/ Money

Continuous card payments – a recurring nightmare

A credit card close up

Recently I got to wondering, why do so many people struggle to cancel their recurring credit and debit card payments? Judging by your comments, it’s an issue that still riles a lot of you.

Most of us use direct debits or standing orders to pay for goods and services, but a sizable number of people are encouraged to set up continuous payment authorities (CPAs}.

CPAs are similar to direct debits, as they allow you to make regular payments to a company. The only difference is that CPAs are payments from your debit or credit card and not from your bank account, so aren’t covered by the bank guarantee scheme.

In many cases, CPAs are well-oiled machines, ticking away in the background without any trouble. But several commenters here on Which? Convo have told us they’ve experienced problems when trying to cancel them.

Your right to cancel CPAs

The rules of CPAs are clear – you have the right to stop a payment at any time. All you need to do is contact your card or account provider and sever the payment. Simple! Or not, as the case may be. Susiek told us:

‘I have been trying to cancel a monthly payment request on my credit card for months but the bank keeps telling me that because it’s a new request every month from the company, I can’t cancel.’

Danny also had problems:

‘I can remember having a problem a few years ago with AOL taking payments from our credit card – we had stopped using it some considerable time before. Despite trundling down to the branch of our bank (Bank of Scotland) with all the relevant paperwork, I was emphatically informed by bank staff they could do nothing about it. They insisted on referring me back to AOL despite my proof of sending recorded delivery letters to them about it.’

If this sounds familiar, then chances are you’ve also been hoodwinked by a credit card provider or bank that should know better. Our Money Helpline receives a steady number of CPA-related calls, as people say they’ve been told they have to cancel their credit card to stop the payments, or that they need to contact the retailer directly.

The missing link

This really isn’t good enough. The Payment Services Directive (2009) and recent guidance from the Financial Services Authority make it clear that all you need to do is tell your card provider that you wish to stop making the payments.

In an ideal world, CPAs would offer a reliable means of setting up and stopping ongoing payments. It works in the majority of cases, but it’s a system that is compromised by those providers giving out the wrong advice.

Have you ever struggled to cancel a continuous payment authority? Or have any providers or retailers given you incorrect information on how to cancel them?


Just this morning recieved a Tesco CC statement for a card I cancelled over a month ago. Statement shows that AA had charged to account. Phoned a typically unhelpful Tesco CC, which is why I cancelled it, and told it was a subscription payment – very frustrated that I was not made aware of this issue when I closed account. AA funnily enough on their system appear to show a problem with the payment so I may now owe the amount in two places. What I dont understand is why some companies send you an email saying there is a problem and others simply take the payment. I get used to using the notification of payment failure as a way to drive the change of card.

I’ve just been stung by the AA automatically renewing my cover despite a written statement from myself not to. Can I recover this money via a chargeback as an unauthorised payment?

You as Which have learnt all the tricks to not be able to cancel your Which membership easily?

Where on this site is the straightforward cancel my membership button?

Contacting Which? membership services is one way. Have a look on the Which? website.

Dave Curd says:
24 January 2018

I am struggling at the moment to cancel my Which CPA, surely there should be a simple button on the website that says cancel my subscription?