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Recurring Payments

PayPal also enables you to offer subscriptions and other services that depend on recurring payments, such as service and support plans, automatic product upgrades, monthly club memberships, payment plans, and the like.

For example, an electronics retailer might want to offer an enhanced support plan for customers who purchase a particular product. The merchant charges $9.95 per month for this plan. The retailer can set up PayPal's recurring payments to automatically charge customers this amount each month.

As another example, a camera retailer might offer an email newsletter for aficionados of a particular type of photography, such as nature or sports photography, and charge $4.99 for each monthly issue. This merchant can set up PayPal's recurring payments to automatically charge subscribers this amount each month.

PayPal's recurring payments are available with all of PayPal's payment processing solutions: Website Payments Standard, Website Payments Pro, and Express Checkout. With the basic Website Payments Standard there is no charge for the recurring payments service, aside from normal PayPal transaction fees.

Adding a Subscribe Button to Your Site

With Website Payments Standard, you integrate recurring payments by creating a Subscribe button that you then add to your website, like the one in Figure 4.14. Follow these instructions:

Figure 4.14

Figure 4.14 A PayPal Subscribe button.

  1. Log in to your PayPal account and select the Merchant Services tab.
  2. Go to the Create Buttons section of the page and click the Subscribe link.
  3. When the Create PayPal Payment button page appears, as shown in Figure 4.15, make sure Subscriptions is selected in the button type list.
    Figure 4.15

    Figure 4.15 Creating a Subscribe button.

  4. Enter the item name and optional subscription ID in the appropriate boxes.
  5. To customize the appearance of the button, click the "Customize text or appearance" link and make the appropriate selections.
  6. If you want PayPal to create user names and passwords for your subscribers, check that option.
  7. Enter the amount to be billed each cycle.
  8. In the Billing Cycle section, select the billing cycle in terms of X number of periods.
  9. Select after how many cycles the billing should stop.
  10. If you want to offer a trial period, check that option and then enter the required information for the free or discounted trial.
  11. Select which Merchant account ID this button should apply to.
  12. Click the Create Button button.
  13. This displays the HTML code for this button. Copy and paste the code into the web page(s) on your site where you want the button to appear.

Using the Recurring Payments API

With Website Payments Pro and Express Checkout, the process is a bit more involved. You have to create a recurring payments profile for the service or subscription offered, and implement the various Recurring Payment APIs in your checkout process. PayPal then automatically handles all payment activity for customers who sign up for what you offer.

See the PayPal Developer Network website ( for detailed instructions.

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