Should you accept credit cards when signing up for a free trial?

Do you think its a good idea to get a users credit card when signing up for a free trial. Or do you let them sign up and then when trial is over you block their account until they upgrade?

Most of the internet famous people recommend credit card at trial. You can always send them an email warning before you will charge them if it bothers you.

We let them sign up without entering payment information. The trial is opened for 21 days, and removed automatically after that in case they don’t upgrade.

I, personally, avoid services which ask for my credit card data, just to allow me to test their services. Also I don’t want to spend time cancelling the service in case I don’t like it.

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It will depend on the maturity of the product. I have never signed up for any services that ask for credit card; except Amazon Services.

You want to minimize the friction for users to try your product. So unless you are Amazon & like, I would say go without credit card. If the user likes the product and can’t live without, they will gladly pay. If they didn’t like, it doesn’t matter they gave you the credit card.

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I get very frustrated when services don’t let me give a CC when I want to especially ones I’m not the person providing the card, or make me when I do not want to

Each approach has its own advantages and disadvantages and so no single answer will fit your situation without any additional details on your business.

Trial requiring credit card

  1. Disqualifies users who would never pay for the software
  2. Reduces extra step when the trial ends


  1. Reduces visitors to trial ratio
  2. You may get a lot of customers asking for refunds, if they did not mean to continue

Trial not requiring credit card

  1. Reduces friction in converting visitor to trial
  2. Allows you to ask for payment information at the critical time when the customer has his “aha” moment.


  1. Support and Resources costs increase since the system can be abused by freeloaders
  2. Users need an extra step to convert to paid customers

Here is how I would go about making this decision.

Question 1: Have I just launched this software (do I have very little traffic)?
If Yes - Don’t ask for credit card. The more people that use my software, the more feedback and validation I get. I can always change this 3 months down the line.
If No - Ask Question 2

Question 2: Does the trial use significant resources, such that a large number of free trials that do not convert affect my business? (e.g. productised consulting/hosting)
If Yes - Ask for credit card up front.
If No, ask question 3

Question 3: Is the software sticky? i.e. during the trial period, does the user invest enough time and effort that makes it hard to walk away from the software? (e.g. crm software, mailing list management)
If Yes - Don’t ask for credit card till the customer has the “aha” moment
If No - Ask for credit card up front or have a restricted Freemium plan


It is going to depend on your product and market. The obvious answer is to A/B test both and see which works best. You need reasonable sales volumes before this is practical though.

Bad idea. Don’t listen to the “internet famous people”. We a/b-tested this. Doesn’t work (at least in b2b saas)

If you you’re asking for my CC details - you better earn some trust first. Doesn’t happen on the 1st visit.

My personal reaction to a cc-field on a trial form is - hatred. Like, what are you, some spammy blackhat viagra porn site that is too afraid I’m not coming back so you asking my CC upfront? Ef u!

PS. Internet famous people also recommend “long form sales copy”. Another BS :wink:

Agree with the 1st point - yes, you need to build trust, and must be confident your website is good enough to want users to come back, and not just force them to come back because you have their CC details.

Not sure about long form copy- it does have its uses, especially when you are selling something of high value. But that’s another story for another day.