Have you heard about subscriptions yet? A subscription is a frequent shopper discount for the Silhouette Design Store. You agree to pay a certain amount per month for a set number of months, and in exchange you get credits. You then use the credits to purchase any of the designs in the Silhouette Design Store. For example, a normal Basic Subscription is $9.99 per month if you sign up for 12 months. When you choose this subscription, you get $25 in credits to spend in the Silhouette Design Store. You pay $10 to get $25 to spend.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click the link and purchase something, I receive a small commission. You pay the same price. This helps me to be able to keep my business going and provide more tutorials. I will always be honest about my opinion of any product.
Yes, seriously. This confuses many new users because they don’t understand how they could get such a great deal. Here’s the reasoning: Silhouette America says if you are willing to commit to spending some money with them every month in the design store, they will give you a deep, deep discount.
It is a great deal, AS LONG AS YOU UNDERSTAND THE RULES! Many, many, MANY folks click the I Agree button when they sign up for a subscription but they haven’t read all the fine print. Then when something happens that they didn’t expect, they get mad at Silhouette. Folks, it’s on you to read the rules before you agree to them. Since the legal-speak on the website isn’t always easy to understand, I’ll break it all down here for you. You may not get it all right now, but you can return to this page for an explanation any time you need the details.
To start with lesson 1 of the Before You Begin series, go here.
The fine print on subscriptions
#1 – Credits expire
This is the #1 thing folks don’t understand. The credits on subscriptions don’t last forever. Once a credit is placed on your account, it’s active for 60 days. After that, it goes away. If you don’t use it, you lose it.
Read that paragraph again. This is the MOST important thing to comprehend about subscriptions.
- January 1 – I start a 12-month basic subscription. That means I agree to pay $9.99 per month for 12 months and in return I get $25 in credits each month.
- I’m super excited to have my subscription and spend $20 of those credits during January.
- February 1 – I pay my monthly fee again and get another $25 in credits. I still have $5 from the January credits so my total is $30.
- February 5 -I purchase $10 worth of designs. That uses up the remainder of my January credits and $5 of my February ones. I now have $20 of my February credits.
- February 19 -I purchase $5 worth of designs. I now have $15 of credits.
- March 1 – I pay my monthly fee again and get another $25 in credits. I still have $15 in February credits left, so my total is $40.
- I get really busy in March and don’t spend any credits. My credit total is still $40 through the end of the month.
- April 1 – I pay my monthly fee again and get another $25 in credits. I might think that my total is $65, but this also happens to be the date my February credits expire. So I have the new $25 for April, and still have 30 more days of the $25 credits from March, but the remaining $15 of credits from February are now gone. My total is $50, not $65.
Because subscription credits expire, they are always used before any download card credit or Credit Boosts that are on your account. Download Card and Credit Boost credits don’t ever expire.
Your account uses older subscription credits are before newer ones. In other words, if you are buying designs in February, the computers use any leftover January credits before the newer February credits.
#2 – You most likely aren’t losing actual money
I hear folks complaining ALL the time that they have “lost all this money” when their credits expire. As we know, people get REALLY sensitive about money. If you don’t understand the rules of subscriptions before you sign up, it’s not really fair to blame Silhouette. But here’s the thing — usually you aren’t losing any actual money with expired credits. You may lose credits, but as long as the amount of credits you’ve spent is equal to or greater than the amount of money you’ve paid in, you haven’t lost any money.
- January 1– I purchase a 6 month Deluxe subscription. That gets me $50 in credits for a monthly fee of $16.49. Over the course of the subscription I will pay $98.94 for $300 in credits. I make the first payment.
- January 5 – I spend $35 in credits. That leaves me with $15 in credits.
- February 1 – I pay $16.49, get another $50 in credits so I now have $65. I spend $40 in credits — $15 of my January remaining credits and $25 of my February credits. My balance is $25.
- March 1 – I pay $16.49, get another $50 in credits now I now have $75 worth of credits. I spend $40 in credits — the remaining $25 from February plus $15 of March. I have a balance of $35.
- April 1 – I pay $16.49, get $50 in credits, spend $0 in credits.
- May 1 — I pay $16.49, get $50 in credits, spend $0 in credits.
- June 1 — I pay $16.49, get $50 in credits, spend $0 in credits.
- June 28, I realize my subscription is going to end tomorrow so I go in to try to spend my remaining credits. Because I didn’t read the rules, I think that because I’ve only spent $115 of my credits that I should have $185 in credits left to spend. I go into my account and see that I only have $100 and I’m shocked. “Where did my other $85 go? Silhouette took away my money!” I scream. Nope, some of my credits expired.
Here’s what happened–
- April 29 – March unspent credits of $35 expired.
- May 30 – April unspent credits of $50 expired.
- May & June unspent credits of $50 each are still active for a total of $100.
Most folks will think I’ve “lost” all this money. But in reality, I paid in $98.94 and I downloaded designs totaling a value of $115. I haven’t lost anything – I’m actually $16.06 ahead of the game so far. If I quickly spent the remaining $100 of credits, I’ve spent $98.94 and gotten $215 worth of designs, so I’m $116.06 ahead.
#3 – Credits are applied the on the same date each month, but expiration date varies
That’s because it’s 60 days and not 2 months. Since the number of days in a month varies, so does the expiration date.
- My credits that are applied January 1 expire March 1.
- My credits that are applied March 1 expire April 29.
#4 – The time of day matters
Credits are applied and expire about the same time of day as when you signed up. So you don’t always have until midnight to use them, and they won’t necessarily be there first thing in the morning. Because of that, I always recommend not waiting until the day they expire to try to use them. Do it a couple of days in advance just to be safe.
#5 – Credits are only available with active subscriptions
All credits must be used by end date of the subscription if you don’t renew it. That means that on the last month you really only have 30 days because you can only use credits while you have a subscription.
If you decide you want the subscription to keep going seamlessly, you can sign up for a new one before the end of the original one. In that case, the credits from that original subscription carry over the normal 60 days.
- January 1 – I start a 12-month subscription.
- I love having a subscription, so during the Black Friday sale I sign up for another subscription and choose to have it start at the end of the current one. My December credits from the original subscription will still be available in January because I have an active subscription.
If you don’t start a new subscription before the original one ends, but then you DO start a new one within 30 days, the remaining credits from the original subscription will again be active with their original expiration date.
- January 1 – I start a 12-month subscription.
- December gets busy (duh!) and I forget to start a new subscription for the new year.
- December 31 – My subscription expires and I still had $10 in credits.
- January 15 — this month gets a bit less hectic and I remember I wanted to continue using a subscription. I start a new subscription. The remaining $10 in credits from December have not yet hit their expiration date, so I can still use them as I now have an active subscription again.
If you cancel a subscription, you forfeit all remaining credits. Even if you begin a new subscription within 30 days, the credits from the original one do NOT pop back in, because cancelling the subscription put a dead stop to those credits.
#6 – There are rules for cancelling subscriptions
Speaking of cancelling, what’s that about? You can cancel a subscription at any time if you decide you no longer want to have one. Before you do, you need to understand the consequences.
If you are getting to the end of your subscription and don’t want to continue, you don’t need to do anything. It will simply end. In fact, it’s better NOT to cancel so that you don’t lose the ability to use carry-over credits in case you change your mind.
HOWEVER, if you set up an auto-renew when you started the subscription that’s a different story. If you did that, you will need to cancel the new subscription before it starts or you will be obligated to the terms.
Terms? What terms? When you sign up for a subscription, you commit to a minimum number of payments. For a 12-month subscription, it’s 3 months. For a 6- or 3-month subscription, it’s 2 months. What that means is if you cancel before you’ve made that number of payments, your card will be charged for the remainder of the minimum number of payments.
- January 1 – I sign up for a 12-month subscription and make the first month’s payment.
- February 1 -I am charged the next payment.
- February 10 – I lose my job and decide I can’t afford it any longer so I cancel it. I am charged the 3rd payment, because that was my minimum commitment.
Before cancelling any subscription, remember to use any remaining credits.
BOTTOM LINE: If you aren’t going to continue having a subscription, be sure to use all your credits before the end date of the subscription, preferably the day before to be on the safe side. If you ever have any questions or concerns about a subscription, contact Silhouette’s Customer Support. They are very good at understanding and helping with subscription questions and problems.
How to keep track of credits on subscriptions
You may be asking yourself, “Do I have to try to remember all this?” Don’t worry – there’s a simple way to keep track of your credits.
When you sign into the Silhouette Design Store, either in the software or on a web browser, you’ll see your name in the upper right corner. Right underneath that it shows your current credits.
Hover over that so that the menu drops down. Click on the words Credit Balance to go to the page in your account that shows your subscription history and credit balance. That page gives all the information you need – when your subscription started and will end, dates credits will be applied and when they expire, how many unexpired credits you have, etc.
Now that you understand credits and know they expire, we’re ready to talk about how you get a subscription.
How to purchase a subscription
You start a subscription in the Silhouette Design Store. Just look for the Subscriptions option at the top middle.
Or, click on Subscribe and Save in your account drop down menu.
That takes you to a page with the various options.
So many choices for subscriptions!
There are many levels of subscriptions with differing lengths of commitment and different prices. Basic, Deluxe, Premium and Diamond are the standard subscriptions, and there are multiple Custom subscriptions between those levels. You can choose a 12, 6 or 3-month time length on any of the subscriptions.
The basic premise is this: the longer the subscription, the less you pay. For example, if you commit to a basic subscription for 12 months, you pay $9.99 per month for $25 in credits. That averages out to .40 per regular image. If you committed instead to 3 months, you pay $11.49 per month for the same credits so the average is .46 per design. You can pay as little as $5.74 per month for 3 months $10 in credits per month, or as much as $99 for 12 months for credits of $1500.
How do you choose which one? Here’s what I recommend. Don’t start out with one. Don’t even use your free 1 month trial subscription (more on that below). After 6 months, look at your spending history in the SDS. If you’ve spent at least $10 per month for each of the 6 months, or total of $60, then it’s worth it. The one you choose will depend on how much you’ve been spending. You can use subscription credits for Commercial Use images, so if you are running a business with your machine a subscription is often quite useful.
Higher or longer = more savings
The higher the level and the longer the commitment you choose for a subscription, the lower the average price you pay per image.
- The lowest level is a 3-month Custom 1. You pay $5.74 per month for $10 in credits. If you consider that the price of a regular cut image is .99, you will pay an average of .57 per image.
- The highest level is a 12-month Custom 20. You pay $99.99 per month for $1500 in credits. Again using that average price of .99, you pay .07 per design.
When you sign up for a subscription, you have the option to choose to Auto-renew. That means that when your current subscription ends a new one automatically starts. You can add or cancel the auto-renew option at any time before the end of your subscription. See the section below on Discounts for the benefits of using Auto-renew.
What you want to watch out for is that when you sign up for a subscription, this box is automatically checked on the sign-up screen. Many folks miss that. The good news is that you can always change it as long as it’s before the date that the new one would start.
If the auto-renew happens during a sale, you get the lowest price. So it’s a great idea to start your first subscription during the Black Friday sale. Since, that sale typically happens every year you reap the benefits of further discounts.
–Every subscription includes access to the Silhouette Handbook. This is more detailed than the User’s Manual (although if you read all my posts you probably won’ need it).
–All Last Chance designs are included free at the Premium level and above. In other words, they give you any designs that are on final clearance.
–Users who have a subscription to the SDS (or are members of Club Silhouette) get 5gb of cloud storage. The normal amount is 1gb.
–On higher level subscriptions, you get additional discounts each month after you’ve spent all your credits. For the Deluxe subscription and any Custom subscription between Deluxe and Premium, the discount is 25%. For the Premium and up, it’s 50%. The discount even applies to commercial licenses and sale prices. The discount is available until your next set of credits is applied on your regular date of the month.
- I purchase a 12-month Premium subscription on January 1.
- I’m so excited to start with my Silhouette that I spend all my $150 of credits by January 10.
- On January 15, I get a notification (because I signed up for the newsletter) that there’s a sale on my favorite designer’s images in the SDS. I can’t pass this up, so I decide to use my credit card to pay for some of the designs. Remember – I’ve used up all my credits already. I get a further 50% discount. So for a design that’s normally .99, but is on sale for .74, I get a further discount so pay .37.
–There’s a 5% discount if you pay for the whole subscription up front right when you sign up.
–The Auto-renew discount is awesome! If you choose to auto-renew, the price of your subscription the second year goes down 10%. It continues to go down 10% every year up to a maximum of 50%, as long as you have a continuous subscription and choose auto-renew. If the auto-renew happens during a sale, the Silhouette computers automatically give you the lowest price.
If using the auto-renew option, changing your level will not affect the discounts you get by automatically renewing your subscription. In other words, if you start with a Deluxe subscription and choose the auto-renew option, even if you decide to downgrade the next year to a Basic subscription you still get the auto-renew discount. It’s not based on which level of subscription you have – just that you have one.
Upgrading means you decide to go from a lower level like Basic to an upper level like Premium. You can upgrade a subscription any time you like. You can even change the length from something like a 6-month to a 12-month. As long as the level is going up, it doesn’t matter what the length is.
Any time you upgrade a subscription, you can have the higher one start immediately or start with the current one ends (append to end).
On this option, the current, lower-level subscription ends and your new higher level one begins. If you’re paying for the subscription in monthly payments, you pay the new higher rate for the remainder of the subscription length. If you had already paid the full subscription up front, any remaining months are credited toward the price of the higher subscription.
- On January 1, you sign up for a 12-month Basic subscription and pay the full $113.89 (remember, there’s a 5% discount for paying it all at the beginning). That’s equivalent to paying $9.49 per month when you divide it by 12. If you paid monthly, it would have been $9.99 per month.
- On April 1, you decide the $25 in credits each month isn’t enough, so you bump up to a 12-month Deluxe subscription to get more credits. The yearlong price for that one would be $170.89, or the equivalent of $14.24 per month. You’ve basically use the January, February and March amounts of $9.49, or 3 months total of $28.47. Subtract that from the full $113.89 you paid and you have $85.42 of credit toward the price of the upgraded subscription. That means you would only need to pay the remainder of $85.47.
Don’t worry if you don’t understand all the math — the Silhouette computers do. Just realize that if you upgrade a subscription and have paid up front, unused portions of what you’ve paid in are credited toward the new subscription.
Append to End
If you instead choose to start the upgraded subscription at the end of your current one, your new subscription will begin on the end date of your current subscription. It’s just like you let the current one end and then start a new one the next day. How you have paid won’t matter, because you aren’t really doing anything to the current subscription. You’re just deciding to start a new one at a higher level later.
This is only possible after a subscription has ended or is canceled. In other words, you can’t change to a lower level of a subscription during the term of that subscription. You can—
–just wait until the subscription ends, then begin a newer one at a lower level.
–cancel your subscription immediately and sign up for a newer one at a lower level. Just remember the 2 key point:
• You are obligated to pay the minimum number of payments you agreed to.
• All remaining credits are forfeited immediately, even if you start a new subscription again right away. Unused credits only carry over until their original expiration date if a subscription ends, not if you cancel.
When you first purchase a Silhouette machine, it includes a free 1 month trial subscription to the SDS. Machines used to include a card for this in the box, but those are pretty much gone by now. With the Cameo 3, once you register your machine Silhouette mails you a code to use. You get $25 in credits to spend on anything you like in the SDS, just like you would if you paid the $10 monthly fee of a Basic subscription for just 1 month. Here’s the fine print:
- You cannot use this credit to purchase any physical products or software upgrades on the Silhouette America website. This is ONLY for designs.
- Apply the code in the payment portion on the Subscriptions page where you see the question, “Do you have a promotional code…?”
- Once you apply the code to your account, you must use all the credits within 30 days or they are gone. The designs are yours to keep forever. I recommend you NOT do this right away when you get your machine, because you usually aren’t sure what to look for yet. Instead, I suggest you start with some of the free shapes that come with your machine and the Free Design of the Week. (I discussed the latter in this post). Once you gain more experience, you’ll make better use of those credits. Just hang on to the email that shows your code so you can use it later.
- The Handbook is in the SDS, so you can purchase that with credits. However, if you have access to my tutorials you will not need the handbook.
I’ve written a post here with all the info on trial subscriptions.
Sales on subscriptions
At least once a year (always around the holidays), Silhouette does a subscription sale. If you like having a subscription, watch for those. Even if you have a subscription that isn’t ending for several more months, you can still purchase a new one and have it set to start right when your current one ends.
Just signing up for a subscription during a sale doesn’t give you the discounted price. You must input the promotion code.
To keep informed about sales, make sure you are on Silhouette’s mailing list. You can sign up on the front page of the Silhouette America website where it says, “Sign up for Silhouette updates.” Having an account does not mean you automatically get the emails — you need to sign up.
Is Club Silhouette the same?
Club Silhouette is different from a subscription to the SDS. Remember how I said a subscription is like a frequent shopper program for designs? Club Silhouette is a frequent shopper program for physical products on the Silhouette America website. You can find more information on this here. Or just keep reading this series and I’ll cover it in more detail in a future lesson.
Why do it?
People often ask me, “Should I buy a subscription?” The answer is, “Not necessarily.” It just depends. You don’t HAVE to have one to purchase designs. You have other options.
For newbies, I usually suggest not getting one for the first 6-12 months. Then check your spending habits over that time. That will tell you if it’s worth it for you.
–If you consistently spend at least $10 per month, then it’s a great deal. Even if you pay $10 one month for $25 of credits and only download $18 worth of designs, you haven’t lost any money – you’re $8 ahead. You pay an average of .40 for a regular cut design with a basic subscription whereas the normal price is .99.
–If your machine usage or design shopping is inconsistent, then it’s not something you want. Let’s say you buy 20 designs your first month, then get busy and don’t buy any for 3 months, then get some the next month, then none again for a few months. The amount you’ve paid in may be more than the value of the designs you’ve gotten. In that case, Credit Boost may be a better option for you. It’s a hybrid of “pay-as-you-go” and a subscription. You pay in advance but the credits don’t expire. The price per design is higher than with a subscription but the commitment level is lower.
The bottom line: as long as you use enough credits to cover your payment amount, you are ahead of the game. It’s a great program as long as you understand all the ins and outs.
Now that you’re an expert on the Silhouette Design Store and subscriptions, our next lesson will go over the Silhouette America website.
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