1. Documentation /
  2. WooPayments Documentation /
  3. WooPayments: Subscriptions /
  4. Comparing subscription options

Comparing subscription options

NOTE: As of WooPayments 6.5.0, released on September 21, 2023, we are encouraging all merchants to use Woo Subscriptions extension for recurring payments instead of the built-in subscriptions feature of WooPayments. The ability to take recurring payments solely using WooPayments will be removed in the near future for those merchants not already using it.

Read the Migration to Woo Subscriptions section below for more details.

With WooPayments, there are two ways to sell subscription products:

This document explains the differences between these two options, as well as near future plans to consolidate the offerings, to help you choose the best one for your site.

Migration to Woo Subscriptions

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The ability for new merchants to sell subscription products using only WooPayments is being removed. This means that new merchants will need to use Woo Subscriptions to sell subscription products.

This migration process will occur in four phases:

  • Phase 1 (July 19, 2023)
  • Phase 2 (September 21, 2023)
  • Phase 3 (October 11, 2023)
    • We will be removing the ability to create subscription products and take recurring payments using only WooPayments for merchants who are not already using this feature.
  • Phase 4 (November 1, 2023)
    • The WooPayments built-in subscriptions functionality will be deprecated, even for merchants who have existing subscriptions.

Considering the above, our strong suggestion is to migrate off of the built-in subscriptions feature of WooPayments and instead use the Woo Subscriptions extension to manage subscriptions. Woo Subscriptions offers a more fully-featured and less complex experience than continuing to use WooPayments alone.

The documentation beyond the line below assumes that the built-in subscriptions feature of WooPayments still exists. However, if you are reading this page after October 11, 2023, that may no longer be true for you, if you were not using the built-in subscriptions feature already.

Note that this only applies if you have never used the built-in subscriptions feature of WooPayments. If you have existing subscribers using the built-in subscriptions feature, you will be able to continue using it for a while longer. However, we will eventually be migrating everyone to Woo Subscriptions.


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WooPayments’ built-in subscription 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 Woo 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 WooPayments subscription functionality is available for US accounts and card payments only. If you are outside the US or want to take payments for subscription products via non-card methods, you will need to use the regular Woo 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 Woo Subscriptions extension is required. Only credit and debit cards can be used to pay for subscriptions with WooPayments.
  • Required features: WooPayments 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 subscriptions with a prorated fee or signing up without a payment method.
  • Expected revenue: If you expect to process many subscription-related payments in the next year, it could be that the upfront cost of the WooCommerce Subscriptions extension is lower than the amount of subscription-related fees you’d pay using the WooPayments subscriptions functionality.

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


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Feature WooPayments functionality Woo Subscriptions extension
Country AvailabilityUS onlyAll supported countries
  — Simple subscription products
  — Variable subscription products
  — Free trials
  — Sign-up fees
  — Flexible payment schedules
  — Limit subscriptions
  — One-time shipping
  — Free subscriptions
  — Recurring Product Discount
  — Sign-Up Fee Discount
  — Limited Payment Coupons
  — 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

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

Stripe Billing Engine

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With Woo 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 like emailing details of this order to the subscriber. This system is referred to as an “off-site” billing engine since, in this case, it is the payment service provider that manages when to charge the subscriber, not the WooCommerce site itself.

The built-in subscriptions functionality in WooPayments uses an off-site billing engine powered by Stripe Billing. This can make 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.

When using WooPayments with Woo Subscriptions, Stripe Billing is also available as an option to use as the billing engine under the WooCommerce > Settings > Payments > Advanced settings section.

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

Extension compatibility

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There are many extensions in our Marketplace that modify the behavior of the Woo Subscriptions extension. Most of those are also compatible with the subscription functionality built into WooPayments.

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: