The epiphany works for me.
I argued against freebees being a special case, and this removes the specialness. It looks like a set of rules that inevitably and naturally encourages non-freebee behaviour.
Not sure about step #1, because I think that the subset of folks who will abandon history and recreate their goals is small. But I agree that entering a card during goal creation is the right point in the lifecycle. The alternative is to enter a card because your goal has frozen; that kind of rerailment friction is what resulted in the new world order. ( http://blog.beeminder.com/nwo )
Omitting #1, then as a newbee you'll be prompted for a credit card when one of your goals derails, and at some point we'll flip the default during goal creation to $5 and prompt you for a card. (somehow)
As for when to flip the default, the existing freebee-counter logic sounds useful. Also, if you've got a card registered (for whatever reason). Though as a premium Plan Bee subscriber, I want to be able to specify whether $0 or $5 should be the default for my goals.
In the writing of this, I like the sound of #1 better than when I started. That's because I'm struggling to imagine a smooth UI for simultaneously offering a choice between $0 and $5, and interspersing a card sign-up. But if we can come up with a good user experience, I prefer it to 'forcing'.
There's additional friction when adding a card for the first time, like explaining how you're on the hook for your other goals. (Unless we set autowuss or cap the pledge, etc.) So we'd need to fit all of that into the flow of a changed default, for cardless users.
I also wonder whether this is how things used to work in the before-time, when we didn't have a limit on freebees. If it's the same proposal, what's changed in the meantime to make it a better idea this time around?
But broadly, yes. I like things that work without needing to create artificial exceptions, and this proposal sounds like it moves us in that direction.