Discourse Subscriptions

:mega: Summary: Discourse Subscriptions allows site owners to sell recurring and one-time purchase subscriptions that grant access to a group on a Discourse instance.

:link: GitHub: https://github.com/discourse/discourse-subscriptions
:arrow_right: Install: Follow the plugin installation guide.


Discourse Subscriptions supports the following features:

  • Create new products and plans from the admin panel
  • Cancel and refund subscriptions from the admin panel
  • Create one time purchase or recurring subscription plans
  • Add free trials on recurring subscriptions
  • SCA/3D Secure support
  • Add/remove users from plan groups as they subscribe/cancel
  • Cancel subscription from user profile
  • Cancellation of subscription at end of subscription period


  • Subscription - Subscriptions are a recurring payment plan which allow you to control access to content on your community. When a subscription is created or deleted, a user is added or removed from the user group you associate with your subscription plan. A subscription is made up of a product and plans.
  • Product - A product in Stripe’s terms is what you’re selling. A product can contain one or more plans.
  • Plan - A plan contains a price, recurring cycle, and associates with a group to which your subscribers gain access.

:rotating_light: Be very careful to keep your Stripe private keys safe and secure at all times.

:warning: If you were to shut down your instance of Discourse, uninstall this plugin or your site were to go offline, Stripe will continue to bill your customers for your service until the subscription is cancelled.


  1. Install & enable the plugin
  2. Configure Stripe
  3. Configure Webhooks & Events in Stripe
  4. Add your Stripe keys (public, secret, webhook secret) under Admin > Plugin > Settings
  5. Create a group for your subscribers to join via purchase
  6. Create a product and plan under Admin > Plugins > Subscriptions
  7. Profit!

Set up your Payment Gateway.

Firstly, you’ll need an account with the Stripe payment gateway. To get started, you can set up an account in test mode and see how it all works without making any real transactions or having to set up a bank account. There is no test mode toggle in the plugin; instead, be sure to use your developer keys (they begin with pk_test, sk_test)

Set up Webhooks and Events in your Stripe account

:bomb: Webhooks are required to make subscription cancellations work fully. Be sure you have them configured correctly.

Once you have an account on Stripe, you’ll need to tell Stripe your website’s address so it can notify you about certain transactions. You can enter this in your Stripe dashboard under Endpoints > URL.

Webhooks address: [your server address]/s/hooks – where [your server address] is the URL of your Discourse install.

You’ll also need to tell Stripe which events it should notify you about via the webhook URL.

Currently, Discourse Subscriptions responds to the following events:

  • customer.subscription.deleted
  • customer.subscription.updated

Add the Stripe API and Webhook keys to your plugin settings

Stripe needs to be authorized to communicate with your website. To do this, it publishes a pair of private and public API keys and a signing secret for your web hooks.

To authorize webhooks, add the API keys and webhook secret from Stripe to your settings page (under Developers).

:warning: Adding production keys will make live payments. If you plan to test, be sure to switch to View test data mode and get pk_test and sk_test keys under Developers.

In your Stripe account settings, see:

Add these keys under the appropriate settings in Admin > Settings > Plugins.

Set up your User Groups in Discourse

When a user successfully subscribes to your Discourse application, after their credit card transaction has been processed, they are added to a User Group. By assigning users to a User Group, you can manage what your users have access to on your website. User groups are a core functionality of Discourse and this plugin does nothing with them except add and remove users from the group you associated with your Plan.

Create one or more products with plans.

Under Admin > Plugins > Subscriptions, click add a new Product. Once you have a product saved, you can add plans to it. Keep in mind that the pricing and billing intervals of plans cannot be changed once you create them. This is to avoid confusion around subscription management.

If you take a look at your Stripe Dashboard, you’ll see all those products and plans are listed. Discourse Subscriptions does not create them locally. They are created in Stripe.


Test with these credit card numbers:

  • 4242 4242 4242 4242
  • 4111 1111 1111 1111 (no authentication required)
  • 4000 0027 6000 3184 (authentication required)

For more test card numbers: Testing

Visit /s and enter a few test transactions.

Going Live

Once you’re ready to go live, change your API and webhook secret keys to production keys. You will need to create new products and plans in live mode.

Do be aware that if if you don’t properly configure Stripe webhooks, and recurring payments fail to process for any reason (expired credit card, etc.), users will still have access to the group . To have Stripe automatically cancel subscriptions, be sure to set your Manage failed payments settings similar to the below image and configure webhooks as described above.


  • 2021-01-13T06:00:00Z Coupon code creation in admin panel
  • 2021-01-07T06:00:00Z Coupon code support (client only, creation required in Stripe)
  • 2020-11-02T06:00:00Z Subfolder install support
  • 2020-10-30T05:00:00Z Refund subscriptions from admin panel
  • 2020-10-29T05:00:00Z Improve anonymous user UX

TODO #pr-welcome

  • Extend rake subscriptions:import to migrate from other tools

:exclamation: If you were running this plugin prior to 2020-05-22T05:00:00Z, you may need to import subscriptions created by the plugin using the rake task rake subscriptions:import. This will pull products from Stripe, let you choose which to import, and subsequently import the related subscriptions to your site.


Please make sure your app.yml has the correct repository installed. It should be https://github.com/discourse/discourse-subscriptions


This seems counterintuitive – shouldn’t the plugin automatically remove group access upon subscription renewal failure? Just about every other subscription system does this so I’m a little confused by this.



Yes as long as Stripe is set up to cancel subscriptions after failed charges AND you have webhooks set up correctly, it will work as expected.


I think I see, so maybe this:

should be something like

Also, it’s a little confusing that the OP is owned by @rimian, especially since the plugin is now official and he’s not @team. I think it’d be better if it were owned by you, or perhaps @system as some topics are, or perhaps a @discourse user should own #official things.


I would have if I were sure that I understood. :wink:

OK. Done.

This moves this from a bug/feature problem with the plugin to a user error.

I’m hoping to have a test site using this plugin up in the next week or two. . .


The only way to do this right now is with the rake subscriptions:import task. This was built to handle an edge case after a refactor, though I’m open to additions. #pr-welcome!

Plans should be able to be deactivated in the edit screen.

Yes - it will cancel at the end of the subscription period. This is only valid for recurring items, though. If a one time purchase is refunded, group access will need manual removal.


@ajmuir @pfaffman it’s not 100% ready yet. I have some feedback to implement on the PR and have been focused on other things. Will be merged this week though!

It’s on the list!


A post was split to a new topic: Subscriptions: Suggestions for Interface Improvements

When I have a special group for users with particular plan, is it possible to partly let the plugin assign the membership in the group and partly add some users manually through admin?

I mean if the plugin needs the parity between local discourse usergroup and stripe subscriptions.

Thanks for great work!

You can still assign membership to a group manually if it is part of a Stripe plan. The main consideration is a member of the group can still purchase the plan if they have not already done so.

1 Like

So if I put him manually into the group, the plugin won’t offer / allow him a subscription for this plan?

It won’t require a subscription, no, but it will allow the person to buy a plan still from /s. The logic does not look at group membership, but the Stripe purchase history for the user (all via Stripe API).


In addition to manually adding the user to the special group, you are able to assign a relevant subscription product in the Stripe dashboard to this customer (either existing customer or creating a new one). However, I don’t know if Discourse will be able to remove the user from the group once the subscription is cancelled - perhaps @justin can confirm?

That’s right. And it might confuse you, so you might rather have a free-have-access group so that you don’t forget that you gave them free access some other way. (Because soon you’ll have so many people paying you’ll never keep them straight in your head!)


It might work but I haven’t tested it. I’m going to guess there will be issues/errors due to our storage of data locally using models.


Thanks, so far so good… I’m playing with rake import… I have some existing products and plans with customers.

One more question please: What exactly happens after toggling older pricing plan “not active”? Will it only stop being offered to buy or does it have any effect on currently active customer subscriptions of that plan (e.g. cancel them)?

I assume that according to Stripe it will not cancel current subscriptions…


active boolean

Whether the plan can be used for new purchases.

I’d imagine it will not. Only stop it from being used on new ones.

1 Like

One small idea for improvement… /s when lightboxed will show this ugly message:

Sorry, we were unable to generate a preview for this web page, because the following oEmbed / OpenGraph tags could not be found: description, image


Just a question: is there any way to sort plans belonging to the product in the presentation page /s? What is the default mode of sorting?