In the past, we’ve shared how gift cards and plans can help you acquire new subscribers. Today, in the midst of COVID-19, gift cards and plans are as important as ever to help you acquire subscribers and retain the ones you already have.

According to a report by NBC, one analyst predicted that the disruption to businesses from coronavirus could lead to 15,000 permanent retail store closures in 2020, with the Economic Policy Institute predicting that the disease outbreak could potentially wipe out three million jobs from the U.S. economy before this summer. Most non-essential businesses have been ordered to close and in lieu of a consistent flow of customers, businesses are looking to create a revenue stream to keep them afloat. With most of the country on lockdown and in various stages of shelter in place, consumers want to help the businesses they are loyal to survive the crisis.

In this post, we’ll review how gift cards and plans can help you attract new subscribers and retain the ones you already have.

Recurly offers two different gift types: cards and plans, which can be created and managed via Recurly’s direct interface (the UI) or our API. Both options are suited to B2C companies and provide a satisfying user experience for the giver and receiver, further supporting customer acquisition goals.


Gift Plans

Recurly offers gift plans which, similar to gift cards, leverage a subscription business’ ‘raving fans’ and help it to acquire new subscribers at a lower acquisition cost. Gift plans are suited to businesses that ship physical goods because the plan starts upon purchase, so shipping can be immediate rather than waiting for the recipient to redeem a gift card. Gift plans are also suited to businesses which have only a small number of plans, so they don’t need the flexible purchasing options provided by gift cards.

As a business, offering gift subscriptions is an excellent way to acquire new subscribers that may not have heard of your company otherwise, and it’s a highly effective way to create a new revenue stream. In uncertain times, like the ones we’re facing with COVID-19, there has never been a better time to try gift plans.  

Rocksbox does an awesome job of making giving a gift super easy for the end-user. 

Jewelry store website gift packages screen

With three packages to choose from based on the length of the subscription, they offer flexibility for the gift giver. 


How Gift Plans Work 

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

  • The gift giver purchases the subscription plan they want to give and decides whether it will be recurring or not

  • The recipient can enjoy their gift without the need to provide any payment or delivery information

  • Multiple addresses (for multiple gift recipients) can be associated to a single account—such as the gift giver’s


Gift Cards

As we’ve seen in just the first few weeks of the COVID crisis, consumers are looking for ways to support local businesses and their favorite brands. Gift cards are an excellent way to do this.

Jamie O

Recurly gift cards are ideal for B2C merchants who sell digital goods and have a number of different plans, necessitating flexibility for the receiver in choosing their gift. Gift cards provide this flexibility along with other benefits.


How Gift Cards Work

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 credits can be used to purchase any plan or product. It’s a great option for existing subscribers or recipients who want a different gift than the one suggested to them

  • Gift card amounts can be aligned with subscription plan price options or one-time sales

  • 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 the gift card covers the sign-up cost

  • Recurly's Gift Cards support a fully-featured gift checkout, redemption and automated emails to the gifter and recipient


Gift cards are excellent 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. To learn more about gift cards in Recurly check out our docs. 


Wrap Up 

During the COVID-19 crisis and beyond, gift subscriptions and gift cards are an effective way to acquire new subscribers in a very cost-efficient way. To learn more about Recurly’s gift card and gift plan options, check out our gift subscriptions