How to Stop a Gym From Charging Your Card After Canceling Your Membership


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Gyms have a terrible reputation for not actually canceling your gym membership, so what do you do when they ignore your cancelation emails and keep charging your card long after you canceled? Here are some tips to ensure that you don’t get bilked by an unscrupulous gym.

Review your gym membership contract

Before you dispute a post-cancelation charge on your credit or debit card, check your contract first. While many gyms will have a recurring charge that’s month-to-month, some might have a minimum term, like three or six months, especially if it was part of a discounted membership offer. The gym might also have a clause that says they need 30 days notice that kicked in for one last payment. In that case, you’d be on the hook for that month.

What you don’t want to do is stop payments while you’re still in contract, as those charges are legit and can be sent to a collection agency (this is also why you shouldn’t assume that an expiring credit card will simply “cancel” the service—those monthly charges will still be applied).

How to contact the gym to cancel your membership

Lifehacker has an in-depth post on how to make a cancelation request with each major fitness chain, along with a template for how your email or letter should be written, here. For most gyms, that’s all that you have to do. However, if that doesn’t work, you should cancel your membership in-person at the gym. And if that’s not possible, try sending another cancelation notice via certified mail, which requires a signature from a gym employee upon receipt.

Contact your bank or credit card company

If all the previous options have failed, dispute the charge with your card issuer, either as an online form on their site (if they provide it) or by mail (they should have a specific mailing address to dispute the charge), using this template provided by the Federal Trade Commission.

Make sure you do it right away, as you have to send the letter within 60 calendar days of the date the disputed charge was sent to you. Once received, the issuer has 30 days to respond in writing and must resolve your complaint within two billing cycles.

If you paid with a credit card, the issuer will suspend the charge until the investigation is completed. Debit cards have weaker protections, however, so you won’t see the money back until the investigation is completed.

Additional steps to help save others from the same problem

Consider “paying it forward” to other consumers by filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau here, as enough complaints can alert authorities to gym companies that have fraudulent billing practices. Similarly, another option is to make a complaint with your state’s attorney general’s office, as they can mediate disputes between businesses and consumers.