Website forms are a great way to gather information from your visitors. But what if you wanted to start accepting payments using online forms on your WordPress site? Things become more expensive once you start accepting payments on your forms as these transactions cost more to support. Once you start accepting payments with your web forms, I suggest looking for a hosted form provider rather than a WordPress form solution because of both cost and support.
Gravity Forms / Formidable Pro
- Gravity Forms – You can process subscriptions/recurring payments when using the PayPal Payments Pro add-on Gravity Form addon. This is a solution that I can’t recommend as far as accepting payments. You need the Developer license to accept payments (I have no idea why the Business plan doesn’t allow for accepting payments. You’d think businesses would want something like that). And the Developer plan is $199/year, making it a burden for our budding startup.
- Formidable Pro is more affordable at $47 per site and doesn’t have any add-on restrictions like Gravity Forms does. Their plugin does some very nice things related to WordPress, like assign a user role upon payment (or you could go with a plugin that’s designed specifically for that purpose). A huge drawback of Formidable Pro is that it only accepts PayPal as a payment processor and it doesn’t support recurring billing.
A problem with WordPress forms is that you lose the ability to completely abstract your form away from the platform you’re using. Posting a form on your Facebook page is very easy when using an online form solution. Or if a coworker needs a quick donation form made up for charitable reasons, it’s simple to make up a form using WuFoo/FormSite / Bizodo etc. and she can host that form anywhere that accepts html.
Form Software on Your Own Server
There may be various reasons for not wanting a third-party form provider. You might want to keep the entire transaction on your own servers, your company might be legally obligated not to store their customers data on a third-party service or you might need customized forms beyond what online providers can give. To host online forms on your own server check out MachForm. It accepts Paypal and Stripe for recurring payments, but you will need an SSL cert to process payments using Stripe. Alas, Stripe and Paypal can’t be payment options on the same MachForm (you’d need to put 2 different buttons that lead to two different payment forms) but that’s a limitation I’ve seen with many online forms. The $49 fee includes installation on your server, which includes unlimited forms that you can paste anywhere on the ‘net. I would recommend this only to companies that absolutely need it since you’ll be in charge of administering your form server.
WuFoo is the most popular online form builder that also integrates with multiple payment gateways including Stripe, Braintree and Paypal.
Wufoo also integrates with multiple SAAS solutions like SolveCRM, DocVerify (electronic signature verification for legal documents), MailChimp and Raven.
You’re also able to customize your WuFoo “Thank You” page after a customer fills out the form (through FORM SETTINGS > Confirmation Options).
The WuFoo forms themselves offer some customization, but it’s easy to spot WuFoo forms as most have the same look:
Drawbacks of WuFoo
- Unless you want to stick with Paypal, you’re going to have to use Chargify to add recurring billing to your Stripe / Braintree etc. payment gateway. That’s an extra $65/month at least just to get recurring subscriptions on your website. The value proposition for dunning / payment reminders / card expiration notifications that a recurring billing SAAS provider like Chargify provides is definitely there for a business with hundreds of customers. But for a company just starting out, you’re looking at $30 (WuFoo) + $65 (Chargify) = $95/month. If you’re just starting out, I’d recommend sticking with Paypal to avoid the Chargify levy until your business grows and you need a more reliable payment processor. Information on setting up PayPal Website Payments Pro for WuFoo is here. If you’re using PayPal for recurring billing, note that you can’t have a recurring option and a one-time payment option on the same form.
- It’s not easy to hide the fact that you’re using WuFoo – from the typical ‘WuFoo-look’ of the forms to the fact that WuFoo branding is visible in your form confirmation emails.
- WuFoo has grown somewhat stagnant over the past couple of years. See below for form providers who are innovating at a quicker pace.
FormSite has recurring billing built-in for Paypal (using a PayPal Payments Pro account) and Authorize.net. You will need to have their $20/month Pro 1 plan as a minimum to collect payments on your forms.
Form Assembly offers Paypal for non-recurring payments as well as Authorize.Net and CyberSource as payment processors for recurring payments. You can only start accepting payments on their $39/month Pro plan or above. A major drawback of Form Assembly hosted forms for subscriptions is that you must be on the $150/month Enterprise plan if you want the subscription payment to be embedded within your forms (if you’re on the Pro plan, your customers will have to round-trip to Authorize.net or CyberSource to fill out their subscription information).
FormStack offers recurring billing through Paypal, Authorize.net and on any of their other payment processors using Chargify. They also offer Stripe integration and process more than a quarter million dollars a day through their forms. That’s a good reason why I recommend a hosted solution versus a WordPress plugin for processing payments. FormStack has lots of experience running payflow through their forms and can offer assistance should you need help. They also have a helpful “Launch Pad” app to help style your form how you like and get it up and hosted as quickly as possible:
http://www.formstack.com/tools edit: LaunchPad was discontinued in September, 2013
Prices start at
$14 $29/month. The $14/month plan doesn’t include payment processing.
There’s no welcome page when you visit JotForm. It dumps you right into a form builder (that looks a little antiquated) and if that’s not geeky enough for you, then check out http://www.jotform.com/labs for some other cool stuff you can do with your forms. JotForm is known for their strong integration with DropBox, and recurring billing is an option across many of their payment processors (including Clickbank and Stripe):
You can accept payments starting at their $10/month plan.
Final Recommendations for Hosted Website Forms
At the $10/month range, JotForm is the best online form builder for accepting payments from your visitors given its price. In the $30/month range, the Platinum plan from 123ContactForm really gives you lots for the price.
- I know many people might favor WuFoo because of how prominent their service is, but I don’t like how you have to go up to the $30 level to accept payments on their forms. They do have Stripe as well as Braintree, two of the newer payment processors, but they will require Chargify if you want to do recurring billing on them.
- FormStack is also expensive, charging $29/month for plans that can accept payments. It’s a very similar setup to WuFoo regarding recurring payments: beyond Paypal (and Authorize.net), it will require a $65/month or higher Chargify account.
- JotForm is a very flexible hosted website form generator and it gives you all its features at the $10 a month price point. These features include multiple payment gateways, no Chargify requirement for getting subscription billing on your forms, and the lab features are truly cutting edge. I don’t like Jotform’s interface as I find it clunky and not very welcoming, but your opinion might differ.
- 123ContactForm gives you an amazing array of features on its $30 Platinum plan: recurring billing across payment processors, ability to put multiple payment processors on the same form, and great conditional logic features that also integrate nicely with Google Analytics to track your user’s actions.