Collecting payment info before vs. after trial period?


Does anyone have any data (or opinions) on whether to collect payment info during the sign-up process, or after the trial has ended?

Collecting it up front probably converts better (though not always intentionally) while not collecting it probably increases trial activity - but there may be other factors.

Thanks in advance!

Payments Beta

asked Nov 17 '09 at 10:24
892 points

3 Answers


We use the idea of friction. We primarily measure decisions by the friction it adds or removes to the process of doing business with us. We're incessantly looking for ways to reduce friction because less friction = more business.

So the questions are fundamentally, "Does collecting payment information up front add friction to the process of doing a software trial?" Sure. Second question, "Is there some necessary reason to get payment info in order to do the trial?" I suspect not.

Why add any unnecessary friction that will lower the number of people trying out your software? Fewer trials means fewer sales and therefore reduced profitability.

answered Nov 18 '09 at 03:22
Keith De Long
5,091 points
  • +1. Make trial signup as hassle-free as possible to maximize conversion rate. When a site requires my card information for trial, I generally abandon it right there and don't come back (I make exceptions if the service appears very desirable to me). Find other ways of limiting trial abuse. – Jesper Mortensen 14 years ago


The issue of converting trial to paid subscriptions and preventing trial abuse is a hard one.

Many major sites (for example require credit card information for a trial and automatically charge them once the trial runs out. Personally, I don't like the practice and it would think twice about signing up for a "free" trial that collects credit cards upfront.

Another option would be to make trials unlimited but reduce or limit the level of service vs a paid subscription. For example, for a stock alert service, only send alerts every other day. For defect tracking software, limit the number of users. Basically provide enough to sufficiently evaluate the service but not enough to use on a regular basis as a trial user.

answered Nov 17 '09 at 12:40
Oleg Barshay
2,091 points
  • Appreciate the feedback Oleg - these are the kinds of considerations I am trying to weigh. We're not interested in getting anyone to convert because they forgot - in fact it is an unofficial policy to allow refunds after the fact (which most sites don't do), but the other implications, and conversion percentages do come into play. – Justyn 14 years ago


Where do you get the idea that collecting before a trial is appropriate? It's not a trial then, is it?

I'll personally not even go through with a trial if it asks for too much info, much less try to collect financial info from me.

Collecting payment info prematurely puts your company's integrity on the line. What other important factor could there be?

answered Nov 17 '09 at 10:28
Gabriel Magana
3,103 points
  • Primarily avoiding interruption, confirming identity to avoid spam/abuse, keeping people from using it perpetually by creating new accounts, etc. Very few companies collect payment info after the trial (SlideRocket comes to mind). Most require it up-front - then cancel within 30 days to avoid being charged. Our preference is to collect payment info after the trial is over, but I wanted to get feedback and explore the conversion data for both so I can make a solid decision. – Justyn 14 years ago

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