1. Documentation /
  2. WooCommerce Payments: Startup Guide /
  3. Subscriptions with WooCommerce Payments /
  4. Comparing subscription options

Comparing subscription options

If you’re using WooCommerce Payments, you have two options to sell subscription products:

This document explains the differences between these two options, including features and pricing, in order to help you choose the best one for your site.

Overview

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WooCommerce Payments’ built-in subscriptions functionality provides the basic features needed to sell subscription products in your store. This allows you to sell subscriptions easily, without the need to install any other extensions. There is, however, an additional fee that is added to each subscription-related transaction, and subscriptions can only be purchased with cards.

The Subscriptions extension provides access to more advanced features, including support for dozens of different payment gateways. To use Subscriptions, you must purchase an annual license for it via WooCommerce.com. After that upfront cost, only the payment gateway fees are charged on subscription-related payments. There are no additional usage fees added by Subscriptions itself.

Which solution is right for me?

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Currently, the WooCommerce Payments subscriptions functionality is available for U.S. accounts and card payments only. If you are outside the U.S., or want to take payments for subscription products via non-card methods, you will need to use the regular Subscriptions extension.

Aside from that, the most suitable subscription solution for your business will depend on the following factors:

  • Payment methods: If you want to offer your customers the option to subscribe using their PayPal wallet or various other payment methods, the WooCommerce Subscriptions extension is required. Only credit and debit cards can be used to pay for subscriptions with WooCommerce Payments.
  • Required features: WooCommerce Payments provides the essential subscription functionality for a business with a recurring revenue model. WooCommerce Subscriptions provides additional advanced features that may be required for different subscription models, such as support for subscribers upgrading their subscription with a prorated fee or signing up without a payment method.
  • Expected revenue: If your business expects to process more than $20,000 of subscription-related payments in the next 12 months, the upfront cost of the WooCommerce Subscriptions extension will be more economical than using the WooCommerce Payments subscriptions functionality (due to the subscription-related transaction fees).

In general, the subscriptions functionality built into WooCommerce Payments is best suited to stores testing out a new recurring revenue model. The WooCommerce Subscriptions extension is best suited to larger stores or businesses with a subscription model at their core, such as a membership website.

Features

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Feature WooCommerce Payments Functionality WooCommerce Subscriptions extension
Country AvailabilityU.S. onlyAll supported countries
Products
  — Simple subscription products
  — Variable subscription products
  — Free trials
  — Sign-up fees
  — Flexible payment schedules
  — Limit subscriptions
  — One-time shipping
  — Free subscriptions
Coupons
  — Recurring Product Discount
  — Sign-Up Fee Discount
  — Limited Payment Coupons
Renewal
  — Automatic renewal
  — Manual renewal and toggle
  — Early renewal
Failed Recurring Payment Retry
  — Auto-retry failed payments
  — Customizable retry system
Essential Features
  — Subscriptions dashboard
  — Edit subscription screen Limited1
  — Subscription emails
  — Reports
Advanced Features
  — Resubscribe
  — Synchronization
  — Switching
Advanced Configuration
  — Mixed checkout
  — Customer suspension limits
  — Downloadable content drip
  — $0 initial checkout
  — Customizable sign-up buttons
  — Role setting
Payment Options
  — Credit and debit cards2
  — Other payment gateways
Developer tools
  — REST API

1 Line item, amount, and date changes are unavailable.
2 Via WooCommerce Payments only.

Billing engine

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With WooCommerce Subscriptions, automatic recurring payments are initiated on your site, and then processed by the payment gateway. This turns your WordPress site into a recurring billing engine that is completely within your control. This is referred to as an “on-site” billing engine.

An alternative approach is to have recurring payments initiated by the payment gateway itself. After the payment is initiated, the payment gateway then notifies WooCommerce about the payment so it can record the transaction in an order and take other necessary actions. This is referred to as an “off-site” billing engine, since in this case it is the payment gateway that manages when to charge the subscriber, not the WooCommerce site itself.

The built-in subscriptions functionality in WooCommerce Payments uses an off-site billing engine. This makes it possible to provide a greater level of reliability when collecting recurring revenue, because your subscribers will still be charged even if your site is down for some reason.

NOTE: If you’re using the WooCommerce Subscriptions extension with WooCommerce Payments available as a payment method, automatic recurring payments for subscriptions purchased with the Subscriptions extension active will use the on-site billing engine.

Extension compatibility

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There are many extensions in our Marketplace that modify the behavior of the Subscriptions extension. Most of those are also compatible with the subscriptions functionality built into WooCommerce Payments.

Changing subscription options

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If you are already using one subscription offering and want to migrate to the other option, please refer to our guides here:

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