Setting up the PayPal payment gateway

Step 1: Enable Reference Transactions on the PayPal account

To activate reference transactions on your PayPal account, contact PayPal support and ask for “reference transactions” to be enabled. This will allow your PayPal account to accept automatic payments from your customers. Once you get through to a human member of the support team, be sure to note that you are requesting the activation of “reference transactions”, NOT subscriptions or recurring payments. This can be a common error as they sound very similar, but are for different PayPal functions.

Please be aware that there are eligibility requirements that need to be met for your account to enable reference transactions. PayPal does not disclose what these are, but as a general rule you need to have an established PayPal account that is considered trustworthy, with a positive rating and regular transactions.

During the setup process, PayPal may ask you for further information about your business and your need for reference transactions. Typically the response to the query when setting up Subscriben should be along the lines of ‘I am selling subscriptions on my site using the WooCommerce extension Subscriben. Subscriben uses reference transactions to create automatic subscription payments for goods/services.’

Once evaluated by PayPal, you will be given an activated/not activated reference transaction outcome. If PayPal decline to enable the feature, you will unfortunately not be able to enable automatic billing via PayPal. Enabling reference transactions may also incur a monthly fee to PayPal.

After reference transactions are enabled on your account, login to your PayPal manager and go to Account Administration→Transaction Settings and set ‘Allow Reference Transactions’ to ‘yes’

For more information on setting up reference transactions, please see this PayPal guide.

Step 2: Once reference transactions are enabled, you will need to enable the correct payment gateway

Go to the following area in your WordPress dashboard.

Admin→Subscriptions→Settings→Gateways, Enable PayPal Express Checkout

PayPal Setup - enable gateway

Next, follow the link to the gateway settings

Step 3: You will then need to supply API credentials for the gateway

PayPal Setup - gateway settingsYou can set up several different types of PayPal API credentials. The type needed for this type of gateway are NVP/SOAP API signatures.

Full instructions to generate these credentials can be found here

Step 4: Once you have generated the credentials, enter the API Username, Password and Signature into the gateway settings

PayPal setup - add keys

When setting up your API Username, API Password and API Signature, remember that these are different depending on if you are using a live or sandbox website. Be sure to enter the correct API information depending on what type of site you are setting up.

Please note, you do not need to set an ‘appID’ for this gateway.


My Account page

Subscriben allows you to manage your subscriptions from WooCommerce’s ‘My Account’ page:

Clicking on the ‘View’ button or the ‘Subscription ID’ will take you to the ‘View Subscription’ page.

From the ‘View Subscription’ page, your customers are able to pause, resume or cancel their subscription from this area if permitted in the settings.

They can also update the subscription’s shipping address and view the subscription’s general details. They will also find the list of products that are included in the subscription and any related orders.

Subscriben’s settings

Clicking Settings from Subscriben’s WordPress admin menu allows you to control the behaviour of Subscriben.

The settings are split into four sections: General, Capabilities, Flow and Gateways


Add To Cart button label: This allows you to overwrite the ‘add to cart’ button text for subscription products

Enable multi-product subscriptions: Attempts to combine multiple products into one subscription instead of one subscription per product

Cheapest product is one with: Allows you to control how the cheapest product is calculated.

Product sale price applies to: Allows you to control when the product’s sale price is applied. You could give users the the discounted price only when first taking out the subscription or allow them to keep the discount price for each renewal too.

Charge shipping for renewal orders: Allows you to apply the shipping price when a subscription is being renewed. Useful for physical subscriptions like a magazine.

Subscription limit: Limits the amount of subscriptions a customer can have.

  • One active subscription of specific product per customer: Limits the customer to having only one subscription per product. For example, the customer couldn’t have two active subscriptions to the same magazine. But could have an active subscription to one magazine and another active subscription to a different magazine.
  • One active subscription per customer: Limits the customer to having only one active subscription to your subscription products at a time.

Trial limit: Limits the amount of trials a customer can have.

  • One trial per product per customer: Limits the customer to only having one trial per product. For example, the customer could have a trial to a particular magazine and software product at the same time. But wouldn’t be allowed any further trials for those particular products.
  • One trial per site per customer: Limits the customer to trialling only one of your subscription products.


Allow customers to pause subscriptions: Gives your customers the ability to manually pause and resume their subscriptions. They can pause and resume their subscriptions via their ‘My Account’ page.

Max number of pauses: Your customers’ quota for how many times they are allowed to pause their subscriptions.

Max duration of a pause: Limits the length of a subscription’s pause before automatically resuming.

Allow customers to cancel subscriptions: Gives your customers the ability to manually cancel their subscriptions. They can cancel their subscriptions via their ‘My Account’ page.


At the top of the flow section, you can find a graphical overview of Subscriben’s workflow:

Payment reminders, overdue periods and suspensions are all optional.

Generate renewal orders: How many days before the ‘Payment Due’ date renewal orders will be generated. This needs to be shorter than any billing cycle and trial length.

Enable payment reminders: Enable or disable whether payment reminders are sent to your customers.

Send reminders before: How many days prior to payment due, suspension or cancellation events should payment reminders be sent. Separate multiple days by a comma.

Enable overdue period: Enable or disable an overdue period.

Overdue period length: Determines the overdue period’s length. The subscription will either be automatically suspended or cancelled after the overdue period.

Enable suspensions: Enables or disables a suspension period.

Suspension period length: Determines the suspension period’s length.


Subscriben comes with two gateways out of the box: Stripe and Paypal express checkout

Enable Stripe: Enable or disable Stripe as a payment gateway.

Enable PayPal Express Checkout: Enable or disable Paypal express checkout.

You can configure the settings for each gateway by clicking the ‘Settings’ link.

Managing subscriptions

Viewing subscriptions

Clicking Subscriptions from the WordPress admin menu will take you to a list of all your subscriptions — including inactive ones:

Filtering subscriptions

Subscriben allows you to filter your subscription list in two primary ways: searching and preset filters.


Subscriben allows you to search your subscription list using the search box provided:

You can search your subscription list using two different types of search: free search or context search

Free search

A free search will try to find a match by searching all of the following fields: subscription ID, product name, variation ID, username and related order IDs

Context Search

Sometimes you need more precision with your searches; so using a context search allows you to state a specific field to search.

To perform a context search prepend a context keyword to your search term followed by a colon:

The following context keywords are available:

subscription: Searches the Subscription ID field

user: Searches the User ID field

name: Searches the username field

order: Searches the related orders IDs

product: Searches the product ID

variation: Searches the variation ID

Preset filters

Subscriben allows you to filter your subscription list using preset filters:

There are two preset filters to choose from: filter by date and filter by status.

Click the filter’s drop-down menu and select the filter you wish to use then press the ‘Filter’ button:

Your subscription list will now be filtered based on your selection.

Editing subscriptions

Clicking on a subscription ID will take you to the Edit Subscription page.

The edit subscription page is divided into four areas: Subscription Details, Subscription Items, Subscription Actions and Transactions.

Subscription Details

The subscription details section gives you general information about the subscription such as when the subscription was taken out, the customer attached to the subscription, the subscription’s scheduled events and more as can be seen in the screenshot:

Subscription Items

This lists all the items associated with the current subscription

It is also possible to edit the quantity, total and tax for each item. This change will then be reflected in the next generated order.

Subscription Actions

The subscription actions allows you to perform certain actions on the subscription such as pausing, resuming, cancelling and sending to trash.


This lists all the different transactions related to this particular subscription. Different outcomes are indicated by different background colours. For example, green means success. The most recent transaction is at the top of the list.

Product and Checkout page

Subscriben makes several changes to the product page and checkout page. The changes indicate that a subscription is being purchased and give customers pertinent information about the subscription such as the billing cycle and setup fees.

An example of a product page changed by Subscriben:

£9.99 / 12 months with a sign-up fee of £4.99

On the above screenshot, you can see that not only does it display its regular price (£9.99) but it tells you how often that price is to be paid (every 12 months) and the cost of the sign-up fee (£4.99).

Here’s what the same product looks like at the checkout:

You can see the same information from the product page in the ‘Price’ column.

In the ‘Subtotal’ column you can see the total amount that is to be paid now (£14.98), the cost of each recurring payment (£9.99) and how often the recurring payment will be made (every 12 months).