The Main Difference Between Biyearly vs Semi-annually

Biyearly vs Semi-annually
Biyearly vs Semi-annually

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A decade or two ago, most people’s only paid subscriptions were magazines and newspapers.

Nowadays, almost every product or service you can imagine has an ingrained subscription model, from the more common movie and music subscriptions to even the more controversial ones where companies charge you a monthly fee to use their physical products that you have already purchased (Roomba vacuums).

With this rapid rise in subscription model popularity, the terms associated with them are also being used more widely.

If you are looking to subscribe to a product or service and see the terms biyearly and semi-annually, you may be confused as to what they mean, even if there is any difference between them. To find out if that is the case, read more below.

Why Use Biyearly Or Semi-annually Subscription

With the rise of the subscription model, businesses were exploring different ways to make consumers lock into a higher-tier subscription. After years of experimenting, the emerging idea was biyearly and semi-annual subscriptions.

Offering longer terms of subscription service with the advantage that the consumer would get a discount on the total price than if they were to purchase it for the same period using a shorter-term plan.

Calendar Year 2023 schedule

To elaborate, try navigating to any VPN provider’s paid subscription plans section on their site. Usually, the smallest term they offer is a monthly subscription. With that, they also offer longer biyearly and semi-annual terms, i.e 6 months and yearly subscription as well.

The benefit of paying in one lump sum is that you get a discounted price. If, say, the monthly price is ten dollars a month, you would pay 120 dollars per year if you paid monthly.

However, if you paid semi-annually you would be charged only 50 dollars for 6 months or 100 dollars for the whole year rather than 120. The company gets a guaranteed year-long customer and the user gets a discount, a bit of a win-win situation.

Biyearly vs Semi-annually

Differences Between Biyearly And Semi-Annually

With all that prelude aside, let us get to the two terms in question, biyearly (commonly also referred to as biannually) and semi-annually. While from a passing glance, they might both seem to mean the same; occurring twice a year. That is not the case.

Additionally, knowing the difference is important as these terms apply to more than simple subscription payments; they are also widely used in the finance and banking sectors. Therefore not knowing the difference might cost you a pretty penny. Read below to know all there is about these two.

Duration Of The Payment

Semi-annually is an adjective that describes something that happens twice a year. Popular examples of where this term is relevant are in the business and financial field, where a bank or a company whose stock you have invested in might pay out a dividend semiannually or twice a year to you.

On the other hand, biannually is a word that describes something that happens every other year, therefore once every two years. The confusing part is it can also be used for something that occurs twice a year. Due to this reason, it is not as widely used and the prior word is preferred.

If you really want to get into word semantics, then semi-annually is more specifically used for something that happens once every half year, say once in January and once in July. Whereas biyearly means twice a year, it could be that the event in discussion occurs twice in January.

Usage Of The Terms

Semi-annually is the more popular usage term in the case of subscriptions and online payments. Even then, most companies state their charges in simple mathematical terms, so that cost calculations are easier (like what we did earlier to total the yearly costs).

Hence you won’t really have to worry about word semantics while making a payment. On the other hand, business documents and bank statements use these terms, and this is where you might come across the term bi-yearly.

Man hands holding credit card and using laptop or pc

Popular use cases are where a company pays its shareholders’ bi-yearly dividends. In the context of subscriptions, a two-year subscription would require a bi-yearly payment.


So, as can be gathered from their different meaning, both terms serve different purposes. Therefore use one where it is more fitting, if you are offering a six-month term then use semi-annually or if you are offering a two-year term then call it biannual payments.

With all that being said, here is a table summarizing all we have discussed in this article.

DurationOnce every other year.Twice a year.
UsageUsually in the context of financial or business documents.More often used by subscription services and dividend payments.


All in all, the best course of action would be to specify the particulars of when the payment or event is to occur. If you do persist on using either word, then semi-annually is preferred when talking about twice-yearly events, and for once every two years, you can use biyearly.