Gift Subscriptions

Expand your customer acquisition strategy to include gift subscriptions. Gift subscriptions can be achieved through both Gift Cards and Gift Plans.

Gift Cards vs. Gift Plans

There is more than one way to provide gifting in a subscription business: Gift Cards and Gift Plans. In most cases, one option is all you need, but depending on your products or services, or billing model, you may want to take a multi-option approach.


Gift cards are purchased from a single gift card product that can have multiple amount options. The recipient redeems the gift card for credit towards any product or service purchase.

  • Gift card amounts can be aligned with plan price options
  • Gift cards are purchased on the gifter's account and redeemed on the recipient's own account
  • Gift cards can be redeemed when the recipient is ready to start their subscription
  • Option to not require a credit card from the recipient if gift card covers the sign-up cost
  • Gift card credits can be used to purchase any plan or product, great for existing subscribers or recipients who want a gift different than the one suggested to them
  • Recurly's Gift Cards support a fully featured gift checkout, redemption and automated emails to the gifter and recipient

Gift cards are great for every business and billing model. They offer the most flexibility to the gift recipient, both new and existing subscribers. Businesses selling digital services tend to use gift cards over gift plans because the recipient can choose when to start the time based subscription.


Gift plans are separate plans used just for gift sign-ups. These are generally configured to have the gifter pay once up front for a number of months of service for the recipient.

  • Gift subscription lives on the gifter's account
  • Gift subscription starts at the time of gift purchase
  • Merchant handles gift messaging and delivery to the recipient

Gift plans are best for businesses selling physical goods that want to move specific inventory at the time of purchase and not guess what inventory is needed when the recipient finally redeems the gift. Digital services businesses may like a gift plan approach if they have a simple billing model with one plan option for the gift recipient. Both physical goods businesses and digital businesses with one plan will want to consider offering the optionality of both gift plans and gift cards to provide the most flexibility to the gifter and recipient.

Implementing Gift Cards

Recurly is excited to announce the addition of Gift Cards to our Gift Subscription options! Due to the size of the Gift Cards feature, we have a dedicated page on how to implement Gift Cards.

Learn about Recurly's Gift Cards.

Implementing Gift Plans

Gift Plans are separate plans in Recurly that you can have gifters purchase on a separate gift checkout on your website or in your application. Traditionally, gift plans are setup to not recur, but there are gifting use cases where a gifter may want to pay for an on going subscription, like a parent purchasing a subscription for their child.

Non-Recurring Plans

To create a non-recurring gift plan, create a new plan with "1" billing cycle and set the recurring cycle to the length of the gift. For example, if you want to create 1 Month, 6 Month and 1 Year as your options, you would create three different plans all with 1 billing cycle and varying cycle lengths.


Recurring Plans

To create a recurring gift plan, you can either use your regular plans, or create a separate plan that is set to "Auto renew until canceled". The benefit of having a separate plan in this case is the ability to track when the plan was purchased "as a gift".

Gift Delivery

Unlike Gift Cards, Recurly does not support the collection of gift recipient information or a custom gift message, or email communications with the gift recipient. You will need to collect this information in your gift checkout and setup automated emails in a system external to Recurly.

End of Gift

If the gift plan is non-recurring, it will come to an end after a specific amount of time. The only email Recurly sends at the end of a gift plan is the Subscription Expired email, and this goes to the account's email address. While this email template can be configured to send based on the plan, it is the same template for all plans, so it will be hard to have gift specific messaging in this email if it is being shared with non-gift plans.

Due to the above, we suggest end of gift messaging be handled outside of Recurly using the expired_subscription_notification webhook. If this webhook is received for a gift plan, you can trigger your own end of gift email to upsell the associated gift recipient, or the gifter who's account the gift subscription is on.