Best practices for ending trial for SaaS?


we have a weird trial model at the moment, that we're looking to simplify. So far when a user signs up we basically start charging them immediately but we only ask for their credit card information at the end of billing cycle. This leaves them the option to just not do that and leave the app. Their access will be cut off due to negative balance. Since we don't follow up on those charges, it is like a "hidden" trial feature (sometimes we give them free balance when signing up, but its still feels obscure).

This is problematic from various stand points, so we want to switch to a proper trial model.

One decision that we're unsure about is how to handle customers that level up to our paid plan during the trial phase. We're wondering if the better strategy would be to end their trial phase immediately and just put them on the paid billing cycle in the moment that they promote.. or wait until the end of their trial and then start the paid billing cycle.

My main concern here is meeting the users expectations and to cause as little confusion as possible.

Not sure how other SaaS are handling this. If anybody can add some input on how they are handling this and what kind of feedback they got I would appreciate it.


PS: Our website is https://codecks.io - its a playful project management and community building tool.

  1. 3

    In my opinion, it makes sense to immediately switch to the paid plan and stop the trial. That's how 90-95% of self-service SaaS do it.

    A reason why this makes sense is that most free trials give you access to the full range of features (let's call it the gold plan), while you could start a paid subscription of the 'silver' plan. This quickly becomes confusing, because you don't want someone to keep on using features that they won't have access to anymore in 5 days or so. That could cause frustration.

    The goal of a free trial is to give someone the chance to experience your product until they decide to buy. As soon as they decided that there's enough value for them, let them immediately switch to the paid plan whenever they want.

    In case of cancelling a subscription it would be logical to do the opposite: leave the subscription active for the period that was already paid for upfront.

    1. 1

      Thanks for the reply!

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