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Ask HN: A subscription/recurring billing service that just works. Any ideas?
10 points by paraschopra on Nov 3, 2009 | hide | past | web | favorite | 24 comments
I have been considering using a service that exposes a simple-to-use API for doing recurrent billing to users of my startup's products. Have explored Paypal API and Chargify. Any other players in this market? What do you you use and recommend? Any help is appreciated.

Amazon Flexible Payment Service (FPS) is a good option as well. In addition to recurring payments, FPS also supports aggregated payments for micro-transactions.

If you want the cheapest solution, you might want to try Noca (www.noca.com) which supports recurring transactions but everything happens through ACH and hence it has its own set of hassles.

We've been using FPS and it's not ideal. The only way to get credit card info is by directing your visitors offsite to a co-branded amazon page.

We've also had quite a few problems getting our transactions to complete - about half of the transactions from this month are still pending.

I recommend Braintree http://www.braintreepaymentsolutions.com/, having build payment systems on top of paypal payflow pro, paypal express checkout, and Braintree. Their API is far more sane, and their vault system is convenient. Plus they'll let you get your data back out if you ever need to switch. Make sure to ask anyone who would be storing CCNs for you if they have a portability policy. Otherwise, you only get to choose once for the life of your company.

Note: I haven't checked out spreedly yet, but I've heard similarly good things.

The Braintree API wasn't too hard hard to integrate with, but their web interface for configuration and management is pretty ugly and unintuitive. I especially dislike how they share test instances between multiple customers. Their customer support is really responsive and helpful though.

I wrote a quick Rails plugin to interface with the recurring payments with Braintree. It doesn't implement all or their API's, but it's enough to handle monthly recurring billing for Outspokes. I pushed it up to github in case anyone finds it useful. Let me know if anything's confusing about it. I'll polish it up when I have more free time.


I highly recommend http://spreedly.com. Has a great API and recurring billing is built-in so you don't need to pay extra for it on PayPal or Authorize.

Spreedly has a per-transaction percentage charge on top of all the other per-transaction fees you pay to the gateway/bank/etc. Not a great option long-term. http://cheddargetter.com and http://chargify.com are much better options. CheddarGetter is a very robust service with usage tracking, branded email communication and microbilling features. Chargify includes a drop-in generic interface like Spreedly.

I'm checking this out too, looks pretty great so far. Thanks for the heads up!

Looks great. Thanks for the pointer.

Check out http://cheddargetter.com

Incredibly simple API with libraries for most languages. But it does require an Authorize.net merchant account to tie into.

CheddarGetter does much more than recurring billing: branded fully customizable email communication, transaction error management automation, usage tracking, overage charges, microbilling, analytics. Free to try. No merchant account required during development.

Another option for recurring/subscription billing - Aria Systems http://www.AriaSystems.com. Aria has been in this space since 2003 and the platform is very powerful and very customizable. Also, Aria works with customers of all sizes - including startups.

Another option to take a look at is http://recurly.com/ We offer a super simple RESTful api that lets add payment functionality to your sites. We also handle all the complexities of upgrades/downgrades and subscription management. We're here to help :)

I was considering http://www.zuora.com in the past at the recommendation of a friend. I didn't end up springing for a recurring billing solution though, so I don't have any experience with them. Their product looked impressive though.

We're using Zuora, but I can't say much about it as accounts and billing isn't my area. As I understand it, it's well suited to people who expect to be doing complicated things, and also people who want to ensure that they keep up a professional appearance by not sending someone off-site to enter their billing info.

Authorize.net has Automated Recurring Billing, and BrainTree has some pretty good offerings too.

If you don't want to deal with Amazon FPS, you can implement Amazon's Simple Pay subscriptions: https://payments.amazon.com/sdui/sdui/business?sn=paynow/sub...

Have you given Freshbooks a try?


I always thought Freshbooks is for freelancers who want to bill their clients. Will definitely see if it serves my purpose. Thanks

Well, technically it is. But Freshbooks does have options for sending recurring invoices and doing recurring credit card charges (two seperate processes). It also has a really nice API.

Just for the sake of completeness: http://chargify.com/

Haven't tried it yet, but looks similar to spreedly.

I recommend NMI.com. They are a payment gateway and alternative to Auth.net. Their API and admin console is great.

I'm one of the developers from Chargify. Are you in our private beta? Can I help you with anything?

foxycart.com - has a nice api and works with subscription payments via authorize.net

also try cariboucms.com if you're looking for a full cms with member management subscription capabilities(great product)

Paypal Web Payments Pro gets my vote, they do a great job with it

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