What is a recurring payment gateway? 

Acting as payment processors, gateways allow companies to take debit cards and credit card payments online. When using a payment gateway, both customers, merchants, and their banks must work together to ensure secure transactions.

When establishing a payment gateway, you make it possible for your clients to store their card information safely while enabling the option for recurring payments. 

Learn more about Recurly's payment gateways.

Why you need to invest in a solid payment gateway

Customers are familiar with online payment platforms like PayPal. They now expect a safe and easy way to buy, and if you cannot offer them that, you risk being left behind.

You need to choose a reputable payment gateway for many reasons, including:

  • Increased sales: If your customers are unsure about your payment processors or are concerned your payment gateway doesn't work properly, they will quickly abandon their purchase and seek what they need elsewhere. For subscription services, losing customers to a competitor can be incredibly costly as you lose not only the initial sale, but all the recurring revenue that a subscription payment model offers.

  • Greater customer confidence: Your customers' buying experience matters. When you provide customers with several legitimate and trusted ways to pay, you'll ensure higher confidence levels.

  • Conversion rates: A survey by YouGov found that 50% of people would cancel their purchase if they could not pay via their preferred method. Customers want a smooth and seamless checkout experience. Once you prioritize focusing on the best payment gateways, higher conversion rates, and customer retention will follow.

Recommended reading: How PayPal Reduces Friction and Increases Conversions

What to consider when choosing a payment gateway

Once you’ve narrowed down the most reputable payment gateways, which are discussed below, one of the primary considerations will be cost. Some payment gateways charge initial sign-up and payment processing fees. Others will charge payment processing fees on transactions only.

The other major consideration is the features provided. For companies that process one-time payments, all the most well-known payment gateways are fairly similar. However, since you will want to charge recurring payments, functionality matters.

Recommended reading: FAQs for Choosing a Payment Gateway

Multi-Currency Support: The ability to accept payments around the world

Accepting payments around the world is easy when you connect your global gateways for worldwide coverage. Some gateways are better depending on geographies, industries, and business or payment models. 

So, many businesses are opting to add variable payment gateways to best satisfy their broad and growing customer bases. 

Your subscription management platform should support many different gateways and allow currency conversion to help support your global growth and success.

At Recurly, we offer 12 integrated payment gateways to help you start accepting payments without delay in the regions you want to do business in around the world. Over half of our top merchants use multiple gateways.

Recommended reading: Global expansion for subscription businesses

The advantages of payment gateways

Whether you operate a subscription pet food business or are selling digital products, there are many advantages of payment gateways, including the following:

  • Makes the checkout experience faster and easier

  • Helps you capitalize on impulse purchases when the payment gateway creates a seamless, efficient buying experience

  • Makes it easier to prevent late payments

  • Integrates with shopping carts

  • Accepts multiple payment options

  • Lowers your customer churn rate

Leverage the benefits of multiple payment gateways

Does a certain payment gateway work best for one group of your customers, while another increases operational efficiencies with another group? If so, it's best to consider multiple payment gateways.

Even if you love all the features of one subscription payment gateway, you must be ready if an outage or incident occurs. Issues can arise, and when they do, your payment transaction declines could spike. For customers attempting to subscribe for the first time, a failed attempt may mean that they give their business to your competitor. This means you will lose the upfront purchase and their subsequent recurring revenue.

From higher acceptance rates to easier expansion into new markets, there is value in choosing multiple payment gateways.

No matter where you’re doing business, it’s risky to put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to a payment gateway. Using a single gateway won’t let you route payments to achieve higher acceptance rates or give you lower processing costs and simplified reconciliation. You also don’t get full currency and payment method support.

You can optimize payments by integrating with multiple payment gateways and route transactions based on key transaction data, such as location or payment method. 

Using custom gateway routing provides unlimited flexibility in routing payments, both in terms of the initial transaction or renewals. This allows you to take advantage of the benefits of a gateway for specific types of transactions based on geolocation or products.

Global businesses, in particular, should consider using multiple gateways that enable you to route transactions based on geography. A second gateway also allows you to conduct A/B split tests to determine which has higher acceptance rates based on key criteria relevant to your business.

Six of the best payment gateways

The following popular payment gateways are some of the best available based on integrations, ease-of-use, cost, payment types, support, and more. They are listed in no specific order, as each offers its own unique advantages. Again, this is why it's beneficial to consider more than one payment gateway.

Note: Pricing throughout this article is subject to change by the payment service providers.


PayPal is often considered the best payment gateway and accounting software worldwide based on its history. It is a familiar name to nearly all customers, making it approachable and trusted. It is also efficient when aiming to handle international payments, accepting payments in 25 currencies from 200 countries.

Using PayPal as a recurring billing payment gateway makes it possible to schedule recurring payments based on your billing frequency, billing dates, and payment amount.

The average cost is 2.9% + a $0.30 transaction fee, with the opportunity to benefit from volume discounts. If you opt for PayPal Payments Pro, which will allow you to customize the entire checkout process and keep customers on your site, an additional $35 monthly payment will apply.

Amazon Pay

First launched in 2007, Amazon Pay offers an online payment solution that makes checkout fast and secure for millions of Amazon customers. Eligible customers can choose this payment option at checkout, providing them with  familiar, seamless payment processors. When aiming to manage subscriptions and recurring payments, this payment gateway simplifies the process with the help of Recurly.

The cost to use Amazon Pay is based on a total transaction fee. This fee is 2.9% + $0.30 for web and mobile payments. However, when using Alexa or processing payments in-person, the fee is 4% + $.30.


Like PayPal, Authorize.Net has been around since the late 90s, making it an attractive choice in terms of experience. They also offer numerous features other companies don't, including security features, detailed subscription handling, and automatic payments. 

Automated Recurring Billing (ARB) offers your customers flexible automatic payment options while eliminating the hassle of entering your information for manual payments during every transaction.

There are several options for pricing, including an all-in-one payment plan that is $25 per month and 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. If you already have a merchant account and want to leverage Authorize.Net as a payment gateway, the fee is $25 per month + $0.10 per transaction.


Braintree is often an excellent choice for start-ups, as it offers an easy-to-use platform and a simple pricing structure. Since Braintree was acquired by PayPal in 2013, this payment gateway accepts a wide variety of payment options, including major credit cards, ACH deposits, PayPal, and digital wallets.

You can easily accept online payments for your subscription business. If users modify their subscription mid-month, Braintree will automatically update the payment details and bill the customer for what they owe. This prorated subscription feature allows customers to upgrade or downgrade their subscriptions. You can also offer promotional periods, rewards, add-ons, and more.

Standard pricing is 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. However, Braintree offers custom pricing based on your subscription model and the volume of payments processed.


As they say at Adyen, they are "the payments platform built for growth." This company offers a subscription payment feature designed for any recurring business model. 

Whether you operate a membership-based business, a subscription box company, a streaming service, or any other subscription business, Adyen can help you reduce acquisition costs.

Adyen supports credit and debit card payments and over 50 other payment methods. These include prepaid methods and mobile wallets that are used in North America, Europe, Latin America, and Asia.

This integration makes it easy for subscription businesses to accept the local payment methods commonly used in these regions—and to do so seamlessly and securely. The breadth of coverage that Adyen offers, along with its expertise in serving international markets and navigating local regulations, are just some of the reasons why Recurly has chosen to partner with them.

There is no setup fee, and pricing is based on a processing fee plus a payment method fee per transaction. Learn more here.


GoCardless makes the process of collecting both one-time and recurring payments seamless. Helping companies of all sizes reduce costs, failed payments, churn, and international barriers, this payment gateway will help you boost conversion rates and improve cash flow.

Recurly’s partnership with GoCardless enables our merchants to accept direct debit payments internationally without additional configuration. This includes SEPA in Europe, Bacs in the UK, and BECS in Australia.

Why Recurly?

At Recurly, we offer payment processing options that serve the unique needs of your subscription business model. Integrating with over a dozen payment gateways around the globe, we help you select the best payment gateways to help power your growing business. Switch anytime as your subscription business scales and enjoy custom gateway routing.