World of Warcraft requires a subscription to allow continued play, with options to pay in one-month, three-month, or six-month blocks, and time cards of varying lengths available from retailers, or purchasing a "WoW Token" in-game.Expansion packs are available online and from retailers. As the game client is the same regardless of the version of World of Warcraft the user owns, the option to purchase expansions online was added as it allows for a quick upgrade. World of Warcraft is also available as a free Starter Edition, which is free to play for an unlimited amount of time. Starter Edition characters are unable to gain experience after reaching level 20, and there are other restrictions in effect for Starter Edition accounts, including the inability to trade, use mail, use Auction House, use public chat channels, join guilds or amass more than ten gold.
In January 2015, accounts that have lapsed subscriptions, which previously would not let a player log in, work like a restricted Starter Edition account with the one difference that sub-level 20 characters will be able to join a guild if any of your other characters are still in that guild.
In April 2015, an alternate way to cover the subscription was introduced. A player may spend real money ($20 in North America and differing amounts in other regions) on a WoW Token, which is sold on the auction house for in-game gold that initially could only be used to add 30 days of playtime.At the launch of the feature in NA, a token sold for 30k gold and 24 hours later sold for 20k gold, therefore the gold amount changes depending on what players are willing to spend and the supply. Subsequently, the amount that an NA token sells for remained selling at above 30,000 gold and the other Battle.net regions are well above that value. Once a player buys a token on the auction house, it is account bound and cannot be resold.