Limited payment coupons were introduced with WooCommerce Subscriptions 2.3. This feature allows store managers to create coupons that apply to a certain number of subscription payments. This guide will outline the features of limited coupons, step through their setup, and showcase some special use cases.
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.
The term “payments” in this document can also include the initial payment for a subscription in addition to renewal payments.
Store Manager’s View
Setting Up a Limited Payment Coupon
Adding a limited coupon uses the same process as adding any other type of coupon, with one addition. On the Edit Coupon screen, when choosing either “Recurring Product Discount” or “Recurring Product % Discount” as the discount type, an extra field will appear. This field is called “Active for x payments.”
This is not a required field for recurring coupons that are not limited. In order to have a coupon which applies for all recurring payments, leave this field blank. In order to limit the number of payments a coupon is active for—to make a limited coupon—fill in this field with a number.
For example, to create a coupon that applies to three payments of a subscription product, enter “3” into the “Active for x payments” field.
This coupon, when used on a subscription product, will then apply to the initial payment and the two following renewals.
Subscription Administration Screen
When a limited coupon is applied to a subscription, it is displayed on the WooCommerce > Edit Subscription and WooCommerce > Edit Order administration screens the same as other coupons.
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.”
Automatic Coupon Removal
When a limited coupon has met its payment limit, it will be removed from the subscription. This means that the subscription total will no longer include the discount, the coupon will no longer be displayed on the subscription, and a note will be added to the subscription to record the coupon’s removal.
Manual Coupon Removal
To remove a limited coupon manually from a subscription:
- Go to WooCommerce > Subscriptions and click on a subscription
- Click the “x” next to the coupon name in the items meta box
A limited coupon can also be removed from a renewal order. When removing a coupon from a renewal order, the coupon will not be removed from the subscription, only from that order. For example, a customer has used a coupon limited to three payments and has payed for the initial order and one renewal order. The next renewal order is pending and the store manager has removed the coupon from the order. When the customer pays for that order, there will be no discount. However, at this point, the coupon is still attached to the subscription and has only been used for two payments. On the next renewal payment, unless the store manager modifies the renewal order or subscription, there will be a discount given; the coupon will then be removed as this would be the third and final use.
To remove a limited coupon manually from an order:
- Go to WooCommerce > Order and click on an order
- Click the “x” next to the coupon name in the items meta box
Note: the renewal order must be unpaid in order to remove coupons.
Re-Adding a Limited Coupon to a Subscription
On a subscription that has previously had a limited coupon, if the store manager adds that same coupon again, it will be active for one use before being removed. For example, say there is a limited coupon active for three payments that was on a subscription and removed automatically after those three payments. The store manager then adds the same coupon back to the subscription. The coupon would apply to one more payment and then be automatically removed again.
For the subscriber, the cart view will be the same as for any other recurring coupon.
There is a special case in which a subscriber may apply a recurring coupon that is active for one payment and that payment applies to the initial payment. In this case, the discount will show for the initial payment and will not show in the section for recurring payments.
Special Uses for Limited Coupons
Discount First Renewal
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. Perhaps the store manager would like to discount the first payment that is at the set recurring price instead of the initial payment. Non-recurring coupons will apply a discount, but only to the initial payment. By using a limited coupon active for one payment, a discount can be applied to the first renewal of a subscription instead of the initial sign-up.
A synchronized subscription can be created with settings that will charge nothing upon sign-up. Unless bought on the synchronized date, the initial charge for the subscription will be $0. What if a store manager would like to offer a discount on only the first payment of a synchronized subscription?
Using a non-recurring coupon would only try to discount the initial cart, and may not be usable at all.
In this case, a limited coupon set to be active for one payment can be used. The coupon will apply to the first payment—in this case, the first renewal—for the 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. By using a non-recurring coupon, only the sign-up fee would be discounted.
By using a limited coupon active for one payment, the first renewal of the subscription—the first payment after the trial—would be discounted.
Three-tier pricing is a system where a customer would pay 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 and a limited coupon.
To create a subscription like the above example:
- Create a subscription product with:
- Price of $29.99 per month
- 1-month free trial
- Sign-up fee of $9.99
- Create a recurring product coupon with:
- $10 discount
- Active for 1 payment
Payment Gateway Support
It is important to note, that when a limited coupon is applied, only those payment gateways that support recurring amount modifications will be displayed on checkout. Most notably, this means that PayPal Standard, among other gateways, will not be available when using a limited coupon.
Free Shipping Coupons
When a customer uses a coupon which grants free shipping, the discount applies to the initial cart and each recurring shipment. In the case of a limited coupon, whatever discount was applied with the coupon will be removed after x payments, but the free shipping will remain. That means that if a 10% recurring discount coupon active for five payments with free shipping were created, the coupon would be removed after five payments, but the subsequent renewals will continue to have free shipping.
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.
What counts as a payment on a limited payment coupon?
Limited coupons keep track of how many payments they have been applied to. A payment qualifies for this count if:
- The order has been paid
- The order hasn’t been 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 is changed, subscriptions with that coupon will not recognize that change until after the next renewal. This means that the coupon will be applied once more even if those subscriptions have exceeded the new limit. This is because the coupon limit check and subsequent possible removal does not occur until after payment.
The coupon removal process proceeds in this order:
- A renewal is processed with the coupon applied.
- The number of times the coupon has been used is checked.
- If the coupon has reached its limit, it will be removed.
An effect of this process is that if a store manager changes the limit for a coupon to be less than or equal to the current number of payments made on a subscription, it will not be removed immediately from the subscription. The coupon will be applied to one more renewal.
For example, suppose a subscription has a coupon that applies for five payments and has renewed for the third time. This means the coupon has been applied four times, once on initial payment and once for each of the three renewals, and was not removed. The store manager then edits this coupon to apply to four instead of five payments. On the next renewal, the coupon will be applied once more before being removed. This is because the check for the coupon does not occur until the renewal has been processed.