Recurring Billing

What is Recurring Billing?

Recurring billing is a billing model that allows customers to make automatic payments on a regular basis. This can be weekly, monthly, or even yearly. This type of billing can be beneficial for businesses that provide ongoing services or sell digital products that need to be renewed periodically.

Customers can set up their recurring billing, so they never have to worry about missing a payment or being charged late fees.

Recurring billing can be used for products or services that are used regularly, such as subscription services, membership fees, or utility bills. It can also be used for one-time purchases where the customer wants to spread out the cost over time. For example, some online stores offer financing options for big-ticket items that allow customers to make monthly payments instead of paying the full amount upfront.


  • subscription billing
  • auto-charging
  • automated payment processing
  • recurring billing software

Subscription vs. Recurring Billing

There is often confusion around the difference between subscription billing and recurring billing. Subscription billing is a recurring billing type where customers are regularly charged for access to a service or product. Recurring billing, however, can refer to repeating payment methods, such as monthly membership fees, pay-per-view content, or even utility bills.

The primary difference between the two is that subscription billing always entails some recurring charge, whereas recurring billing does not necessarily involve a subscription. In other words, all subscription billings are recurring billings, but not all recurring billings are subscription billings.

Another distinction between recurring billing and subscription charging is the price plan. Subscription businesses can have multiple pricing plans or different pricing tiers, whereas the price may change from one payment to the next with recurring billing. 

Types of Recurring Billing

There are a few types of recurring billing that businesses can use to automate their payments. The most common types are subscription-based billing and usage-based billing.

  • Subscription-based billing, or fixed recurring billing, is a type of recurring billing where customers are charged a fixed amount on a regular basis, typically monthly or annually. Companies that offer subscription services, such as online media or software, use this billing type.
  • Usage-based billing is a type of recurring billing where customers are charged based on their service usage. Usage-based billing is often used by companies that offer cloud-based services, such as storage or computing power.

Advantages of Recurring Billing

Recurring billing can be a convenient way for customers to make payments, as they don’t have to remember to make a payment each time it’s due. Since recurring billing ensures prompt payment from customers, it can help businesses predict and manage their cash flow as it provides a predictable source of revenue.

However, some risks are associated with recurring billing, such as customers forgetting they’ve signed up for a service or being charged for something they no longer want or need. Therefore, businesses should ensure that their customers are aware of the terms of their recurring billing agreement and that they have an easy way to cancel if needed.

Challenges of Recurring Billing for Businesses

One of the main challenges is managing customer expectations. If customers are not clearly informed about the recurring billing arrangement, they may be surprised and even angered when they see charges on their credit card or bank statement that they were not expecting. This can lead to customer churn and damage your business’s reputation.

Some businesses may have difficulty implementing recurring billing if they do not have the right tools or systems in place. This can be a challenge for small businesses in particular. With recurring billing, the company will need to keep track of all of the different subscriptions and ensure that payments are processed on time each month. This can be a lot of work, especially for businesses with many customers.

In recent years, trends in recurring billing management have shifted towards automation and simplification because of the growing popularity of subscription-based models, which require a streamlined and efficient billing process.

Recurring billing platforms have responded by offering more features and integrations that make setting up and managing recurring payments easy. Some of the most popular trends in recurring billing management include:

Automated Payment Processing

Automated payment processing is the most important trend in recurring billing management. By automating the process of payments, businesses can free up time and resources that would otherwise be spent on manual tasks like invoicing and tracking payments.

Automated payment processing can also help businesses to avoid late payments, reduce accounting errors, and improve cash flow. In addition, automated payment processing can provide valuable data and insights that can help businesses to understand their customers better and make more informed strategic decisions.

Flexible Payment Scheduling

Most billing systems allow customers to easily change their payment information, cancel an unwanted subscription, or opt out of services. This helps merchants manage all aspects of recurring billing and automate invoicing for recordkeeping purposes.

Improved Customer Communication

Many recurring billing platforms offer customer communication features to keep customers informed of their subscription or billing process changes. For example, email notifications, SMS alerts, and in-app messaging keep customers notified of their payment status or changes to their accounts. Communicating regularly with customers can lead to higher customer retention and satisfaction.

Recurring Billing Software

Increasingly, SaaS and managed services companies are turning to recurring billing software to automate subscription billing. Recurring billing software automates the entire subscription billing process, from sending invoices and collecting payments to managing customer accounts. This translates to a streamlined operation for your finance team, freeing them up for more strategic tasks. Reduced errors in billing and faster collections lead to improved cash flow. 

On the customer side, self-service portals and flexible payment options enhance the overall experience, potentially reducing churn. Ultimately, recurring billing software is an investment that boosts efficiency, increases revenue and paves the way for sustainable growth for your SaaS business.

By keeping up with these trends, businesses can provide the best possible experience for their customers.

Companies Using Recurring Billing Software

Recurring billing software isn’t just for SaaS companies. Any business with a subscription-based model can benefit from its features. Here are some of the most common types of companies that use recurring billing software:

  • Subscription Box Services: Think companies like HelloFresh or BarkBox. Recurring billing software automates sending invoices and collecting payments for curated boxes delivered at regular intervals.
  • Media Streaming Services: From Netflix to Hulu, streaming services rely on recurring billing to manage customer subscriptions and ensure timely payments for access to their content libraries.
  • Software As A Service (SaaS): As discussed previously, SaaS companies are major users of recurring billing software to manage subscriptions for their cloud-based applications.
  • Membership Sites and Online Communities: Websites offering exclusive content or access for a monthly or annual fee can leverage recurring billing for automated payments and membership management.
  • Fitness Gyms and Wellness Studios: Many gyms and studios have shifted to offering monthly memberships rather than one-time fees. Recurring billing software simplifies managing these memberships and recurring dues.
  • Educational Technology Companies: Online learning platforms offering subscription-based courses or access to educational materials benefit from recurring billing for automated student payments.
  • B2B (Business-to-Business) Companies: Businesses that provide recurring services like data security or marketing automation can use recurring billing to manage client subscriptions and ensure smooth payment cycles.

Recurring billing software is a valuable tool for any company that relies on a subscription model to generate revenue. It streamlines billing processes, improves cash flow, and enhances customer experience across a wide range of industries.

People Also Ask

What businesses is recurring billing most suited for?

Recurring billing is most commonly used by businesses that offer subscription-based services, where customers are charged regularly for access to the service. This could be anything from a monthly gym membership to a yearly software license.

In these cases, recurring billing can save the business time and hassle by automating the payment process. Instead of manually bill each customer every month, the business can set up a recurring payment plan and let the system take care of it. This can free up staff time to focus on other tasks and ensure that customers are always up-to-date with their payments.

Recurring billing can also be used by businesses that sell physical goods, such as clothing or home goods. In this case, the business can set up a subscription plan where customers are automatically charged and shipped new products on a regular basis. This can be a great way to keep customers coming back for more and make sure that they always have the latest products.

Recurring billing is a great solution for businesses that want to automate their payment process and save time. It’s also a good way to keep customers engaged by offering them convenient payment options and regular shipments of new products.

Does recurring payment mean automatic?

Some people believe that recurring payments are the same as automatic payments, but this is not necessarily true. Recurring payments are scheduled to be made on a regular basis, typically monthly or yearly. Automatic payments, however, are made without needing input from the payer.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of payments. With recurring payments, the payer has more control over when and how much they want to pay. Automatic payments, on the other hand, can be helpful for people who might forget to make a payment or who want to make sure their bills are always paid on time.

What factors should be considered when evaluating recurring billing software?

A RevOps or Finance Manager looking at recurring billing software for their subscription business should consider several key factors:

Core Needs and Functionality:

Subscription complexity: Can the software handle your specific subscription models (freemium, tiered plans, etc.) and pricing structures?
Automation: Does it automate key tasks like recurring payments, invoicing, and dunning for failed payments?
Payment Processing: Does it integrate with your preferred payment gateway and offer features like secure storage (PCI compliance)?
Accounting Integration: Does it integrate with your existing accounting software for seamless data flow?
Scalability: Can it handle your current subscriber base and grow as your business expands?

Financial Considerations:

Pricing Model: What is the pricing structure (flat fee, transaction fees, etc.) and does it fit your budget?
Return on Investment (ROI): Will the software save you time and money on billing tasks compared to manual processes? Can it improve cash flow through faster collections?
Reporting & Analytics: Does it offer reports on key financial metrics like churn rate, ARPU (Average Revenue Per User), and LTV (Lifetime Value)?

User Experience and Ease of Use:

Ease of Implementation: How easy is it to set up and integrate with your existing systems?
User Interface: Is the interface intuitive and easy for your team to use, including features like customer self-service portals for managing subscriptions?
Customer Support: Does the vendor offer reliable customer support to assist with any issues?

Additional Considerations:

Security: Does the software have robust security features to protect sensitive customer data (PCI compliance)?
Compliance: Does it comply with relevant tax regulations for your location and customer locations?
Future Needs: Consider if the software can adapt to your potential future needs, such as expanding to new markets or offering new subscription models.

By carefully evaluating these factors, a finance manager can choose a recurring billing software solution that optimizes efficiency, streamlines financial processes, ensures compliance with billing regulations, and supports the growth of their subscription business.

How does recurring billing software help increase customer retention?

Recurring billing software plays a key role in customer retention by creating a smooth and convenient billing experience. Here’s how:

Reduced Friction: By automating payments and offering flexible options (monthly, yearly), recurring billing software eliminates the need for customers to remember renewal dates or go through manual payment processes. This reduces friction and frustration, making it easier for them to stay subscribed.

Self-Service Empowerment: Many recurring billing solutions offer customer self-service portals. This allows customers to manage their subscriptions independently, update payment methods, or even swap plans seamlessly – all within the platform. This sense of control and flexibility enhances customer satisfaction.

Improved Communication: Recurring billing software can trigger automated emails for upcoming renewals or potential payment issues. This proactive communication keeps customers informed and helps prevent involuntary churn due to overlooked expirations or failed payments.

Reduced Churn Rate: By addressing these pain points and creating a smoother billing experience, recurring billing software can lead to a decrease in customer churn. Satisfied customers are more likely to stay subscribed and continue generating recurring revenue for your business.