Take Recurring Payments via PayPal

***NOTE - Our recommended method for taking payment for your courses is Stripe. On any paid plan you can take payment via PayPal, but currently we can only support one-off payments via PayPal (no subscriptions or payment plans). This is something we're working to change but, in the meantime, if you want to take recurring payments via PayPal you can do that using our Business-level Zapier integration***

Before getting started, make sure to read this article on getting started with Zapier:

Then follow the specific instructions below for linking PayPal to Thinkific via Zapier:

1. Log into your Zapier account and create a new Zap.

2. Choose Paypal as your Trigger App.

3. Select the Paypal Trigger for "Successful Sale".

4. Copy-and-paste the IPN URL provided in Zapier into your PayPal IPN Settings. To do that, in a different tab open PayPal and navigate to Profile > Profile and Settings > My Selling Tools > Instant Payment Notifications (IPN). Paste the URL given to you by Zapier into the Notification URL and save. 

Important: This is assuming you're not using the direct PayPal integration. If you plan to do both you will need to follow Zapier's instructions on how to use multiple IPN's with PayPal.

5. Test a payment through PayPal and verify it in Zapier.

6. Open the menu for your Zap and click the + icon to "Add a Filter or an Action".

7. Choose "Formatter" as an Action app.

8. Select "Utilities" as your Formatter by Zapier Action.

9. Select "Lookup Table' under Transform.

10. Under Lookup Key select "Item Names" for the PayPal Successful Sale.

11. In the Lookup Table, in the left-hand column type in your PayPal Item Name as specified in PayPal.

Important: Your Item Name in PayPal must match the course name exactly as it is in Thinkific (case-sensitive) for this step to work. Zapier is looking up the Item Name in Paypal within this Lookup Table to then create a Custom Value that will specify which course to enrol a student on in Thinkific.

12. In the right-hand column type in the product ID number. To find the product ID, open your course landing page in an incognito window and right-click the buy button. Select Copy Link Address Paste and then paste the link into your computer's notepad for safe-keeping. The last string of numbers in the URL is your product ID.

13. Continue to fill in the Lookup Table for all courses you're selling through PayPal.

14. (Optional) You can also set a "Fallback Value". This will be returned if your search yields no results.

Note: For more information on using the Lookup Table refer to Zapier's documentation on Formatter functions.

13. Add another Action to your Zap from the left-hand Zap menu.

14. Select Thinkific as your Action App.

15. Select Enroll User as your Action.

16. Connect your Thinkific account.

17. Under Products, use the dropdown to scroll down to Formatter and select Step 2: Item Name.

Note: After you save your Zap this will change into "Output" like so:

18. Use the dropdown to select First Name, Last Name and Payer Email from the Paypal Sale Values. 

19. You also have the option to fill in Expiry Date, Company and Password. 

20. Continue and test out your Zap.

21. After testing your Zap and receiving a "Test Successful" message, open your Thinkific admin. You should see that the test student was successful created and enrolled in Thinkific with the correct details.

Once your Zap is successful, you'll want to insert a link to your Paypal checkout on your course or bundle landing page so users can purchase your product. A simple way to do this is to insert an image of a button and the hyperlink it to your PayPal checkout page. Alternatively, if you're comfortable with coding, you can edit your site's HTML/CSS through the theme editor to customize the button that is showing up on the banner. You can take a look at this article for more info on how to make customizations on your site. Note that theme customizations are outside of the scope of what we support, but we have a marketplace of third-party experts that may be able to help you out :)

If you have any questions about getting your Zap set up, we're here to help.

5 people have this question

I have a question regarding this process.

I understand that the steps included here trigger the enrolment of the new user using PayPal as a payment method, but there's nothing mentioned about the process of recurring payments.

Does the recurring payment happen automatically based on the expiry date of the bundle (in my case), or is there another process or Zap that needs to be created for the recurring payments to happen?

Am I missing something about how the recurring portion of the payment is triggered?



Hi Dave!

In terms of recurring payments handled outside of Thinkific - in this case utilizing PayPal, the only thing required is that the Expiry Date for the enrolment is extended (or not expired) so when the Zap or trigger of a successful payment in PayPal is made - it will again extend that expiry date. If the payment fails, or the Zap is not completed for the payment, then the expiry date would not be extended and the student would then lose access on that day.

Hope that helps!

Hi. How do I put my custom paypal button to the Course Landing Page?

Hi Arthur

For something such as this, you are creating your own 'Call  to Action' buttons or essentially replacing what the Enrol or Buy buttons do. You will need both the HTML script from PayPal as well as some degree of comfort with HTML to handle this. Note though that just adding the link onto a page is not going to register them into the course and only doing this through Thinkific's checkout flow, manual enrolment or using Zapier will do this so you will need to make sure you have a process and setup to handle that aspect.

Hi! Is there a script variable that I can retrieve in order to set which Paypal button to activate? As each course has different price, I created different buttons in Paypal.

I am trying to set a script in the HTML ( Sections->Banner) that will add the Paypal button but I would need a variable to see how much the current course is set too? Can you please let me know how to go about this issue?

Thanks in advance!

Hi Debbie

You may want to contact our support desk directly however in this case, if you are using PayPal and have different 'buttons' or options created there, you should be able to copy or obtain the link of those buttons and then actually place them onto your Thinkific Landing Page. As you are not using the Thinkific checkout flow, then what the price is set to the course in Thinkific is not going to be used here.

Hi - can you please let me know when we can take recurring payments through PayPal without using Zapier?

Thanks heaps, Jane 

3 people like this

Hi Jane!

I don't have an ETA on that feature for you, unfortunately - it's definitely on our radar for future product development and I'll flag your message for the team as another nudge ;)



3 people like this

Hey thinkific team!

I'd just like to +1 Jane's request for reoccurring paypal payments without Zapier. 

There's a lot of money being left on the table here as a lot of people want to join my course but don't have a credit card and a one off payment just isn't practical.

Looking forward to any future updates! I'm sure i'm not the only one who will be extremely happy to see this implemented.



4 people like this

Hi again. How do I redirect a user to register first before using paypal and zapier? or will zapier do this for me?

Hi Debbie,

Users don't need to register first because the Zap that you've set up will create them a user account with your site. You will need to send the users to PayPal to pay you in the first place, though. How you do this really depends on whether you're using Thinkific's landing pages or an external site. If you have any questions about doing this, feel free to get in touch.