Running a Subscription-Based Business? Consider Chargebee: A Complete Review

The stats speak for themselves; as many as 15% of online shoppers at one point or another have signed up to receive a product-based monthly subscription. So, if you're an entrepreneur looking for a new venture, now's the time to jump on the bandwagon and launch a subscription-based business. If you're tempted by the idea but unsure where to begin, Chargebee may well be the solution.

It doesn't matter whether you're launching your brand from scratch or already have a larger company with a complicated set of needs, Chargebee offers an online plug-and-play solution to suit all manner of subscription-based companies.

So, without further ado, let's dive into this review!

What Does Chargebee Do?

With Chargebee, you can set subscription customers up with a recurring billing plan to ensure you're paid automatically. Alternatively, you can process one-time, and usage-based payments — so it's entirely up to you how you charge consumers, you have the flexibility to pick a system that best suits the needs of your business model.

It's an incredibly straightforward way of collecting online payments through your preferred payment gateway — there's no need to get a web developer involved, you'll quickly have everything set up yourself!

Plus, you and your team can also use Chargebee to organize and run product promotions and discounts — which works wonders for marketing new subscriptions!

Chargebee homepage

Benefits of Using Chargebee

There are plenty of advantages to using Chargebee:

  • Its API is incredibly user-friendly. So, if you want to code a tighter integration, you have the option of doing so — which is especially handy for scaling up and expanding your business.
  • Chargebee is a cloud-based solution so you and your team can access it from anywhere, making it ideal for entrepreneurs on the run.
  • Its interface is nothing short of intuitive, so you shouldn't have to spend too much time getting to grips with the dashboard.
  • Its reporting tools are simple to use. At just a glance, you'll get a feel for the amount of revenue you're generating and the growth of your user base.
  • Chargebee's automation features are pretty impressive. Most back-end operations like invoicing, discount management, collecting payments, applying taxes, and customer communications are automated. You'll be thankful for the opportunity to eliminate these repetitive tasks so that you can focus on other money-making activities.
  • Chargebee's dunning management feature is excellent. You can easily handle failed customer payments by allowing Chargbee to make repeat payment attempts on your behalf.
  • You can also send customers an alert to remind them when their credit card is about to expire, which helps to ensure you receive your funds on time.
  • Chargebee integrates with loads of different payment gateways, so you can be choosey about the provider you opt for. To be more specific, Chargebee offers over 30 payment gateways to connect with, including Stripe, Braintree, PayPal, and Amazon Payments. So, rest assured, you'll be able to reach customers all around the globe.
  • For those of you who take e-mail marketing seriously, you'll be pleased to hear you can customize your email notifications. Emails can be sent automatically once customers sign up for a subscription. The same is true of payment reminders and the delivery of valuable and engaging content.

Chargebee

  • Chargebee is secure; all the data you enter is safely hosted in data centers renowned for their security.
  • Chargebee offers users tons of integrations including — popular shopping carts, e-commerce tools, analytics, and e-mail marketing apps. For instance: Shopify, Squarespace, MailChimp, ShipStation, Refersion, Google Analytics, and Zapier (just to name a few!). This is amazing for extending the overall functionality of Chargebee. There's a plugin that caters to virtually every necessity. From shipping your products, to creating a referral program, to conducting customer research — you'll be able to access everything you need to run your subscription-based business from the convenience of one place.
  • From what we can tell, very few customers complain about their user experience with Chargebee — everywhere you look online the reviews are overwhelmingly positive.
  • Chargebee offers a superior level of customer support. Users report that their customer support agents always provide informative, actionable, and timely advice whenever they contact with a query.

Chargebee subscription managemen

The Drawbacks to Using Chargebee

  • Some users claim Chargebee isn't as user-friendly as it could be — however, it's worth noting, these complaints tend to arise due to the incredible number of features Chargebee offers. This can overwhelm some users to begin with. Having a search function to type in the specific settings you're looking for would be useful. However, other than this recommendation, given the sheer scale of Chargebee's functionality, we feel Chargebee's interface is as intuitive as it could be.
  • Chargebee's incredibly pricey once you upgrade past their free plan, especially in comparison to some of their competitors. So, if your business is rapidly growing and you're looking for a budget-friendly solution, Chargebee probably isn't the program for you.
  • Currently, there isn't an option to export multiple invoices in one go. This would make month-on-month accounting way easier.
  • Apparently, it isn't easy to sync customer billing for either a quarter or a half-year. But Chargebee's said to be working on this function — so watch this space!
  • There isn't a parent-child functionality. So, if you have customer payment needs that fall under a parent brand with numerous locations, that all need billing separately — this isn't the solution for you. But Chargebee says it has this in the works, so again, keep your ear to the ground for an update on that!

Chargebee Features

In addition to all the features we've already mentioned, Chargebee also offers the following:

  • Tax profiles and reports
  • A customer portal
  • You can set custom user roles and permissions (so your team can only access the stuff you're comfortable with them seeing!)
  • Themes for hosted web pages
  • Support with EU VAT
  • Email management tools
  • Dunning management tools
  • Numerous integrations
  • You can create different price plans and add-ons
  • Access to customized web hooks
  • Subscription lifecycle management — with great ease you can create, oversee, pause, cancel, reactivate, and extend customer subscriptions.
  • Trial management — if you want to offer customers a trial, you can manage, customize them, and automate a related e-mail series to promote your trial.
  • Gift subscriptions — You can easily increase subscriber numbers by packaging your product as a ‘gift.' Subscriptions are becoming increasingly common to give as presents, so be sure to factor that into your marketing strategy. With Chargebee, you can even permit the gifter to write a personalized message to the recipient and schedule its delivery, so it arrives on time for whatever occasion they're celebrating (or commiserating!).
  • Quotes– You can send a proforma invoice to your customers. This empowers the consumers to overlook the invoice and carry out their ‘internal purchase approval processes' before they hand over their hard-earned cash.
  • Credit notes — You can offer your customers both adjustment and refundable credit notes for ongoing invoices. These come in handy for keeping your financial records in order. Especially, when you experience a chargeback, write-off, or a change in the subscription — trust us, you'll be thankful when it comes to filling out your tax returns.
  • Cart abandonment recovery — Abandoned cart tracking allows you to measure how many visitors/customers leave your checkout without completing their purchase.
  • Guest Checkout — You can let customers check out without having to create an account or sign in each time they want to make a purchase. Chargebee identifies existing customers from their email addresses, so never fear; this won't mess up your metrics!

Pretty impressive, right?

Chargebee

Chargebee Pricing

Chargebee offers a variety of price plans…including a free one. For your convenience, we've listed the details of each of them below:

The Free Plan

As we've just said, you'll probably be pleased to hear Chargebee offers a free plan. This is amazing for businesses launching for the first time as Chargebee won't charge a penny until you reach £40k in revenue. Chargbee describes this plan as: ‘Everything you need to get your subscription business started.'

You'll get access to all the following features:

  • Dunning for online and offline payments
  • Coupon management tools
  • Templates for transactional emails
  • Hosted payment web pages
  • A customer portal
  • Global tax management
  • EU VAT management (for a single region)
  • Basic SaaS metrics
  • Transactional error monitoring
  • Credit notes
  • Offline payments
  • Custom fields
  • Metafield JSON store
  • Numerous webhooks
  • Support for multiple currencies
  • Unbilled charges
  • Basic calendar billing
  • One click payment method updates
  • Multicurrency (up to three currencies)
  • File attachments
  • Saved filters
  • Billing data portability
  • Numerous payment methods
  • Integrations with Stripe Radar, Mailchimp, Zapier, Refersion, Google Analytics, ChartMogul, LeadDyno, Slack, Intercom.

Once you exceed the $40k threshold, you'll be charged $89 per month. If you're earning more than $20k over the $40k limit a month, you'll also have to pay an additional 0.5% overage fee.

This then brings us to Chargebee's paid-for plans, which are better suited to small to medium-sized businesses.

The Rise Plan

Chargebee's ‘Rise' plan will set you back £249 per month.

You're permitted to make $40,000 a month in revenue. However, if you exceed this amount, you'll be charged a 0.6% overage fee.

You'll get everything in the free plan, in addition to:

  • Ten users
  • An unlimited number of payment gateways
  • A tax profile comprising of numerous countries and tax regions
  • SaaS metrics
  • Integrations with Salesforce and Avalara

The Scale Plan

The ‘Scale' plan ramps things up a notch, both in terms of price and the number of features on offer. You'll have to shell out £449 a month, which allows you to generate £50k a month in revenue — should you exceed this limit, you'll be charged a 0.9% overage fee.

You'll get everything in the previous two plans as well as:

  • 25 users
  • Advance invoices
  • You can set custom user roles
  • Access and use of multiple payment methods
  • Tax profiles
  • Priority phone support

The Enterprise Plan

The ‘Enterprise' package is the most comprehensive bundle Chargebee has to offer. It's best suited to companies generating more than £50,000 a month. If that applies to you, you'll have to contact Chargebee directly to arrange a customized quote and package.

Chargebee

How Does Chargebee Compare to Its Competition?

WooCommerce Subscriptions

If you have a WooCommerce store, there's a good chance you're considering the WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin to handle your membership products.

With this app you can create and manage as many products with recurring payments as you want — you just need to pay a $199 fee for a single site license.

Just like Chargebee, you can also launch free trials, run split tests, set up automatic renewals, and give customers the option to upgrade their subscription.

WooCommerce Subscriptions

  • WooCommerce offers users several billing schedules to choose from, so you're bound to find one that suits your needs.
  • You can give subscribers the option of managing their own subscription plans (including upgrading and downgrading their bundles) — this works wonders for reducing the number of customer support tickets you receive.
  • You can choose from over 25 payment gateways for your customers to set up either automatic recurring payments or manual renewal payments.
  • You can automate your email invoices, receipts, and renewal notifications, so customers always know when a payment has been processed — that way they'll never receive a nasty shock when they check their bank statement!
  • Automatic rebilling when a subscription payment fails — this limits the likelihood of missing out on that much-needed revenue.
  • You'll receive detailed reports to help track your recurring revenue as well as your active subscribers.

Recurly

Just like Chargebee, you can use Recurly to provide customers with numerous billing options: advance invoices, excess payments, write-off invoices, etc., and although Recurly provides excellent user experience and boasts a competitive price point, we still think Chargebee has a slight edge.

Namely, because the number of features Chargbee has on offer is far more exhaustive than Recurly. Chargebee users can configure their own tax settings for their: services, sales, and invoices — unfortunately, at the time of writing, this isn't something Recurly offers.

Chargebee also permits users to create the below in numerous languages:

  • Customized invoices
  • Bills
  • Hosted web pages
  • Email notifications and marketings campaigns

Again, this is a feature that Recurly seems to lack.

Not to mention, Chargebee enables you to keep your books neatly organized in categories based on your —

  • Customers
  • Plans
  • Subscriptions
  • Credit notes

So, managing your customers and your finances is a breeze. Again (at the risk of sounding like a broken record) Recurly doesn't boast this feature.

All in all, Chargebee is best for entrepreneurs and business owners who want a complete finance solution — whereas Recurly just specializes in some of the more basic features.

Paddle

The best way to compare Paddle and Chargebee is to look at what they're best at.

First off, Chargebee excels when it comes to creating and managing subscription plans and coupons. Their software is incredibly flexible; within minutes, you can choose to either apply your coupons to the entire payment plan or just the setup fee.

Users also comment on how much they love that Chargebee sends customers an e-mail reminder if it looks as though the card they're using to pay for their subscription, is about to expire. They provide you with a template and everything, you just need to customize and edit the copy to suit you, and hit send!

Whereas, Paddle (read our Paddle review) is a better option for the tech-lovers among us. With Paddle, you'll get access to macOS application licensing/trials, JavaScript-based purchase page for web users, and numerous webhooks.

ReCharge Shopify App

One of ReCharge's key selling points is that it's the only Shopify Plus-approved platform dedicated to creating and managing recurring bills. Recharge works with thousands of Shopify sellers, including –Soylent, Hubble Contacts, LOLA, Dr. Axe, and Death Wish Coffee — which just adds to their credibility!

As such, ReCharge is an excellent option if you're a Shopify merchant working with a tighter budget because this app only sets you back $19.99 a month!

For this small fee, you can launch all your subscription-based products and manage payments all from the convenience of your Shopify store.

You can also edit your prepayment options, subscription lengths, and take credit, debit, and PayPal payments.

Last but not least, we love that ReCharge (read our ReCharge review) comes with a bulk import features — meaning, you can transfer any previous customers you acquired using a different platform without having to create a customer login!

If you want to weigh up your options, Recharge comes with a free 30-day trial.

Have You Ever Used Chargebee Before?

We hope this review has given you a better understanding of who Chargebee is and what they have to offer!

Have you ever used Chargebee (or one of their competitors) before? If so, we'd love to hear all your opinions, experiences, and comments in the box below. Let's kickstart the discussion. Speak soon!

Chargebee Rating: 4.0 - Review by

Rosie Greaves

Rosie Greaves is a professional content strategist who specializes in all things digital marketing, B2B, and lifestyle. In addition to e-commerce platforms, you can find her published on Reader's Digest, G2, and Judicious Inc. Check out her website Blog with Rosie for more information.