I've done that a few times with some sites that looked less than above-board. In most cases it was an unnecessary precaution but still worth the effort anyway for the peace of mind. A couple of times it was instructive to look at the card's account page and see how many additional charge attempts had been made. Sometimes they were right away, but in other cases delayed by months. Very scary!
I guess the only thing i'd worry about doing it this way is that if the vendor decides to be a total pain and tries to send you to collections when the future charges are denied, you should have some sort of proof that you never intended to go for auto renew, or that the website never indicated it would happen. For $49 it's probably not worth their time, but it's still the sort of thing i worry about.
My VB account is due for renewal so I'm going to close it two weeks before this date. If they charge me then they haven't got a leg to stand on. The quality of the subscription clips are ok but I've barely used any of them so it's a case of weighing up whether you'll get your money's worth from the $49 sub. If you use 10 clips over the year in projects then it's probably worth it but if you only use one then that's pretty costly. There are also "pay for" clips available which are better than those that come with the sub. It's irritating searching for clips only to find the one you want is not part of the sub. If I was curious and had a spare $49 then I'd try it out but having already done this I'm not renewing.
Quality wise, a lot of the "free" space clips look like they're from NASA newsreels and other clips seem to be sourced from company promos or documentaries which might possibly be available for free elsewhere with a bit of research. I suppose we're paying Videoblocks for clearing all these clips for our use.
The whole content/video clip phenomenon reminds me of the audio sampling industry where owning hundreds of these products might yield a handful of useful samples over a decade. The larger the collection grows the less incentive there seems to be to trawl through these clips to find the right video/sound and the growing temptation to make do with something else when search fatigue sets in after searching just a small selection of the collection. It's a bit of a creativity killer. Who has time to do this searching and cataloguing when the creative juices are flowing? 9 times out of ten I can't find what I want anyway.
"The risk is NOT the quality, quantity, 49$ or 99$ - the REAL RISK is trying to get off the mandatory automatic renewal merry go round and round which will keep dinging your credit into perpetuity."
Until about a year two years ago, they had really, really bad PR due to that kind of thing. So I was very hesitant, but they brought in a new Customer Service Manager (can't recall her name - I contacted her directly pointing out their bad reputation, etc.) who was assigned to straighten the place out. Satisfied, I did a 1-year at USD $99 and had no problems with un-authorized renewal. I also cancelled by phone with plenty of time to spare. I have more clips than I have need for my video-making days are few. I hals haven't seen enough new material at VB that screams "gotta have it" from my last visit, so holding off.
Short version: Be wise and cancel at least 10 days ahead, but it seems they learned from their awful reputation prior to the reboot of their operation. As far as I can tell. Their best stuff IMO is some of their aerials.
I despise phone cancellations. The fact that you have to sit there and listen to them try and keep you on as a member. So many places do this. Just give me a damn button to click on a site, along with a email confirmation, and I'd be a happy customer and would never deride the company afterward.
I did actually sign up last December for the $99. Somewhat disappointing so far because of the many many clips concerning any particular subject, candles for example, there are about a dozen members only clips, or less or actually none, and tons of marketplace clips. That seems to be the case no matter what you were looking for. That means if you buy a couple Clips it cost as much as the subscription.