Migrating Away from Chargify and Authorize.net – Part 1 – Chargify Pricing Over the Years Migrating Away from Chargify and Authorize.net – Part 1 – Chargify Pricing Over the Years

July 30, 2012   |   Business, Tech
Agile League

Besides being a Co-Founder of The Agile League, Micah is also a Co-Founder of Obsidian Portal, a SaaS website. He’s got a fair amount of experience dealing with recurring billing, and here he talks about why Obsidian Portal has to change their subscription billing system (again).
Subscription processing on Obsidian Portal has a long and sordid history. For a quick summary, we started about 4 years back with a hand-rolled Amazon Flexible Payment System (FPS) set of cron jobs. From there we moved to Amazon SimplePay. When that got too annoying we moved to our current setup, Chargify backed by Authorize.net. I wrote about our reasonings for the move in another blog post, and I highly suggest reading it, as most of it still applies. Unfortunately, with yet another price increase, Chargify is just too expensive and we have to move again. To be clear, we’ve always been happy with the service, and we believe in paying for the right tool, but you can’t completely ignore price when choosing your service providers.

The Many Prices of Chargify

The easiest reason to see why we’re leaving is to simply compare these 3 images and the table below:

Chargify Original Pricing
Chargify Original Pricing (pre-August 2010)

Chargify 2010 - 2012 Pricing
Chargify 08/2010 – 06/2012 Pricing

Chargify 2012+ Pricing
Current Chargify Pricing ( plus overage fees, so it can be much higher)

Chargify Prices Over the Years (by number of customers)
500 C’s 1000 C’s 3000 C’s
Original $49 $49 $249 $249
Aug 2010 $99 $99 $349 $999
June 2012 $1291 $129 $4592 $12993
1. The min of ($65 + $1.99/customer over 20) and the higher tier of $129.
2. The min of ($129 + $0.99/customer over 500) and the higher tier of $459.
3. Chargify has a Big Business plan that kicks in around 3000 customers.

How High Can They Go?

At all tiers the prices have climbed, and it’s an over 500% increase at the highest tier. Besides the concrete issue of climbing prices, it’s also just irritating to keep having the ground shifting under your feet. How can we price our products to our customers when we don’t know if our underlying costs are going to radically shift?

One Pie, Many Fingers

Plus, it’s important to realize: Chargify is only one of three providers with a finger in the pie. The above table is the cost of Chargify’s recurring billing SaaS platform. That platform sits on top of our payment gateway (Authorize.net) and our merchant account. I honestly have only a foggy idea of how much we pay on those due to the byzantine nature of how they’re billed: transaction fees + transaction %’s + monthly fees + card vault fees + authorization fees + capture fees + batch fees + a ton more fees. Our statement has a two-page list of the types of fees, with such helpful names as DOMACQ FGN STD and REGULATFMIDMT1. Ultimately, these numbers will be different for everyone, but in our case, we’re looking at roughly an extra $250/mo per 1000 customers. Not insignificant.

Cost per Customer

The easiest way (for me) to compare all the different services is on a cost-per-customer basis. To establish this basis, I’m going to use Obsidian Portal’s two most popular plans: $5/mo and $40/yr. Note: We consider our actual subscription data to be confidential business information, but these numbers are in the rough ballpark.


  • Ignoring all flat fees (setup fees, $20/mo gateway fee, $20/mo CIM fee, $8/mo statement fee, etc.)
  • $0.40/customer/mo for Chargify (roughly what we pay under the current pricing)
  • $0.10/each for the Authorize.net transaction fee
  • $0.25 + 2.5% transaction fee for the merchant account – Actual fees are incredibly variable and complicated.
Transaction cost for $5/mo plan
Chargify $0.40
Auth.net Gateway $0.10
Merchant Account $0.375
Total (monthly) $0.875
Total (yearly) $10.50
Transaction cost for $40/yr plan
Chargify $0.40
Auth.net Gateway $0.10
Merchant Account $1.25
Total (monthly) $1.75
Total (yearly) $6.151
1. Only the $0.40 Chargify fee is charged each month. The other fees are only charged once per transaction, which in this case is 1/yr.

Next Time: The Alternatives

Now that we’ve established the cost of Chargify + Auth.net + merchant account, read Part 2 to see what to compare it to. After scanning the available options, we’ve decided to focus on Stripe and Braintree. Once we run the numbers, perhaps Chargify is actually the cheapest option? (Hint: No, it’s not…not by a long shot.) Read on to Part 2…