Setup fee then recurring subscriptions with Stripe (Updated 2021)


Do you offer a product or service and have the need to bill your customers a one-time fee and at the same time have them subscribed to a recurring plan? Do you use Stripe to process your credit card payments?

If you answered yes to either one of these questions, then this article will explain how you can do this seamlessly.

Three reasons to use a setup fee with recurring billing feature:

1. Online Marketing Agency

Your are running an online marketing agency that specializes in SEO, SEM, PPC, and you need to have an initial consultation period with your customers for which they will be billed. This consultation period will be used for understanding your customer business, performing market research, setting up keywords, and tools like Google Adwords or Facebook Ads.

However, as you know that’s actually only a part of the process. Any good online marketing campaign will also offer an ongoing maintenance service of some kind. This is generally weekly, monthly or yearly. Using the setup fee then recurring feature in WP Simple Pay Pro solves this billing issue for you in a single instance.

2. SaaS

Maybe you have a Software as a Service. It’s in beta and requires a manual setup process where you take your customers information from a database and plug it into your applications interface which works but is not quite ready for your end users .

Your current billing solution only captures a monthly subscriptions amount but you would like to be compensated for the manual work that you put into setting up the account so you implement a small setup fee. There is one problem, how do you capture that setup fee? You could use your Stripe dashboard to do a one-time charge and then take a separate action to subscribe your customers to a recurring subscriptions plan but who wants to do all that manual work which consumes time. Using WP Simple Pay Pro and the setup then recurring is an efficient growth hack to put into place in minutes that automates the process.

2B. Real Life Use Case

I spoke to a friend mine, Brian Casal over at Audience Ops – which is a productized service that grows your online audience, email list, and customer base with done-for-you content marketing – about how he is using this feature. Here is what he had to say:

We have a standard set of retainer subscription plans in Stripe that all of our clients subscribe to. But the up-front setup fee (if any) can be different on a client-by-client basis, depending on our agreed service package.

With Simple Pay Pro, it’s easy for me to create a unique page to onboard each new client. On that page, I set up a payment button, with monthly and quarterly options, and if there’s a setup fee, I’ll tack that on to the first payment. 

Simple Pay Pro lets me specify “Your total today” and “Your recurring fee” so the client knows exactly what they’re signing up for.

Many agencies and productized services charge a fixed retainer with a higher 1st month payment, and this new feature in Simple Pay Pro is the perfect solution for that.

~Brian Casel
Founder – Audience Ops

3. WebHosting (WordPress)

Maybe you have an existing web hosting business and decided that you want to offer specialized hosting to separate yourself from your competitors. So you decide to focus on WordPress and why not, its clearly a growing product and needs hosting.

Ideally it would be nice to have this automated so that when a customer purchases hosting for WordPress, WordPress is installed automatically. One way to do that is to have your team provision (install and configure) WordPress installs whenever someone purchases a hosting package from you. You want to be compensated for that time and your current hosting WHM (webhost manager) only handles subscriptions without setup fees. Once again, the setup fee then recurring feature in WP Simple Pay Pro solves this issue for you in a single instance.

All you need are the following products:

  1. WordPress
  2. WP Simple Pay Pro

Example WP Simple Pay Code for setup fee + recurring:
Note: This tiny piece of shortcode creates a button that charges $5 and subscribes a customer to the “Bronze” subscription plan.

Note: WP Simple Pay Pro Companion – An optional add-on that makes Stripe payment form building with shortcodes easy.

Note: If you are not using WordPress and WP Simple Pay Pro, Stripe provides you with code for it’s API @

Updated 8202018

NOTE: If you have been using Stripe plugins by now you’ve discovered that your customers need to update credit card info in order to prevent failed payments. A solution is now available at

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