I'm looking at building payments into my app. Users can subscribe to different plans and pay monthly. They'll get a free first month and won't be billed if they cancel anytime within the first month.

We tried integrating PayPal but it sucked from a developer/API point of view as well as a user experience point of view (the payment details were hidden in walls of text), so I'm looking for something better. I'm located in the Netherlands, which might be of relevance since several providers require US/UK accounts which locks us out.

Ideally I'd like the following:

  • No requirement to use provider-specific branded pages. I want to keep people within the design of the app. It's okay if the page is hosted by the provider, as long as I can "brand" it.
  • No requirement to using specific buttons, etc. For instance, PayPal requires the "check out with paypal" button as well as making PayPal the default payment option using a logo they provide.
  • As few steps as possible. I want them to choose a plan, input their payment details, finalise, and be back in the app.
  • No signup. If they can just input their credit card or other payment details without ever knowing there's a payment provider/gateway involved, that'd be great.

Is there such a service? Please provide any details regarding upsides/downsides that I should look at in the answer.

Oh and here are the providers I'm currently looking at, but have not tried the roundtrip for yet: cardgate, ogone, buckaroo, fastspring.

  • 1
    I think this should be a CW.
    – Dair
    Aug 20, 2010 at 17:41
  • Good call. Done.
    – Rahul
    Aug 20, 2010 at 17:46

5 Answers 5


At the risk of sounding like an advertisement, I've fallen in love with Braintree Payment Solutions. I can do transactions and store billing information without ever showing the user a Braintree page. I just have my form submit its results to Braintree's server and they forward the user back without showing them anything (via an HTTP redirect), sending status information to my page. I can then display a success or error message depending on the results that are sent back with the user. This method works for storing payment information, creating a transaction, doing both at the same time, or processing a transaction without storing the user's information (ie., checking out without an account on your site).

A HUGE benefit for me as a developer is that the sensitive information - their credit card information - never touches my server(s), so I'm not responsible for it (see PCI compliance). And their API is drop dead easy to use out of the box.

All of that being said, there's probably other payment providers who do this same sort of this. It was Braintree's API, reduced PCI compliance requirements for me, and their track record that did it for me.


  • Aw. "We are currently only set up to provide merchant accounts for businesses with a legal U.S. presence." :(
    – Rahul
    Aug 22, 2010 at 21:51
  • What, you didn't know that the Internet is a U.S. commodity? Jokes aside, sorry to hear that. :-\ There must be providers open to you that have similar benefits though - I can't imagine that Braintree is the only programmer friendly provider.
    – Sam Bisbee
    Aug 27, 2010 at 15:02

Remember that not everybody has a credit card either, so you might want to look into payment processors that also support debit cards like Maestro (especially useful now that the euro countries are standardising this!) and maybe even online transfers (like iDeal in The Netherlands). That's one reason why I and several other people I know like e.g. Ogone (I suppose there are others providing this?) when we are a customer in a webshop: you pay whatever way feels most comfortable to you as a customer (and "the customer is king", right?). I have no idea about their API from a programming point of view though...

(OTOH, a processor that only handles credit cards is probably gonna be cheaper, so you might want to think about what brings you the most benefits in the end.)


As a buyer (but not as a developer), I have used Google Checkout a few times with complete success. The process is simple (dead simple if you're already signed into your Google account, which I usually am). I personally like when I'm purchasing from a site I'm not too sure about, because I know they don't have my account information, and on top of that, I even check a box that stops the seller from knowing what my email address is!

From their main page:

Stop creating multiple accounts and passwords
With Google Checkout™ you can quickly and easily buy from stores across the web and track all your orders and shipping in one place.

Shop with confidence
Our fraud protection policy covers you against unauthorized purchases made through Google Checkout, and we don't share your purchase history or full credit card number with sellers.

Control commercial spam
You can keep your email address confidential, and easily turn off unwanted emails from stores where you use Google Checkout.


Also see Integrate your website with Google Checkout


Over the past few months I've done a lot of research and concluded that Spreedly offers the most satisfying user experience based on what I want for my customers. I wrote a blog post about Spreedly (it goes into more than just the UX) but wanted to mention some important things about it.

First of all, here's what the checkout screen looks like:

Spreedly checkout

  • Great typography: headings are easy to spot, there's a visual balance focused on making important things stand out and less important things fade into the background a bit

  • Prices are clearer labeled and explained in situations where there may be some complex logic (such as refunds or credit)

  • The entire design is minimal and focused on staying out of the way so you can pay up and get back to what you were doing

  • Attention was paid to the form to ensure that you can't accidentally submit it twice, and error feedback is clean and well written

Basically, it's really well designed compared to many other payment processors. Although Spreedly isn't a traditional payment service provider or gateway (they handle subscriptions), they do handle the part of the process where customers fill in their name and credit card info, and they process that part and send it on to an acquirer or gateway. This is important because it's the only step in the payment process that end users have to interact with.


Although Braintree does look like a good solution, it is one of the most expensive. If that isn't a problem for you, great! But for me and my clients, cost is a significant concern.

Another solution that is similar to @Sam's answer is Authorize.Net's Direct Post Method. I too prefer to completely control the UI experience of my users. Why worry about what your payment processor's UI looks like when you can provide your own?

Auth.Net will be much cheaper because you can use just about any merchant account with it. And many of those merchant accounts include Auth.Net at no additional cost or very low cost. Check out FeeFighters for some good merchant account options offering interchange-plus rates, not the less desirable qualified/mid-qualified/non-qualified rates that many others offer.

Auth.Net may not be the best gateway out there or have the best developer APIs, but it is very widely supported and is cost effective. It is owned by VISA, so you know that it will always stay PCI compliant and won't be going out of business.

Here is more information about DPM: http://community.developer.authorize.net/t5/The-Authorize-Net-Developer-Blog/Direct-Post-Method-DPM/ba-p/7014

  • Okay, but how does all of that relate to the user experience?
    – Rahul
    Nov 4, 2010 at 13:57
  • @Rahul: the point is that you have complete control over the user experience. you design what the form looks like where the user enters credit card information. This form is hosted on your site. You then design what the receipt or response page looks like as well, again hosted on your site. The card data never hits your server because your custom form on your site POSTs to the Auth.net server. The AuthNet server processes it, then redirects back to your response page. So the user experience is whatever you want it to be!
    – Tauren
    Nov 5, 2010 at 7:32

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