Recurring payment systems enable you to set up automatic billing cycles, ensuring customers are charged regularly without manual intervention–simplifying the payment process for both customers and the business.

Automatic payment collection ensures reliable and secure payment processing, supports various payment alternatives, and offers subscription management and financial analysis tools. These capabilities contribute to customer satisfaction, business growth, and sustainability.

The following systems are some of the best subscription payment services 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.

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

1. PayPal

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 processing platform makes it possible to schedule recurring payments based on your billing frequency, billing dates, and payment amount.

The average cost is 2.9% + a 30 cents per 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.

2. 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 collector 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% + a 30 cents per transaction fee for web and mobile payments. However, when using Alexa or processing payments in-person, the fee is 4% + $0.30.

3. Authorize.Net

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 that 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% + 30 cents per transaction. If you already have a merchant account and want to leverage Authorize.Net as a subscription payment service, the fee is $25 per month + $0.10 per transaction.

4. Braintree

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 service 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% + 30 cents per transaction. However, Braintree offers custom pricing based on your subscription model and the volume of payments processed.

5. Adyen

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.

6. GoCardless

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 subscription payment system 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 should you invest in a solid payment provider

Customers now expect a safe and easy way to buy, and if you cannot offer them that, you risk being left behind. Whether you operate a subscription pet food business or are selling digital products, there are many advantages of payment services, including the following:

  • Increased sales: If your customers are unsure about your payment processors or are concerned your payment system 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 the initial sale and 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: According to our subscriber preferences survey report, 53% of consumers would likely unsubscribe if payment issues cause a disruption in their service. Customers want a smooth and seamless checkout experience. Once you prioritize focusing on the best payment provider, higher conversion rates, and customer retention will follow.

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

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.

Even if you love all the features of one subscription payment service, 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.

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

Using custom 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.

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

Your subscription management platform should support many different payment systems and allow currency conversion to help support your global growth and success. At Recurly, we offer 16 integrated gateways to help you start accepting payments without delay in the regions you want to do business in around the world.

What to consider when choosing a payment provider

When choosing the right system, one of the primary considerations will be cost. Some platforms 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 systems are fairly similar. However, since you will want to charge recurring payments, functionality matters.

Recommended reading: 15 questions to ask when evaluating a payment gateway

How Recurly helps you scale through recurring payments

Payment services are key elements for subscription businesses because they streamline transactions, enhance security, and provide flexibility in pricing models and preferred payment methods.

Working with the right payment collection platform helps you create a reliable revenue stream that not only improves operational efficiency but also contributes to revenue growth. 

Recurly helps you optimize, simplify, and secure complex payment processing with multiple payment gateways, alternative payment solutions, subscriber payment wallets, and fraud management capabilities that guarantee streamlined processes.

Looking for a subscription payment partner?

Choosing a payment gateway is just one of the many key business decisions a subscription business must make. Understanding what's most important to your business and knowing how a gateway–or two–can meet those requirements help you choose right.

Check out our guide Technology transformation: How to scale subscriptions, to learn the key considerations and advantages of a packaged solution instead of building one in-house.