Can I offer free trials and introductory promotions as part of an ongoing subscription service?

Can I offer free trials and introductory promotions as part of an ongoing subscription service?

Yes, you can offer your customers a free subscription or promotion for a limited time. You can do this by setting the initial amount of the subscription to zero or less than the subsequent recurrent charge.

Important requirements

If you offer free trials or introductory promotions, there are some important requirements that you need to abide by. On 18 April 2020 Visa updated its rules that directly affect merchants who offer free trials that will roll into an ongoing subscription, or introductory offers as part of an ongoing subscription service. The new updates require merchants to clearly identify and state the terms of their subscription service and to effectively remind their customers when a subscription payment will be processed.

If you want to offer free trials and introductory promotions as part of an ongoing subscription service, these are the requirements that you need to follow:

  • Obtain the customer’s consent to entering an ongoing subscription service for recurring payments.

  • Send an electronic copy of the terms and conditions of the subscription, as well as the customer’s confirmation of agreement to the subscription. Also send the start date of the subscription, details of the good/services, the ongoing transaction amount and billing frequency/date, and a link for the customer to easily cancel the subscription.

  • Send an electronic reminder notification and a link to online cancellation at least 7 days before initiating a recurring transaction if a trial period, introductory offer or promotional period has expired; or if  the nature of the recurring agreement has changed.

  • Disclose the length of any trial period, introductory offer or promotional period, including clear disclosure that the customer will be charged unless they take steps to cancel any subsequent transactions, the transaction amount and date for the initial transaction (even if no amount is due) and for subsequent recurring transactions and a link to easily cancel any subsequent transactions online.

  • Provide an easy way to cancel the subscription or payment method online.

  • Familiarise yourself with the Expanded Dispute Rights, the Expanded Policy for Negative Option and Up-Selling Merchants and the Updated Visa complaint forms that are outlined in the table here

For more detailed information on the above points, please read Visa’s Updated Policy for Subscription Merchants Offering Free Trials or Introductory Promotions.


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