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The 8 Best Options For Recurring Payment Systems & Subscription Billing Platforms

    Jason Vissers
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Advertiser Disclosure: Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity.
online recurring billing

Recurring billing software is essential to the proper functioning of a subscription-based business. Whether you’re offering magazine subscriptions, a grocery delivery service, a subscription box company, or software-as-a-service (SaaS), a good subscription billing service attends to your particular needs. From invoicing to accounting to reporting and analytics, we want to match you with the recurring billing service that fits your business’s needs without making you pay for features you don’t need.

In this article, we’re going to look at the best recurring billing software currently on the market. By highlighting the features and pricing offered by different software packages, we’ll give you a sense of which payment system is best suited to your business plan.

Learn More About Our Top Picks

CompanyHighlightsNext StepsHighlights
Square

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  • Flat-rate pricing (2.9% + $0.30 per transaction)
  • No monthly/annual fees
  • Flat-rate pricing (2.9% + $0.30 per transaction)
  • No monthly/annual fees

Visit Site

Read More

FreshBooks

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  • Pricing starts at $4.50/month
  • 30-day free trial available
  • Pricing starts at $4.50/month
  • 30-day free trial available

Start Trial

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Zoho Subscriptions

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  • Pricing is per organization and billed annually
  • Free plan available
  • Pricing is per organization and billed annually
  • Free plan available

Visit Site

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Stripe Payments

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  • Flat-rate pricing (2.9% + $0.30 per transaction)
  • No monthly/annual fees
  • Flat-rate pricing (2.9% + $0.30 per transaction)
  • No monthly/annual fees

Visit Site

Read More

Chargebee

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  • Monthly/annual billing — starts at $249/month
  • Startups can use Chargebee for free until hitting $50K in revenue
  • Monthly/annual billing — starts at $249/month
  • Startups can use Chargebee for free until hitting $50K in revenue

Visit Site

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Other Featured Options:

  • Recurly:
    • Pricing starts at $149/month + 0.9% of revenue
    • Higher-tier plans have quote-based pricing
    • Free trial available
  • Zuora:
    • Pricing is dependent on the package you negotiate with the company
    • Free trial available
  • Chargify:
    • Pricing starts at $299/month
    • Free trial available

Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

The Best Subscription Billing Software

Subscription businesses are taking off like never before. To ensure the success of your subscription-based business, you’ll need recurring billing software that can accommodate your needs, help your company grow, and keep your stress to a minimum. Let’s look at your best recurring payment system options, including Chargebee, Recurly, Stripe Billing, and more.

1. Square Payments

Square



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Best for small businesses seeking an all-in-one payments platform with an online store.

Like Stripe, Square is a full-stack payment services provider, combining payment processing with billing, invoicing, an mPOS app, employee management, and even an online store builder (something Stripe does not offer). Included in Square’s payments ecosystem is support for subscription billing. Square’s Subscriptions API allows you to review the invoices generated by subscriptions in your dashboard. You can also offer subscriptions via Square Online Checkout, a service that allows you to accept customers’ payments by simply sharing a link.

As with Stripe, Square’s flat-rate pricing is ideal for new businesses and lower-volume merchants. Larger businesses will find the pricing model to be disadvantageous as sales volume increases. However, if you’re offering subscriptions through the Square Online Store and you purchase the Premium subscription plan, your rate will go from 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction to just 2.6% + $0.30/transaction. This plan costs $72/month, but large merchants who sell at scale should still come out ahead compared to the standard rate.

Additionally, with Square, you may find that you need to integrate with third-party subscription management software for more advanced functions.

Pros

  • All-in-one payment system
  • Simple flat-rate pricing
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Expensive for higher-volume merchants
  • You may need add-ons for greater subscription management functionality

Get Started with Square

Read our in-depth review

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2. FreshBooks Payments

FreshBooks



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Best for businesses seeking an accounting app with recurring billing support.

FreshBooks is one of the biggest names in accounting and invoicing software. While FreshBooks Payments doesn’t offer up a multitude of subscription-specific features like other specialized subscription billing solutions, it does offer support for recurring payments for a fraction of the cost of a software package like Chargebee.

Through FreshBooks’s recurring payments system, you can automatically charge a customer’s credit card, bank account, or PayPal account on a recurring basis. You can use FreshBooks Payments (a rebranded version of WePay) to process payments from your customers, but if you’d rather use Stripe or PayPal as your payment processor, you can do so. Whichever processor you use, you’ll be charged 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.

FreshBooks offers four different subscription tiers, with pricing starting at $4.50/month. The highest-tier plan, Select, offers custom pricing, so you’ll have to contact the company to see what it offers.

Pros

  • Good accounting/billing combo
  • Includes in-house payment processing along with Stripe and PayPal
  • Much cheaper than dedicated subscription billing apps

Cons

  • Relatively expensive for accounting software
  • Much simpler than a solution such as Recurly or Chargebee

Get Started with FreshBooks

Read our in-depth review

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3. Zoho Subscriptions

Zoho Subscriptions



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Best for businesses already using Zoho business software.

Zoho Subscriptions offers recurring billing, subscription management, and invoicing crafted for the entire billing life cycle. The software is compatible with numerous payment gateways and can handle currencies from countries around the globe, making Zoho Subscriptions a good subscription billing solution for international eCommerce.

You can begin using Zoho Subscriptions to test the features and functions (and even sell a few subscriptions) for free. Once you’ve sold more than 20 subscriptions, you’ll need to choose one of the paid plans on offer. Pricing starts at $39/organization/month.

One great feature you’ll get with Zoho Subscriptions is a free integration with Zoho Books, Zoho’s online accounting software. Any business already using Zoho Books to balance its books should definitely consider using Zoho Subscriptions as a subscription management solution. You’ll be able to integrate with other Zoho software packages (such as Zoho CRM) as well.

Pros

  • The free trial lets you test different billing models
  • Great international support
  • Free integration with Zoho Books

Cons

  • You get only one hosted payment page for all your offerings
  • Difficult to integrate with accounting software other than Zoho Books

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4. Stripe Billing

Stripe Payments



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Best for small businesses seeking an all-in-one payments platform.

Best known for its accessible online payment processing services, Stripe also offers a billing system in the form of Stripe Billing. For startups and small businesses using Stripe as their payment processor, Stripe Billing supports both one-time and recurring payments. You can create billing plans based on usage, the number of users, flat fees, or any other business model that suits your operations. You’ll also get support for coupons, free trials, automated failed payment emails, automatically-generated reports, and more.

If you’re looking for free online recurring billing software, look no further (when it comes to monthly fees, at least). Stripe’s “full-stack” payment services package comes with no monthly charges or extra fees. Instead, similarly to other payment aggregators, Stripe charges a flat rate of 2.9% + $0.30 from each successful card charge.

Stripe’s simple pricing scheme is beneficial to startups and smaller businesses, as it allows them to keep down expenses. However, for larger businesses, Stripe’s pricing model becomes increasingly expensive as transaction volume increases.

Pros

  • All-in-one payment system
  • Simple flat-rate pricing
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Expensive for higher-volume merchants
  • You may need add-ons for greater subscription management functionality

Get Started with Stripe Payments

Read our in-depth review

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5. Chargebee

Chargebee



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Best for startups and growing businesses.

Chargebee specializes in automating recurring billing tasks for SaaS businesses, providing subscription management, recurring billing and invoicing, accounting, tax support, and reporting. Chargebee is designed to scale with your company as you expand, offering subscription packages for each stage of a growing business. In fact, a startup can use Chargebee’s recurring billing software for free until $50,000 has been invoiced, after which you’ll be charged a monthly fee.

Chargebee provides a lot of value for larger businesses with its capacity to handle multiple payment methods and tax profiles, large quantities of subscriptions, and the ability to tailor subscription packages to fit the needs of different kinds of businesses. Smaller businesses will find a lot to like as well, with support for unlimited payment gateways, SaaS metrics, and integration with Xero and QuickBooks included with Chargebee’s lower-tier subscription plan,

Chargebee doesn’t include a payment gateway or merchant account in its services. Thankfully, Chargebee integrates with a wide array of payment gateways, including Stripe. What’s more, based on user reviews, customers seem to appreciate the quality of Chargebee’s user support and analytics.

Pros

  • Startups can start using Chargebee for no cost
  • Extremely versatile
  • Compatible with many different payment gateways

Cons

  • Can’t manage more than one currency per dashboard
  • The interface is not mobile-optimized

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6. Recurly

Recurly



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Best for enterprise-level businesses.

Recurly’s recurring billing software is designed to accommodate the complex billing needs of larger businesses. With its wide array of integrations, compatibility with 16 payment gateways, support for several different billing models, and international business support (140+ currencies are supported), Recurly has a lot to offer enterprise-level businesses.

Smaller businesses will find much to like about Recurly as well, including the fact that you can sign up for Recurly and test out its features for free. You’ll need a paid account — and a connection to a payment gateway and merchant account — before you can begin taking payments from customers, however.

With the broad range of billing models available, Recurly is adaptable to a wide range of businesses, as customers can be charged in a number of different ways, depending on your chosen model. The system lets you test different pricing types, so you get a sense of what best matches your customers’ needs.

Included among the software Recurly integrates with is Zapier, which allows you to connect with another 2,000+ apps, further extending Recurly’s functionality.

Pros

  • Free trial offered
  • Several different subscription billing models offered
  • Over 140 currencies supported

Cons

  • Some customer service complaints from users
  • Native reporting features are limited

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7. Zuora

Zuora



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Best for large companies with sophisticated billing needs.

Zuora is a subscription management platform that bills itself as a complete order-to-revenue service, letting you manage quotes, orders, and billing for the whole customer lifecycle.

The software isn’t offered as a single package but as a collection of features that businesses can pick and choose from to create a tailored package that fits their particular needs. As such, Zuora is a solution primarily for very large businesses with complex subscription management needs, and no pricing information is given on the website. You can sign up for a free trial of the recurring billing software, however.

A business using Zuora is likely to be offering products to large companies that require varied, customizable service packages. An ordinary subscription management service won’t be able to offer such flexible solutions. You’ll still have to connect Zuora to a payment gateway and merchant account, however.

Pros

  • Supremely flexible and customizable
  • Bills can be customized for each customer
  • Sophisticated analytics

Cons

  • Not for smaller companies
  • It can be difficult to use

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8. Chargify

Chargify



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Best for B2B businesses.

Chargify is a recurring billing and subscription management software platform that, like most of the options listed in this article, requires connections to a payment gateway and/or merchant account. Chargify specializes in serving B2B SaaS businesses — the software lets you offer a wide variety of recurring billing models, along with events-based billing and offer management.

Chargify is not cheap. You can try Chargify for free, but once it comes time to accept payments, you’ll need a paid subscription. The lowest-tier Chargify subscription goes for $299/month — though this only covers your first $50K/month in revenue. For all revenue above this threshold, Chargify will charge you 1% of the overage.

Chargify is set up specifically to take advantage of Stripe’s features, should you use Stripe for payment processing. However, you also have the option of using any one of a host of other processing providers.

Pros

  • Excellent features for B2B SaaS businesses
  • Compatible with a wide variety of processors and gateways
  • Excellent customer service

Cons

  • Relatively expensive
  • Can’t use multiple currencies within a single site (only on different websites)

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How To Shop For Recurring Billing Software

Let’s discuss the different types of subscription billing platforms available and which businesses are best suited to each software type.

Types Of Subscription Payment Systems

The first type of billing software we’ll discuss is also the simplest: payment gateways with integrated tools. We’ll use Stripe as an example of just such a system. With Stripe, you’ll get a payment gateway, payment processing, and an integrated subscription billing and invoicing system. This type of subscription setup is definitely the easiest and cheapest to implement (no monthly or annual fees!). However, it won’t offer the kind of advanced billing features that large, complex businesses may need. However, such businesses may be able to deal with this by integrating with a dedicated subscription management platform.

Invoicing platforms such as FreshBooks also give you access to recurring billing functionality. These platforms don’t include a payment gateway or merchant account but will connect with select processors to give you that functionality. You’ll get the ability to implement recurring billing as well as access to basic subscription management features. Unlike all-in-one solutions, such as Stripe, you’ll have to pay a monthly fee.

Next up: specialized subscription management services, such as Recurly and Chargebee. These are sophisticated, highly capable platforms designed primarily for large, enterprise-level businesses. As such, they are priced out of the reach of the average small business. However, only these platforms have the customizability and versatility to handle the needs of large subscription businesses. They may require more work to implement than the other options listed here, but the businesses these platforms are intended to serve can likely handle this.

Option Features Offered Complexity Pricing
Payment gateways with integrated tools Basic Simple Low/No Monthly Fees
Invoicing platforms Strong Complex Medium ($5-100/month)
Specialized subscription managers Very Strong Quite Complex High ($100-$600/month)

6 Must-Have Features For Subscription Billing Platforms

Let’s run through the key features to look for in a subscription billing system.

Support For Multiple Payment Types

Any subscription billing software worth its salt will be able to accept credit cards and bank (ACH) transfers. Support for mobile wallets and offline payment methods, such as wire transfers and checks, is also a plus. Essentially, you want to be able to accept payment in as many ways as possible. Otherwise, you’re just leaving money on the table.

Support For Multiple Payment Gateways

The benefits of supporting multiple payment gateways aren’t as obvious, but using multiple payment gateways helps ensure that you can accept payments in as many countries as possible. Also, it’s best not to have your entire billing system dependent on a single gateway.

Multicurrency Support

Unless you’re selling solely to the domestic market (and do not intend to expand your customer base internationally), you’ll want subscription billing software that supports many different currencies.

A Customizable Checkout Page

A customizable checkout page allows you to make your checkout page match the rest of your site’s theme and branding, thus reassuring your customers. Anything that builds trust among your customer base can only help sales.

Accounting Integrations

To keep the books balanced, you’ll want to connect your billing software with an accounting platform, assuming you don’t use the same service for both functions. Many billing solutions offer integrations with accounting software, such as QuickBooks and Xero.

Reporting & Analytics

A good subscription billing platform should give you analytics and reporting capabilities. Cart abandonment reports, churn reports, subscription metrics, detailed revenue reporting — these things are all invaluable in building your business strategy.

Which Subscription Billing Software Is Right For Me?

best recurring payment system

We wrote this article to give you a sense of your options when it comes to recurring billing software and subscription management. With all the choices out there, it’s important to know what subscription billing features you need to support your operations, along with which features you may not need, depending on your business.

For more information on billing software and starting a subscription business, check out the links below. And if you have any questions about recurring payment systems, drop us a comment!

In Summary: The Best Subscription Billing Software

  1. Square:
    • Flat-rate pricing (2.9% + $0.30 per transaction)
    • No monthly/annual fees
  2. FreshBooks:
    • Pricing starts at $4.50/month
    • 30-day free trial available
  3. Zoho Subscriptions:
    • Pricing is per organization and billed annually
    • Free plan available
  4. Stripe Payments:
    • Flat-rate pricing (2.9% + $0.30 per transaction)
    • No monthly/annual fees
  5. Chargebee:
    • Monthly/annual billing — starts at $249/month
    • Startups can use Chargebee for free until hitting $50K in revenue
  6. Recurly:
    • Pricing starts at $149/month + 0.9% of revenue
    • Higher-tier plans have quote-based pricing
    • Free trial available
  7. Zuora:
    • Pricing is dependent on the package you negotiate with the company
    • Free trial available
  8. Chargify:
    • Pricing starts at $299/month
    • Free trial available
Jason Vissers

Jason Vissers

Expert Analyst & Reviewer at Merchant Maverick
Jason Vissers has been researching, analyzing, and writing about small business software and finance since 2015. His financial expertise has been cited in numerous publications, including The Ladders. Jason graduated with a Political Science degree from San Diego State University in 2001.
Jason Vissers
View Jason Vissers's professional experience on LinkedIn.
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