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How subscription payment services work (and choosing the best one)

A subscription payment service provider can make or break your SaaS company. Here’s how to choose the best tool for your needs.

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Alec Beard

May 18, 2023

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Subscription payments have become increasingly popular across a wide range of industries, catering to both B2B and B2C markets.

 From streaming services and software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms to membership-based businesses, the subscription model offers convenience for customers and a steady revenue stream for businesses. However, ensuring a seamless subscription payment process requires the right subscription payment service. 

Let’s take a look at how subscription payment services work and provide guidance on selecting the best ones for your business.

What are subscription payments?

Subscription payments are a type of recurring payment that customers make on a regular basis to access a product or service. This payment model has become increasingly popular in the digital age, with the rise of online services and products.

Subscription payments are particularly popular in service-based industries such as SaaS, online courses, and streaming services. In these industries, customers are often looking for ongoing access to a product or service, rather than a one-time purchase. For example, a customer who is learning a new skill through an online course may want ongoing access to the course materials and updates.

Benefits of a subscription payment model

The subscription payment model is becoming increasingly popular among businesses and customers alike. Here’s an overview of how the subscription payment model provides value to both parties.

Streamlining Recurring Payments

One of the main benefits of using a subscription payment service is the ability to streamline the billing and invoicing process for recurring payments. This can save businesses time and money, while also improving customer satisfaction. Here are some ways in which subscription payment services streamline the payment process.

Automated Billing and Invoicing

Subscription payment services automate the process of billing and invoicing, sending out recurring bills and invoices to customers at the appropriate intervals. This eliminates the need for manual billing and invoicing, freeing up time for businesses to focus on other aspects of their operations. Automated billing and invoicing also reduce errors and ensures that payments are processed in a timely manner.

For example, a SaaS company can use a billing platform like Maxio to automate their billing and invoicing and customize the entire process from beginning to end. This would help the company in question save countless hours that would otherwise be spent manually tracking and processing payments.

Reducing Late or Missed Payments

By automating billing and invoicing, a subscription payment service can reduce the likelihood of late or missed payments. Then, with the addition of payment reminders, a business can ensure that their customers have sufficient time to make their payments before they’re due. 

For example, a software company that offers annual subscriptions can use a dunning and collections feature within their subscription payment service to send out payment reminders to their customers a few weeks before their subscription is set to renew. This helps ensure that customers renew their subscriptions on time, avoiding any disruptions to their service.

Customizable Payment Plans

Subscription payment services allow businesses to create customizable payment plans for their customers, offering different subscription options, payment frequencies, and payment methods. 

For example, a SaaS customer may decide they want to switch from monthly billing to annual billing and conduct all transactions via ACH. Using a subscription payment service, the SaaS company can easily fulfill their customers’ requests without any limitations.

Improving the Customer Experience

A subscription payment service enhances the customer experience by providing convenience and flexibility to both customers and companies alike. It allows customers to set up recurring payments, eliminating the need for manual transactions and ensuring uninterrupted access to the desired products or services. Additionally, these services often offer multiple payment options, secure payment processing, and automated billing notifications, creating a seamless and hassle-free experience for customers.

Simplified Payment Process

One of the biggest advantages of subscription payment services is that they simplify the payment process for customers. Instead of having to manually enter their payment details each time they make a payment, customers can store their payment information securely with the subscription service. This eliminates the need for customers to repeatedly enter their payment details, saving time and reducing the likelihood of errors.

Flexible Subscription Options

Subscription payment services allow businesses to offer flexible subscription options to their customers. For example, customers may be able to pause, downgrade, or upgrade their subscription at any time, depending on their needs. This flexibility can help retain customers and increase customer loyalty, as customers are more likely to stick with a service that meets their changing needs over time. Additionally, businesses can use subscription payment services to offer different subscription tiers, each with its own set of features and benefits, to further tailor their offerings to different customer segments.

Easy Subscription Management

Subscription payment services provide businesses with tools for easy subscription management. For example, businesses can view and manage all of their subscriptions in one place, making it easy to add or remove subscriptions, change subscription details, and monitor subscription revenue. This can save businesses time and resources, as they no longer need to manually manage each subscription individually. Additionally, certain subscription payment services like Maxio offer analytics and reporting tools that businesses can use to gain insights into their subscriber base and make data-driven decisions about their offerings.

Consistent Cash Flow Over Time

A subscription payment service improves a business's cash flow by establishing a predictable and recurring revenue stream. Instead of relying on one-time purchases, businesses can rely on regular subscription payments on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis. Furthermore, automated billing and payment processing reduces the risk of late or missed payments, ensuring timely and consistent revenue collection.

Predictable Revenue Streams

A subscription payment service provides businesses with a predictable revenue stream through recurring billing. Instead of relying solely on one-time purchases, businesses can secure ongoing revenue by offering subscriptions and recurring payment plans. Customers are billed at regular intervals, such as monthly or annually, ensuring a consistent inflow of revenue. 

This predictability allows businesses to forecast and plan their finances more effectively, improving budgeting, investment decisions, and overall financial stability. By establishing a reliable revenue stream, businesses can better manage cash flow, invest in growth initiatives, and maintain a sustainable operation.

Improved Customer Retention

Offering customers multiple payment methods and options contributes to increased customer retention through convenience and flexibility. By providing a variety of payment options such as credit cards, debit cards, and alternative payment methods, businesses cater to individual customer preferences and make the payment process more convenient. 

This reduces friction during the purchase or renewal process, leading to higher customer satisfaction, decreased churn, and a greater likelihood of customer retention. Additionally, accommodating diverse payment methods ensures that customers can continue using a SaaS product without disruptions, even if their preferred payment method changes or expires.

Improved Financial Planning

Finally, subscription payment services can help improve your financial planning. By providing a predictable revenue stream, you can better forecast your cash flow and plan for future expenses or investments. This can help you make more informed decisions and position your business for long-term success.

How to Choose the Best Recurring Billing Service for Your Company

When it comes to selecting the ideal recurring billing service for your SaaS company, several key attributes should be taken into consideration. These factors will significantly impact your decision-making process, ensuring that you choose the right subscription payment service that aligns with your business needs. 

Let's explore these considerations to make your selection process easier:

Company size

The size of your company plays a crucial role in determining the most suitable subscription billing service. Small businesses often have specific budget constraints and may require a pricing structure that aligns with their financial capabilities. On the other hand, larger enterprises may have more complex requirements, necessitating a billing solution that can handle higher transaction volumes, provide robust payment processing, and support scalable billing models.

Monthly fees 

The cost associated with the recurring billing service is a vital consideration. Different providers offer various pricing models, including flat monthly fees or a percentage of the transaction value. Small businesses, particularly those with limited revenue streams, may prefer a provider with lower monthly fees to ensure cost-effectiveness. However, it's important to strike a balance between pricing and the features and integrations offered by the billing service to ensure it meets your specific needs.

Geographic markets

If your SaaS company operates in multiple geographic markets, it's essential to select a subscription payment service that supports the regions where you do business. Consider whether the billing service provider can process payments in the currencies and payment methods relevant to your target markets. Additionally, ensure they comply with the regulatory requirements of those regions, such as data protection and privacy laws, to avoid any legal complications.

Revenue targets

Your revenue targets and growth plans should influence your choice of a recurring billing service. If you have ambitious revenue goals, you may require a provider that offers advanced features like automated dunning management to minimize churn and maximize revenue recovery. Additionally, consider whether the billing service integrates seamlessly with your e-commerce platform, CRM system, or other business tools that contribute to revenue generation and customer management.

By considering these attributes—company size, monthly fees, geographic markets, and revenue targets—you can make an informed decision when choosing the right recurring billing service for your SaaS company. Take the time to evaluate different providers, their pricing structures, available integrations, and merchant account capabilities, ensuring that the solution aligns with your business objectives and supports your long-term growth.

Best subscription payment services in 2023

Subscription payment services have become increasingly popular in recent years, with businesses of all sizes opting for this model to provide a more predictable revenue stream. However, choosing the right subscription payment service can be a daunting task, given the plethora of options available in the market. In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the best subscription payment services available in 2023.

  1. Maxio

  2. Stripe

  3. Paypal

  4. Zuora

  5. Zoho Subscriptions

  6. Chargebee

Each of these subscription payment services has its own unique features and benefits that make them stand out from the crowd.


Maxio, formerly known as Chargify and SaaSOptics, is a financial operations platform built specifically for B2B SaaS companies. With Maxio, you can efficiently manage subscription payments and leverage seamless integrations with your general ledger, CRM, payment providers, and more. Maxio also offers real-time SaaS metrics and analytics reporting so you can benchmark the performance of your individual customer cohorts and business segments.


Stripe is not only a popular payment gateway but can also function as a subscription payment service directly. It offers a user-friendly interface, and extensive payment options (including Apple Pay), and supports recurring billing. Integration with other billing platforms, such as Maxio, allows you to harness the power of both services. While Stripe isn’t built exclusively for the B2B SaaS vertical, it’s a reliable platform that can be used to invoice customers and process payment transactions.


PayPal offers the option to use it directly as a subscription payment service through Braintree Direct, or you can integrate it as a payment gateway with other FinOps platforms, including Maxio, via Braintree. PayPal provides a trusted and widely recognized payment solution, supporting various payment methods like ACH, debit cards, and credit cards. While PayPal's pricing structure can vary, it offers flexibility and convenience for businesses seeking a versatile billing platform.


Zuora is a common recurring billing option that provides a comprehensive billing platform for businesses. While it may not have the standout features of other services, Zuora offers robust functionality, PCI compliance, and the ability to handle usage-based billing models. However, it's worth noting that Zuora isn’t custom-built for B2B SaaS, and is mostly an industry-agnostic solution.

Zoho Subscriptions

Zoho Subscriptions is another common recurring billing option suitable for startups and small businesses. It offers a user-friendly interface, CRM integration, and dunning management to minimize revenue leakage. However, some users may find limitations in certain areas, such as the availability of specific payment options or the level of customization.


Chargebee is a widely used recurring billing service that caters to businesses of all sizes. It offers features such as dunning, automated retry logic, and multiple payment options. While Chargebee provides a solid billing solution, it has some limitations in its metrics and reporting capabilities.

Remember that choosing the right subscription payment service depends on your business needs, preferences, and growth goals. You should also take into account factors such as pricing, available integrations, API capabilities, PCI compliance, and the specific features that align with your industry or product type.

Choosing a Subscription Payment Service

Truth be told, there are several solid options on the market for subscription payment service providers. 

What it all comes down to is your business’s needs—are you a D2C company? Do you need ample integrations? Do you need a standalone payments solutions provider or a larger platform that can handle billing, invoicing, and subscription management?

Whatever your needs are, there’s a solution out there for you. At Maxio, we built our platform to serve the needs of B2B SaaS companies that want to simplify their billing, invoicing, payments, reporting, and accounting processes.

Want to see how other B2B SaaS leaders are using Maxio to handle their subscriptions? Schedule a demo to learn more.

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