How does charge upfront billing work?

  • Updated
If you signed up on Patreon on or after September 26, 2022, you may select charge upfront billing before launching your page. Once you’ve launched your page, you won’t be able to switch to any of our legacy billing models, including charge upfront.

This article is a deep dive into our charge upfront billing model for creators. We encourage you to review our billing models overview before launching your page.

Included in this article:

How charge upfront billing works

With charge upfront billing, patrons pay to join your membership and then monthly on the 1st after signup. Patrons’ first payment gives them access to your backlog of creations and their membership. We then process patrons' payments on the 1st of every month after that.

Each 1st of the month charge gives them membership access for that month. For example, a patron's January 1st payment gives them membership access throughout January.

Patrons' experience with charge upfront billing

Now let's review what your patrons experience when you turn on charge upfront.

New patron experience

New patrons pay when they sign up. A patron's sign-up payment gives them access to your back catalog. Following their first payment, patrons’ bills renew on the 1st of each month at approximately 12:00 am PT.

Existing patron experience

If you switched to charge upfront before September 16, 2022, you may have existing patrons and be wondering what they’ll experience. After you’ve enabled charge upfront, patrons who joined before you enabled charge upfront billing will experience no billing change unless they increase their membership.

Existing patron upgrades

Existing patron downgrades

Suppose an existing patron upgrades their membership after you switch to charge upfront. In that case, they'll pay the difference between their previous and upgraded membership.

After their initial upgrade payment, we process their membership renewal payment on the 1st of each month moving forward.

If an existing patron downgrades their membership, they'll experience no change. Since they aren't unlocking new content and have paid for the current month in total, there is no need for an additional payment.

When their membership renews on the 1st of the month, their membership access and payment amount will reflect their new subscription.

What do my patrons experience if I switch from per creation to charge upfront?

We will honor your most recent billing selection. When you switch to charge upfront, it will override your previous billing model.

For example, let's say you change from billing per creation to charge upfront on February 14. Any paid posts you published in September are invalid when you switch. Your existing patrons will be billed their subscription amount x 1 on March 1. In the future, existing patrons will have their subscription payments processed on the 1st of each month.

It's a good idea to let patrons know about upcoming billing changes. They may be inclined to increase their membership level if they know that their terms will change.

How to enable charge upfront billing 

Who can enable charge upfront billing?

  • Creators who have never launched their page
  • Creators with an unlaunched page who have previously launched on 1st-of-the-month billing

If you don’t fall into one of the two categories mentioned above, please reach out to our Support team for assistance.

Unlaunched creators who meet the criteria above can enable charge upfront with the following instructions

  1. While logged in to your creator account, click on the My Page button from the left sidebar navigation
  2. While on your page, click on the Page controls...” button and select Edit page
  3. Click on the Getting paid link from the menu bar
  4. In the Billing settings section, click on the Other billing schedule options link
  5. Select the 1st-of-the-month option and then select the Charge patrons upfront box
  6. Click the Save changes button
Charge upfront is permanent, and once enabled, you’ll only be able to opt in to our subscription billing model if you want to make a switch.

How to manage patrons after enabling charge upfront billing

If you’ve launched on or after September 26, 2022, with charge upfront, then you’re starting fresh and you can refer to your Relationship manager to manage new patrons.

If you switched to charge upfront before September 26, 2022, a new billing month appears in your Relationship Manager.

When you get your first new patron after turning on charge upfront, the current month will populate as a billing month in your Relationship Manager. The new month will include new patrons who joined after you switched and exclude existing patrons.

Why the change? Once we start processing new patrons' payments charge upfront, our system needs to account for that transition month. All of your patrons will pay for their renewal on the 1st of the month, but only new patrons will have an initial sign-up payment.

Your existing patrons will populate in the upcoming month's income reports.

As an example:

Pre charge upfront >

Charge upfront enabled >

Every month after

Patron A joins on April 12. They pay on May 1 when you bill patrons monthly, but not with upfront billing.

Patron A's payment is listed under the April line item in your Relationship manager with a May 1 processing date.

On May 13, you turn on charge upfront.

Patron B signs up and pays on May 20. For May, a new line item appears to account for this new income with your new billing model.

On June 1, we process all of your patrons' (new and existing) subscription payments. A line item appears for June and includes Patron A and Patron B's payments. Every month after May has all patrons regardless of their join date.


What should I do before turning on charge upfront billing?

Let your patrons know that you'd like to change your billing structure.

How do I determine if charging upfront is the right option for me?

We recommend that creators launch with our subscription billing model, which charges patrons when they join and on that same date every month. Subscription billing is a common membership model that most patrons expect.

You may want to consider launching with charge upfront billing if you:

  • Have an extensive catalog/library of content fans can access as soon as they become patrons.
  • Limit monthly benefits to patrons who have paid within a specific date range that month
  • Limit benefits to patrons who paid you a certain number of times during a specific date range.
  • Require buffer time between when a patron signs up and when you will deliver a benefit (e.g. creating and shipping personalized goods, scheduling a meeting).
  • Manually expire access to benefits each month (e.g. download links, digital goods).

What happens if a patron upgrades?

Patrons who upgrade pay the difference between their previous pledge level and their new pledge level. Say that Patron D was charged $10 on March 1. They then upgraded to $15 on March 7. On March 7, they paid $5 to upgrade. Patron D has paid a total of $15 for March.

What happens if a patron downgrades?

Patrons who downgrade will be charged the new amount on the 1st of the month. There is no charge for downgrading, and they’ll retain their original membership access until the next billing date on the 1st. Patrons who downgrade will not receive a refund.

Where can I find a record of my patrons' first charge and charges for patrons who modified their membership? 

You’ll find a detailed payment history for each patron in your Relationship manager.

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