Twitch has become a cornerstone of internet life, particularly for gamers. It’s one of the most popular sites, and it’s where you can find everything from eSports to Let’s Plays and every kind of gaming experience in between. It’s even starting to grow beyond its gaming roots – you can now watch numerous artists working in real time on Twitch’s Creative section.
While it is completely possible to use Twitch for free, the viewer who wants to have more benefits and support streamers they like may want to make some monetary transactions on Twitch. So here’s a complete primer on how Twitch subs work and how you pay for them.
What to Buy on Twitch
One thing you can pay for on Twitch is a Turbo subscription. Going Turbo means that you are exempted from ads (assuming you don’t already use an ad-blocker – which you shouldn’t), you have access to more emojis and a chat badge, as well as a few other perks. It’s a monthly subscription, and while some might not find these benefits to be worth the price, the lack of ads alone might be the greatest draw for some.
But you can buy more than just an ad-free Twitch experience. Certain channels on Twitch – usually those with high followers, those linked to professional gaming companies or conventions, and those of YouTubers with high view counts – have a button next to the follow button that say “Subscribe $4.99” (or equivalent price, depending on which country you’re in).
To get a Subscribe button, the streamer must apply for a partnership with Twitch, and they have a high bar for entry. In order to even qualify, the streamer must have a consistent viewership of at least 500 people per stream, or have around 100,000 subs on YouTube. Twitch keeps a share of the revenue that partnered streamers make, so the rationale behind this (one assumes) is that streamers with such clout are more likely to have a high number of paying viewers and thus will generate more revenue for Twitch.
How to Buy Things on Twitch
Twitch is partnered with two different services that are designed to give you more options in paying for both your Twitch Turbo subscription and Twitch channel subscriptions: Xsolla and Paygarden. Paying for something on Twitch might be one of the most hassle-free online transactions you ever have, provided you know what’s going on.
Having said that, there are some caveats to purchases on Twitch, some of which you might not know about unless you’d thoroughly read the FAQs and Terms of Services for all of these companies. Fortunately, I’ve done that so you don’t have to!
The payment apparatus on Twitch is Xsolla’s Paystation. You have the option of purchasing subscriptions for one month alone, or paying a lump sum for a subscription of several months. You choose from several methods of payment – including credit cards, Paypal, bitcoin, and plenty of others.
For most of your transactions on Twitch, it is as simple as this. If you don’t want to use one of these popular payment methods, though, there are other options.
No Credit Card? No Problem!
The payment software is all well and good, but suppose you don’t have a credit card or PayPal? Maybe you are one of the people who recognize the risks of online banking and want to reduce the possibility of a security breach. Xsolla also supports a number of alternatives to PayPal, which will make it easier for international users in countries where PayPal isn’t the preferred online banking solution.
But suppose you don’t have a PayPal or PayPal-like account, or you are too young to have one. Good news: You can still pay for a Turbo subscription or support your favorite streamers, as long as you can get your hands on one of several brands of gift card.
Paygarden, the second partner that handles the Twitch transactions, allows you to make payments on Twitch using gift cards. While you can only use cards from a list of approved retailers, the sheer number of companies on the list make it very likely you’ll be able to get hold of one. This is a good alternative for people who don’t want to directly link their Twitch account to a credit card or PayPal account.
For all its apparent ease of use, the Twitch payment model can be a little obtuse and Twitch is not very forthcoming on how it works. For example, they have a processing fee on the subscription charge that will only show up after you’ve already entered your payment information.
One of the biggest problems you are likely to encounter is that the price for subscribing is sometimes not the price given in the button. Aside from the aforementioned fee, and depending on where you live, you could be charged a Value Added Tax, or VAT. These are not insubstantial additions, and could put you over your intended amount.
When you use a gift card to pay for a Twitch subscription, then either Xsolla or Paygarden – it’s not clear which – are required to take the entirety of the card for use as Twitch credits. That means that, if you use a gift card on Twitch, you cannot use it anywhere else.
Also, Paygarden charges a fee for using a gift card that is separate from any tax fees. There isn’t any way to calculate the fee, as the formula for it is not listed anywhere on their website. In order to ensure you are able to pay the fee and complete your purchase, get a card that’s worth about $5 more than what you plan to spend.
“There are gift card network fees associated with PayGarden’s balance reclaiming service that result in prices that are different than credit card prices.” — PayGarden FAQ
Another problem, albeit not as apparent, is that it is currently impossible to change your method of payment. If you want to pay for your next month with, for example, a different credit card, then you must cancel the subscription, and manually resubscribe from your Subscriptions dashboard in order to make the change.
Be Safe and Have Fun!
Treat your Twitch transactions with the same caution and discretion that you would any other online store and that should be enough to keep you safe and secure. If you want to stream on Twitch yourself, here are some tools you can use to run your channel. If you want to get started with your subscriptions, here are several excellent streamers to get you started.
Have you ever had any problems subscribing to a Twitch channel, or paying for a Twitch Turbo subscription? How do you think the Twitch payment system could be improved? Let us know in the comment section below!