Adding recurring billing to WordPress? Check these 5 factors.

You want to charge people money, over and over? You have options.

Years ago I worked with a client to transform his offline business into an online business. It was a subscription business—which meant he was charging his customers repeatedly. I got looped in because his site would be running on WordPress, as a membership site—something I know a little about.

At the time we chose Recurly. I also recommended Recurly to several other clients. And over the last year, each of them have been looking at alternatives.

So we're back to talking about WordPress recurring billing solutions and how to evaluate them.

The 5 Factors To Consider

1. Payment Gateways

Subscription platforms aren't all also payment gateways. So if you're using one platform to handle the recurring nature of billing, but then want to use your own payment gateway, you have to make sure that they talk to each other.

2. Integration And APIs

The plugins that connect WordPress to the various recurring billing solutions aren't all that powerful. The good news is that some agencies, like Zeek, have built custom plugins for their customers for certain platforms, like Recurly.

But trust me, when you hire a developer to help you, you're going to want to make sure that the vendor you choose has a great API and tons of documents. Otherwise, your costs just go up – and that's before your project goes live!

3. Variety of Product Definitions

You want recurring revenue. So logically you want a subscription engine. But what else do you need?

  • Do you need one-time charges as well?
  • What about upgrades?
  • Downgrade offers?
  • Do you need one-time add-ons?
  • Do you need setup fees?
  • What about trial periods?
  • Will you need coupons?

You might even get more complicated.

Do you need to bill for variable usage? If you're building a project management site that charges $20/month for up to 20 projects, but then $5 per every project after that, you'll need something fancier.

Or are you driving your price by another variable, like quantity? If you're building a solution where every login adds a cost (to a single subscriber), you'll want a solution that supports it.

Did I mention tiers? As your customers buy more, will they need a change in pricing?

Make sure your solution supports it.

4. International Support

If you need European VAT support, you'll want a provider that's able to verify your purchaser's location and calculate the right VAT.

These platforms will likely need to create and send invoices. So check for that!

5. Subscription management

Building a WordPress site that requires a recurring billing solution means you'll need to focus on the details of your subscription and make sure that you have the flexibility you need.

  • Can you determine the length of subscriptions (in days, weeks, months, years)?
  • Can you determine the renewal date of a subscription (and pro-rate when needed)?
  • Can you attempt to get authorization for a subscription renewal early?
  • Can a person hold more than one subscription at a time?
  • Can you create easy upgrades and downgrades?
  • Can you pause a subscription?

WordPress recurring billing has changed a lot in the last few years

In the old days, most of the people who needed recurring billing in WordPress used WooCommerce – using both the WooCommerce Subscriptions and the Memberships extension.

But that's not everyone.

And over the last few years, Stripe has been doing tons of work to eliminate the need for choosing any other recurring billing solution.

It means that while there are many options, you may not need anything more than Stripe.

The top list of recurring billing platforms other than Stripe

So what are customers choosing these days?

I started by telling you that several customers were circling back and looking at the choices they had made a few years ago. To be clear, there's absolutely nothing wrong with any of the platforms listed above, including Recurly.

But what these customers all noticed was that they were paying fees to both Recurly and Stripe. And the closer they looked at Stripe, the more they realized that it was doing all the things they specifically needed.

They went with Stripe.

It doesn't mean you have to. But you should certainly check it out.