Sell gift subscriptions with WooCommerce

There were tons of really exciting things happening at WooConf over the past week for WooCommerce store owners, but there are a few that I’d love to write about in the coming weeks. The first announcement that absolutely made the conference for me was from Brent at Prospress on releasing a Gift Subscriptions plugin for WooCommerce + WooCommerce Subscriptions.

This is huge. WooCommerce Subscriptions Gifting will open up the ability to sell group memberships / group subscriptions, corporate memberships, or other kinds of umbrella subscriptions with WooCommerce.

We’d written some time ago about selling group memberships with WooCommerce, which essentially talked about using a coupon to give away subscriptions to gift recipients. However, this process could be clunky, and it didn’t allow purchasers to renew memberships for the recipients.

WooCommerce Subscription Gifting is changing this, and making it very simple to allow customers to give each other subscriptions or memberships on your store in a completely automated way. You can read more about the plugin on the GitHub page in addition to our review here.

Gift subscriptions overview

First, Gift Subscriptions is free to use if you already purchased WooCommerce Subscriptions. You can download the plugin directly from GitHub. This has been released as a mini-extension since most sites running Subscriptions won’t need this functionality, but there are still a significant number that can benefit from it.

The ability to gift subscriptions will allow you to sell a subscription to one customer while providing the benefits of the subscription to another customer.

For example, let’s say I want to buy my brother an “album game of the month” club subscription for his birthday, which provides both vinyl records and a digital download. I want to be able to give him direct access to the downloads rather than tying them to my own account, so I want to essentially gift this subscription to him. This is now possible with WooCommerce Subscriptions in an automated gifting process.

I can set him up as a recipient of the subscription, and when purchased, I can control the billing aspects (such as resubscribing, upgrading, and downgrading), while he gets the subscription benefits (such as the shipped items and download access).

Gift subscriptions set up

First, you’ll need to download the WooCommerce Gift Subscriptions plugin, which is available from Prospress via GitHub. You need to already have WooCommerce Subscriptions purchased and installed to use the plugin.

Once you have it installed, that’s all you have to do smile Any subscription-type product in your store can now be gifted to others when purchased. There a few things I’d recommend configuring, however.

A new setting is added under WooCommerce > Settings > Subscriptions — you can opt to only allow recipients to access downloads if tied to the subscription product, or give the purchaser access as well.

WooCommerce Gift Subscriptions:  download access

If you’ll be gifting subscriptions, I’d recommend marking the product as Sold Individually in the product data. As a recipient needs to be entered for each gifted subscription, this forces the customer to enter a recipient for each gift subscription purchased. Without this, customers may adjust quantity expecting to be able to add another email, but this would just give multiple subscriptions to the same recipient.

WooCommerce Gift Subscriptions: sold individually
Suggested Setting

Once you have your settings and products configured, your customers can gift subscriptions to each other with no additional effort on your part.

Purchasing gift subscriptions

When a customer comes to the store, they’ll see a new “This is a gift” option for a subscription-type product. If enabled, this will allow the customer to enter a recipient for the subscription.

WooCommerce Gift Subscriptions: purchasing

This recipient information can be changed in the cart and checkout process if needed. If the recipient email exists as a customer account already on your site, that customer’s shipping address will be filled at checkout and the existing account used for the subscription.

WooCommerce Gift Subscriptions: cart page
Cart View

Once a gifted subscription is purchased, only the purchaser can manage the billing for the subscription, such as making upgrades or changing payment methods. Recipients can only cancel or suspend a gifted subscription.

WooCommerce Gift Subscriptions: purchaser view
Purchaser’s account view

The purchaser will see the recipient details for any gifted subscriptions, along with renewal orders, from the account section.

Receiving gift subscriptions

When a recipient received a gift subscription, the recipient will get an email from the store with the subscription details. If the recipient doesn’t yet have an account, the plugin will create a new customer account automatically and email the account details to the new subscription recipient:

Login details of the account, as well as information about where they can manage their new subscription, is sent to the recipient via email.

These automated emails can all managed under the WooCommerce > Settings > Emails section of the store.

Once the recipient logs in, they can see the subscription details, pause subscriptions, and cancel subscriptions, but cannot change payment methods or upgrade / downgrade. When the subscription expires, the recipient cannot resubscribe. S/he will see the purchaser details for the subscription in the account section.

WooCommerce Gift Subscriptions: recipient view
Recipient View

Order management

As a store owner, you’ll know when a subscription has been gifted because the line item for the order will have the recipient details listed. The recipient email is added, and the shipping address for the recipient can be viewed via tooltip. This shipping address will also be used for the main shipping address for the subscription.

WooCommerce Gift Subscriptions: view order
Order Details

Viewing the subscription order will look very similar, as the recipient details are added here as well.

Memberships integration

Another great perk of using WooCommerce Subscription Gifting is automatic compatibility with WooCommerce Memberships. If a subscription product grants access to a membership plan, and that subscription product is gifted to a recipient, the recipient will have the membership created, not the purchaser.

This means that the recipient gets all of the benefits of the membership, such as product access or discounts, while the purchaser still manages billing.


The ability to gift subscriptions with WooCommerce is a huge step forward for subscription and membership stores. Being able to completely automate gift subscription creation and billing will make store owners’ lives much easier while opening up their stores for customers to give subscription and membership benefits to friends.

If you do use the plugin, I’d recommend subscribing to the GitHub repo for updates so you can keep an eye on development and new features as they’re added, then manually update the plugin in your shop.

The Prospress team did a great job with this extension, and you can get full details on the GitHub page and download the plugin .zip file from there.


  1. I was waiting for this!

    I want to enable a subscriber to my website to add 10 – and only 10 – people under his “umbrella”.

    1) Does he have to add each person individually? Is there no way to add the ten people at once?

    2) Is there a way I can limit them to buying only 10 guest subscriptions?

    I was hoping for an interface like this:

    but it seems like your plugin is bolted onto the normal Woocommerce checkout flow, for better or worse.

    1. 1) Yes, gifted subscriptions must be purchased individually since recipients are added when the product goes into the cart, not later.
      2) I don’t believe there’s a way to limit a customer to 10 overall purchases for all time, but you could limit this to 10 at a time with Min / Max Quantities to limit the single-purchase to 10 of the item.

  2. I’m still struggling with selling group subscriptions. What I want to sell is a subscription for (say) 7, 20 or 50 members of an organisation (team, unit, etc.) with options for various periods (1 month, quarter, year).

    So what I need is for the manager of a team (or something like that) to be able to ‘give’ a subscription to all their team members, possibly identified by email addresses.

    I had thought this might be a solution but reading this in detail, I guess not. IS there a way to do the above (which is, I would have thought, quite an ordinary thing in b2b sales)?

    1. Hey Richard, agreed that WooCommerce isn’t really designed for b2b sales, there are definitely places it could improve for b2b.

      In this case, if you want the manager to be able to give out subscriptions to the team, it should be possible with this set up — they just have to be purchased one at a time. Unless you’re saying the manager isn’t the same as the purchaser? In that case, there’s no great solution, I might check this guide out though to see if it fits your use case :)

  3. Is it possible for a person to buy a subscription for himself as well as a gift for someone else if one person is only allowed to buy one subscription?

    1. Hey Abby, I believe this can be done so long as it’s not in the same transaction, but not 100% sure here. If you have a staging site, I’d recommend giving it a go :) Would love it if you let us know if you do test it!

  4. Hi Beka,

    Thank you for your great articles. I am about to install and test this great plugin to solve my umbrella membership problem. I am wondering how a purchaser who alreay purchased and paid for a subscription (tied to a membership) can gift that subscription without repaying that membership ? In other words, how is he going to tie the gift to a previously purchased and currently active subscription?

  5. Thanks Beka for this response.

    As I have Business Members or BM (admins) who buy memberships and gives them to attached Person Members or PM (who get the benefits and don’t pay any membership), I guess I need more of a Group Membership solution. This obviously means that if the BM doesn’t renew a membership through a subscription, then she and the attached PMs lose automatically the benefits of the membership.

    What puigin do you suggest would do this best for me?


  6. Does this not work with variable products (ie variable subscriptions)? I’ve got the variable subscription setup but the gift option is not visible (and not in the source code for the page). The Gifting plugin is definitely enabled (I have the option of changing the gifting message in Woo’s Subscription settings).

    1. Are you using WooCommerce 3.0? Doesn’t look like Prospress has had a chance to do an update on it yet, so that could contribute here.

    1. Hey Andrea, I’m afraid it applies to all subscription products at present. This could be customized to only apply to certain products as there are appropriate hooks in place, but this would require some custom code.

  7. Hi
    I sell downloadable files via woocomerce and I want to add this feature to my store so that someone buy a file as gift for someone else.
    Do you know how can I add this feature?
    Thank you

  8. Hi, do you know if there is an option to set a date to send the recipient email. I’m thinking if someone buys another person a gift, then they may not want that person to immediately get an email about the gift and/or setting up an account. Do you know if this capability exists?

    1. Hey Clark, it does not at present because this would require a pretty heavy-duty scheduling system for the emails; WordPress isn’t great at this sort of thing out-of-the-box, so I doubt it’s on the short-term roadmap.

      1. Hi Beka, thanks for the reply. Is there a way to change the recipient’s email before they have set up an account? A customer of mine entered the wrong recipient email address, and they’ve asked me to change it. Is there anything I can do about this?

  9. We’re trying to implement this but have found two glaring deficiencies when combining Subscriptions, Subscriptions Gift Master (ProPress) and Memberships…

    When a purchaser buys a membership gift subscription for someone, the emails sent to the recipient all make sense, but, the purchaser also gets an email instructing them to set up their membership, which doesn’t actually exist and which they haven’t purchased, but the membership/subscription process doesn’t seem to be wholly aware of the fact that purchase was intended as a gift, so it sends instructions to two users instead of one. (The Buyer and the Recipient)

    Additionally, there’s no capacity to purchase someone a gift that can be activated/sent on a specific date, which is usually one of the key factors in gift giving, doing so on a specific date.

    These two deficiencies really limit the efficacy of this process and we’ve already gotten a lot of frustrated feedback. Any word on if/when these items will be addressed.

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