Subscription Box

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One of the best things about subscription boxes and their growing popularity is that there is truly something for everyone. But just because a subscription box has your dream theme doesn’t mean it has your ideal subscription billing method.

When browsing the different subscription boxes currently on the market, often shoppers just look at the price. However, the type of subscription billing used by a box company can make or break your experience!

So how do you navigate the financial side of subscription boxes and all of their surprise goodies? And which billing method is right for you and your lifestyle?

The Financial Side of Subscription Boxes

subscription boxes

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Honestly, the financial side of subscription boxes is probably the least exciting part of this fun trend.

While we know most people just want to jump to the interesting items they’ll be receiving in their next box, understanding the why and how of your subscription billing is crucial to getting the best deal.

Here are the big questions every shopper should ask when thinking about signing up for a subscription box:

What payment options can I choose from?

Credit Card

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Before we can even get into the details of subscription billing methods, let’s take a look at the best way to pay for your box memberships.

For most people, the easiest way to pay for their subscription box is with their normal bank account. Most subscription services will accept a debit card. But some will also allow direct debits from your checking account.

However, you also typically choose to pay with a credit card or through a service like Paypal. These two options can offer benefits you won’t get by paying with a debit card.

If, worst case scenario, something happens with one of your shipments and the company won’t help resolve the issue, you can issue a dispute through your credit card company or Paypal. While you can do this with some bank accounts, the process typically isn’t as streamlined.

If you have a credit card equipped with a rewards program, placing your subscription box payments on this card can help rack up the points. Just make sure to pay off your statement each month to avoid paying interest!

When will my subscription bill go through?


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Ideally, you shouldn’t need to worry about when your subscription billing charges go through. But knowing when these payments go through, especially when springing for a premium box, can help keep your budget intact.

There are two main schedules that subscriptions will follow:

First, and typically the most common, you will be charged on the same day each month (or another unit of time) that you originally signed up for your subscription box membership. If this date falls on a weekend, your payment might be bumped back a day or two.

Otherwise, some subscription billing services charge customers on the first of the month, regardless of when they signed up.

If you want to know which billing schedule a box company uses, we suggest reaching out to their customer service team for the most accurate answer. Also, if you don’t already have them activated, look into setting up reminders for automatic payments with your smartphone or another device.

How often will I be billed?


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The answer to this question entirely depends on the type of subscription box for which you sign up. But when deciding if a box membership is worth the cost, it’s crucial that you know how often they will bill you, and how often you’ll receive a box.

Some memberships ship out boxes weekly or monthly. One of the most popular subscription box services, FabFitFun, ships out on a quarterly schedule. Others, though, only ship out boxes once or twice per year.

In some cases, the provider may ask you to opt-in to boxes that you want to receive. You may or may not pay a fee despite skipping a box shipment.

Generally, you should be billed once for each box you receive, and your charges should match the shipping schedule. For instance, if you receive one box per month, you should pay one fee per month.

If this isn’t the case, double-check with the box company to ensure your membership is correct.

How do I cancel an unwanted box subscription?


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It’s a running joke (and frustration) that subscriptions and memberships can be near-impossible to cancel. When considering a subscription box service, many shoppers are nervous that they won’t be able to cancel on their terms.

Fortunately, the Internet has made canceling your unwanted subscriptions much easier.

Most box companies have a simple form on their website. All you need to do is select your reason for discontinuing the membership and double-check your bank statement to ensure the change went through.

If you can’t find a form, reach out to customer service directly. E-mail, if available, is the best option as you will have a written record of requesting cancellation.

Keep in mind, some box subscriptions might require a certain amount of notice to cancel your subscription. Read the fine print, but don’t be surprised if you need to pay for one more box before your shipments stop.

Why do I need to provide billing information for a free trial?

If you’re lucky, you might be able to snag a free box from popular subscription box services. However, you typically need to share your billing information to receive this promotion.

Why is this the case?

Well, the whole point of giving away free boxes is to attract new customers.

Yes, some companies are nefarious and count on customers forgetting to cancel after their free trial. But this practice mainly ensures that happy customers don’t forget to come back for a paid subscription.

If you’re not excited about the company after receiving a promotional box, follow the suggestions above for canceling your membership.

The Most Common Subscription Billing Methods You Need to Know

Subscription boxes might be one of the biggest consumer trends of the moment. But with so many choices can come an overwhelming variety of terms, conditions, and subscription billing methods.

You shouldn’t assume that any two boxes share the same policies and subscription billing styles. However, there are a few billing methods that you’ll find cover the vast majority of subscription boxes out there.

Here are the most common subscription billing methods you’ll find, as well as what we think of them:

Flat-rate subscription


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Flat-rate subscription billing is the most popular method used by the industry. It’s also the simplest to understand and makes it easy to keep track of your shipments and payments!

Flat-rate boxes cost one flat fee per box. That could range from a couple of dollars to hundreds, but it’s always the same amount and once you pay the fee the box and its contents are 100-percent yours.

When signing up for a flat-rate box subscription, some companies will require a minimum commitment to start your membership. That prevents people from signing up for a membership and canceling after just one box. But it can also make it difficult for curious shoppers to try out a box they’re not entirely sure about.

Original box heavyweights, like BirchBox, pretty much all use this subscription billing model.

Keep or return

Stitch Fix

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This subscription billing type isn’t as popular as some of the others. But it is used by one of the largest subscription boxes around: Stitch Fix.

With Stitch Fix and other companies that use this system, subscribers receive a box of curated goods for a flat rate each month. However, unlike a normal flat-rate subscription, these items aren’t yours to keep right away.

Instead, you decide which, if any, of the items in your box you’d like to make yours. Everything else, you ship back to the company.

The catch?

Typically, you need to pay extra to keep your items. However, at least in the case of Stitch Fix, your monthly fee goes toward the items you want to keep.

For more expensive and taste-dependent items, like clothing, this type of subscription billing offers an excellent way to try out new products without any major commitments. And if you’re hesitant to try out a subscription box because you don’t want to end up wasting a bunch of items you don’t need or want, this is an excellent way to circumvent that concern!

On the other hand, we probably wouldn’t opt for this subscription billing method for many other items besides clothing. It’s just not an efficient or practical use of the subscription box model for smaller or more universal goods.


Madam Glam

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This subscription billing method is a little bit different. And those who like the sheer surprise of subscription boxes might find this option a bit underwhelming.

However, the pay-and-shop box model is a great compromise between getting a regular shipment of fun items and not taking the risk of a box filled with things you’ll never use.

One example of this is Madam Glam, an online nail polish company. Each month, Madam

Glam charges a flat rate to its subscribers, which automatically turns into store credit. Members then choose from Madam Glam’s line of products to “cash in” this store credit, essentially creating a personally curated subscription box.

It’s is a good option for subscription box fans who like to have some control over how they spend their money. And the company benefits either way because that money is guaranteed to be spent on their products each month.

One-time purchase

Some subscription boxes aren’t subscriptions at all, at least technically. Some companies will design a curated box of items at regular intervals, just like any other box company. However, these boxes won’t ship out based on a subscription (though this option might still be available).

Instead, followers of the company will have a chance to preview the next box and decide if they’d like to purchase it or not. There may be a limited number of boxes each time, creating a feeling of exclusivity.

Again, this subscription billing method is less common because the company can’t rely on a certain number of customers to purchase each box. Therefore, this business model is a bit riskier than others.

To combat this, though, some companies will charge a relatively small subscription fee. This subscription fee offers the privilege of purchasing an exclusive box and helps offset the cost of potential unsold boxes.

Deciding Which Subscription Box Is Right for You

Most shoppers decide on a subscription box by the contents or theme of the box. However, you shouldn’t overlook the subscription billing method you will be committing to when you sign up.

Even if you think you’ve found the perfect box for you, think about how the subscription billing used by the company will fit into your day-to-day life.

Don’t forget that there are countless subscription boxes currently available. If you want a travel-themed subscription box, but the first one you find doesn’t have the billing model you prefer, keep looking. You’ll probably find one that checks all your boxes faster than you think!

What are your favorite subscription box services of the moment? Tell us what they are and why you’re a fan in the comments below!

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