Recurring-Billing: The 5 Best Recurring Payment Providers

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The ability to generate sales is what sets a great entrepreneur apart from a good one.

Sales drive revenue, and revenue ensures that your business can continue to operate.

One way to ensure a stable flow of revenue is to use a recurring payment system.

By giving your customers the option of subscribing to your offer, you ensure that you generate steady sales each month.

The problem is knowing which recurring payment systems to use.

There are so many platforms out there, it can be quite overwhelming!

You can either create your own— which is an expensive and difficult process - or you can use a service provider.

By choosing to use an already established platform, you can avoid an unnecessary struggle.

That is why we’ve researched and found the 5 best recurring payment systems for your business.

1. Different Types of Subscription Billing Systems

credit card

Before we can discuss the providers, we first need to talk about the types of systems that are available.

There are three different parts to the recurring payment system:

Payment Gateways

  • Payment Gateways connect with credit card companies.
  • They make it easy for you to accept online payments.
  • They also allow your customer to use any card without having to be Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant.

Merchant Accounts

  • Merchant Accounts are bank accounts for your business.
  • They allow you to accept money from payment cards.
  • Most are provided behind the scenes, so you aren’t always aware of them.

Subscription Management

  • Subscription Management (also called Recurring Billing) services work on top of payment gateways to handle subscriptions.
  • They make sure that the right accounts are charged the right amount every month.
  • This is often the only part most business owners are aware of.

In the past, most businesses chose one of each service, and would then combine them to create a billing stack.

Some recurring billing management systems have integrated all of these to create one hybrid service.

These “hybrid” billing systems - that include both a payment gateway and a subscription layer – are now able to be used independently and by the entire company.

Previously, subscription management could only be used for sales and finances.

But they can now be used in:

  • Marketing: To create campaigns that are segmented according to your billing types.
  • Operations: To analyze the data gathered and adapt according to the findings.
  • Customer success: To generate revenue and to implement strategies to reduce any active and involuntary churn.

That being said, here are the 5 best billing systems for your business:

1.1. Stripe (Best Overall)

About the Creators: Aidan Booth and Steve Clayton

Stripe is a hybrid platform that owns 18.51% of the global market share.

It’s available in 26 countries including the US, the UK, New Zealand, Canada, Sweden, and Spain.

They are used by organizations like Pinterest, Lyft, Amazon, Shopify, and UNICEF.

Stripe is also known for being easy to use and integrate. You can set it up in just a few minutes.

You can also integrate Stripe with

Their pricing structure is 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction.

There are also no:

  • setup fees
  • monthly fees
  • card storage fees
  • fees for recurring billing

Users can subscribe via Stripe’s application programming interface (API), and the software takes over from there.

Stripe is also integrated with AliPay, a Chinese payment platform.

If you’re targeting the Chinese market, then Stripe is perfect for your business.

They also accept Automated Clearing House (ACH) payments (direct charges to bank accounts), this is something that other recurring payment providers like Braintree don’t offer.

If your customers challenge a charge, Stripe will help you settle the dispute.

The cost for this will be the refund amount and they will charge you $15 for the transaction.

The only drawback is that some technical skills are required to set up and maintain in-app subscription services payments.

1.2. Braintree (Second Best Overall)


If you’re looking for an easy-to-manage API with reasonable pricing, then look no further than Braintree.

Well-known users of this platform include UBER, KrispyKreme, GitHub, and Dropbox.

This billing platform stores users' credit card data directly off of your merchant system onto a secure server.

It also allows for cards to be refunded without having to re-enter information.

The cost of the refund will be the amount refunded, plus a $15 recharge fee.

Pricing is a flat fee of 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction.

With Braintree, you also have the ability to tailor your checkouts, as long as it is still in compliance with the PCI guidelines.

Braintree has a security feature, Hosted Fields, that lets users maintain control over their web checkout and data.

Another big advantage of Braintree is its ability to accept BitCoin as payment.

Not only that, but the first $1 Million is free.

One of Braintree’s disadvantages is that it doesn’t accept American Express Cards.

1.3. PayPal (Best for International Payments)


Paypal is a great recurring payment subscription.

To start selling online through PayPal, you simply need to copy and paste the existing code to your website to have “add cart” and “view cart” buttons.

They are also a very recognized brand - so your business will seem more trustworthy.

PayPal is currently operating in over 202 countries, and they also accept payment in over 130 currencies.

This makes PayPal the best option if your business is aimed at international clients.

For instance, since is aimed at all entrepreneurs and business owners around the world, we have PayPal integrated as a payment gateway.

Unlike Stripe and Braintree, PayPal has a monthly subscription fee:

  • They charge $30 for their Payments Pro package.
  • They have a free option, but this is very limited in terms of functionality and tools.
  • The flat fee is 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction.

PayPal is very capable of handling disputed charges, and they also handle instances of fraud.

Refunds will cost you the amount owed plus a $20 refund charge.

PayPal is, therefore, more expensive than Braintree and Stripe, but they are the best option regarding integration and worldwide clientele.

1.4. Chargebee (Best for Flexibility)


Chargebee handles almost all of your recurring billing needs, including subscriptions, recurring payments, billing, and analytics.

They also have a lot of options to help you customize your customers' plans.

This solution offers the widest range of features and customization of these five systems.

This is helpful if you are busy scaling your business, as Chargebee offers multiple plans that can meet the needs of companies of different sizes.

The biggest drawback is Chargebee’s pricing system.

They allow you to start a free trial, and this is a great way to see if you are interested in using their platform long-term.

But, if you want to continue using their services you will have to subscribe to a monthly plan.

Their most basic plan – the Rise Plan – costs $249 a month, if paid annually.

From there they also have the Scale plan which costs you $549 a month, if paid annually.

The main difference is the number of users (10 vs. 25) you can register, as well as the number of payment methods and tax profiles.

Chargebee's biggest advantage — their flexibility — is most prevalent withthe Enterprise plan.

If you’re interested in this option, you can contact them directly to set up a plan that works for your business.

This enables you to create and change the plan accordingly to fit your needs.

1.5. Recurly (Best for Different Billing Options)


Recurly, another hybrid payment system, is a great option for businesses just getting started with their billing systems.

This platform was designed with subscription commerce in mind which can be seen in how easy it is to use.

They offer customer communications management and an analytics dashboard that is by far the best.

Their website also states that Recurly can get you up and running in under 30 minutes.

Not only that, but they can also be integrated with other gateways, such as PayPal.

Similar to Chargebee, they also have 3 subscription plans.

Recurly subscription plans

An important feature to note is that the Core Plan will take 0.9% of your revenue.

This can, therefore, quickly add up to be the most expensive plan.

Recurly’s biggest advantage is the different billing models it offers:

  • One-time charge model
  • Fixed-recurring model
  • Seat-based model
  • Usage-based model

This gives users options, and it aligns product features with their willingness to pay.

Customers are more likely to stick with you if they feel they have some control over how their billing is done.

2. Conclusion

It is no secret that recurring payment services are an essential tool when it comes to managing your business’ monthly subscriptions.

It is also very important to find one that is tailored for your business needs.

The world of subscription billing and recurring payments can be daunting.

We hope that one of these examples will ensure that it doesn’t have to be.

These platforms are just a few of the options available when it comes to recurring payment service providers.

But, we believe these tried-and-tested services will give you the best chance to manage your recurring payment system.

They will make your life so much easier, allowing you to allocate your time and efforts where it’s most needed.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to get those subscriptions!

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