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Subscription Paths: Upgrading, Downgrading, Paying Off Payment Plans, Replacing Subscriptions

Make it easier for members to change subscription paths on their own. Here are the different scenarios where you will want to use “Subscription Replacement” paths to give members the ability to:

  • Upgrade from one membership program to another (including new content)
  • Downgrade from one membership to another (and removing access to content)
  • Switch between a monthly and yearly payment (but keep the same access)
  • Pay off the remainder of a payment plan in one lump sum

All of this is possible with subscription replacement. This feature is designed to make it easier for people to switch between tiers and payment options as their needs change throughout your membership’s lifetime.

Please note: The ability to switch between offers is not available for PayPal subscriptions. However, if someone is currently on a PayPal subscription they can switch to a Stripe subscription, and the old PayPal subscription will be cancelled.

Watch the Video

In the workshop video you’ll see how to use subscription upgrades and downgrades step-by-step.

YouTube video

Example of Subscription Replacement

Not sure what you might want your subscription management section to look like? Here’s an example from AccessAlly itself, which shows you the current plan you’re on and gives you the ability to choose a different plan.

Screenshot subscription options

Designing such a subscription management section is a matter of setting up a new page on your site (or putting this section on an existing “my orders” page) and then embedding the correct shortcodes to show each section for only the members who need to see them, using conditional shortcodes.

Once someone clicks on the link for the subscription they want to switch to, it will take them to a single page with the order form for that plan. Since they are logged in, they will be “switched” to this plan without needing to enter their credit card details again.

This will happen on a pro-rated basis, so previous payments will count toward the new subscription.

Here’s how.

Same Offering, Different Payment Options

First, we’re going to look at keeping the content and access the same, but changing the payment options. You will follow these steps when you’re switching from a monthly to a yearly plan, or create a payoff for a payment plan.

Step 1: Set Up Your Order Forms

Set up the different payment plan or subscription Order Forms you want to offer in your Offerings settings.

Screenshot of subscription frequency

Step 2: Click into each form to add a subscription replacement

Click the “edit” icon next to each Order Form, and under the Pricing tab you will open the product and select the “This product can replace an existing subscription (Advanced feature)” checkbox.

Screenshot of subscription replacement checkbox

Here you will add the “opposite subscription” to each Order Form. This means you will add the Monthly option to the Yearly subscription, and the Yearly option to the Monthly subscription if you want people to be able to move from one to the other.

Screenshot add the other subscription

Once you add the other subscription, you will see the option to Prorate the payment or not.

If a user is not logged in, the order form will only appear as a simple purchase (no replacement will occur).

Prorating payments

With AccessAlly, you can use prorating settings on your order forms to create subscription replacements options AND payment plan payoffs for your clients.

Prorating Options: Which Is Right For Your Scenario?

OPTION 1: No Prorating

If you do not want payments to be applied to future payments during a “swap”, then you can select the “No Prorating” option. In this case, it’s as if you’re starting a new subscription from scratch with no previous payments made.

OPTION 2: Regular prorate

This option only looks at the most recent payment. For a monthly subscription, if we are halfway through the month, then half of the last payment will be credited to the new order.

This option is ideal for subscription replacement options, where a user is upgrading or downgrading a monthly subscription plan, for example.

OPTION 3: Fancy prorate
This option looks at all successful payments in a payment plan. For example, if the client has paid 6 payments for a 12-pay payment plan, the price for the new order will be reduced by 50%.

This option is ideal for payment plan payoff scenarios. (Note: The “Fancy” option ONLY shows if you are replacing a finite subscription/payment plan.)

Lastly, make sure to embed the order form inside your membership site.

The screenshot below demonstrates what a logged-in user might see if the payments are prorated (the “total” price crossed out, with the pro-rated remainder below).

If a user is not logged in, the order form will only appear as a simple purchase (no replacement will occur).

Access to Content Changes: Upgrade & downgrade paths for different tiers

If you offer multiple levels of a membership program, where one membership includes access to the “lower tiers” with additional content, then you can embed Offerings within other offerings.

When to Use It:

In general, if a user can only have one active membership subscription with you at a time (though you offer several), then it’s probably better to build the subscription replacement into the existing offer.

If, on the other hand, you allow users to hold multiple subscriptions, then you may not need to build upgrades and downgrades into your order forms.

Setting up different membership tiers using Offerings

Let’s say you have 3 different membership tiers: bronze, silver, and gold.

Create one Offering for each level, and nest Bronze and Silver into Gold.

Screenshot of embedding offerings one within another

Then Silver tier would have Bronze nested within it:

Screenshot of silver membership nesting

All of the additional content and modules available within each tier can be set up as usual.

Create upgrade paths and downgrade paths

In a simple upgrade, you don’t want the user to lose access to any content they currently have, but you do want them to pay for additional access.

In a simple downgrade, the user would lose access to some content on your membership site.

Screenshot of click to edit order form

Click on the edit icon next to the Order Form for each Offering, and enable the Subscription Replacement checkbox. Then add the upgrade options.

Screenshot of upgrade downgrade paths

Bronze will need to add the Order Forms for Silver and Gold. If you plan to offer both upgrades and downgrades, then Silver will have both Bronze and Gold, and Gold will have both Bronze and Silver.

Decide if you want to prorate payments, by clicking to expand each additional order form subscription (see above for pro-rating details).

Now click on the Automation tab, and under Payment Success you will include the Custom Operation to give and revoke access as needed for each tier.

Screenshot of automation tab settings

For Bronze, you will add Revoke Silver and Revoke Gold. For Silver you will Release Bronze and Revoke Gold. For Gold you will Release Bronze and Silver.

This will take care of giving access and removing access as people upgrade and downgrade. If someone purchases and they aren’t replacing an existing subscription, the additional custom operations won’t have any effect.

Lastly, make sure to embed the order forms inside your membership site.

If a user is not logged in, the order form will only appear as a simple purchase (no replacement will occur).

Updated on August 16, 2023

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