How to setup free trials (and sign-up fees) with WooCommerce Subscriptions?

Offering a free trial is a classic sales tactic to allow users to try out your product before paying for it.

We recently launched our first plugin for $19/year and offered a 60-day free trial to increase sign-ups and get feedback.

Let’s go over how to set this up on your WooCommerce store!

Before we dive into this post, be aware that you need the WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin to offer free trials.

In addition, think about how you want to setup your free trial. Here are some common questions:

What product do you want to offer as a free trial?

How long do you want your free trial to last?

Do you want to require a user to put their credit card down initially?

Let’s jump into it!

How to setup free trials with WooCommerce Subscriptions?

  1. On your WordPress dashboard, hover over Products and click Add New.
  2. Next, choose the product type as ‘Simple subscription’ or ‘Variable subscription’.
  3. Then, add your subscription price, expiration date, and free trial period.
  4. Finally, publish your Product.

We initially offered the plugin for $19/year with a 60-day free trial period. We also required users to put their credit card down before they got access to our plugin. This is enabled by default by WooCommerce Subscriptions.

When the customer goes through the Checkout process to get our plugin, here is how they are billed:

  • Today: $0
  • 60 days from now: $19
  • 425 days from now (if they renew): $19

How to make a credit card not required during Sign-up?

You probably have noticed products or services that offer a free trial and state “no credit card required”. Here is how to set this up.

On your WordPress dashboard, hover over WooCommerce and click Settings.

Next, click the Subscriptions tab.

Then, enable “Allow $0 initial checkout without a payment method”

woocommerce-subscriptions-free-trial-0-initial-checkout

Finally, click Save.

Test this out by going through the Checkout process with your free trial product. On your Checkout page, no payment options should show!

How to setup a free trial (with a sign-up fee)?

You may be looking to offer your product at a high discount for the first few months but still want to charge an initial fee. For example, the Wall Street Journal offers their online-only plan for $1 for the first 2 months, then $20 for the next 12 months. After 14 months, the price becomes $40 per month.

  • 1st 2 months: $1.00 (sign-up fee)
  • Next 12 months: $40.00 per month (add recurring coupon for 50% off for 1st 12 payments)
  • After 14 months: $40.00 per month (subscription price)

Here is how you would set this product up on your WooCommerce store:

WooCommerce Subscriptions sign-up fee and free trials

Next, add a recurring product coupon for 50% off the first 12 payments.

You can set the coupon to auto-apply using the Smart Coupons plugin.

Here is how my coupon is setup:

woocommerce-subscriptions-free-trials-sign-up-fee

Send reminder email to customer that their trial is about to expire

You can also setup a reminder email to automatically send to customers that their card will be charged in 7 days.

For example, here is how to set this up with the Follow-Ups plugin. You could also set this up with AutomateWoo.

woocommerce-follow-ups-woocommerce-subscriptions

If the customer does not cancel their subscription, their payment method is charged.

Can I apply shipping costs for free-trial products?

No. The best way to do this would be to add a sign-up fee to your free-trial product. For example, I sell a premium men’s shaving subscription box for $20/month. I offer a 1 month free trial for more customers to try the shaving box out at $3.95 for their 1st month. I set the Sign-up fee as $3.95 and Free trial to 1 month.

woocommerce subscriptions free-trial shipping cost

The customer pays $3.95 when signing up and their shave box is shipped to them. After the 1 month free trial, customers subscriptions renew for $20/month. For example, 1st month (when customer first purchases) is $3.95, 2nd month is $20.00, 3rd month is $20.00, 4th month is $20.00, etc.

Videos

If you are more of a visual learner, see how to set up and use this plugin with this video:

How to Hide Recurring Totals from Cart/Checkout page with WooCommerce Subscriptions?

Bonus: Create a Subscription Box Site with WooCommerce

Simon Gondeck

I’m a big fan of WordPress + WooCommerce (especially WooCommerce Subscriptions). Check out my YouTube channel.

10 thoughts on “How to setup free trials (and sign-up fees) with WooCommerce Subscriptions?”

    • Can you clarify how you want this set up? Do you currently having a “Simple subscription” or “Variable subscription” product? You are able to set the ‘Free trial’ period when editing the product (see screenshot below).

      WooCommerce Subscriptions Free trial period

      Reply
  1. Your tutorial is very useful… I facing an issue after trying for a free trial without using a credit card. after checking allow 0$ without payment method.. the error is occuring “Error processing checkout. Please try again.”. kindly provide a solution.

    Reply
  2. Is it possible to create a free trial for a product such that after 7 days there is a once off charge for lifetime access ? its seems super complex to just add a free trial to a product that you don’t want a subscription too.

    Reply
  3. Is it possible to have a a free trial/charge $1 for 7 day trial period on a product that does not require a subscription? or better yet charge once after the 7 day trial period.
    To break it down:
    A product that is charged for $1 for a 7 day trial and then after those seven days they are charge for the full price ?

    I cant seem to find any answer to this question.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated

    Reply
  4. This doesn’t answer the problem of wanting to provide a free trial for a product being sold as a one time payment. How is this done?

    Reply
    • Hey John, you can add a free trial period to the beginning of a subscription. This period is added to any length you set for the subscription. For example, if you create a subscription product of $10 per month for 1 month with a 1-month free trial period, the subscription will expire after 2 months. The customer will not be charged for the free trial period (1st month) but will be charged 1 month later.

      Reply

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