For any company that deals with subscriptions, choosing the most effective subscription billing service is imperative. As with most things on the internet, there are seemingly endless options to choose from, and for the uninitiated, the task of making the best choice of merchant account, payment gateway and a subscription billing solution can seem quite overwhelming.

Not to worry, as there are certain key factors to can focus on while determining what kind of billing system will suit your needs.

First, determine the appropriate relationship between your company and your billing system. Are you a large operation with the budget and resources to deploy a completely in-house solution? This approach can have certain advantages, but requires a large investment in time and human capital, besides the management time required to build the right solution.

SaaS Subscription Billing

For small and medium size companies, a SaaS subscription billing solution is almost always the best way to go. SaaS stands for “Software as a Service” and simply means a solution where a service provider hosts the application (in this case, a subscription billing system) and the client uses the service through a secure private connection, generally via the internet.

Assuming you do decide on a SaaS subscription billing service, there are three main areas to focus on when determining what service provider will best suit your business.

Growing Your Business

The first and most fundamental question is what tools and features are offered that will help you grow your business. This may seem obvious, but you’d be amazed how many key business decisions are made without considering this one important factor.

One of the ways your subscription billing service can help grow your business is to provide an easy-to-use mechanism to upsell your customers. In other words, let’s say they are purchasing a “Standard” subscription, but your company also offers an “Enhanced” package. You want a subscription service that will not only inform the customer of the upgraded option before the transaction is finalized, but that will also make it as easy and convenient as possible for the customer to choose it.

Ease and Convenience

Overall ease and convenience for the customer can actually be considered as a criterion on its own. A main factor to consider in this area is how much flexibility is offered when determining each customer’s billing date. Does the service allow each individual customer to have their own “due by” date? This little change can make a world of difference to your customer’s satisfaction, and, by extension, their loyalty.

Also, any business owner knows that prices must sometimes be changed to keep pace with the current conditions of the marketplace. But for a business that deals with subscriptions, this can be a challenge, as existing customers are never happy to see their rates unexpectedly rise. To this end, you want a subscription billing service that offers “grandfathering” of rates – that is, to be able to change the rate for new customers while still allowing your existing client base to stay in the rate structure they signed up for.


Finally, you want to choose a service that provides great flexibility to fit your business needs. Depending on your needs, you may want to deploy a fully customized solution – requiring API availability on the part of the service provider. Or you may choose a dynamically hosted page that can be inserted into your website via JavaScript or redirect completely to a hosted payment page. Each of these options provide varying degrees of flexibility and user experience, depending on your needs.

Gateway Independence

Imagine having the ability to get started with PayPal Payments Pro for your business and then seamlessly process payments via another gateway of your choice without any interruption of service to existing customers.

The ability to store credit cards independently in a secure vault, can provide the flexibility and not be locked-in with a payment processor. SaaS billing solutions with ability to store credit cards in an independent vault will help you avoid gateway lock-ins.

Choosing a subscription billing service can seem like a daunting task. But armed with a little information and awareness, you’ll be able to find the right service that will keep your subscribers happy and your company profitable!