Is premium worth buying?

After a couple of weeks of regularly practicing, I’ve reached the last free level. I’m happy with the service, and I think upgrading will undoubtedly be something worth buying for my Japanese skills. However, the price for the lifetime subscription is quite a hefty one, and considering this is a service where I can’t go at my own pace (constantly waiting for reviews), I don’t know how worth is the monthly/annual subscription. Should I wait for a promotion for the lifetime subscription? Should I subscribe to a monthly/annual subscription? Or is getting a subscription not even worth it at all?


Frankly, it’s an odd place to ask this question :yum:. After all, we all use Wanikani because we like it. At least enough to pay for it.

But here goes nothing:

  1. Regarding going at your own pace: this is a big one that people who just start out tend to complain about. By the time you’re at level 10, you’ll be able to go at your own pace, because, most likely, you’ll want to go slower than maximum speed. Wanikani turns into a nightmare if you go too quick. Yes, it seems slow at the start, but it picks up really quick and it’s very unforgiving if you don’t pace yourself.

  2. Regarding price: regrettably, you just missed the lifetime sale that tends to occur once a year at the end of the year. It’s a good deal. At full price, I can’t really say. I never considered paying full price, because I bought lifetime right off the bat. I was lucky I started around the end of the year.


you’ve done your research. as vegas san said, you missed the promotion by a hair. if you get annual now, the pro rated lifetime around mid december won’t really feel like much is knocked off the price.

regarding pace… you can pace however you want if you self study and all the material is free. what you’re paying for on WK is actually the facility to adopt a pace that’s shown to give excellent results for your retention. i find this takes a lot of thinking out of the process but not everyone feels that way i suppose.

my take: yes, the sub is well worth it. if you feel like you can speedrun it or you just wanna get to level 40 or so at a brisk pace, then annual is plenty. if you want to take your time or be able to reset or take vacation time from the SRS at times, then lifetime is a good choice. you could also pay for a month a couple times to get a better feel for how much work WK actually is.

many people come here and post about the wait and the frustration but the vast majority eventually have more work than they want to take on unless they go a bit slower to a lot slower than max speed. believe me. i’ve been there.

unless this is mere revision for you, the workload will grow to be quite challenging.


I am pretty happy having bought premium for life.
Pace issues are mostly only the first few levels , maixmum until level 10, an issue. After that, when you go as fast as possible you really have to put some time into it, slower is always possible. I am definitely am going at a much more leasurely pace.
For the lifetime subscription, I did start sometime spring last year and heard that for christmas there is pretty much always a sale. Since I wasn’t sure after just the free period, wether I want to commit to the price of lifetime I first bought a 1-year subscription to test it further.
Last christmas I was very happy with Wanikani, so I committed. The price for the remaining few months of my running subscription were credited for the lifetime-subscription, which was a happy surprise.
When you plan to be done in maybe 2 years the yearly subscription would be the better choice, but thats only possible at a rather high speed.

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I was lucky to finish up my free levels about a month before the sale and I knew my pace made it worth going for a lifetime subscription.

Presumably you like WK enough to not want to wait until December if you’re going to keep using it? I’d say if you think you’re going to be using it regularly, go for the annual now. Come December, if you’re still into it and don’t think you’ll finish it under a year you can get the lifetime on sale then, and the price should equal the same as if you got lifetime right now without the sale (a little under actually since you’ll get credit for the extra month or so left on your annual). Gives you another year to be sure you think it’s worth it for you, or if you’re one of those folks who can speed run it and be done faster.

Personally even at level five I’m pacing myself and leaving lessons sitting because it’s the only way I can be sure to absorb the lessons, plus have time for other learning outside of WK.

Regarding the pacing - what VegasVed said.

That being said, I was lucky in that I got through my free levels in mid-November and just bought one month in anticipation of getting the lifetime subscription sale. I would have opted for lifetime even without the sale, though, because I take my time with this kind of thing - I know it will take me longer than 3 years to get to 60, and therefore I spend less in the long run.

On a psychological level, I find that the lifetime subscription takes the pressure off. There’s something liberating about not constantly feeling like you’re wasting money if you need to only do reviews one day and not chip at your lessons pile.


I absolutely agree with people above me on the pace. It feels slow at first - and you should enjoy that while it lasts (if you do decide to subscribe) because it will not be like that for long :sweat_smile:

As for the pricing. I personally started off with a monthly subscription to test things out a little more and make sure this was for me. Then once I realized I liked WK, I got an annual subscription (the price for lifetime is hefty on a student budget, esp when not on sale :sweat_smile:). In fact, I only got the lifetime subscription a month ago - but there was a sale, and also after all this time I was confident that it was worth it. I think there is no harm in going for monthly/annual if you’re unsure about WK atm, and/or if your budget is tight - you can always switch later once you are more convinced that this is for you :333


This is something all of us has contemplated.

Short answer: buy the annual subscription for now.

Longer answer: When Christmas comes around, there might again be a life-time sub sale and you can get a major discount on it, IF you feel like you’re going to be needing several years to complete WK. If you at that time are already closing in on lv 60, no need for lifetime, but just buy extra monthly subs as you need them. Even another annual sub will likely be cheaper.

importantly, the annual sub, what’s left of it, gets additionally subtracted on the discount on lifetime. So that’s why there is no loss in going for annual for now.

Monthly is just the costliest option, overall. No matter how you count.


As someone who made it to level 5, then reset, I am still very much a beginner. I am also terrible at self-pacing my Japanese studying. WaniKani has gotten me further and more able to retain more info than anything else I had tried prior. Very much worth what it costs IMO.

Still on the monthly plan, but I can’t help but think buying a lifetime pass would be good motivation to stick with your studying too. After all, you’ve paid for it, so why not keep at it and get your money’s worth?

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You could always buy annual, and at the end of the year, review how fast you could keep up. If you think you need more time, lifetime could be worth it, if you think you can do it before the recouring annual subscriptions get more expensive than lifetime, keep doing annual.

I think evaluating your goals and free time is very important:

Only wanna reach x level? An annual membership can probably deal with that, though the closer it is to 60, the less likely

If you want to reach level 60, both annual and lifetime are possible, so refer to your free time. Do note that finishing level 60 in a year requires quite a lot of speed running, and a lot of the free time

Do you have lots of time to do WK? You probably have time to speedrun then.

Are you busy, maybe doing other parts of japanese or just work/school? It’ll slow you down quite a bit, maybe the lifetimes better for you

Another thing about speedrunning to level 60 is that not only it needs a lot of free time, its also a huge workload. You’re pushing the system to give the maximum of everything pretty much all the time

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RAW wanikani isn’t that good. But it has a lot of very useful add-ons for the website itself.
Here is my list.

Also there are plenty of other resources that use wanikani’s info which can be rly useful too.
I use wanikanify 2.0 and wanikanikanji highlighter. Also kitsun has some connection to it.
So overall, u can build pretty good workflow around wanikani.
I wouldn’t say u SHOULD buy it. Actually u can get almost everything that WK gives for free from other resources. But I like it and I can recommend it.

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I started with a monthly subscription to find out if I could get into the routine. After 9 months I took advantage of the lifetime offer.
Having tried to use self study for a variety of subjects this is the only one I have stuck with.
Slow to begin with to ease you into it and then the pace picks up. Now I can choose how fast I want to go.
Would have most likely given up without WK and the campfire.

  1. Buy annual
  2. Try to get to as high a level as possible, hopefully 40+
  3. Decide whether you want lifetime afterwards and profit from the discount of having an annual already

But in general, depending on your overall goal with Japanese (which we don’t know :wink: ), getting a lifetime may or may not be worth it. If you’re planning to do a lot of reading and learning kanji outside of WaniKani, it might not be worth it.

I’ve been here like 6.5 years so its more than saved me money


WK is actually ridiculously cheap. You’re getting a handheld service that gets you to knowing pretty much all the joyo kanji in a year by spending an hour roughly every day.

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I’d do monthly for a month or two first. If you’re finding yourself keeping up with it consider annual. I’ve seen a lot of people really passionate buying lifetime but then you see they’re level 5 and were last seen 3 years ago or something


and considering this is a service where I can’t go at my own pace (constantly waiting for reviews)

This is not really true once you get past the free levels. The SRS system stays the same yes, but with a total of over 9000 items in WaniKani do you really think you won’t be constantly getting reviews once you get past these first 3 levels?

If you buy the subscription (it’s worth it), you will probably do all your lessons at once because that’s what you think you want right now, but keep doing that and you’ll be getting way too many reviews that you won’t be able to handle in a day.

Here’s a quick look at my dashboard

As you can see I have a lot of lessons that I’m still trying to get done. I’m doing a pace of about 10 lessons a day, maybe 15 occasionally. I haven’t done my daily lessons yet, but when I do that’s going to be another 10-15 items added into my batch.

Reason I haven’t done all 201 by now is because if I do it right now, I’ll have 201 reviews + my other reviews coming up in 4 hours. You’ll notice that every time you level up you’ll receive a very large amount of lessons that you probably won’t be able to get done in the fastest possible time.

The fastest people take about 7 days on each level. That’s not manageable for normal people. The only way I’d be able to do that all the way through is if I skipped every vocabulary lesson, but if you do that you miss out on the other reading for the kanji and the sense of how the kanji is used.

Sorry for the long comment, just wanted to make sure you knew the reality of WaniKani, don’t get intimidated though, you can easily avoid the hellish amount of reviews by simply just not doing all your lessons at once, it’s not a race to level 60, we are all here to learn :slight_smile:

how did you get your background to be like that?

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The other thing about testing the waters with monthly is that there’s something of an exponential dropoff of users. This post has some pretty graphs:

I don’t think WK is at all necessary and kind of agree with the sentiment that it’s a detour in learning Japanese for some learners, but I see it as paying for convenience. WK makes the journey a bit easier and let’s me waste more time on the forums lol. I’d argue the most value is getting in levels 10-15ish, which is most of the super common kanji and the majority of unique radicals on WK. Past that it’s diminishing returns. Nothing here is truly useless (well, maybe 河豚), but it might not be the best use of your time depending on where your studies are.

If you are committed annual is fantastic, and lifetime upgrades from annual are adjusted/prorated for extra time left on annual. I’m not sure if they still do this, but like four years ago I think I was either emailed a promo code or snagged one off of Tofugu for a big permanent discount on the recurring subs that made the lifetime sale a bad choice for me.

Because of that I think the winning path is monthly until ready to commit, then switch to annual. If you expect to spend a longer amount of time on WK (>2.5 years or so I think?) then it’s definitely getting lifetime asap.

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