Picking a payment gateway for your subscription business

It’s no exaggeration to say that the subscription billing model has changed the way we think about commerce. Whether you’re providing carefully curated meal boxes for hungry, time-poor people who don’t have time to go to the supermarket or SaaS solutions for small businesses, subscription billing brings ease and convenience to the customer. It also creates opportunities to keep the customer base engaged and ensure their loyalty, even as you encourage new customers to see what you have to offer. In this regard, the subscription model can help businesses chart a path to sustainable growth.

Like all online businesses, however, subscription services need to be able to ensure that payments are secure and efficiently managed. As such, they benefit greatly from the use of payment gateways.

What is a payment gateway?

A payment gateway is a tool that securely validates your customers’ credit or debit card details. They’re used by brick and mortar stores and e-commerce businesses alike. For subscription billing models they’re particularly useful, however, because they insulate the company from risk while also providing convenience and transparency for the customer.

When they subscribe, the Payment Gateway authenticates their card data and ensures that there have been no input errors and that the order is legitimate. It also ensures that customers have the available funds for you to get paid. So you needn’t worry about failed or bounced payments impinging on your cash flow.

What’s more, if a payment fails because the customer has changed or cancelled their credit card, their card has expires or there are insufficient funds in the account, Payment Gateways allow users to create automated emails via webhooks, prompting the customer to use an alternative method of payment. Payment Gateways can also handle refunds securely.

What should I look for in a payment gateway?

There are four different kinds of Payment Gateway integration, and not all lend themselves well to the subscription billing model:

  • Hosted– These Payment Gateways navigate users away from your website’s checkout page and towards the Payment Service Provider’s page and redirects back to your website when payment data is inputted. This method is highly secure but takes a small portion of the user experience out of your hands.

  • Self-Hosted- Payment details are collected within your website, keeping the transaction in one place and ensuring a more integrated customer journey.

  • API Hosted- Payment data is collected on your payment page and processed by an Application Programming Interface. This allows for a highly customizable user experience but makes your business solely responsible for PCI DSS compliance.

  • Local Bank Integrated- Customers are redirected to the bank’s website, and upon payment they are redirected with payment notification. This is really only suitable for simple one-off payments and therefore not what we’re looking for when using subscription billing.

The best choice of integration for you will depend on the volume of transactions you can expect and the level of control you want to assert over the customer journey. When choosing a Payment Gateway you should also ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can I integrate it easily without compromising my branding or desired user experience?

  • What kind of transaction fees do they charge and how will they (and their pricing structure) affect my cash flow?

  • Do they support a range of payment methods, cards and currencies to meet my customers’ needs? Keep in mind that some Payment Gateways may charge higher fees for international transactions.

  • Do they support my kind of product? If your business supplies digital products like music, video or e-books you might want to make sure that the payment gateway definitely supports an all-digital product range.

Popular payment gateway choices

Now that we know a little about what you should look for in a Payment Gateway, let’s take a look at some of the most popular Payment Gateway choices so you can choose the best one to suit your needs:


Stripe offers tailored payment solutions and supports a range of payment options including Apple Pay, AndroidPay, WeChat Pay and Alipay as well as Visa, Mastercard, Discover and AMEX. It is available in 25 countries, and has no monthly fees or setup fees. The only charge is 2.9% (3.95% international) + 30c per transaction in the standard package. There is also a fixed chargeback amount of $15.


Adyen offers a great range of integrations for ecommerce as well as a wide range of payment options including Visa, Mastercard, Discover, AliPay, Sofort and iDEAL. It is available in a range of languages including French,. Spanish and Portugese and is supported in 21 countries. As well as onboarding and verification solutions it also has some cool Business Intelligence features. There’ a € 0.10 processing fee per transaction and rates vary from as little as 0.9% to 3.95% depending on payment method.


Braintree is a separate division of Paypal. One of the biggest benefits of using Braintree over Paypal, however, is that Braintree charges no international transaction fees. It is highly customizable for the branding conscious, although it does require a degree of PCI compliance. It supports a huge array of payment methods including Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, AliPay, Diner’s Club, Union Pay, Venmo and more. Braintree’s standard processing fee is 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction with no monthly fees or setup fees.


Authorize.net is used by over 400,000 merchants worldwide and is one of the most trusted payment gateways out there. They support a wide range of payment methods including E-check as well as the usual selection of cards and mobile payment methods. While its rates are fairly reasonable 2.9% (3.4% international) + 30c per transaction you can expect to pay a monthly gateway fee of $25 plus a $49 setup fee.


Finally, Checkout.com combines an impressive pedigree with a great range of payment methods and reasonable fees. Especially for businesses that are based in (or do business with) the European Union. Charges are 0.95% + 20c for European transactions and 2.90% + 20c for non-European transactions. What’s more, Checkout.com is supported in 196 countries worldwide.

How can we help

At Billsby, we make it easy for businesses to leverage a as many Payment Gateways as the legwork out of compliance. Your customers’ card data is tokenized and stored in our PCI DSS compliant Billsby vault. This enables you to add, remove or replace different payment gateways to their accounts and change them as and when they please. This allows users to experiment with different payment gateways without needing to migrate huge volumes of card data manually.

We offer full support to all of the payment gateways mentioned above for your convenience and ease of operations.

Want to know more about how we can demystify Payment Gateways for you? Click here to schedule a demo.