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Pros and Cons of Subscription Boxes

Posted On: August 31st, 2018

Subscription boxes are fun! They’re like getting a gift in the mail each month, although unfortunately you have to pay for this gift. Here is how they work: Each month you receive in the mail a box of items curated for you personally based on the preferences you indicated on a questionnaire. Typically you are charged a monthly fee for the box and receive anywhere from three to five items of different value each month.

What’s in the box? That depends on the service you’ve selected. No matter your interest, there is probably a subscription box for you. Popular items include food, clothing, beauty products, books, DIY kits, date kits and pet treats. If you are curious to know more I’ll have a blog post soon on the different types of subscription boxes available.

I have subscribed to a few different boxes, but over time I found I was spending more money than I normally would. So before deciding to join a subscription box, it is important to weigh the pros and cons. We’ve included a few to consider below.


1.       Convenience: Subscription boxes are super convenient. You fill out a questionnaire, enter your billing information and then on roughly the same day each month you have a special handpicked box waiting for you at your doorstep. You don’t even have to leave your house to get your items.

2.       Uniquely you: With each subscription box you have to fill out an extensive questionnaire. Sometimes they even encourage you to link outside websites, such as Pinterest, to give better insight into your likes and dislikes. Items are then assessed based on your questionnaire answers resulting in a uniquely designed box just for you. You never know what you are going to get, so it is a fun surprise to see what is in your box.

3.       Broaden your horizons: One of the things I like most about the subscription boxes I’ve tried is that they often include items I love but wouldn’t have necessarily picked out on my own. If you find yourself gravitating to the same type of clothing, for example, a subscription box to a clothing service can be a great way to get you out of your style rut.


1.       Possibly pricey: Let’s take the clothing service I used as an example. Each month I had to pay a $20 styling fee to receive my box. Each box had five items that usually cost a total of between $250 and $300. The styling fee went toward the purchase, and if I bought all five items I would get a 20% discount, which means I would spend $180 to $220 each month on clothes. Depending on your clothing budget and whether you’re buying clothes from other sources as well each month, this may or may not make sense for you. Note that many subscription boxes allow you to customize how often you receive a box.

2.       Many (potential) returns: Some places allow returns and exchanges for a product you may not like or need in a different size. Depending on your schedule and tech savvy, you may find returning items purchased online more of a hassle than returning something to a physical store. Also keep in mind that you may be charged a return shipping fee for items you don’t want. Finally, don’t underestimate the power of inertia: Once that box is in your house, it’s up to you to return it if you want to avoid the full fee for keeping all items.

As I mentioned earlier, subscription boxes can be a lot of fun. Just make sure it is something you will use and something you can afford to do. Other things to look at would be how easy it is to cancel or skip a month and how much control you have. Sometimes places will allow you to see what is in the box before you receive it. Have you tried a subscription box? If so, I would love to hear your thoughts. Send them to Val@Rivervalleycu.org. For more fun visit my blog at https://www.rivervalleycu.org/val