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Free or paid account?

I have a business account and if I want to add another user or member to my team I have to pay for them

As far as I can see, if I had a free account, I could add them and pay nothing??

Am I seeing this correctly?  

What are teh disadvantages of going back to free.  I'm just a one person business but am going to hire and admin to help with tasks.  I want her to have access to my Trello boards as that's where we'll house all the tasks and systems she needs to run

3 answers

As far as I have been able to figure out, yes, you would have to pay for them to access your boards. A quick search of "why you shouldn't pay for Trello" turns up some interesting perspectives on Trello's pricing system. There seem to be quite a few user cases that make paying for Trello a serious disadvantage & I have heard of many teams downgrading to free accounts because of exactly this situation (i.e. having to pay outrageous fees for a team when only a small percentage of the team is actively using Trello, but the others need to be able to at least view the boards). 

In personal use, I was ready to upgrade so I could have access to more butler automations; however, to share the list with my wife, we'd both have to pay, and it's not worth it. Unfortunately, Trello doesn't seem to have figured out how to monetize their free users, effectively yet...

What I'm personally trying to figure out is whether the free trello account will be sufficient: I don't want to spend any more time setting up boards and rules only to find that it'll only continue to be useful if I upgrade. For a small business (e.g. 5-10 employees), $600-$1200USD / year for an organizational app is *way* too expensive, IMO. 

Thank you.  These are my thoughts exactly.  I think I can work around most of the upgrades I have as a paying member.   I only have one other team member currently and I just share my login with her so I dont have to pay for her.  I'm a really small business and she just does a few admin jobs for me.  Prior to paying she was on the board without payment.  Maybe I'll downgrade 

0 votes
Iain Dooley Community Leader Sep 09, 2020

@Jo Butler @rax adaam the big loophole in paying for Trello even since they added their 10 board limit has been the fact that personal boards had unlimited members.

Now they are closing that loophole, more people will need to pay.

However, if you're a paying member currently, and you want to have an admin person come on and do some stuff but not be a full team member you can:

1) Downgrade to free, lose the paid features (like increased butler quota and unlimited power ups and boards), ensure you only have 10 boards per team and add your admin member to your team

2) Keep your paid plan on your team, but invite your new admin person to only one board, then they won't be billable and you'll still have the increased Butler quota for automations HOWEVER that person won't have access to the advanced checklists feature even though they will have access to unlimited power ups within that board (weird!)

The handy thing from the perspective of having a "work Trello" that you pay for and a "home Trello" that you share with your spouse now is that they have introduced account switchers on both the mobile and desktop apps, so you can easily have your personal Trello with a free team, up to 10 boards, shared with your family and friends, with no problems, then have your business class team in another account.

My guess is that the next restriction to be introduced will be the number of teams per "account". Currently the notion of "account" and "team" are completely separate, however I'm guessing that the final loophole to be closed is that you can currently create unlimited free teams in order to get around the 10 board per free team limit, although that's just conjecture on my behalf.

LOL - I am currently invested with Atlassian, but if there approach to monetizing their product is to "close loopholes" as opposed to creating value and working out a coherent payment plan, I'll be selling my shares ASAP. 

Not only that, but if this is really their strategy, I think I'll be moving my team off of Trello: this is absurdly overly complicated and very user-unfriendly: if you pay for an app, it's paid for - you should have access to all the features, regardless of whether you're using it for work or your personal  life. 

I'm genuinely dumbfounded and disappointed by this: Trello seems like a good tool. I'm willing to pay some amount for it, but if they can't figure out a way to be profitable that doesn't involve over-charging and creating unnecessarily complicated rules between personal boards and professional boards (not to mention making collaboration more difficult), then I really can't see how the product will survive...

Wow - I really don't get the logic here: this billing method means that you would have to pay for every team you belong to, right? That immediately kills word-of-mouth advertising for them, as the barrier to sharing the product with anyone else is being willing to pay an additional $120USD / year for a product you're already paying for (or compromise your organization so that the individual can view everything -- except advanced checklists, lol -- on one board). 

Think I'll see where ZenKit is at these days before investing more time setting up Trello for my team... Thanks for sharing this info, I think you saved us a lot of time, money & headaches. Too bad Atlassian doesn't make it easier for users to reach out: it's a product with great potential, but the business side has been completely blundered. 

Iain Dooley Community Leader Sep 09, 2020

@rax adaam yes with the billing currently, if your same Trello user is a member of multiple business class teams, then each membership will be charged. If the same Trello user is a member of multiple boards in multiple business class teams, likewise the same Trello user would be billable in more than one team and so on.

Just to be clear though I don't think they'll ever get rid of free teams, but from what I can see coming down the line in terms of the changes to personal boards (ie. you have to add each board to a team now when you invite another member to it) it seems like the next progression is going to be to restrict the number of free teams you can have in your account, because otherwise people would just be able to get around that restriction by simply creating a free team for every single board and it would be pointless to have implemented it in the first place.

Trello billing has always been a bit weird because it was attached to "teams" but the actual real life use cases for having "teams" were pretty limited. I think what they're doing now is making things more "account like" as we're used to in other products so it seems like a step in the right direction to me. I love Trello so I am keen to see them figure it out and generate the revenue they deserve!

Like rax adaam likes this

I'm so confused now.  I'm more than happy to pay for hte account I have, but don't see why I can't include others when I can in the free account.  I probably don't really need the upgraded benefits of the paid account, I can easily work around not having them.

So I guess there's no advantage to me having a paid account?? 

Iain Dooley Community Leader Sep 10, 2020

@Jo Butler if you don't need:

1) Unlimited power ups per board

2) More Butler quota

3) More than 10 boards added to a team

4) Board collections within a team

5) More administrative controls on your team

6) The ability to add external guests as observers to your boards

Then no you don't need to pay for Trello :)

Like rax adaam likes this

@Iain Dooley thanks for the clear exposition. I'm totally with you on wishing Atlassian all the best in generating well-deserved income for this product. However, in terms of investing (both my personal time, as well as financially), I'm deeply concerned about a monetization approach that turns on cornering existing users in this way, in order to force them to pay. 

Compare a company like Dropbox that has managed to successfully navigate the freemium model to become very profitable: their free model offered 2GB and their paid model offers 1TB: the value at that point was already unambiguous, but they have gone further to add many other useful features to the business class that create even more value (& so incentive for users to upgrade). 

Hearing that Trello's approach is to restrict usage instead of figuring out how to create similar unambiguous value for their users suggests to me that either they are under pressure to meet certain financial checkpoints (for investors) that is driving them towards short-term priorities that will be bad for the long-term success of the company and the product...

I work on many different projects with lots of different people. Previously, any tool  I used could be easily shared with my collaborators without my incurring additional fees; being faced with the prospect of having to either pay for the same product for each different product or make due with a limited set of tools is about as exciting as being stuck between the proverbially rock & hard place: these are shitty options to offer users who are enthusiastic about your product. 

Even just as an entrepreneur, I'm frustrated that I will have access to advanced features for my current startup, but not in my personal boards that I share with my wife... There *is* value in this product, but their current implementation makes no sense for so many reasons: frustrating users by fragmenting their access to features, according to the project their working on; discouraging spread by word-of-mouth etc. 

Why not take the butler quotas or team sizes and number of boards, and make them inexpensive, one-time, add-ons for users that have unambiguous value? e.g. pay $5/month to have access to greater butler automation options on all your boards & teams (but only paying customers can implement said automations). That way, my cost scales with my actual use of the product: if I work with 20 teams and am the primary user implementing automations, then I'll have to gradually increase my limits in a way that actually reflects the value I get from the product, without discouraging me from sharing the product with new users. 

Give me a reasonably priced, useful product & I am a walking advert, but I just can't see how I could ever convince any of my partners on other projects to take on the charges, in the current model... I hope they'll end up on the right track, eventually, as I agree: great product and happy to pay, but the fee structure just doesn't make sense.

Thank you everyone.  I've moved to Asana.  

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