Billing software evaluation

I’m doing a new project for a customer, who wants me to write the licensing/billing module in his PHP app. So, the first thing is to decide on the billing software to use. I came up with this table (kind of a braindump thing), trying to evaluate the different solutions I found.


# Item PayPal Chargify Zuora Plimus
1. API
2. Charge via API V V V V
3. Subscription registration via API V V V V
4. Allow changes in subscription plan/price via API ? V V V
5. Get billing information (invoices) via API V V V V
6. Notifications V (API) V- (not API, but can be automatic) V (API) ?
7. Send invoices to customers V V V V
8. Billing management
9. Discounts V V V
10. Chargeback V V V V
11. Custom workflows for issue management X X V ?
12. Prepay discounts V- Manual
13. Accept credit cards V V V V
14. Environment
15. Free test account V V V V
16. Site stores customer payment information V V V V
17. Integration with SF X X V X
18. Pricing 2.9% + 0.30c per transaction 99$/month (depend on number of customers), additions for gateways Not published 8% per transaction
19. Customer self service portal V V V V

What do you think? Any major player I’ve left out? Anything I should add to my criteria?


I’ve started with PayPal – they have terrible documentation and API. Took me a day to actually do something – but it worked. Only then I discovered that subscriptions require a PayPal account. So I’m now evaluating Zuora. I’ll post my experience with them in future posts.

6 thoughts on “Billing software evaluation

  1. I think you might want to checkout Plimus. Plus you might want check params such as coupons, ability to modify subscription while it is in progress for existing customers, customer service portal, support for payment using phone, wire transfer.. i general, i think you should always plan for more than one of these services since you dont want to be tied up to a single one. Check out plimus, we use them and they are good.


  2. I haven’t checked billing solutions in a while but this is what I remember you need to look out for:

    1. Do they work with vendors is Israel
    2. What is their payout procedure.
    2a. How long do they hold on to the money
    2b. Do they keep a part of the money as ‘insurance’ against chargebacks.
    3. How much does a chargeback cost?
    4. What card types they support (VISA, MASTERCARD and AMEX are a must)

    There’s probably other things, but I don’t remember.


  3. I used to use Chargify, because when I started out the whole billing thing was a bit unknown to me, and I thought it was a given I would have to use a billing provider. Boy, was I wrong. I spend weeks integrating with them and working around their quirks. In production, there were constant new issues coming up with unusual scenarios of state changes, plus they would change their api’s behavior and break my billing.

    In the end, I wrote my own billing solution and called cim directly. I developed the whole solution, wrote migration code, and released it to my servers in under two weeks. Looking back, I really have no idea why anyone uses Chargify or their like. What’s the big deal to write your own solution?


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