Setting up Scheduled Payments with Authorize.Net

Authorize.Net is the most widely-used payment gateway provider on the Internet. Your customers will be able use their credit card to make payments through the Authorize.Net system or pay directly from a bank account with the eCheck.Net system.

This article will cover the following action steps you will take to set up payment processing with Authorize.Net:

  Authorize.Net Details
  Adding Privacy & Refund Policies
  Sign up & Set up
  Creating a Schedule
  Formatting Misc Settings
  Final Steps

Note - To see a comparison of all of the Member Assembler Checkout options read the article "Checkout Options Explained".

Authorize.Net Details

Authorize.Net is similar to other popular online payment software in that it allows for secure checkout options for your customers. Using Authorize.Net with Small Farm Central gives the ability for your customers to choose Automated Scheduled Payments. This payment plan eliminates the hassle of requesting members to pay their subscription balances. Through Authorize.Net, the customer's credit card information is stored securely and then automatically charged on future dates that the customer agreed to when they signed up.

Since Authorize.Net is a payment gateway only, you will need another company, a Merchant Account provider, to process the transactions that go through the system and transfer money from your customers' credit card banks to yours. This could be your bank, if you already have credit card processing capability for your farm, or Small Farm Central can help you set up a merchant account. Small Farm Central uses Total Merchant Services to set up merchant accounts. The application process takes about an hour and can be done by Small Farm Central support staff over the phone.

This process of signing up for Authorize.Net and a credit card gateway may seem a bit tedious, but your processing rate will be lower by using Authorize.Net instead of a more simple online payment processor like PayPal. Small Farm Central will walk you through the entire set up process and you won't need to deal with the folks at Authorize.Net if you would prefer not to. (For a comparison of payment software options, read the article "Authorize.Net vs. Paypal" in the Ecommerce section of the Knowledge Base.)

Privacy & Refund Policies

In order for to "accept" your farm as a legitimate financial organization, you'll need to post a few new things to your site: your farm description, your privacy policy, and your refund/cancellation policy. You will be able to do all of the following steps in the "Authorize.Net Settings" page. To get there, log in to the Control Panel and navigate to:

   Member Assembler > Scheduled Payments > Authorize Config

Once you are on the page, skip over the "Login Name" and "Transaction Key" fields. We will enter that information in later once you have signed up with Authorize.Net. These two fields are shaded in the screenshot below:

   Figure 1. Authorize.Net Settings Page with Login & Transaction Key Shaded

Follow these instructions to "legitimize" your website:

  1. Add your farm description. You may have already done this when you first created your website with Small Farm Central, but if not write about your farm in the text editor here.

  2. Add your privacy policy. A default privacy statement will automatically appear in the text editor. Review the policy and adjust accordingly to your farm's procedures. Be sure to add your contact information at the bottom of the agreement.

  3. Add your refund policy. Outline what your requirements are for requesting a refund.

When you're finished with all three sections, don't forget to click the Save Changes button!

Sign Up & Set Up

After setting up your policies and securing a new merchant account send us your login information and you can skip this step. (To set up a merchant account, call Small Farm Central Farmer Support at 412.567.3864 or read the "Credit Card Account Options with Total Merchant Services" article in the Member Assembler Tools section of the Knowledge Base.) Otherwise, head to www.Authorize.Net to sign up.

The signup process for Authorize.Net can be confusing; if you have any questions along the way, feel free to call Farmer Support at 412.567.3864 or send us an email to

One of the first screens will ask you about signing up for "value-added products", including Automated Recurring Billing (ARB) and an Advanced Fraud Detection Suite (AFDS). The only value-added product you need is the Customer Information Manager (CIM), which you can add on once your account is approved. When you are finished with sign up, Authorize.Net will process your information. This will typically take 7 to 10 business days (2 to 3 days for Authorize.Net's approval and 5-7 business days for credit card processors).

Once your information has been processed, you will need to retrieve your Authorize.Net "API Login Name" and "Transaction Key". To do so, log in to your account and follow these instructions:

  1. Click the Account tab along the top

  2. Under Security Settings, click the link called "API Login ID and Transaction Key".

  3. Answer the security question that you provided earlier.

  4. Copy the text strings that appear on the next page.

  5. Log in to your Control Panel and navigate to:

       Member Assembler > Scheduled Payments > Authorize Config

    Paste those two codes into the appropriate fields on the Authorize.Net Settings page. Make sure you don't have an extra space at the end of each field.

Note: When you initially created your account, it was created in 'test mode'. You'll need to turn the 'test mode' off, when you are ready to test your automated payment. Look for the red 'test mode' box when you are logged in to your Authorize.Net account. You will also need to enable Authorize.Net's Customer Information Manager (CIM) package. This service allows Authorize.Net to store credit card information for your members in a secure area and then charge these credit cards later in the payment schedule. This is absolutely essential for the Automated Scheduled Payments service to work.

Creating a Payment Schedule

Now that you are set up with Authorize.Net, it's time to create your payment schedule. Log in to the Control Panel and navigate to:

   Member Assembler > Scheduled Payments > Schedule Template

This will take you to the Schedule Template page. See below:

Schedule_Template_2_sharp.png    Figure 2. Schedule Template Page

Follow these instructions to set up your payment schedule:

  1. Add a Description. For example: Fall Signups.

  2. Add a down-payment. You can enter a dollar amount or a percentage by choosing from the drop-down menu under the textbox. For more information about down-payments, read the "Configuring Checkout & Creating Coupons" article in the Getting Started with the Member Assembler section of the Knowledge Base.

  3. Choose the first payment date. This is when the first payment after the original down-payment will be made.

  4. Choose how often payments will recur. You can schedule payments to come in every month, bi-weekly, bi-monthly, every six weeks, every three months, or weekly.

  5. Enter the number of total payments. Along with the payment frequency that you just selected, this will determine how much money is paid at each interval and how long payments are made. For example, 3 monthly payments of a balance (after the downpayment) of $750 would equal to $250 paid each month for 3 months, while 10 bi-weekly payments of a balance of $750 would equal to $75 every other week for 5 months.

  6. To see how your payment schedule would work out, enter a sample balance for preview and make sure that the box next to "Enable schedule template for new signups" is unchecked. This will allow you to see the breakdown of your payments, before enabling it and making it 'live' on your website. Here is an example of a payment schedule using a balance of $700 paid over 3 months:

Schedule_Template_Preview_sharp.png    Figure 3. Schedule Preview for Sample Balance

If you need to make changes to your schedule, simply adjust the settings for the "Current Schedule Template". Once you're happy with your "Schedule Preview", check the box "Enable schedule template for new signups". This will make the Scheduled Payments an option when your customers check out.

Formatting Misc Settings

There are a few additional options that you might want to review before going live with your Scheduled Payments. To view these options, navigate to:

   Member Assembler > Scheduled Payments > Misc. Settings

  • Set the default payment type. This means that whatever payment option you chose will be the first option shown. You can choose from Choose "Pay in Full" or "Payment Schedule". The other types of payments will be available by customers clicking on a link below the default payment method.

  • Suppress your payment notification. An email is sent to the customer 7 days before each payment is scheduled to make sure they are aware of the charge. Check this box if you DO NOT want to send this email reminder to your customers. Small Farm Central recommends sending these emails sent so your customers know when they will be charged, so leave this box unchecked in normal circumstances.

  • Hiding American Express or Discover as payment options for your customers. You may not be able to process these types of cards, depending on what you have set up with your merchant account. Check these boxes if your cannot process one or both of these credit cards.

  • Edit your outgoing "Successful Checkout" message. This email is sent to your customers after they finish the checkout process successfully. This email is in addition to the email they'll receive about their order.

Final Steps

Now that you have added your refund policies to your site, received approval from, and created a Schedule Template, it's time to test out your payment process. You should test out the order process COMPLETELY. This means checking out and paying as though you were a customer. Use a valid credit can void the transaction after you've completed the process and received a successful order confirmation email.

Before you begin, you will need to make sure that you are offering Member Assembler Payments as an option in your checkout configuration. To do so, navigate to:

   Member Assembler > Configure > Checkout

If Member Assembler Payments is not listed as a payment option for your membership sign-ups, select it from the drop-down menu and click the Submit Changes button at the bottom of the page.

Now, head to the public side of your site and do a test sign up. Click the "Go to Public Site" link at the top of the Control Panel and navigate through the Membership Sign-up process. When you get to the checkout page, click on the "Member Assembler Payments" button to complete your sign-up.

After you submit your payment, you should receive a confirmation email for your purchase. This is the email that would normally be sent to the customer. Since you are also the farmer or site administrator, you will also receive an email confirmation informing you that an order has been placed.

If the email confirmations were sent properly, it means that your Automated Payment Schedule is working! If something seems amiss, it would be a good idea to disable Member Assembler Payments as a payment option, at least until you have solved the issue. If you tested a signup with a schedule of payments, it's probably a good idea to also delete that test membership so your card does not get charged on schedule, even if you voided the down payment.

Remember: If you have any questions, feel free to call Farmer Support at 412.567.3864 or send us an email to

Ready to move on? Click on another article below: