Anyone experimented with $49.95 vs. $50 Pricing for subscription software?


I've read a lot of times in the retail world where the $49.95 (or $49.99) style pricing actually increases sales vs. just making it a round figure like $50.

Has anyone tried this for a subscription software business?

Right now, we've adhered to a simpler pricing model (no prices ending in cents), but am questioning if we're being naive.

Pricing Marketing Sales

asked Oct 10 '09 at 03:59
Dharmesh Shah
2,865 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

10 Answers


Testing is really significant. In some markets $49.95 will beat $50. I know of a test that $10 beat $9.49 4 to 1!

In all things testing is perhaps the most useful thing a startup, can do.

Testing separates the winners from the losers and continued testing separates the flash in the pans with long term success.

What you will find is, the results are many times not one one would expect & are different in every market and time of year.

answered Oct 10 '09 at 14:07
Mark Thurston
121 points
  • Can you provide more info on the 10 vs. 9.49 test? how do you price test without risk of aggravating customers? (coupons?) do you have any data on retention rates between the two groups? – Burritoboy 13 years ago


I would recommend you look at pricing your subscription software without the cents but ending in 9. So in your $50 example, use $49. In the end, it really depends on the nature of the software solution you are offering, your overall offering mix and pricing structure and who your target customers are.

Value Messaging: It's not the price they don't like, but what they infer they are (or are not) getting for that cost.

answered Oct 10 '09 at 05:12
Chris Hopf
101 points
  • This makes sense; 2-digit is the simplest price you can offer ($50 and $49 are both 2 digits). The left-digit effect is powerful: take a look at Apple - they are a premium brand, but still list prices this way (e.g. $1499 and not $1500). – R00fus 12 years ago


I tested this number once 19 / 19.99 / 19.95 and in this case (web services) 19 was the winner with 60% more signups.

answered Jun 16 '10 at 11:51
Dean Hamton
112 points
  • interesting... wonder how that test would have gone if you offered a straight-up $20 as a fourth option. – R00fus 12 years ago


An A/B test using Google Website Optimizer may be the best route here (and it should be really simple to test, though a bit more complex on the back-end payment creation side). My experience has been that even numbers - $50, $100, $250, etc. have more of a "premium" feel vs. $99.95, $79.99, $19.97, etc. which "feel" like more bargain/discount services. Still, I don't think anyone's experience is as relevant as testing against your user base, so that would be my best advice. Every product and client are different.

answered Oct 10 '09 at 13:51
1,001 points


Is it possible to test? Switch between $39.99, $39.95, and $39?

Because that differs less than $1, people probably wouldn't notice or complain if they did notice.

Note the ".95" variant. Some studies show that's better. Also ".97".

answered Oct 10 '09 at 06:16
16,231 points


Here are some situations that may/may not apply to your situation:

If people are using an aggregate site to check pricing and they set a filter for " < 50", you wouldn't show up.

Depending if your product is thought of as "high end" it can induce sticker shock.

Also, impulse type purchases may be affected more.

Any chance you could share your test results?

answered Jun 16 '10 at 09:36
Jeff O
6,169 points


As a consumer, I've despised the practice of Jedi mind games at places like gas stations. You look at the board and see, say, $2.25/gal. If that's not enough, there's that 9/10th of a cent in there. Why not just sell at $2.26 and be fair?

What does a $19.95 + 9/10th price tag say about your business needs? I feel a little more at ease about a $19 or $20 purchase.

answered Oct 16 '09 at 21:32
221 points
  • Gas stations are surprisingly a very low margin operation, so getting as close as possible to the price they want to sell ($2.26) while shaving off to get $2.259 reinforces this. Message: if you want to be viewed as a premium service you will lower the number of significant digits (ie, $49 vs. $49.95, $50 vs. $49) – R00fus 12 years ago


You likewise have to calculate out how budgeting works at the companies you're trying to sell to.

Some may say that any software under $50 (including $49.95) can be bought at the programmer's discretion; anything $50 or over needs a manager's approval. And anything over, say, $500 needs a committee to approve it.

If that's the case, then you'd be better off pricing it at $49 because the extra headaches of going through management makes it 'too expensive'.

There have been cases where software developers have artificially inflated the cost of their software to deal with the committee effect. The committee wouldn't take it seriously enough to approve it if it was priced at $500, but their sales dramatically improved if the cost was inflated to $1000 presumably because it seemed 'better' and more worth the committee's time.

answered Nov 5 '09 at 05:18
Raymond Giorgi
91 points


I think you have to have your head up your ass to pay attention to small differences of .97 .99 and .15. Maybe that energy is better spent actually focusing on customer service or bettering your product.

answered Dec 11 '10 at 09:51
2,079 points
  • Studies show it does make a difference, otherwise everything in the store wouldn't be priced that way. – Randy E 11 years ago


The obvious reason for choosing a slightly lower price than a round number is to deceive customers into thinking they're paying 49 instead of 50. It partly depends on who your target customers are and whether or not they would be offended by this goal (most of the time probably not).

Unless you have competitors who already price their product at xx.99, there's no real incentive to price yours at xx.95 or lower. Without another product to compare with, if your customer buys at xx.95, there's very little to suggest they would not have paid an extra 4 cents.

answered Oct 10 '09 at 13:56
Van Nguyen
482 points

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