• Best all-in-one solution for recurring billing and bookkeeping: QuickBooks Online
  • Best for subscription-based businesses: Helcim
  • Best for microbusinesses that also need to track income and expenses: Wave
  • Best for instant access to your cash: Square
  • Best for medium to large businesses: Stax Bill
  • Best mobile app for managing recurring billing: Zoho Billing

The best recurring billing software should both send automatic invoices and process the customer’s payment automatically. Most businesses can manage their recurring invoices through accounting software, such as QuickBooks Online and Wave, which provide a simple all-in-one solution.

Another option is a payment gateway, such as Helcim and Square, which provides recurring invoices and the ability to manage customer subscriptions for free — you only pay the transaction fees. Finally, businesses might want specialized billing software, such as Stax Bill and Zoho Billing, that charge a fee but allow you to choose your own payment gateway.

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Best recurring billing software comparison table

Recurring billing transaction feesStarting subscription feesBookkeeping softwareUnique features
QuickBooks OnlineQuickBooks Payments: 2.99%$30 per mo. — includes bookkeeping softwareAll-in-one• Industry-leading accounting software
• Highly customizable invoices
Helcim2.43%–3.18% + 25 centsFreeNo real-time integrations• Subscription manager
• Manage trial periods
• $6 maximum fee for automated clearing house (ACH) payments
WaveWave Payments: 2.9% (most credit cards),
3.4% + 60 cents (Amex)
Free — includes bookkeeping softwareAll-in-one• High-quality free accounting software
• All-in-one solution
Square3.5% + 15 centsFreeIntegrates with QuickBooks Online, Xero, FreshBooks, and Zoho Books• Instant access to cash
• Point-of-sale (POS) hardware available for brick-and-mortar stores
Stax BillDepends on your chosen payment gateway$2,388 per yearIntegrates with QuickBooks Online and NetSuite• Application programming interface (API)
• Choose your own payment gateway
Zoho BillingDepends on your chosen payment gateway$50 per mo.Integrates with Zoho Books and QuickBooks Online• Great mobile app
• API
• Manage trial periods

QuickBooks Online: Best all-in-one solution for recurring billing and bookkeeping


QuickBooks Online is by far the most popular small business accounting software in the United States and is our top pick for the best small-business accounting software. It integrates with QuickBooks Payments with a push of a button, which allows customers to preauthorize payments for recurring invoices. One advantage of QuickBooks’ popularity is that it is very easy to find a bookkeeper with expertise in QuickBooks but it’s also a bit more expensive than other small-business accounting software.

Pricing

QuickBooks Payments:

  • Bank payments: 1%
  • Visa, Mastercard, Discover, Amex plus digital wallets:
    • Online payments: 2.99%.
    • Card reader: 2.5%.
    • Keyed-in cards: 3.5%.

Users must have a subscription to QuickBooks Online to use QuickBooks Payments and recurring billing.

QuickBooks Online (all plans include recurring invoices):

  • Simple Start: $30 per month for one user.
  • Essentials: $60 per month for three users.
  • Plus: $90 per month for five users.
  • Advanced: $200 per month for 25 users.

New QuickBooks Online users can choose between 50% off for three months or a 30-day free trial.

Features

  • Inventory management: QuickBooks Online will manage your inventory across multiple ecommerce platforms and automatically calculate your cost of goods sold.
  • Deep integration: QuickBooks Online comes with a deep integration with QuickBooks Payments that makes it easy to activate Payments by turning on the feature.
  • Bank reconciliation: QuickBooks Online has a great bank reconciliation feature — something that is often overlooked in less expensive software — that allows you to reconcile the payments received on invoices to the actual deposits shown in your bank accounts.
  • Add unbilled charges to invoices: Unbilled expenses assigned to customers can automatically be added to recurring invoices.

Pros

  • Recurring payments are integrated with the world’s most popular accounting software.
  • Extremely customizable invoices look professional and can match your company’s style or theme.
  • No per transaction fixed fees.
  • Integrations available for most ecommerce platforms and stores.

Cons

  • QuickBooks Payments requires a QuickBooks Online subscription, which starts at $30 per month.
  • Not as easy to manage a large volume of diverse subscriptions as options with a built-in subscription manager.

Why we chose QuickBooks Online

Ideally, your recurring billing system should be integrated with your overall bookkeeping system, and QuickBooks Online is the most popular small business bookkeeping software in the U.S. If you already use it for your bookkeeping, it only makes sense to use it for recurring billing as well. Turn on the QuickBooks Payments feature (watch this how-to video), and your customers will have the ability to pay invoices online. They can also preauthorize future payments when you send them a recurring invoice.

If you don’t use QuickBooks Online, you should seriously consider subscribing. Beyond recurring billing, QuickBooks excels in inventory management, online bill payments to vendors, project accounting, class and location tracking, payroll, and much more. You can always find help through their extensive network of independent QuickBooks ProAdvisors.

The biggest drawback of QuickBooks Online is the cost. If you already have bookkeeping software that works well for you, the most cost-effective option will be to choose a payment processor, such as Square or Helcim, that can fill your need for recurring payments without an additional monthly fee.

Helcim: Best for subscription-based businesses


Helcim is a payment platform that charges low credit card fees and specializes in subscription billing through the Helcim Subscription Manager. Helcim can also send customized invoices and offers lightweight POS hardware for businesses looking for something other than a traditional checkout line. We recommend it for businesses centered on many different subscription plans with a high volume of subscribers.

Pricing

  • Bank payments: 0.5% plus 25 cents with a maximum of $6.
  • Credit card payments:
    • Online and manually keyed payments: 2.43% to 3.18% plus 25 cents.
    • In-person payments: 1.79% to 2.68% plus 8 cents.

Credit card processing rates from Helcim are based on their cost plus 0.4% of the transaction plus 8 cents per transaction. The results are very low rates, but it’s a little complicated to know the exact rate you’ll be charged because the cost varies by card type.

Features

  • Helcim Fee Saver: You can toggle on this option to charge customers a convenience fee to recover your credit card processing fees.
  • Helcim Subscription Manager: Create multiple subscription plans and add subscribers or invite subscribers manually to provide their own information — includes managing free trials, managing prorated billing and reviewing all subscriptions filtered by customer or plan.
  • Portable POS hardware: Helcim offers a smart terminal and card reader for businesses that accept payments in person but still want to be mobile.

Pros

  • Fees for ACH bank payments capped at $6 per transaction.
  • Low credit card processing rates.
  • Subscription manager automatically handles free trial periods.

Cons

  • No real-time integration with QuickBooks or any other accounting software.
  • Difficult to know the exact processing fee you’ll be charged because of their cost-plus pricing.
  • Marginal POS hardware for traditional brick-and-mortar businesses.

Why we chose Helcim

We really like the Helcim Subscription Manager and think it’s a great tool for businesses whose primary business is subscription-based, such as a gym or online publication. You can create an unlimited number of subscription plans and then add subscribers manually, or you can send them a link to add themselves. The subscription manager can manage free trials automatically and bill your customer automatically once the free trial expires. It will also calculate and bill for prorated periods.

The drawback we see with Helcim is a lack of true two-way integration with any accounting software. It does provide a synchronization tool that can export some data to and from QuickBooks Online, but we’d much rather see a real-time integration. It also has a very limited integration with Xero that allows the transfer of payments received via Helcim on invoices issued in Xero. This means that you’ll need to input most of your Helcim activity manually into your bookkeeping system.

Wave: Best for microbusinesses that also need to track income and expenses


Wave Accounting offers a free accounting plan that can integrate with Wave Payments. Wave Accounting is a very capable cloud-based accounting software that we awarded the top spot in our guide to the best free accounting software. When combined with Wave Payments, Wave Accounting can send recurring invoices automatically so that your customer can choose to pay automatically or individually as each invoice is received.

Pricing

Wave Accounting (both plans include recurring invoices):

  • Starter: Free for one user.
  • Pro: $16 per month for unlimited users.

Wave Payments:

  • Bank payments: 1% per transaction with a $1 minimum fee.
  • Visa or Mastercard: 2.9% per transaction with no fixed fee.
  • Amex: 3.4% plus 60 cents per transaction.

Wave Accounting Pro subscribers have the 60-cent per transaction fee waived for the first 10 Amex transactions each month.

Features

  • Bookkeeping: The free double-entry bookkeeping system produces all the necessary financial statements to file a business income tax return.
  • Credit card authorization: Recurring invoices provide the customer an option to authorize credit card payments automatically for all future invoices or to wait and authorize future payments individually.
  • Customized invoices: Invoices can be customized with your company logo, and subscribers to the Pro plan can choose from various templates and colors.

Pros

  • Free accounting software.
  • Payments received are accounted for in books automatically.
  • Built-in integration makes it very easy to use.

Cons

  • Wave Accounting can’t handle inventory accounting.
  • Can’t track income or expenses by project.
  • Can’t accept in-person payments.
  • Amex payments include a 60 cents per transaction fee.

Why we chose Wave

It’s important that your invoicing system is integrated with your general bookkeeping system to ensure all invoices and payments are included in your income — and Wave provides a free and easy way to do this. Beyond the bookkeeping features, it allows you to provide good-looking, customized, recurring invoices to your customers with some of the lowest payment processing rates we’ve found.

There aren’t many downsides to choosing this free accounting software, although its processing rates for Amex are higher than the options in this guide. If your business offers a variety of different subscription options to many of your customers, you might consider something with a dedicated subscription manager, such as Helcim.

Square: Best for instant access to your cash


Square is a very popular payment platform and offers some good recurring billing options. In addition, it is an excellent choice for brick-and-mortar businesses that need a traditional POS system to check out customers. Users have instant access to their cash from credit card transactions when they open a Square Business Checking account for free.

Pricing

  • Bank payments: 1% with a $1 minimum.
  • Credit cards and mobile wallets:
    • Online: 3.3% plus 30 cents per transaction.
    • Card reader: 2.6% plus 15 cents per transaction.
    • Keyed-in cards: 3.5% plus 15 cents per transaction.
    • Card on file (recurring payments): 3.5% plus 15 cents per transaction.
  • Related products and services:
    • Square Business Checking: Free.
    • Square Invoices: Free.
    • Square Invoices Plus: $20 per month.
    • Same-day transfer to external bank account: 1.75% of the transfer.

Features

  • Square Business Checking: This provides free instant access to your cash from credit card sales.
  • Mobile invoicing: Recurring invoices can be created through either Square Invoices or the Square POS App.
  • POS hardware: Brick-and-mortar businesses can choose from several options for setting up an in-store POS system.

Pros

  • Free immediate access to your cash with a Square Business Checking account.
  • Integrates with QuickBooks, Xero, FreshBooks and Zoho Books for bookkeeping.
  • Several options for traditional POS hardware.

Cons

  • Fees for recurring billing charges (3.5%) are higher than other online charges (3.3%).
  • Customizing invoices requires a subscription to Invoices Plus.
  • Integration with bookkeeping software introduces an additional complication.

Why we chose Square

We like Square because you can get same-day access to your cash from credit card sales. The easiest way to access your cash immediately for free is to set up a Square Business Checking account, which is also free. If you prefer, you can initiate a same-day transfer to your existing checking account for a 1.75% transaction fee. We also like that Square is available on the go. Its recurring billing charges can be set up in your Square dashboard, Square Invoices App or Square POS App.

On the downside, Square doesn’t have a built-in bookkeeping system, so you’ll need to establish and maintain an integration. While not required, we highly recommend integrating your invoicing and bookkeeping to guarantee that all invoices issued and payments received are properly recorded. Square has integrations available for all the major small business accounting software, including QuickBooks Online, Xero, FreshBooks and Zoho Books.

Stax Bill: Best for medium to large businesses


Stax Bill is a sophisticated accounts payable system that combines subscription management with great analytics and integration with NetSuite, a popular accounting software for businesses that have outgrown QuickBooks. Stax Bill also offers a powerful API for large businesses that need even more flexibility to integrate with their existing systems.

Pricing

Pricing is based on a company’s annual recurring revenue (ARR):

  • Starter: $2,388 per year for companies with less than $1 million in ARR.
  • Growth: $4,788 per year for companies with ARR between $1 million and $3 million.
  • Enterprise: Custom quote.

You’ll need to add a payment gateway to Stax Bill, which will require the payment of transaction processing fees.

Features

  • Self-service portal: Subscribers can self-register and manage their existing subscriptions.
  • Manage late-paying customers: Dunning management features include automatic customer emails and a collection process that you can design.
  • Sales tax management: Stax Bill integrates with Avalara to help manage all your sales tax collections and remittances, which is especially important if you have subscribers from multiple states.

Pros

  • API can be used by large companies to integrate with existing systems.
  • Prebuilt Integrations with QuickBooks Online and NetSuite for accounting.
  • In-depth subscription analytics.

Cons

  • Requires an annual subscription.
  • Includes substantial fixed fee in addition to payment processing charges.
  • Sophisticated software will take considerable time to install and learn.

Why we chose Stax Bill

We think Stax Bill is a good choice for large companies because of its ability to integrate with existing systems through its API. It also offers sophisticated features and analytics that are unavailable in the other products in this guide. We especially like the self-service portal, which can reduce the staff needed by large companies to answer phone calls and register subscribers.

The additional features of Stax Bill come with a substantial price tag. While most of the software in this guide is free — you only pay for the payment processing — Stax Bill charges an annual fee on top of payment processing fees. The sophistication of Stax Bill is also going to require a large commitment of time and money for large companies to set up and integrate Stax Bill with their current systems.

Zoho Billing: Best mobile app for managing recurring billing


Zoho Billing is one of the many Zoho apps available to help manage your business. Like all the Zoho apps, Zoho Billing is built with the mobile app in mind. While there is a desktop interface, most of Zoho’s features are also available while using the mobile app.

Pricing

Subscription management requires the Professional plan or higher.

  • Standard: $20 per month for up to three users and up to 100 customers.
  • Professional: $50 per month for up to three users and 500 customers.
  • Premium $100 per month for up to three users and 1,000 customers.
  • Elite: $300 per month for up to three users and 3,000 customers.

Additional users can be added to any plan for $9 each per month.

You can choose Zoho Payments, Stripe, Authorize.net or CSG Forte for your payment processing and will need to pay those transaction fees on top of your Zoho Billing subscription.

Features

  • Choose your payment gateway: Zoho Billing with Zoho Payments, Stripe, Authorize.net and CSG Forte for automatic payments.
  • Manage customer trials: The platform manages whatever trial period you specify automatically and provides a report showing the details for trials that were converted to live accounts.
  • One-time setup fees: Subscriptions can add a one-time setup fee to the customer’s first invoice automatically.
  • Metered billing: You can send customer invoices based on actual usage.

Pros

  • Excellent mobile app.
  • Integrates with Zoho Books and QuickBooks Online for accounting.
  • Include multiple subscriptions on a single invoice.
  • Specify subscription options available for self-service through the client portal.

Cons

  • Monthly fee for features similar to free plans.
  • Separate fees apply for a payment gateway.
  • Doesn’t integrate with Xero, FreshBooks or NetSuite.

Why we chose Zoho Billing

Like all Zoho apps, Zoho Billing has a user-friendly dashboard that makes for a great user experience. It also has a great mobile app called “Billing Management – Zoho” on the App Store. The app allows you to manage customers, send invoices, and even manage your product catalog.

The only thing we find missing in the app is the ability to create new subscription plans. However, you can create new customers easily and add them to existing subscription plans. We also like that Zoho Billing has good integrations with both Zoho Books and QuickBooks Online.

Aside from the mobile app, we don’t see a lot of features in Zoho Billing that aren’t also included in the free options provided in this guide. We think the main reason to choose Zoho Billing is that you are a Zoho Books user or looking for a mobile app to manage invoices and subscriptions.

How do I choose the best recurring billing software for my business?

The best recurring billing software for your business depends on your current bookkeeping software, costs and whether you have only a few customers who need recurring bills or if your entire business is run on a subscription model.

Bookkeeping

Regardless of the recurring billing software that you choose, eventually, the income and cash flow need to make their way into your financial statements. The easiest way to make this happen is by choosing bookkeeping software that can send recurring invoices.

If you choose a payment processor or specialized billing software, ensure it has a quality bookkeeping integration or, at the very least, see to it that you have a plan for how you’re going to get the information into your bookkeeping system at least monthly.

Cost

You need to consider both the flat monthly fee and the cost of processing the credit card or bank transfer:

  • Monthly cost: There are plenty of free options available (such as payment processing companies) and no-additional-cost options (such as bookkeeping software you’re already paying for to keep your books). However, if you want additional features, it might make sense to pay a monthly fee for specialized billing software.
  • Transaction processing: No matter which solution you choose for recurring billing, you’ll need to pay a fee to process the credit card or bank transactions. If you use the free software provided by a transaction processor, be sure to compare the cost of their transaction processing to other options. Many of the accounting or billing software options will allow you to choose from multiple payment gateways, giving you a little more control over your transaction processing cost.

Volume of subscriptions

If your entire business revolves around customer subscription plans, then you need a recurring billing solution that can manage many subscription plans easily and let you add and remove customers to and from each subscription plan. Many subscription managers even offer secure portals where your customers can manage their own subscriptions.

Invoices

If you need to send invoices in addition to processing monthly charges automatically, then be sure to consider the look and customization options of the invoices produced by each option. Generally, specialized billing software will give you more customization options than the free software from payment processors.

Review methodology

We conducted in-depth research on each of the alternatives in this guide, including obtaining trial subscriptions whenever possible. We contacted customer service representatives to fill in the missing information we couldn’t find on a provider’s website. Of particular interest was the cost, features around subscription management, and how the software integrated with various bookkeeping options.

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Stay up to date on the latest in technology with Daily Tech Insider. We bring you news on industry-leading companies, products, and people, as well as highlighted articles, downloads, and top resources. You’ll receive primers on hot tech topics that will help you stay ahead of the game. Delivered Weekdays