Limited Subscription Payment Coupons

WooCommerce Subscriptions includes an additional coupon discount called “Recurring Product Discount” which enhances the core WooCommerce coupon management functionality specifically for subscriptions. This discount also allows store managers to create coupons that apply to a certain number of subscription payments, which we call “Limited Subscription Payment” coupons.

Limited coupons are coupons that will apply a discount for a limited number of payments. For example, if a store manager wants only the first three months of a monthly subscription to be discounted, they could use this feature to create a coupon that applies to three payments.

This guide will outline the features of limited coupons, explain how to setup limited coupons, and provide some special use cases.

The term “payments” in this document can also include the initial payment for a subscription in addition to renewal payments.

Store Manager’s View

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Setting Up a Limited Payment Coupon

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Store Managers can add limited payment discounts by following these instructions:

  1. Navigate to Marketing > Coupons
  2. Choose either “Recurring Product Discount” or “Recurring Product % Discount” as the discount type.
  3. Enter the number of recurring payments the coupon should be limited to in the “Active for x payments” box.

Edit Coupon Screen – Limited Coupon Specific Field

If you want the coupon to be unlimited (for the entire duration of the subscription), leave the field blank. Otherwise, enter the number of payments to which it should apply in this field. Remember, the number you enter here indicates how many times it should be applied within this formula: initial payment + # of renewal payments = active for x payments. For example, to create a coupon that applies to the initial payment (at checkout) and 2 renewal payments, enter “3” into the “Active for x payments” field:

Edit Coupon Screen – Coupon Limited to Three Payments

This coupon, when used on a subscription product, will then apply to the initial payment + two following renewals for a total of three payment discounts.

What counts as a payment on a limited payment coupon?

WooCommerce records how many times it applies a limited coupon to a payment. A payment qualifies for this count if:

  • The order is paid
  • The order isn’t fully refunded
  • The coupon has applied a discount to the order

What happens if I change the limit on an existing coupon?

If the limit of an existing coupon changes, subscriptions using that coupon won’t reflect the change until after the next renewal. This means the coupon will apply once more, even if subscriptions have already exceeded the new limit. The coupon’s limit check occurs after processing the renewal, which causes this delay.

The coupon’s removal happens in these steps:

  1. A renewal processes with the coupon applied.
  2. The system checks how many times the coupon has been used.
  3. If the coupon has reached its new limit, it gets removed.

If a store manager lowers the coupon limit to match or be less than the current number of payments made on a subscription, it won’t immediately remove the coupon. Instead, it will apply to one more renewal.

For example, imagine a subscription using a coupon for five payments that has already renewed three times (using the coupon four times total). If the store manager edits the coupon to apply to only four payments, it applies once more on the next renewal before removal.

Subscription Administration Screen

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When a limited coupon applies to a subscription, it appears on the WooCommerce > Edit Subscription and WooCommerce > Edit Order administration screens like other coupons.

Subscription Screen – Limited Coupon

Coupons List

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On the coupons list table, there is a note that indicates that the coupon is a limited coupon. In the “Usage/Limit” column, a limited coupon will have a note that says “Active for x payments.”

Coupons List – Limited Coupon Note

Automatic Coupon Removal

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Once a limited coupon meets the payment limit, it’s automatically removed from the subscription. On the “Edit Subscription” screen there are three indicators of the removal:

  • A subscription note that records the date and time of the coupon removal.
  • The coupon no longer appears in the subscription details.
  • The subscription total no longer includes the discount.
Subscription note indicating the coupon was removed.

Manual Coupon Removal

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There may be times when the shop manager needs to remove an active coupon from a subscription. Manually remove a limited coupon from a subscription by following these steps:

  1. Go to WooCommerce > Subscriptions and click on the subscription
  2. Click the “x” next to the coupon name in the items meta box

Manually Remove a limited payments coupon from a renewal order

You can also remove a limited coupon from a renewal order if necessary. Keep in mind that removing a coupon from a renewal order does not remove it from the subscription. That means, that if the coupon still has active payments left the discount applies to the next renewal. Let’s look at an example:

A customer uses a coupon limited to three payments and completes payment for the initial order and one renewal order. The next renewal order is pending, and the store manager removes the coupon from this order. When the customer pays for that renewal, they won’t receive a discount because the store manager removed the coupon from the order. However, the coupon remains attached to the subscription and has only been used for two of three payments so far. If the store manager takes no further action, the coupon will automatically apply a discount on the subsequent renewal payment, marking its third and final use.

Follow these steps to remove a limited payments coupon from a single order:

  1. Go to WooCommerce > Order and click on the order
  2. Click the “x” next to the coupon name in the items meta box

Note: the renewal order must be unpaid to remove coupons.

Re-Adding a Limited Coupon to a Subscription

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When a store manager re-adds a previously used limited coupon to a subscription, it activates for one more use before automatically removing it. For example, if a coupon with a limit of three payments applies to a subscription and is removed after those three payments, re-adding the same coupon allows it to apply to one additional payment before its second removal. This occurs because the payment count check happens in a specific order as explained earlier.

Subscriber’s View

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Limited payment coupons appear in a customer’s cart just like any other recurring product discount, where the cart will show the discount taken from the initial payment (due today) and the recurring payment discount:

Limited Payments Coupon shown to customer in cart (using cart block)

The main exception to this is when a limited payment coupon has a limit of one (1) payment set in the “active for x payments” field. In this case, the customer sees the discount applied to the initial payment (due today) but does not see the discount in the recurring payments section of the cart.

Use Cases for Limited Coupons

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Discount First Renewal Only

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There are cases when the initial sign-up price for a subscription is different from the recurring price, such as with synchronized subscriptions or sign-up fees and free trials. By using a limited coupon active for one payment, a discount will apply to the first renewal of a subscription instead of the initial sign-up. Let’s take a look at how this works for Synchronized Subscriptions and subscriptions with free trials and a sign-up fee:

Synchronized Subscriptions

When a synchronized subscription has sign-up prorating set to “never” charge on signup, a synchronized subscription charges $0 for the initial payment (unless the purchase is on the sync date). This prevents non-recurring cart or product coupons from applying to the initial payment. If you want to offer a discount on the first payment of the subscription, you can use a limited payments coupon set to “active for 1 payment” . This applies the coupon to the first renewal payment or the first recurring total amount and then removes it for subsequent renewals. This is what it looks like:

Limited coupon applied to first payment on synchronized subscription

Free Trial with Sign-Up Fee

A similar scenario occurs when there is a product with a free trial and a sign-up fee. The first full recurring price payment will not be until the end of the trial. A non-recurring coupon discounts only the sign-up fee, while a limited coupon active for one payment discounts the first renewal of the subscription—the first payment after the trial. This is how it looks in the customer’s cart:

Limited Payment Coupon applied to first payment on a subscription with a free trial and sign-up fee.

Three-Tier Pricing

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Three-tier pricing is a system where a customer pays three different prices for their subscription. For example, the first payment would be $9.99, the second $19.99, and all payments after that $29.99. Limited coupons allow a store manager to create this system. In order to create three-tier pricing, a store manager can use a subscription product with a sign-up fee and a free trial along with a limited coupon.

Here’s how we set up the three-tiered pricing system in this example:

  1. Create a subscription product with:
  • Price of $29.99 per month
  • 1-month free trial
  • Sign-up fee of $9.99
  1. Create a recurring product coupon with:
  • $10 discount
  • active for 1 payment

At checkout, the customer pays the $9.99 sign-up fee, but nothing else. After one month, first renewal payment with the limited coupon applied for $10.00 processes; the customer’s total is $19.99. The limited coupon meets its 1 active payment limit and is automatically removed from the subscription. The following month, the customer pays the full price of $29.99.

Special Considerations

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Payment Gateway Support

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Note that when applying a limited coupon, only payment gateways that support recurring amount modifications will display at checkout. Most notably, this means that PayPal Standard (sunset) will not be available when using a limited coupon.

Free Shipping Coupons

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When a customer uses a coupon which grants free shipping, the discount applies to the initial cart and each recurring shipment. For a limited coupon, the discount applied will be removed after x payments, but the free shipping will remain. For example, if a 10% recurring discount coupon is active for five payments with free shipping, the discount will be removed after five payments, but subsequent renewals will still have free shipping.

Refunded Orders

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If an order is refunded by the store manager, then any limited use coupons applied to that order will no longer count against the limit. For example, suppose a customer has used a coupon limited to three payments and has payed for the initial order and one renewal order. This would mean that the coupon can be applied to one more payment. However, suppose the store manager then decides to refund the customer’s payment for the renewal order. The coupon can then be applied to two more payments rather than only one payment. This is because with the refund, one of the applications of the coupon to a payment has essentially been undone and so it regains an application.