The 5 Best Subscription Billing Software to Consider in 2024

With a multitude of subscription billing software on the market, how do you choose a tool that is the best fit for your business? We have narrowed it down to the top 5 billing software that are ideal for subscription-based businesses.
May 23, 2024
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Subscription billing has always been around, even before a slew of Software as a Service (SaaS) tools made it their own.

For instance, magazine and newspaper companies have been relying on the subscription model to ensure a consistent readership for their publications.

With subscription billing, customers are charged recurring fees at regular intervals for the products or services offered by a company.

Today, subscription billing is available for just about every other thing, from a monthly box of high-fashion for your pet to the monthly deliveries of authentic meteorite samples.

Reports confirm that the average US consumer spent close to $273 a month on paid subscriptions in 2021.

To successfully execute a subscription billing strategy, businesses not only need to make significant changes to their existing processes, but they also need to consider advanced subscription billing tools to ensure a smooth billing workflow. In this blog post, we will take a look at the top-rated subscription billing software on the market.

Let’s start with the basics.

TL;DR

  • Subscription billing involves a recurring fee that is charged to customers at regular intervals. There are many subscription billing tools on the market that are widely used by businesses to manage recurring billing schedules and automate the processes of invoice generation, payment collection, and subscription management. 
  • We look at the features, pros, cons, and pricing of the top-rated apps in 2024 — Zenskar, Recurly, Chargebee, Zuora, and Maxio. 
  • From automation to pricing flexibility and advanced reporting and integration capabilities, we run you through the must-have features of a subscription billing software.
  • We talk about security, customization, pricing plans, and seven other key things to consider before you pick your subscription billing tool.

Skip to 5 Best Subscription Billing Software in 2024 for a comparison of the billing tools.

What is subscription billing software? 

Subscription billing software is used by businesses to manage their recurring billing processes. This software automates the revenue management lifecycle for businesses offering subscription-based products or services for a predetermined fee at regular intervals (monthly, quarterly, or yearly).

The subscription billing model allows businesses to spread charges over a period of time — rather than collecting upfront payments, subsequently making their offerings more affordable. Right from the point of invoice generation to payment follow-ups and collection, subscription billing software streamlines the billing process.

With subscription billing, customers or subscribers are required to make recurring payments at convenient billing intervals until the subscription plan is canceled. While for customers, the subscription billing model helps space out costly payments over time, for businesses — the standout benefit — besides the predictable revenue streams, is the ability to sell more to a loyal customer base (who, in most cases, are reluctant to look for alternatives).

The 5 best subscription billing software in 2024

We will now take a look at the top 5 subscription billing tools in the market — Zenskar, Recurly, Chargebee, Zuora, and Maxio. From features to pros and cons and pricing, we will give you a comprehensive overview to help you make an informed choice in selecting the best subscription management software.

1. Zenskar

With a flexible, no-code billing infrastructure, Zenskar is an enterprise-grade solution built to simplify subscription management.
It is the only comprehensive subscription billing software on the market that lets you create recurring payments just as easily as you create standard payment plans.

Existing billing systems, structured linearly with a list of products and prices, fall short when contracts express the full flexibility of the English language. Even seemingly straightforward scenarios, like pricing credits in dollars with variable rates, pose challenges. Linear systems struggle to capture intricate details, limiting their adaptability.
Zenskar breaks this mold, offering an unparalleled contract automation engine. Whether you are dealing with nuanced product details or complex usage-based contracts, Zenskar lets you configure complex contracts using a drag-and-drop builder.

Zenskar stands out for its simplicity and flexibility to automate any billing plan, no matter how unique it is. 

The best part? Backed by a wide range of integrations, the tool fits seamlessly with your existing tech stack.

Key features

  • Drag-and-drop contract builder
  • Advanced pricing configuration engine 
  • Native handling of usage data
  • Self-serve billing portal for customers
  • Provisioning and entitlement management
  • Automated communications on invoices, payment reminders, usage reports, and receipts
  • End-to-end quote-to-cash tooling, including AR, analytics, and Rev Rec

Pros

  • Handles the most complex contract structures and usage data sources
  • Manages advanced pricing models with ease 
  • Automates revenue features from usage data metering to payment collections, reporting on revenue recognition, and all the things in between
  • Supports usage and hybrid pricing models through a graphical data model
  • Configures products and features with different nuanced billing cadences, currencies, discounts, and entitlements
  • Helps you stay compliant with ASC 606 and automates creating journal entries and posting them to ledgers
  • Creates custom rules to tailor revenue recognition to suit your business model 
  • Integrates with your CRM and other payment processing platforms like Stripe, Adyen, and Razorpay

Cons

  • Non-revenue features like accounts payables and expense management cannot be automated
  • While there is no in-built CPQ model, Zenskar allows you to integrate with well-known CQP tools 
    Pricing

Reach out to the team here to get an exclusive pricing plan based on your business needs.

2. Recurly

Recurly has a host of tools and actionable insights to help subscription businesses improve their customer retention rates. With Recurly, you can manage all your subscriptions and subscribers’ details on a single dashboard.

One of the major drawbacks of the tool is its lack of support for complex usage-based and tiered pricing models.

Source

Key features

  • A central platform to manage subscriber data
  • Ready-to-use email templates for signup, billing, and renewals
  • Recurly Checkout offers multiple payment options and personalizes the checkout experience
  • Advanced subscription analytics with charts, tables, and graphs

Pros

  • Allows subscription changes to be made with ease
  • Manages multiple subscriptions per account
  • Customizes invoice communications to suit business needs
  • Supports complex organizational structures

Cons

  • Difficult to integrate with certain third-party tools
  • Limited features and customization capabilities compared to leading subscription billing tools
  • Lacks advanced reporting features

Pricing

For subscription management, Recurly has 3 pricing plans:

  • Starter: This free plan is ideal for startups and SMBs
  • Professional: Mid-sized companies can contact their sales team for a plan that suits their needs
  • Elite: Enterprises with large payment volumes can reach out to the team for exclusive plans designed to match their scale

3. Chargebee

Chargebee is a comprehensive solution for managing subscriptions and recurring billing processes. The tool offers a wide range of features designed to automate and streamline billing processes. While Chargebee is one of the more popular subscription billing tools out there, the tool is behind other alternatives when it comes to billing flexibility. 

Source

Key features

  • Scalable pricing plan and product catalog 
  • Entitlements management platform
  • Trials and self-serve management tool
  • Revenue intelligence
  • Comprehensive subscription analytics

Pros

  • Accepts recurring payments online and offline
  • Manages taxes automatically across subscriptions
  • Engages with users throughout the trial period to drive conversions
  • Allows businesses to accept payments in 100+ currencies

Cons

  • A comprehensive feature set creates a steep learning curve
  • There are multiple complexities reported in configuration and setup
  • Comparatively expensive for startups and small businesses

Pricing

  • Starter: You can get started with a free plan 
  • Performance: $575/month
  • Enterprise: Get a quote customized to your requirements

4. Zuora

A legacy subscription billing software, Zuora, provides a broad ecosystem of solutions. Apart from core subscription management tools, Zuora provides payment gateway integrations, financial governance and analytics, and automation workflows.

Zuora is packed with features for flexible pricing and billing for one-time as well as recurring and consumption charges. The tool’s performance booster feature was recently launched to allow its customers to scale high-volume processes and meet the demands of larger batch operations. That said, being one of the oldest tools on the market, Zuora has a buggy user interface, not to mention limited customization capabilities.

Source

Key features

  • Low-code/no-code pricing designer 
  • Built-in mediation for consumption metering and billing
  • Real-time rating engine
  • Pre-integrated, automated e-invoicing
  • 40+ pre-built payment gateway connectors and 20+ payment methods

Pros

  • Handles dynamic pricing based on attributes like GB used or number of API calls
  • Manages e-invoicing regulation requirements
  • Ensures compliance with country-specific templates and tax management reports
  • Provides visibility into billed and unbilled usage

Cons

  • Challenges in creating reports
  • Limitations in third-party integrations
  • Requires engineering bandwidth for features like bulk editing
  • Poor documentation and the availability of resources

Pricing 

Contact their sales team for pricing details.

5. Maxio

Maxio is a cloud-based subscription billing software that enables B2B and B2C businesses to manage their revenue processes. This platform has a comprehensive feature set that automates billing, streamlines financial operations, and offers real-time insights into revenue performance.

While Maxio has a wide range of solutions to offer, it is not the best platform out there. Among the major shortcomings of the tools is that they cater only to subscriptions and not to usage or hybrid pricing models.

Source

Key features

  • Event-based billing 
  • Public sign-up pages and self-service billing portals
  • Advanced revenue management capabilities
  • Customer billing portal

Pros

  • Manages sales-negotiated contracts along with self-service signups 
  • Allows the creation of unique subscriptions from scratch without affecting the base prices set on catalog items
  • Automates billing activities, including rating for usage-based billing models
  • Creates invoices automatically on subscription signups and renewals, prorated upgrades, and ad hoc charges

Cons

  • Does not automate debt collections as dunning only applies to overdue payments
  • Poor customer support facilities
  • Integrations are prone to glitches and inconsistencies.
  • Limitations in addressing tax errors

Pricing 

Base: $5000/year

Custom: Businesses with high billing volumes can reach out to their support team for personalized plans

Key features you need to look for in subscription billing software

While subscription billing tools come with a wide range of features, there are a few, like billing automation, recurring payments, pricing flexibility, managing usage data, advanced reporting, and integration capabilities, that are a must for you to find success with the subscription-based billing model.

Some of the most important features include:

1. Automate billing and invoicing

Automating the end-to-end process will ensure that invoices are generated and sent to your customers on time, based on their subscription plan. This way, you can eliminate manual labor and time-intensive processes.

2. Recurring payments

You should be able to manage recurring payments with ease and have the capability to accept payments via multiple modes. The billing tool should also be able to handle multiple currencies to cater to a global audience.

3. Pricing flexibility

From being able to apply discounts to coupon codes or any creative offer that your sales team pitches to bag a deal to the functionality to iterate pricing strategies as needed and automatically calculate prorated charges for mid-cycle changes — the billing tool should be able to support different types of tailored pricing models.

4. Efficient handling of usage data

With many companies now opting for usage-based pricing models, legacy billing tools often lack native support for complex usage-based pricing models, particularly in handling usage data. While usage metrics can be extracted via APIs, using CSVs, or even manually — you need a tool that can translate usage into charges for the invoice.

5. Advanced reporting and analytics

You need an in-depth analytics module that will help you bid goodbye to clunky Excel sheets and stay on top of all key business and revenue metrics.

6. Integration capabilities

Choose a billing software that integrates with a variety of popular tools in your tech stack — enhancing overall workflow efficiency.

10 tips to choose the best subscription billing software

Before you set out to choose your subscription billing software, here are some tips to help you make the right choice.

  1. Firstly, the tool must have comprehensive features to manage different subscription plans, downgrades, upgrades, or cancellations.
  2. Look for an intuitive tool that is easy to navigate for your teams and your customers.
  3. Ensure the tool comes with customization capabilities to tailor billing workflows as per your needs.
  4. The billing tool that you choose should be able to grow and scale with your business.
  5. Ensure the billing software provider offers reliable and easily available customer support services.
  6. Opt for a tool that is robust enough to handle increasing volumes of transactions and peak period usage.
  7. Prioritize security features, including data encryption and compliance with industry standards.
  8. Make sure the tool has effective dunning processes to handle overdue or failed payments.
  9. Choose a billing tool that offers transparent pricing plans and meets your unique business needs.
  10. Take advantage of trials and demos to test the software’s features and compatibility with your business.

Automate subscription billing with Zenskar

While existing tools require a fundamentally different architecture to solve today’s subscription billing problems, we built Zenskar, weighing every aspect of billing, pricing, contract building, and accounting. 

Zenskar aims to fully automate businesses' end-to-end revenue-based financial operations, eliminating the need for technical expertise. In an ideal scenario, clients can focus on growing their business while Zenskar seamlessly manages all revenue-related financial operations in the background, requiring no direct involvement from client teams. 

Our platform goes beyond automation, boasting functionalities that empower:

✓ Effortless entry of repetitive data

✓ Smooth movement of data across various tools

✓ Simplification of complex billing logic

✓ Streamlining payment collections and follow-ups

✓ Handling of complex accounting rules

With a low-code, no-code solution, we not only enable B2B companies to manage subscription-based billing models but also equip them with functionalities to secure more deals and harness untapped revenue opportunities.

Book a demo with us today to experience the ease of flexible, automated billing.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How does subscription billing software work?

Subscription billing software charges recurring fees to customers at regular intervals. Businesses use a subscription billing tool to charge customers for using their subscription services or products at regular billing intervals, which can be quarterly, monthly, or annually. It provides businesses with recurring revenue streams while making it convenient for customers to make payments over a stipulated period of time.

2. What types of businesses can benefit from subscription billing software?

While subscription-based billing is most commonly used by SaaS businesses, it also benefits marketing or advertising agencies, professional services, streaming media, and membership-driven businesses like gyms.

3. What's the difference between subscription billing and recurring billing?

Subscription billing offers more flexibility as it charges recurring payments to customers for accessing a product or service, whereas recurring billing is more straightforward and allows businesses to receive ongoing payments by billing customers at predetermined intervals, repeatedly. Subscription billing offers a range of plans with the option to add-on features while recurring billing charges customers a specific amount until they cancel the subscription.

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