or regifting options
  2. Contact support to cancel – ask about refund or regifting subscription
  3. Return any physical items – follow return instructions if received
  4. Provide gift details – have order/redemption code, gifter’s info, etc.
  5. Be polite and patient – support reps often have more refund leeway if asked nicely

With physical product subscriptions, you stand a good chance of getting at least a partial refund for an unused gift subscription if you act quickly. Just be aware digital and virtual service subscriptions tend to have strict no refund policies, even for gifts.

Can I get a refund if I cancel an annual subscription?

For subscriptions billed annually instead of monthly, getting a refund when you cancel mid-year is more likely, but still depends on the individual company’s policies. Here are some things to keep in mind for annual subscription refunds:

  • Refund likelihood is higher – Annual terms offer more possibilities for partial refunds.
  • Check cancellation policy – Some annual plans prohibit refunds after a certain time period.
  • Pro-rated refunds are common – You’ll often get money back for unused time remaining.
  • Upfront payment required – Refunds generally only given if you paid full year upfront.
  • Reason for refund matters – Eligibility if you move or have financial hardship versus just wanting to cancel.

To get a refund when cancelling an annual subscription:

  1. Cancel immediately after renewing – this maximizes unused time remaining.
  2. Highlight unused time – politely insist on refund for time paid for but not received.
  3. Return any items – ship back physical products received.
  4. Ask about bonuses – if you received a discounted rate or gift, ask if you must return.
  5. Dispute charge if needed – if no refund issued for unused time paid for, dispute via bank.

While digital services likely won’t offer refunds for an annual commitment, physical product subscriptions often prorate and refund appropriately. Just be sure to read policies closely and cancel at the optimal time.

Can I get a refund if I cancel a monthly subscription?

For subscriptions that bill monthly, most companies do not offer refunds if you cancel mid-cycle. However, some scenarios where you may get money back for a monthly subscription cancellation include:

  • Cancelling very early in cycle – within a few days of billing.
  • Never using or opening subscription – disputing first automatic payment.
  • Canceling due to moving, financial hardship, death – exceptions sometimes made.
  • Physical item return – returning unused tangible items from first shipment.
  • Free trial refund – if charged full price immediately after free trial before time to cancel.

To potentially get a refund when cancelling a monthly plan:

  1. Review billing date – cancel very shortly after monthly charge goes through.
  2. Check cancellation policy – see if refunds allowed for valid reasons like moving.
  3. Return any items – send back physical products unopened.
  4. File dispute – argue charge to card was unauthorized if charged without consent.
  5. Provide documentation – supply evidence to back up reason for needed refund.

Unless you legitimately did not authorize the charge or have documentation backing up illness, job loss or relocation, monthly subscription refunds are very hard to come by. But it never hurts to politely ask!

Should I cancel a free trial before it ends?

When you sign up for a free trial of a subscription service, it’s important to calendar the trial end date and cancel before you get charged. If you forget to cancel a free trial, can you get a refund? Here’s what to know:

  • Check company policy – some issue refunds if you cancel immediately after being charged when free trial ends.
  • Dispute the charge – argue to credit card company that charge was unauthorized after free period ended.
  • Highlight unused service – push for prorated refund for time not used after accidental charge.
  • Complain on social media – publicly tweet your frustration over being charged without consent.
  • Leave bad reviews – highlight deceptive free trial practices when reviewing the company online.

To avoid being charged when a free trial ends:

  1. Calendar end date – mark trial end on calendar with a reminder.
  2. Set reminders – set multiple alarms on phone to remember when free trial is up.
  3. Use throwaway payment – sign up with virtual credit card number or instead of real card.
  4. Cancel early – cancel at least 48 hours before end of trial period.
  5. Screenshot confirmation – take screenshot showing cancellation went through.

Canceling a free trial in time is the best way to avoid surprise charges. But if you do get billed after a trial ends, contacting the company quickly and firmly can often yield a refund.


The ability to get a refund when canceling a subscription depends on each company’s policies. While digital services rarely offer refunds, physical product subscriptions tend to be more flexible. Annual plans also have more room for partial refunds compared to monthly billing cycles. Don’t be afraid to politely but firmly request money back for unused time when canceling any subscription. Just be sure to carefully read the cancellation and refund policies so you can cancel at the optimal time.

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