WooCommerce Memberships Subscriptions Integration

Overview ↑ Back to top

While WooCommerce Memberships works very well on its own to help you sell set-length memberships, it’s very tightly integrated with WooCommerce Subscriptions to let you sell recurring memberships, as well as take advantage of some additional features that Subscriptions provides.

Subscriptions allows your customers to upgrade, downgrade, or pause their own subscriptions, which will also affect memberships associated with the subscription. You can also offer free trials and recurring billing (instead of set-length, expiring memberships).

Comparison with or without Subscriptions ↑ Back to top

Memberships alone Memberships with Subscriptions
Sell set-length memberships Yes Yes
Sell fixed-date memberships Yes Yes
Sell recurring (i.e., monthly or yearly pay) memberships No Yes
Let members have >1 membership Yes Yes
Provide free trials No Yes
Delay some/all content access until after a trial No Yes
Let members upgrade / downgrade memberships No Yes
Prorate membership costs upon switching No Yes
Ability to pause memberships Yes Yes
Let members pause their own memberships No Yes

Tying Membership Access to a Subscription ↑ Back to top

When you create a membership, you can determine which products grant access to the membership. If Subscriptions is active and the membership is tied to a subscription product (simple or variable subscription) rather than a regular product, Memberships opens up some new options.

Subscription-tied Membership ↑ Back to top

If you want a traditional model where the membership access is directly tied to the subscription’s billing, you should choose “Subscription Length” for the “Subscription-tied membership length” setting.

WooCommerce memberships: subscription length tied to membership

The membership’s the status and expiration will now be tied to that subscription; the membership will be valid so long as the subscription is active.

If the subscription is paused, cancelled, or expired, the membership will always follow suit.

If you would like membership access to be controlled independently from the Subscription (for example, if you use the Subscription as a payment plan), you can use a different setting to decouple access from billing.

Manually Linking a Subscription

If, for some reason, you need to manually link a membership to a subscription (for example, if you manually created a membership and want to tie to a billing record that’s not related to a plan already), you can edit or add links to a subscription record.

Be advised: If you want to link a membership to a subscription purchase that could have granted access already, the Grant Access action can be used. Manual links are recommended if you’d like more control over membership data like start date, to add a link to a different or non-membership related subscription record, or link one person’s membership to another’s subscription.

Here are the steps you can take to edit a subscription link:

  1. View the user membership and click “Edit Link”:
    WooCommerce Memberships edit subscription link
  2. Search for the subscription by customer name or ID that you’d like to link to this membership.
    WooCommerce Memberships: Search for subscription
  3. Select the subscription you’d like to use and save the membership.
    WooCommerce memberships save subscription link
  4. This membership is now tied to the linked subscription. If the plan is subscription-tied, status changes in the subscription are reflected in the membership.
    WooCommerce Memberships linked subscription

Unlimited Memberships + Subscriptions ↑ Back to top

You can use a Subscription to grant unlimited access to a membership. This would let you use the subscription as a payment plan, while the membership access will extend after the subscription as been completed / expired.

WooCommerce memberships: unlimited access with subscription

  • If the subscription is paused before payments are completed, the membership will be paused as well. Access will resume when the subscription is reactivated.
  • If the subscription is cancelled before all payments are completed, the membership access will be cancelled as well, as this signifies that not all payments were finished.
  • If the subscription completes and moved to “expired” status, the membership will be de-coupled from it, as this signifies that payments have finished, and access will remain indefinitely.

Set-length Memberships + Subscriptions ↑ Back to top

If you enable a “specific length” membership, you can ensure that a membership is only active for a certain time period.

WooCommerce memberships: set length membership

When a specific length membership is enabled, the membership length is defined by this setting, and will be accessible for this length of time so long as the subscription has been paid.

  • If the subscription is paused before payments are completed, the membership will be paused as well. Access will resume when the subscription is reactivated.
  • If the subscription is cancelled before all payments are completed, the membership access will be cancelled as well, as this signifies that not all payments were finished.
  • If the subscription completes and moved to “expired” status, the membership will be de-coupled from it, as this signifies that payments have finished, and access will remain until the access length is reached.
  • If the membership ends before the subscription, the membership will expire, and will not be reactivated with additional renewal payments.

You can also restrict the membership length when a subscription is used by using the subscription product instead with a subscription-tied membership. You can limit the number of billing periods under “Subscription Length” if you do not use “all time”.

WooCommerce memberships subscription length
Edit Subscription Length to limit membership

Pausing and canceling memberships should also be done via the subscription rather than the membership status. Memberships uses Subscriptions as a guide completely if you allow it to.

Fixed-Date Memberships + Subscriptions ↑ Back to top

When a fixed date membership is enabled, the membership length is defined by this setting, and will be accessible for this length of time so long as the subscription has been paid.

WooCommerce Memberships: subscription fixed date membership

  • If the subscription is paused before payments are completed, the membership will be paused as well. Access will resume when the subscription is reactivated.
  • If the subscription is cancelled before all payments are completed, the membership access will be cancelled as well, as this signifies that not all payments were finished.
  • If the subscription completes and moved to “expired” status, the membership will be de-coupled from it, as this signifies that payments have finished, and access will remain until the end date is reached.
  • If the membership ends before the subscription, the membership will expire, and will not be reactivated with additional renewal payments.

Subscription-specific Settings ↑ Back to top

Tying a membership to a subscription can also add a few settings while editing a membership plan, or anywhere restriction rules are used for this plan.

If the subscription has a free trial, you can account for this in your content dripping. You can determine whether content access should include or exclude the free trial. For example, you may want members to be able to access some content immediately when the trial begins, but only access other content when the trial period has ended.

Memberships let you determine whether access should start after the free trial or not:

WooCommerce Memberships content dripping with trial
Dripping with free trial

Let’s assume access is granted immediately, but you enable “Start after trial”. This content will be accessible as soon as the trial ends, but not before. If you start access after one week, but enable “Start after trial”, this content will be available one week after the trial ends. This gives you the flexibility to determine which content is available during trial periods.

You can also include or exclude trial periods with product dripping and restrictions:

WooCommerce Memberships product dripping with trial
Product Dripping with trials

Managing Memberships Tied to Subscriptions ↑ Back to top

User membership management will be very similar for memberships purchased via subscription in comparison to those purchased via other product types. However, a membership tied to a subscription will have a couple of additional actions an admin can take.

If a membership is tied to a subscription, you can opt to delete a user membership, or delete with subscription. Be cautious with the delete with subscription action, as this will delete both the user membership and the subscription in which it was purchased.


WooCommerce Memberships Delete with Subscription 2

WooCommerce Memberships Delete with Subscription

You’ll be asked to confirm this action, regardless of whether you use the membership action or the quick action, but it is irreversible.

Membership Statuses with Subscriptions ↑ Back to top

When a membership is purchased via a subscription, the user membership can go through a couple different paths:

  • Unlimited memberships – The membership status will listen to subscription status until the subscription ends, after which it will stay active indefinitely.
  • Subscription-tied memberships – The membership statuses become tied to the subscription’s statuses. This allows you or your customers to change the subscription status and thus trigger a change in the membership. *
  • Set length or fixed date memberships – The membership status will listen to subscription status until the subscription ends (signifying payments are done), after which the membership will observe its own end date settings.

*If you suspend or cancel a subscription manually from your store’s admin / dashboard, a membership status change will also be triggered. Suspending a subscription pauses a membership, while canceling a subscription will cancel a membership.

When a memberships is tied to a subscription, customers can also make these changes themselves, depending on your Subscriptions settings. If you’d like to give customers the ability to manage their own membership pausing, upgrading, and downgrading, they can do so via Subscriptions. You can also read more about user membership statuses.

Subscriptions with Free Trials ↑ Back to top

If a subscription uses a free trial period a “Free Trial” status will be added to the User Membership. This tells the membership to use the “trial” content dripping rules. You cannot assign memberships a free trial status yourself, as this status is only tied into a subscription free trial.

Once the subscription moves out of the trial state, the membership will become active and all rules will be effective, providing access to any content that was excluded from the trial that should now be available.

Suspending Subscriptions ↑ Back to top

Customers can suspend a subscription if you’ve enabled this within your Subscription’s settings. By visiting the “My Account” page, customers can view the subscription with the “View” action, then click the “Suspend” action.

WooCommerce Memberships active subscription

When this action is processed, the subscription status is changed to “on hold” until the subscription is re-activated. Since the subscription is suspended, the membership status will also change to “paused” automatically. Customers cannot access restricted content while a membership is paused.

WooCommerce Memberships Subscription suspended

Members can then re-activate the subscription if desired, which will activate the membership and restore content access wherever the membership left off.

Canceling Subscriptions ↑ Back to top

Customers can cancel a subscription from the “My Account” page by viewing the associated subscription. When a customer clicks the “Cancel” action, the subscription will cancel.

WooCommerce Memberships active subscription

When the subscription is cancelled (and goes into the “pending cancellation” status), its associated membership will also be pending cancellation as a result.

WooCommerce Memberships pending cancel subscription

Membership access will continue until the end of the pending cancel period — once the subscription is fully cancelled, the membership will be as well, removing membership access to any restricted content or discounts.

Upgrading or Downgrading Memberships ↑ Back to top

Subscriptions provides the ability to switch subscriptions between variable subscriptions and / or grouped products, and Memberships leverages this capability to perform membership swaps as well.

As an administrator, you have the ability to make changes to a user’s membership. However, the user can only take one action themselves from the “My Account” area: cancellation. If you’d like to grant members the ability to manage their own memberships (i.e., switch or pause them), you should use Memberships with Subscriptions.

Note: if you change a subscription via the admin, you should also change the associated membership. Upgrading or downgrading a subscription as an administration will not automatically change the membership tied to it as well.

If you have subscription switching enabled via Subscriptions, then members will be able to upgrade or downgrade their memberships by using subscription switching. This allows Subscriptions to handle all billing aspects, such as creating a new subscription for accurate billing and prorating any fees as necessary.

A member can begin the upgrade or downgrade process by clicking “View” for a subscription from the account area, then “Switch Subscription”:

WooCommerce Memberships active subscription

This will take customers through the subscription switching workflow, and will ask them to select a new subscription and complete the checkout process. This cancels the old subscription and creates a new one, following any proration rules you’ve set up.

When the subscription switch is complete, the old subscription is replaced with the new one and remains active. While this process occurs, Memberships will cancel the old membership and create a new one based on the subscription selected.

WooCommerce Memberships subscription switched
Switch Complete

You can also use upgrades and downgrades for a “set length” membership by limiting the subscription length / number of billing periods as described under “Statuses”.

Subscriptions + Memberships FAQ ↑ Back to top

Q: Can I control the membership access length separate from the subscription length?
A: Yes! You’d need to choose any access type but “subscription length”. This gives you a membership that almost acts like a simple product purchase.

The benefit to using a subscription is that Memberships will ensure all payments for the subscription have been completed before it stops listening for subscription status changes.


Q: Can I manually upgrade a member / subscription from the admin?
A: Yes, but please note that you must do this process manually. For example, if you manually change a subscription, you should also manually change the membership. Memberships does not know if you want to just change the subscription, or if it should update the membership as well, so we leave this adjustment to you.

For example, if you want to manually upgrade a member’s subscription to “Gold”, and they should have access to a different membership plan as a result, you should change the user membership’s plan, too. The status of the membership will remain tied to the subscription.

The other option here would be to use the free User Switching plugin to impersonate the customer, then make the change from the frontend.

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