Top 5 SaaS billing software options for businesses in 2024 – A buyer’s guide

Looking for the best SaaS billing systems to streamline your Billing Operations? We review five of the best tools, comparing their strengths, weaknesses, and more to show you how they stack up against each other.
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SaaS pricing started simple — tiered pricing and time-based subscriptions. A couple of decades later, it couldn’t get any more complicated. Today, most SaaS and enterprise businesses seem to use a combination of per-user, choose-your-own-feature, and consumption-based pricing models. 

Adding to this complexity are the various custom one-time discounts and incentives sales teams routinely use to close deals.

As a user puts it on X (formerly Twitter), rather succinctly —

Source

These days, SaaS businesses are left with two options — return to the old-school,  ‘pay once, use forever’ licensing model (like Basecamp), or leverage SaaS billing tools to manage the various intricacies of today’s subscription-based pricing strategies such as metered billing, A/B testing, custom contracts, freemium models, and more.  

What is SaaS billing software?

SaaS billing software is an automated billing system that enables businesses with subscription-based revenue models — particularly SaaS companies — to streamline billing operations like invoice generation, subscriptions, payment collections, account receivables, dunning, and more.  

The right SaaS billing system does not only help SaaS companies save time and cut down on busy work like tracking customer usage data on spreadsheets or sending manual invoices every month. It also helps with recognizing revenue and improving cash flow. 

For example — Ponterra, a SaaS financial advisor company, reduced their average DSO by eight days using Zenskar. 

Related reading: Ponterra automates billing and closes books 5 weeks faster with Zenskar

5 best SaaS billing tools to explore in 2024

Here’s a quick guide — comparing features, USPs, pricing, and more — so you can get an idea of how the best SaaS billing tools stack up against each other.

But first, your TL;DR summary of the tools we’ll be covering today:

  • Zenskar: for B2B SaaS companies with complex usage-based and hybrid pricing models
  • Stripe: for Stripe power users, and those requiring global payment support
  • Chargebee: B2C SaaS companies with simple subscription models
  • Maxio: PLG-based SaaS companies with usage-based pricing models
  • Zuora: Enterprise-grade companies with a high volume of transactions

1. Zenskar 

for complex usage-based and hybrid pricing models

Zenskar is the only automated billing software built for SaaS companies with support for subscription-based pricing, usage-based pricing, and everything in between. 

Taking inspiration from the telecom industry, Zenskar’s SaaS billing system decouples metering from billing, giving you the option to send raw usage data to your billing system. This approach can:  

  • Spare your engineering team the extra work of aggregating usage data at the source.
  • Give you the flexibility to add individual usage metrics to invoices.
  • Help you run pricing experiments without disrupting your metering system or corrupting usage data.
Transform raw usage data into billable metrics with
Zenskar’s no-code Visual Builder or SQL Query Builder 

Another element, rather unique to Zenskar, is its proprietary graphic data model. Here, billing elements — pricing models, usage metrics, entitlements, and more — are each a separate unit. This means your finance and sales teams can design complex contracts by clicking a few buttons. Super convenient, right?

Create custom contracts at scale with Zenskar’s
drag-and-drop contract builder

The result? A SaaS billing system that supports both product-led and sales-led growth strategies. 

Zenskar’s features

  • Usage tracking
  • Drag-and-drop contract builder
  • Automated payment communications
  • Dunning sequences
  • Entitlement management
  • No-code and SQL-based data aggregation options
  • Revenue recognition
  • Pricing model iterations
  • Real-time and predictive analytics

Zenskar’s pros

  • Supports self-service models with subscription, usage-based, and hybrid pricing models, plus pricing experiments.
  • Enables sales teams to create complex contracts with custom entitlements and payment terms with no code.
  • Simplifies compliance with audit-ready (and ASC 606/IFRS 15-compliant) financial reports.
  • Zenskar’s SQL query builder can transform raw usage data into billable metrics—helping with granular invoice customization and detailed usage patterns and trends.
  • Integrates with popular payment gateways like Stripe, Adyen, and Razorpay to facilitate payment collection.

Zenskar’s cons

  • There’s no built-in CPQ module. However, you can integrate with popular CPQ tools.
  • It can be expensive for early-stage startups or those with traditional subscription models.
  • Zenskar doesn’t automate non-revenue features like Accounts Payable or Expense Management.

Zenskar’s pricing

Zenskar’s pricing plans depend on the complexity of your billing engine. Fill out this form to get a custom quote. 

Source: G2

2. Stripe Billing

for Stripe’s power users, and those who require global payment support.

Source

Stripe Billing — one of Stripe’s 21+ tools that make up its ‘Financial Infrastructure for the Internet’ — is a great SaaS billing system, especially for companies heavily invested in the Stripe ecosystem or with a robust DevOps team. (Stripe does offer a solid API experience)

But you can’t ignore that Stripe is first and foremost a payments platform or that it’s primarily built for SMBs with simple subscription models.

As such, it’s not as SaaS-friendly as some of the other tools on this list — whether that’s no-code support for usage-based and hybrid pricing models or custom RevRec rules for complex pricing models. 

Stripe’s pros

  • It’s tightly integrated with the Stripe ecosystem, so you get a ‘complete’ payments platform.
  • The Stripe marketplace (which includes over 125 apps), makes integrations super easy.
  • Intuitive APIs (and in-depth documentation) for programmatic invoicing.  
  • It accommodates a range of pricing models like pay-as-you-go, credit burndown, and fixed fee + overages, to name a few.

Stripe’s cons

  • Invoicing and taxation are both not part of Stripe Billing, which means you’ll have to pay extra for both features.
  • Stripe doesn't allow different billing periods for products in one subscription. So, if you want to offer an annual subscription with monthly add-ons, you'll need two separate subscriptions.
  • As Stripe Billing is integrated with Stripe Payments by default, you can’t switch to a different payment provider.  
  • Stripe limits you to only 20 products in a single subscription. Plus, they all need to share the same billing interval. 

Stripe’s pricing

Starts at 2.9% + 30¢ per successful charge (Stripe Billing only)

Related reading: Stripe Billing is good. But, is it the right fit for you?

Note: Zenskar is a competitor to the Stripe Billing product. We do not work with Stripe in any form, other than our integration with Stripe Payments, which is usually referred to as Stripe.

3. Chargebee

for B2C SaaS companies with simple subscription models

Source

Chargebee is a decade-old, recurring billing platform originally built for the ‘subscription economy’ — eCommerce and B2C SaaS businesses. However, its recent acquisitions (RevRec, Receivables, and Retention) have made it a strong contender for SaaS companies looking for a comprehensive billing plus revenue management platform.

Where Chargebee lags is, in its billing system, more particularly — flexibility in pricing models. For example, line items in invoices can’t be edited, payment splits are not supported, and you need to DIY your own metering module to aggregate data at source if you’re setting up a usage-based pricing model.

Chargebee’s pros

  • Streamlines the quote-to-cash cycle from beginning to end. 
  • Provides in-depth and super customizable reports and dashboards.
  • Supports over 60 marketplace integrations that include most CRM and accounting platforms. 

Chargebee’s cons

  • Chargebee has an upper limit of 5000 usage records per subscription, which can be restrictive for SaaS companies with high usage volume like AI tokens.
  • Chargebee doesn’t have an ‘idempotency key’ for usage events which means API request retries can’t be identified. This, in turn, can lead to multiple entries and inaccurate charges.
  • Chargebee’s pricing — though simple on paper — can get complicated (and expensive) as it comes with multiple add-ons.

Chargebee’s pricing

Free plan available. Paid plans start at $599/mo. 

4. Maxio

for PLG-based SaaS companies with simple, usage-based pricing models

Source

Maxio is the merger of two SaaS-focused FinOps companies — Chargify (Subscriptions), and SaaSOptics (Revenue management). This makes it one of the few FinOps platforms purpose-built for the SaaS industry.

Maxio can be a great option for SaaS companies looking to automate most billing operations or set up usage-based pricing. One of the best features of Maxio is its ‘out-of-the-box pricing configurations’ that include variable, multi-attribute, and stair-step pricing structures — resulting in less developer effort and faster time-to-market. 

On the other hand, Maxio doesn’t support percentage-based billing or tiered pricing with usage-based components, limiting its scalability for both sales-led SaaS companies and those with simple recurring subscriptions.

Besides, Maxio can be a lot more expensive when compared to other SaaS billing tools. 

Maxio’s pros

  • Provides an all-in-one FinOps platform that includes billing, payments, and revenue recognition.
  • Supports both self-service models and custom contracts.
  • Integrates with popular FinTech tools like Avalara (sales automation) and Quickbooks (Accounting).
  • Provides in-depth SaaS metrics like cohort-based reports, projections, and more. 

Maxio’s cons

  • According to users on review platforms like G2, Maxio’s Reports module can be quite limited. For example, if a customer has subscribed to multiple products, you can’t view all of them in one place.
  • Some users have also reported issues with Maxio’s RevRec module with some of them even doing most tasks manually due to errors and inconsistencies.
  • Like with most ‘merged companies’, Maxio faces UI inconsistencies which results in a clunky, and non-intuitive user experience.
  • Some customers have found the Maxio customer experience to be sub-par with delayed replies and little-to-no onboarding support.
  • Supports only the English language, which can be limiting for SaaS companies with a global customer base.

Maxio’s pricing

Starts at $5000 per year. 

5. Zuora

for, high-volume, enterprise-grade companies (with in-house DevOps teams)

Source

Launched in 2007, Zuora is one of the oldest subscription billing tools. And like most legacy SaaS tools, it is all-in-one, industry-agnostic, and built for enterprises. However, Zuora’s recent acquisition of Togai can result in more support for SaaS pricing models (particularly, usage-based pricing). However, at this point, we can’t say anything.

Zuora comes with most of the basics that you’d expect from a subscription billing tool — invoicing, payments, dunning, financial reporting, and more. But its real strength is its upper-market capabilities — a.k.a its Performance Booster feature. From generating invoices and payments in parallel to doubling your API concurrency limit — it makes processing high-volume transactions a breeze.

At the same time, it comes with some of the same drawbacks of legacy SaaS tools — an old-fashioned UI and rigid workflows. This means you need engineering bandwidth for most customizations.

Zuora’s pros

  • An all-in-one platform with enterprise-level performance, security, and compliance standards.
  • Provides low-code SDKs and APIs to integrate with your existing app ecosystems.
  • Options to experiment with different pricing models with dynamic offers and low-code rules.

Zuora’s cons

  • Zuora’s outdated UX (plus the complexity that arises from feature bloat) can mean a steep learning curve and DevOps support
  • A lot of customizations — such as bulk edits — can only be done via code. 
  • Loading usage data into Zuora is quite a manual process—downloading templates, requesting data from managers, and uploading CSV files.
  • It’s not as flexible or low-code as some of the other tools on this list, especially when it comes to metered billing. 

Zuora’s pricing

Contact Zuora directly for pricing details. 

3 benefits of using SaaS billing software

From automating your BillingOps and improving revenue recognition to giving an in-depth insight into your cash flow and even preventing fraud — SaaS billing software comes with many visible benefits. 

However, it is the numerous intangible advantages that can greatly benefit your company, especially in the long run. 

1. Speeds up your go-to-market process 

SaaS companies, typically, build first and figure pricing at a later stage. In such cases, an in-house billing system or even the wrong SaaS billing tool can lead to lengthy integration processes. 

Updating your pricing tiers, tracking usage data, and syncing everything with your billing system — that’s a lot of time-consuming work. 

While a few weeks or months of delay in launching your product might not seem like a big deal, the impact on potential revenue can be huge. For example, according to the rule of 78 — a customer onboarded in January contributes six times more annual revenue than someone onboarded in July.  

However, when you use a SaaS billing tool that’s designed for your specific pricing models, you can integrate new modules with your billing system in a matter of hours, if not minutes. 

Plus, with most SaaS billing systems being no-code, your finance team can do most of the heavy lifting without having to depend on engineering resources.

2. Improves usability (and overall customer experience)

Ever subscribed to a SaaS product only to be frustrated with its billing workflows? We’re not talking about dark UX patterns like purposely making it difficult for users to unsubscribe from a tool — though they’re definitely bad for business. 

It’s the small things — like Notion not emailing users a copy of the invoice every month — that, when compounded, can irk customers and lead to a sub-par user experience. 

Source

With SaaS billing software, on the other hand, you can iron out a lot of these — whether that’s an easy-to-navigate customer portal, one-click payments, or automated invoices. 

3. Saves engineering bandwidth

If you’ve read any of our other blogs, you’ll know we’re big believers in buying a billing system, as opposed to DIY-ing it. In fact, our co-founder Saurabh’s experience managing in-house billing systems at his previous companies is one of the reasons we feel strongly about automating SaaS billing at Zenskar. While at BC Jukebox, it was a combination of in-house tools for invoicing and estimates, at Basepair, they had to build a custom tool over their existing billing system just to send invoices.

We couldn’t have said it better! (Source)

So, it goes without saying that buying a billing system can free up your engineering team so they can focus on the core product. Plus, it’s always easier to report a bug than fix it yourself.  

However, while buying a billing system can reduce your dependence on engineering resources, the wrong tool can do the opposite — ending up with you buying a billing solution and then building over it to match your use case.

So this benefit comes with a caveat — choosing subscription billing software purpose-built for SaaS companies (and metered billing) can save your company’s engineering bandwidth.

The 3 must-have features of any SaaS billing software

As we’ve seen, there are quite a few SaaS billing tools on the market, each with different USPs. 

However, if your main goal is to streamline your BillingOps and save engineering bandwidth, you’ll benefit from the following features: 

  • Billing: Look for a billing tool that supports your pricing model, and has features like invoice generation, email notifications, and options to switch between different pricing models
  • Entitlement management: Another must-have, this can help you manage feature limits across plans, create hybrid pricing structures, and even set schedules to migrate customers from old to new pricing plans
  • Revenue recognition: Platforms that can generate audit-ready and ASC 606/IFRS 15 compliant financial reports, automate revenue sub-ledgers, and recognize revenue on an accrual basis can go a long way in reducing your finance team’s grunt work 
  • Usage tracking: For SaaS companies with usage-based pricing components — you need a SaaS billing tool that allows you to send product usage data from different sources and has no-code solutions to aggregate user data.

Choosing your SaaS billing software: What to look for

We’ve seen why you need a SaaS billing tool and what features to look out for, so it’s now time for the next question — how to pick the right SaaS billing tool for your organization.

And as we mentioned earlier, picking the wrong tool can do more harm than good. 

Source

Here are the four main points to consider when evaluating SaaS billing tools:

  • Customer experience: This includes things like how long it would take for you to implement the system, if there is a commitment-free trial period or sandbox experience, and how much of an extra mile would the software vendor go to set you up for success.
  • Scalability: The next point is will the billing software be able to support not just your current billing requirements, but also your future ones. If choosing a billing tool for the first time is difficult, then switching from one tool to another can be even more complicated.
  • Integrations: You want to find a SaaS billing system that plays well with the rest of your tech stack—whether that’s your FinOps tools like tax, and payments or SalesOps tools like CRM and CPQ.
  • Security: Finally, choose a SaaS billing tool that’s both secure and compliant with the major data privacy regulations. This not only safeguards you against fraud but also hefty compliance-related fines — which can be around 4% of your annual turnover or $20 million, whichever is greater. 

Related reading: A 9-point Checklist to Choose the Right Billing System for Your Business

Scale with Zenskar: SaaS billing software that grows with your business

Zenskar gives SaaS businesses all the features they need to set up flexible pricing models, automate billing, manage RevRec, and streamline compliance. 

What does this mean for you —

  • Lesser engineering dependence — as Zenskar’s platform automates both data integration and contract management. If you run into any technical roadblocks, our Customer Success team is available 24/7 and typically responds within an hour.
  • Endless pricing options from plain, old subscriptions and simple usage-based pricing to complex hybrid models.  
  • Automated invoicing — that includes individual usage data for each customer — for better transparency as Zenskar decouples metering from billing.
  • Simplified usage metering that allows you to send data from over 200 different sources using a combination of direct integrations and developer-friendly APIs.

Best of all, Zenskar provides a zero-commitment sandbox experience, where you can try out our features before taking the plunge. 

Curious to learn more? Book a demo and we’ll show you how Zenskar can automate your BillingOps.

FAQs

1. What is the best SaaS billing solution?

While there is no ‘universally best’ tool, here are some characteristics that are common across the best ones:

  • They support diverse pricing models like subscription, per-user, and UBP 
  • They’re user-friendly, scalable, and require little to zero developer
  • They integrate with the rest of your tech stack
  • They secure and comply with data privacy regulations

2. Why is billing software necessary for SaaS businesses?

SaaS billing software automates complex tasks like subscriptions, payments, and revenue recognition. This allows your finance team to own billing operations from end to end and gives your engineering team the bandwidth to focus on the core product.

3. What are the common limitations of SaaS billing software?

Legacy SaaS billing software — force-fitted to support the latest trends in pricing like usage-based and hybrid pricing models — comes with the following limitations:

  • Mapping the customers in your billing system to the users in your product can get complex and requires engineering resources
  • Some traditional subscription tools limit the amount of usage data sent for every customer, leading to data aggregation at source, which again requires developer effort
  • You’ll have to create a new subscription every time you modify a usage-based component

There are a lot more limitations, and you can read about them in this blog

4. How does SaaS pricing work and what are the common pricing models used?

Most SaaS companies opt for a recurring, subscription-based revenue strategy. Here are some of the popular SaaS pricing models:

  • Flat-rate: One price for everything, regardless of the number of users or number of features
  • Tiered: Different levels of pricing with varying features and prices
  • Per-user: Charged based on the number of users using the platform
  • Per-feature: Charged based on the features used
  • Usage-based: Customers pay for only what they use

Some SaaS companies also opt for hybrid pricing models that combine the various pricing models discussed above.

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