It happens often: your card expires and is replaced automatically, or you request a new one due to fraud, loss, or personal preference. The pain in this, though, is that you need to then inform all of the companies with whom you have recurring monthly billing that you have a new card number.
However, what if you are under contract or otherwise agreed to be billed, but want out of the agreement? Can you simply change your card number to dodge the charge?
Unfortunately, no. Not only is this a sneaky way of going about cancelling an agreement, but your credit card company might actually make it easy for the merchant to get ahold of your new card number, too.
Credit Card Updater Service
If you have a credit card with American Express, Visa, Discover, or Mastercard, you may be surprised to know that your merchants probably have access to their credit card updater service. This allows merchants access to your new credit card information in the event of a changed or recently-expired credit card.
Of course, this service is only available to merchants with whom you have subscriptions, contracts for recurring billing, etc. However, this may be frustrating to cardholders, as it seems like they don’t have control over who gets their credit card information.
Rightfully, this updater service is a little irritating. If my credit card number is changed for any reason, I would like to be in control of who gets the new number. Perhaps I’m concerned with a particular merchant’s ability to keep my card information safe (especially if my previous card was changed due to fraud). Or maybe I don’t recall signing an agreement for an auto-renewal, but the merchant is able to charge me again anyway… without me actively giving them my new credit card information.
Of course, I understand the flip side. Rather than tracking down hundreds of gym members and magazine subscribers when their cards expire, it’s much easier to just get the updated info from the credit card company directly. I’m sure this would save merchants a lot of time and energy, and facilitate the entire process.
However, I feel that it is something of a breech of trust. If I want a merchant to have my card information, I will certainly give it to them. If my card number changes and I forget to let them know, they can call me and I’ll happily hand over the new info. While convenient, going behind my back and getting the new info from my credit card company directly just doesn’t feel right.
Luckily, both Visa and Mastercard offer cardholders the opportunity to opt out of the card updater service. Depending on your issuer, there is likely a form to fill out in order to opt out. For Visa, you’ll need to find the VAU (Visa Account Updater) Service Opt-Out, but you can call your issuer directly to see where these forms are and whether additional steps are needed.
Of course, if you’re hoping to use a changed credit card number in order to dodge the gym membership you don’t really use or bail on a subscription you’re contractually obligated to, don’t. You’d be much better off calling the company and asking about termination options. Even if they can’t access your card info through an updater service, your charges (with interest) will still likely accrue – and you might even find a collections notice in the mail down the line!