Subscription Boxes: Are They Worth The Price You Pay?

by Hank Coleman

Are Subscription Boxes Worth The Cost?Subscription boxes first became popular in 2011. Today, it’s estimated that there are 400-600 different subscription box options ranging from $10-90 per month in the US alone.

There are millions of subscribers for everything from wine to tech gadgets and beauty sets. These subscriptions are touted as effective ways to save money. But, if you don’t do your homework first, you might not get the best value for your money.

My wife and I love to drink wine. Well…my wife loves to drink wine. Gary Vaynerchuk talked in his new book, #AskGaryVee, about joining a wine club to expand your horizons and trying new varieties of wine and new labels. I’m thinking long and hard about buying a quarterly subscription to Caskers in order to try new whiskeys, which I’ve quickly found a fondness for over the past few years.

I’m also a huge fan of Dollar Shave Club. I’ve been using their service for over two years now. I love that every month I receive new replacement razors in the mail. In the past, I would use disposable razors until they tore at my skin. Now, I replace the blades every Monday without fail. And, without fail, another set of four blades arrives like clockwork on the first of the month.

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Are you currently considering purchasing a subscription box? You may need to do a little digging to determine whether or not they’re worth it and, if you decide to subscribe, how to save money on your boxes.

Subscription Boxes Review – Worth It?

Will Subscription Boxes Save You Money? What is the Purpose of Subscription Boxes?

Companies primarily offer subscription boxes in an effort to introduce new products to customers and drive sales of their full-size items. Many boxes come with an eclectic mix of smaller, sample-size products with a “menu” of what each item is. They can also come along with a retail price, which suggests you’re saving big if you pay $20 for a box and that month’s items are collectively worth $100, for example.

Other subscription box companies offer what is the equivalent to the old “Item of the Month” club. Many companies offer many items like the Wine of the Month Club. This allows customers to try products that they normally may not purchase on their own. That’s what my wife and I are doing with the wine club subscription box.

Both established companies – including Wal-Mart, Target, and Sephora – and new, subscription-only companies offer boxes on a monthly basis (sometimes every other month). Subscription boxes comprise a billion-dollar industry. The most popular box companies such as Birchbox are making over $100 million per year.

What Types of Subscription Boxes Are There?

There is a subscription box for almost any legal product you could possibly buy online. Some categories include:

  • Beauty, body, and skin care
  • Jewelry
  • Wine, whiskey, liquor, and craft beer
  • Coffee and tea
  • Vaping, cigar, and tobacco products
  • Food and sweet treats
  • Tech/gadgets/geek stuff
  • Toys and craft sets
  • Classy fashion items for men and women
  • Religious products
  • Fitness gear
  • Pet supplies
  • Books
  • International goods
  • And many more!

Beer of the Month ClubMonthlyClubs.com offers many unique gift ideas that will be remembered long into the new year!. Since 1994 Monthly Clubs has served as the premium gift of the month club site featuring the highest quality wine, beer, cheese, cigars, chocolate and flowers for birthdays, anniversaries, reunions, house-warming and more special occasions such as Valentine’s Day!

Unique memorable gift ideas for him/her. Discover Monthly Clubs, beer, wine, cigars and more! Monthly Clubs

For a full list of subscription boxes out there, along with reviews and pricing details, check out Hello Subscription for more details.

The Pros and Cons of Subscription Boxes

Pro: Save Money on Your Favorite Stuff

The biggest draw of subscription boxes is that they offer huge discounts off of the retail value of the items you receive. Many subscription companies happily point out how much your box is worth to highlight the savings when compared to how much you’re paying for your monthly subscription.

For instance, some boxes may only cost $10 or $20 per month, but the items inside are worth $70+, according to posted retail values. To help you maximize these savings, My Subscription Addiction has a list of 9 ways subscription boxes can save you money.

Con: You Have No Idea What You’re Getting Each Month

A major drawback to subscription boxes is that each box is a mystery. Sure, you have some idea of what you’re going to be getting based on previous months’ delivery. You can usually see what the companies have sent their customers in the past on box companies’ websites. Many companies also offer personalization options such as skin type, favored beverages, or personal style.

However, the fact remains that some boxes might be duds for your personal tastes. So, be sure to research the particular company and their subscription boxes beforehand and see if their current offerings interest you.

Pro: Discover New Items to Incorporate Into Your Life

If you do your research and choose the best box or boxes for your lifestyle, then you’ll probably have more hits than misses. Perhaps you’ll discover a new fragrance, a new tea company, or a new snack from Japan.

The opportunities are limitless and you can try something new or enjoy the things that you already love. And, even though the items vary from month to month, you may find something that you’ll keep buying for years to come.

Con: Full-Size Versions of Your Sample Items Might be Expensive

The problem with finding a sample item you love is that the full size version of it might be outrageously expensive. For instance, if you get a small tube of the world’s smoothest hand cream one month, and then you realize that the full-size tube costs $50. Then, you almost have to have a “well, it was nice while it lasted” mentality.

After all, the purpose of these boxes is to entice customers to go out and buy full-size items. But, if that’s out of your price range, then you won’t be able to do much more than sample the cool stuff you get every month.

Pro: Usually No Contract Required

What happens if you’re not happy with a particular subscription box? Whether you’re just not getting the items you were hoping for or it’s getting too expensive, many subscription companies avoid locking you into a contract. This means you can cancel at any time, for whatever reason. It’s very easy.

Some companies also offer a money-back guarantee on your first box. So, keep your eyes open in the “terms and conditions” section when you sign up for a subscription service.

Con: Some Companies Have Poor Customer Service

Most of the top-ranked subscription box companies have excellent customer service. How would they have gotten so popular through word-of-mouth otherwise?

But, some of the newer companies may not have a solid customer service base built into their infrastructure yet. And, it can cause problems for their subscribers some times.

This is why it’s crucial to read several reviews on prospective subscriptions before signing up and paying. You can avoid the financial loss and headache by avoiding companies with lousy customer service instead of having to deal with them later when you have a problem with your box or want to cancel.

Pro: It’s Fun To Get Surprises in the Mail!

Not only are you saving money with subscription boxes, but you’re also sending yourself a gift each month. In an age of email and social media, it can be fun to get little surprises in the mail each month. And, it’s super convenient for folks who don’t live close to major shopping centers or who are indecisive when shopping for products online.

Tips for Saving Money with Subscription Boxes

Many subscription box companies offer free shipping. So, there’s one way to save money right off the bat.

There are also hundreds of subscription boxes that have coupons and coupon codes out there for first-time customers to snag. So, don’t sign up for a full price box until you’re certain there are no coupons or deals available.

Another way to save money that was mentioned previously is read other customers’ reviews before signing up. Just spending 5-10 minutes researching the box’s contents and customer testimonials separate from the company’s website. They are more objective that way. And, it can make or break your decision to subscribe.

Finally, you can always just try a box for a month and cancel if you’re not interested. It’s as simple as that.

What do you think? Have you tried a subscription box yet? What was your experience? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. I may be compensated if you purchase something after clicking through on a link in this post. Thanks!

Are subscription boxes worth the cost?

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About Hank Coleman

Hank Coleman is the founder of Money Q&A, an Iraq combat veteran, a Dr. Pepper addict, and a self-proclaimed investing junkie. He has written extensively for many nationally known financial websites and publications. Hank holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and a graduate certificate in personal financial planning. Email him directly at Hank[at]MoneyQandA.com.


Hank Coleman has written 588 articles on Money Q&A. Learn more about Money Q&A on Twitter @MoneyQandA and @HankColeman.


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