What Is Recurring Payment Processing And How Do You Implement It

Recurring payments are commonplace in commerce today. Most of us have phone plans, subscription services, and other memberships auto-paid every week or month. It’s efficient, stress-free, and eliminates the need for customers to remember when their payments are due.

It’s a win for business owners and customers alike.

By 2025, it’s predicted that the subscription economy will be worth $1.5 trillion. From $275 billion in 2022, that’s a steep rise to come in just a few short years. But the leap still looks likely. Everything is turning subscription based.

We all have mobile apps, streaming services, and shopping subscriptions. Maybe a gym membership, too. If you like luxury cars without the commitment of buying one, there’s a subscription for that. Dinning and experiences, there are some for that, too.

Whatever your industry, chances are there’s an opportunity to utilize a subscription model and recurring payments. This article covers all you need to know about the recurring payments solution and how to implement it into your business.


  • Recurring payment processing lets businesses automatically collect recurring customer payments. Both parties benefit by removing the hassle of remembering when payments are due.
  • Businesses have better cash flow, and customers avoid manual payment responsibilities. Customer satisfaction increases while business payment processing costs are kept low.
  • Implementation is easy. Recurring payment platforms and payment processors facilitate automation, and merchants enjoy seamless recurring payment processing.

What Is Recurring Payment Processing?

Recurring payment processing is a model in which businesses can automatically collect recurring payments from their customers. This payment processing method helps businesses automate the collection and reconciliation process. Payments are received and managed more efficiently; best of all, you and your customers don’t have to think about it.

The most common form of recurring payment processing is subscription billing, where customers agree to a recurring payment plan to access goods or services. This model is often used by software companies, streaming services, and other businesses offering digital goods and services. Think Amazon Prime, Netflix, and the like.

Offline, services like gym memberships and weekly food delivery plans, e.g., Hello Fresh, commonly use recurring payment processing to process monthly fees.

In a nutshell, the customer sets up a payment plan with the business. The customer is then charged on an agreed-upon date and amount, and the payment is automatically taken and processed based on those terms.

How Does Recurring Billing Work?

Recurring payment processing, also known as recurring billing, is simpler than it may seem. When the customer signs up for the service and agrees to the terms, their payment details, such as credit card information or bank account info, are stored in a secure server. Against this data, the terms are also stored. E.g., the date payments will be taken and the amount.

This is done through a service known as a payment gateway. There is no need for you to do this manually. The whole process is automated for you.

Even the billing cycle is set up through the payment processing platform when the customer signs up. Manual involvement from the merchant is minimal. In some cases non-existant. The customer can make an online payment, enter their payment details into the system, and agree to the recurring payment terms.

When the agreed-upon date arrives, the payment gateway will automatically process the payment according to the terms stored against that data. Each subsequent purchase is made automatically on the predetermined payment schedule until the customer decides to cancel or modify the agreement.

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The Role of the Payment Processor

A payment processor is a third-party service provider that connects businesses to the necessary payment technologies. They do credit card processing and provide access to different payment options, like digital wallets and ACH processing. They ensure the payments work while ensuring data security during every transaction.

Payment service providers offer fraud protection, customer identity verification, chargeback protection, and more. The processing of payments is impossible without payment providers.

In recurring payments, payment processors play a pivotal role. They provide merchants of both large and small businesses with the necessary tools to set up recurring payment plans and manage customer data securely.

The process works like this:

  1. The customer enters their payment details into the system and agrees to the recurring payment terms.
  2. The payment processor securely stores this data and, upon receiving a successful transaction, notifies both parties – the merchant and the customer.
  3. When required, the payment processor collects payments according to predetermined terms stored against each customer.
  4. The merchant receives the money minus processing fees and other associated costs.

Credit Card vs. ACH Recurring Payments

Recurring customer payments can be made through either credit cards or ACH (Automated Clearing House) transfers.

Credit card payments are processed faster and are preferred by small businesses as they offer more protection against fraud and chargebacks. However, processing fees for credit card payments tend to be higher than those for ACH payments.

ACH payments take a few days to process and are seen as less secure compared to credit cards. However, processing fees for ACH payments tend to be lower than those for credit cards.

In both cases, the payment processor acts as the intermediary between all parties involved in the payment processing process. This includes the merchant’s acquiring bank, the card issuer (Visa, Mastercard, etc.), and the POS provider (PayPal, Stripe, etc.).

The Benefits of Recurring Payment Processing

Recurring payment processing is a game-changer in making smoother, more seamless payments. It eliminates manual processes, reduces errors, and streamlines the purchasing experience.

Before this technology was available, both large and small businesses had to charge customers manually for recurring subscription payments. A dedicated employee would be responsible for executing every single one of these payments. If that were still the case today, many of the giant businesses we know and love would not exist.

The benefits for merchants are:

Cost and time savings

Automatic payments free up staff to focus on other business areas where they can increase productivity and innovation. They also reduce administrative costs associated with the manual process of payment collection.

Improved cash flow

Recurring payments eliminate businesses’ need to wait for customers to send in payments. Late and missed payments are reduced, and cash flow management is greatly improved. If payments fail, recurring payment systems will automatically retry according to pre-set protocols.

Reduced payments-related disputes

As payment processors help to automate the process, they reduce the risk of human error and, therefore, the number of disputed charges. Refunds are less likely, and merchant services providers have fraud detection capabilities that protect merchants from fraudulent activities.

Higher customer retention

Happy customers are a merchant’s best asset. Recurring payments simplify the payment process and make it more convenient for customers. As a result, the customer experience improves, and merchants have higher customer retention rates.

Recurring payment processing also offers several benefits to customers, including:


Customers don’t have to worry about manually entering their payment information each time they need to make a purchase. With their card on file, automated payments simplify the process and make it as effortless as possible for customers.

Easy access to services

Recurring payments allow customers to easily access services and products continuously without constantly having to remember to make payments.

Better budgeting and cash flow management

Recurring payments help customers better manage their budgets as they can set up their payments based on schedules that fit their needs. Merchants, in many cases, will offer weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or annual subscriptions, helping customers take control of their finances.


Automated payments allow customers to see exactly when and how much each payment is for. They are also able to easily adjust or cancel their subscriptions if needed.

What is Recurring Invoicing?

Recurring invoicing is similar to recurring payment processing but with a few differences. Instead of taking payments directly from the customer’s account, businesses send an invoice to their customers and allow them to pay on their own timeline.

This payment model is better suited for businesses that provide services or goods one-off rather than over a period of time. For example, a lawyer who bills their client for every hour worked would use recurring invoicing, while a gym that charges customers monthly would leverage recurring payments.

Recurring invoicing offers many of the same benefits as recurring payments, including streamlining manual processes and reducing the likelihood of errors or disputes. It also eliminates the need for businesses to constantly follow up with customers for payment.

In many business models, recurring invoicing and recurring payments will be needed. A good credit card processing provider will have the capabilities to facilitate and handle both.

The Types of Businesses That Should Use Recurring Payments

Any business supplying ongoing services or products at a consistent weekly, monthly, or annual price is a candidate for recurring payments. Some of the most typical use cases include:

Subscription boxes

Think of subscription businesses like Birchbox and Dollar Shave Club that offer subscription boxes with items tailored to the customer.

Digital content providers

Businesses offering digital content, such as streaming services, software licensing, software-as-a-service (SaaS) businesses, or mobile applications, are the most common use cases for recurring payments.

Other digital content examples include online education platforms like SkillShare or music platforms like Spotify.

Membership programs

Whether physical gyms or virtual membership programs, businesses offering membership programs typically have recurring payments. This would include shopping platforms like Amazon Prime.

Recurring donations

Organizations, such as charities and non-profits that rely on donations from members, also apply this type of solution to simplify donation gathering.

Utility bills

Most utility companies will have recurring payment solutions to help the business, the customer eliminates the recurring hassle of processing payments.

Rental agreements

Today rental payments are streamlined with payment solutions that allow realtors to automatically charge tenants monthly (or other time frames) without the need to chase after payments.

Loan repayments

Finally, banks and other lending institutions often opt to use recurring payments for loan repayments. This helps to keep both the institution and the customer organized when it comes to making payments on time.

How To Implement Recurring Payment Processing?

To implement a recurring payment system, merchants need a payment processor equipped with the necessary features and capabilities to introduce an effective recurring payment solution. Those features and capabilities include:

  • Security – Payment processors must be PCI compliant to provide the appropriate security protocols to protect customers’ financial data.
  • Flexibility – A payment processor should be able to accept a variety of payment methods, including credit cards, debit cards, direct debit, digital wallets, and multiple currencies.
  • Reporting/Analytics – Merchants need access to reporting and analytics features to track payments, analyze customer data, and identify potential issues.
  • Customer support – Merchants need to find a payment processor with reliable customer service to help them navigate any bumps in the road.
  • Integrations – The payment processor should be able to integrate with other business systems through APIs, such as accounting software or eCommerce platforms.

Together these features ensure that merchants have an efficient, secure, and reliable recurring payment system.

Once you have such a solution (we recommend StaxBill), the process to implement it goes like this:

  • Step 1: Sign up with your preferred platform and create your merchant account.
  • Step 2: Set up the required payment fields, including a description of the product/service you are offering and the prices and/or fees associated with it.
  • Step 3: Create a customer profile for each potential customer and provide essential information about them, such as their name, email address, contact details, and payment information. This will be automated when customers sign up to make an online payment.
  • Step 4: Set up automated billing templates that will trigger payments regularly.
  • Step 5: Test the system to ensure it is working as expected, and then begin collecting payments.
  • Step 6: Monitor your customer data to ensure all necessary information is properly stored and updated regularly.
  • Step 7: Analyze the performance of your recurring payment solution and make changes as needed.

For an all-in-one solution with automated recurring billing, subscription management, payment gateways and management, subscription analytics, integrations, and more, go no further than StaxBill.

Backed by Stax Payments, StaxBill lets you automate your billing for rapid growth while getting the best payment processing rates through member-based pricing.

Contact StaxBill today to learn more.

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