Tutorials

Payment Gateways for Selling Subscriptions on a WooCommerce Store

WooCommerce subscription plugins integrate with a host of payment gateways to power your subscriptions’ recurring payment processing. These payment gateways automatically charge subscription renewal payments using your users’ preferred payment methods in line with their subscriptions’ billing cycles. 

Payment gateways do many things in a subscription business model — they offer your users their preferred payment methods for subscribing; they collect their payment details and use them to process the following recurring payments (automatically); they field instances like payment failures to capture involuntary churn for you, just to name a few.

But when it comes to subscription payment processing, not all payment gateways are created equal. For example, in Forrester’s Merchant Payment Providers report, Stripe scored a full 100% for its subscription charging and management capabilities, while the ubiquitous PayPal scored a low 20%. In other words, charging subscription payments is a whole new ball game. In this article, we’ll look at the top payment gateways you can use for selling subscriptions on your WooCommerce store with the WooCommerce Subscriptions extension as well as with its alternatives like Autoship Cloud. But first, let’s explore the selection criteria you should keep in mind when choosing a payment gateway to process your WooCommerce store’s subscription payments.

WooCommerce Subscriptions Payment Gateways: What to Look For

In addition to compliance, here are a few essentials to consider when choosing a payment gateway to charge for subscriptions on your WooCommerce store.

Support for different payment methods

Did you know that 16% of your potential subscribers could abandon their carts if they don’t find their preferred payment method while checking out?

So go for a payment gateway that offers your users their favorite payment methods. Payment method preferences vary greatly based on user demographics; research how your users prefer paying.

Also, while a payment gateway might support payment methods like digital wallets (like Apple Pay or Google Pay), it may only do so for enabling simple, one-off purchases. As WooCommerce notes, most payment gateway extensions don’t support such payment methods for WooCommerce Subscriptions — Stripe being one of the exceptions, in this case. That said, if you were to use Stripe with a WooCommerce Subscriptions alternative like Autoship Cloud, you wouldn’t be able to use Apple Pay for charging your subscriptions, at least as of now. 

Read the integration docs for clarity on the supported payment methods for each gateway.

Support for different billing schedules/models

Contrary to common belief, subscriptions don’t always cost the same amount each month (or over the subscription cycle) or get paid on the same cadence as the initial one, especially for physical supplies. For example, a subscriber can remove a subscription item from their upcoming scheduled order, so the subscription payment amount changes. 

Likewise, if you allow it, a subscriber may be able to choose their next payment date. A subscription payment gateway needs to accommodate these options. 

It must also be possible to subscribe to multiple subscriptions without any hassles.

Subscription management tools for you and your subscribers (for suspension, cancelations, or reactivation)

Your payment gateway and subscription plugin should work together and allow both your subscribers and you — the store manager — to suspend, cancel, or reactivate subscriptions. 

Both should also have options for editing subscription cycles, changing subscription payment amounts, and updating payment methods, among other things.

Built-in communications functionalities

It’s essential that your payment gateway supports communications around key subscription events like subscription activation, renewal processes, and cancellations, etc.

Feasibility

A payment gateway typically charges you a (one-time) sign-up fee for covering the initial configuration/integration, a monthly fee (toward maintenance), and a flat rate transaction fee (per transaction).

On top of these, charges like currency conversion fees apply. 

Factor all in when choosing one.

Ideally, you want a payment gateway that gives you reasonable transaction fees with an equally good payment success rate.

Availability in your geographical location

Not all payment gateways work worldwide — Stripe, for instance, operates in 47 countries, whereas PayPal is available in over 200.

Built-in churn management tools 

Did you know that you could lose about 20-40% of your subscribers to involuntary churn? Here, your users’ subscriptions get terminated because their payments fail and not because they unsubscribed. 

Moreover, nearly half of businesses experience a high 7% payment failure rate in a year

In fact, on average, about 7.9% of credit card payments fail, leading to churn. 

So you need to look for payment gateways with churn mitigation features like email notifications informing users about their failed payments and intelligent retries.

With these selection pointers in mind, let’s go over the top WooCommerce Subscription payment gateways. 

The Top WooCommerce Subscriptions Payment Gateways — at a Glance

  • Stripe for bringing best-in-class subscription payment processing to WooCommerce
  • NMI (Network Merchants) for accepting recurring credit card payments in high-risk industries
  • Square for WooCommerce for enabling recurring WooCommerce payments using a host of payment options
  • Authorize.net CIM for letting users use credit cards and eChecks for subscribing
  • Braintree for accepting credit cards and PayPal payments for subscriptions
  • PayPal Payments for accepting credit cards, debit cards, and PayPal payments 
  • Cybersource for accepting credit card payments for subscriptions
  • TrustCommerce by Sphere for allowing credit card payments for subscribing 
  • Paya (Sage) Payments for US-first businesses
  • Opayo by Elavon for UK- and Ireland-based businesses
All the WooCommerce Subscriptions payment gateways on this list (unless noted otherwise) let:

Customers and store managers suspend, cancel, or reactivate subscriptions via the store interface itself
Customers subscribe to multiple subscriptions
Store managers manually change the recurring subscription payment amounts
Store managers manually change payment schedules, including editing the next payment date
Customers and store managers make payment method changes

Accept recurring payments on your WooCommerce store with your favorite gateways with Autoship Cloud

Autoship Cloud integrates with all the top WooCommerce recurring payment gateways and also offers in-depth documentation of how each works. Start accepting automatic recurring payments on your WooCommerce store within a day with Autoship Cloud.

Stripe

Stripe - a WooCommerce Subscriptions payment gateway

Stripe is one of the most popular WooCommerce Subscriptions payment gateways. WooCommerce, in fact, offers an official Stripe plugin to bring native integration between the two solutions. 

If you use the Stripe payment gateway to sell subscriptions on your WooCommerce store, you can let your users pay for their subscriptions via a host of methods like debit and credit cards, wallets, and bank debits. While Stripe offers many more ways to pay, not all support recurring billing. 

With Stripe, you can build custom (and flexible) recurring billing models with ease. Additionally, you can communicate with your subscribers about key subscriber lifecycle events like successful renewals. Moreover, Stripe’s smart retries, automated payment failure emails, and automatic card updaters help you recover failed payments and reduce churn.

Stripe is actively growing its presence worldwide and currently works in 46 countries. Check availability in your country here. It supports over 135 currencies; find the full list of supported currencies here. For recurring payment charges, visit here.

Also read: Setting up Stripe with Autoship Cloud.

NMI (Network Merchants)

NMI - a WooCommerce Subscriptions payment gateway

NMI (Network Merchants) is another one of the top WooCommerce Subscriptions payment gateways (especially) for high-risk businesses that are into, say, CBD products. Unfortunately, WooCommerce doesn’t offer an official plugin to integrate this payment gateway with its platform, though you have some great third-party integration plugins. 

So if you want to use this payment gateway with your WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin or with an alternative WooCommerce subscriptions plugin like Autoship Cloud, you’ll need an integration plugin like XL NMI Gateway for WooCommerce. In fact, this is the plugin we recommend to bring this payment gateway to your WooCommerce store. With the NMI payment gateway, your users can pay for their subscriptions with their credit cards.

NMI integrates with over 200 processors and, depending on the processor you use, you can have your clients pay in different currencies. Reach out to the NMI team to learn more about how you can use the NMI gateway to power your WooCommerce store’s subscription sales or use a partner.

Also read: Setting up NMI (Network Merchants) with Autoship Cloud.

Square for WooCommerce

Square - a WooCommerce Subscriptions payment gateway

Square is another WooCommerce Subscriptions payment gateway that WooCommerce offers an official integration plugin for

You can use Square to set up recurring (flexible) billing for subscriptions where amounts may change between billing cycles. Square lets your users pay for their subscriptions via various options like all major credit and debit cards and wallets. 

If a subscriber’s payment fails, Square emails them about it and asks for the correct, updated details. This helps fight involuntary churn.

Expect to pay about 3.5% + 15¢ as the processing fee per payment. Check out Square’s fee details here. Square is available in 7 countries (the U.S, Canada, Australia, Japan, UK, France, and Ireland). But keep in mind the not all of its payment methods are available in all of its locations. Here’s a resource detailing Square’s payment methods and their availability.

Also read: Setting up Square with Autoship Cloud.

Authorize.net

Authorize.Net - a WooCommerce Subscriptions payment gateway

Authorize.net is yet another solid WooCommerce subscriptions payment gateway, but WooCommerce, sadly, doesn’t offer an official integration for it. So if you want to use this payment gateway on your WooCommerce store with WooCommerce Subscriptions or with Autoship Cloud to sell your subscriptions, you’ll need a third-party plugin. At Autosip Cloud, we bring the Authorize.net payment gateway to WooCommerce stores via the Authorize.Net plugin by Skyverge.

You can use the Authorize.Net extension on your WooCommerce store and let your users pay for subscriptions using credit cards and eChecks. Your customers can easily edit their existing cards and add more. You and your customers can also change subscription renewal dates, among other things.  

Also read: Setting up Authorize.net with Autoship Cloud

Braintree 

Braintree - a WooCommerce Subscriptions payment gateway

Braintree is one of the most popular WooCommerce subscriptions payment gateways. WooCommerce’s official integration plugin for this gateway is Braintree for WooCommerce. Using Braintree for WooCommerce, you can sell subscriptions on your store via credit cards and PayPal. This free official plugin works seamlessly with Autoship Cloud, too.

With this payment gateway, your customers can save their payment details on your online store and use them to sign up for subscription products, getting automatically charged for each subscription renewal. As a store owner, Braintree lets you set up all kinds of simple, fixed billing schedules. You can communicate with your users over email around key subscription lifecycle events, like successful payment processing and refunds and payment failures. Measures like automatic payment detail updaters and retries help fight involuntary churn.

With a transparent pricing structure (with the average card processing fee defaulting at 2.59% + $0.49 per transaction), Braintree is a good all-in-one payment gateway for processing subscription payments for WooCommerce. Braintree supports payments in more than 130 currencies in 45 countries. Find all the details here.

Also read: Setting up Braintree with Autoship Cloud

PayPal Express Checkout

PayPal - a WooCommerce Subscriptions payment gateway

PayPal is an all-in-one WooCommerce subscriptions payments gateway that lets your users pay for their subscriptions with credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, and a host of other local payment methods. 

WooCommerce has been offering a native plugin (called PayPal Checkout, formerly PayPal Express Checkout) to facilitate the integration between PayPal and WooCommerce. However, this plugin is soon to be discontinued. PayPal Payments is the new official WooCommerce plugin to bring the PayPal payment gateway to WooCommerce.

So if you want to sell subscriptions via WooCommerce Subscriptions or with a subscriptions plugin like Autoship Cloud via PayPal, you’ll need to use PayPal Payments. Currently, we work with PayPal Express Checkout and are in the process of introducing full integration with PayPal Payments. 

In order to make the most of this plugin with subscription orders, be sure that your PayPal account has ‘reference transactions’ enabled!

PayPal Payments (and even the existing integration plugin, PayPal Checkout) allow you to build fixed and variable subscription plans, create custom billing cycles, and offer trial periods, among other options. PayPal works in more than 200 countries and supports over 25 currencies. Find details here

Also read: Setting up PayPal Express Checkout with Autoship Cloud

Cybersource

Cybersource - a WooCommerce Subscriptions payment gateway

CyberSource is yet another WooCommerce subscriptions payment gateway supported by a third-party plugin (CyberSource Payment Gateway by SkyVerge). 

When you enable the CyberSource Payment gateway on your WooCommerce store, you can let your users buy subscriptions with all major credit cards. However, your users can use payment methods like debit cards, digital wallets (like Google Pay), and eChecks for their regular, one-off purchases.

CyberSource is a great subscription payment gateway that lets you and your users easily change payment dates, subscription cycles, and more. Packed with the best-in-class fraud detection capabilities, CyberSource lets you collect payments in more than 190+ countries. 

Also read: Setting up CyberSource with Autoship Cloud

TrustCommerce by Sphere

TrustCommerce - a WooCommerce Subscriptions payment gateway

TrustCommerce is one of the few WooCommerce subscriptions payment gateways that offer both merchants and users easy tools to manage their subscriptions, including changing subscription dates, cancelations, reactivations, etc. 

WooCommerce doesn’t offer an official plugin to integrate with the TrustCommerce payment gateway, but you’ve got a solid third-party plugin (TrustCommerce gateway by VamboDevelops).

If you use TrustCommercand WooCommerce Subscriptions or Autoship Cloud, you can have your users pay for their subscriptions via all major credit cards. This payment gateway remembers your subscribers’ payment details to facilitate faster checkouts and uses the same to process all future subscription payments. TrustCommerce doesn’t support selling multiple subscriptions, though. It also doesn’t allow users and shop managers to change payment methods. 

Also read: Setting up TrustCommerce with Autoship Cloud

Paya (Sage) Payments

Paya - a WooCommerce Subscriptions payment gateway

If you’re looking for WooCommerce subscriptions payment gateways that work specifically in the U.S, Paya might be a good option. Paya began as Sage Group’s payments processing service in the U.S. under “Sage Payments Solutions.” Sage Payments Solutions later got rebranded as Paya after the Sage Group sold it over to GTCR.

WooCommerce lacks an official plugin to support the Paya-WooCommerce integration, but third-party plugins are available. If you want to use the Paya gateway on your WooCommerce store for selling subscriptions via WooCommerce Subscriptions or an alternative like Autoship Cloud, you’ll need Andrew Benbow’s Paya for WooCommerce WooCommerce extension. 

With Paya, you can have your users sign up for your WooCommerce store’s subscriptions using their debit and credit cards. Paya gives you good control over your subscription billing and processing cycles.

Also read: Setting up Paya with Autoship Cloud.

Opayo by Elavon (Formerly Sage Pay)

Opayo - a WooCommerce Subscriptions payment gateway

Elavon took over Sage Pay — one of the UK’s leading payments providers, powering billions of dollars worth of transactions for merchants — and rebranded it as Opayo by Elavon. Opayo by Elavon works in the UK and Ireland.

If you’re looking for WooCommerce subscriptions payment gateways that are designed specifically around these regions’ regulatory frameworks, Opayo by Elavon is a solid option. 

Just like Paya, you need a third-party plugin to accept payments with the Opayo payment gateway on your WooCommerce store. To use Opayo with WooCommerce Subscriptions or with Autoship Cloud, you’ll need Opayo Payment Suite, a plugin by Andrew Benbow. Of the three different integration versions available, Opayo Direct lets you process recurring billing, so go for that.

Wrapping it up… 

Your payment gateway sits at the heart of your eCommerce store’s payment infrastructure, which, in turn, is central to your users’ subscription experience. So, you need to choose one of the best recurring payment systems; one that works for both you and your customers. In addition to being user-friendly and offering your users’ preferred payment methods, your payment gateway should seamlessly support even your most custom recurring billing needs and come with tools to handle payment failures.

When you consider WooCommerce subscription plugins to sell subscriptions on your store, first review the different payment gateways they support. Many top-selling WooCommerce subscription plugins don’t support all of these. Also, read the docs of the plugins you might be considering to get a sense of how the integration between them and their supported gateways works.

For instance, the Autoship Cloud WooCommerce subscription plugin integrates with all these top WooCommerce payment gateways and also offers in-depth documentation of how each works. Within a day, you can start accepting automatic recurring payments on your WooCommerce store with Autoship Cloud. From converting your regular WooCommerce store into a subscriptions store and launching Amazon-like subscribe and save schemes for a select few of your products, to creating a custom WooCommerce subscription box service website, Autoship Cloud supports end-to-end subscription management for a wide range of use cases. Sign up for a free Autoship Cloud trial now.

Accept recurring payments on your WooCommerce store with your favorite gateways with Autoship Cloud

Autoship Cloud integrates with all the top WooCommerce recurring payment gateways and also offers in-depth documentation of how each works. Start accepting automatic recurring payments on your WooCommerce store within a day with Autoship Cloud.

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