With so many merchant account providers each offering a slightly different service it can be tricky to find the one that’s just right for your business. Below we compare over 30 providers, looking at their specialties and key features to help you find one that best suits your business. Use the list below as a quick and easy comparison tool to help you narrow down the selection to only those that offer services suited to your business.
If there is a provider you’re particularly interested in and would like to read more about feel free to use the menu below by simply clicking on the provider’s name and jump ahead.
Most Frequently Searched Providers 1. WorldPay 2. Streamline 3. Sage Pay 4. First Data 5. PayPal UK 6. iZettle 7. Stripe 8. Square Further Options & Providers 9. Card Cutters 10. Payment Sense 11. Payzone 12. Handepay 13. Barclaycard 14. EVO Payments 15. Axcess Merchant Services 16. Monek 17. Elavon 18. Retail Merchant Services 19. NetPay Merchant Services 20. Lloyds Bank Cardnet 21. Shopify POS 22. Co-operative Bank Merchant Services 23. Allied Irish Bank Merchant Services 24. Secure Trading 25. Fidelity Payment Services 26. Universal Transaction Processing 27. Global Payments 28. Independent Merchant Services 29. Natwest Merchant Services 30. RBS Merchant Services 31. Metro Bank Merchant Services
Which Merchant Account is the best?
There is no one-size-fits all when it comes to payment processing. Some businesses opt for a flat-fee only and are not interested in the % cut that providers may take. Generally speaking, larger businesses tend to be on a % fee model due to the payment volume they do, in some cases if the business is large enough they are more likely to negotiate the total % taken by the merchant account provider down.
Another aspect to consider is what your companies profile is; for example, you may ask ‘Can I get a merchant account with bad credit?’ and the answer is possibly, what you’d be in the market for is a high risk merchant account.
Below are some of the most frequently searched merchant account providers, you may recognize some of the names and you may have looked into their services yourself. We’ve started this list with the 4 most popular providers in the U.K.
If you’ve been researching payment processing, the chances are you have come across Worldpay at some point. Worldpay is one of the worldwide leaders in payment technology and is responsible for handling over 40% of UK card payments. Worldpay is used and trusted by hundreds of thousands of small businesses although be aware of the early termination fee and long contract lengths.
|Provide online, mobile and in store payment options||Three-year contract|
|Flexible, tailored plans||Early termination fee|
|No joining fee|
|Secure – has fraud risk management services|
Fees for an 18-month contract on the Simplicity plan
- Monthly terminal rental fee – £17.50 and a “single rolled up transaction rate” with standard charges
- Monthly online payments gateway fee – £19.95 + 10p per transaction after the first 350 transactions
For more information visit the WorldPay website.
Although Streamline is a division of WorldPay, they offer their own card payment solutions for businesses.
|Provide training and install products to ensure optimal use and efficiency||No clear set prices|
|Several payment options|
|Accept all major cards|
Fees for an 18-month face-to-face contract
- Fixed monthly: £49.99 monthly fee
- Pay as you go: Once off £150 terminal admin fee + single transaction rate + transaction authorization fees
- Standard: £15.45 monthly terminal rental fee + variable transaction rate.
For more information visit the Streamline website.
Sage Pay offers safe and easy online services that allow a range of payment types to be accepted in over 25 currencies. It can be difficult to compare Sage Pay to other providers because they do not show all of their charges online, however you can request a quote for detailed information based on your situation.
|Accepts all payment types||3 month cancellation period|
|Online, phone, invoice and face to face payment solutions are available||No Sage Pay app is available for mobile|
|Funds are in your account within 2 working days||Contract length is not flexible|
Fees on the Sage Pay face-to-face simple pricing plan (no details provided as to length of contract)
- Flex – £20.90 per month
- Plus – £45 per month
- There is a 2.5% flat rate transaction fee for major credit cards, 1.99% on visa and MasterCard and a 40p charge for debit cards.
For more information visit the Sage Pay website.
The service offered by First Data is suitable for businesses of all sizes, they have over 20 years of experience with UK card payments and as a result offer a secure, efficient and user-friendly service. First Data offer support to high risk businesses, have flexible solutions for small businesses and have great e-commerce solutions with a higher level of security than many competitors.
|Several card terminals available including mobile and contactless||Non-cancellable contracts|
|e-commerce services available||High set up fee|
|Offer a range of services|
First Data offer custom solutions so pricing varies:
- Fees from 2% + 20p up to 3.5% + 40p
- Monthly fees from £15
- Terminal set up fee £150 – £300
For more information visit the First Data website.
Paypal is one of the top choices for startups and small businesses as it only requires a quick, online set up with no checks or start up fees. If you wish to use the Paypal Here machine this will cost £54 to purchase from the Paypal website.
|Easy and quick to set up||Startups pay a high transaction fee of 3.4% + 20p but this will lower as income rises (This rate will begin reducing once you reach a sales volume of 6,000).|
|Well known & widely recognised|
|International payments are accepted|
|Works with the Paypal Here mobile credit card machine|
Fees for face-to-face transactions:
- No monthly fee
- Transaction fee between 1% and 2.75%
For more information visit the Paypal UK website.
iZettle is a great option for businesses who require a way to accept only face-to-face card payments. This startup friendly solution does not use a payment gateway which means it cannot support ecommerce, however it does offer a simple and affordable face-to-face payment solution.
|Flat fee of 1.75% for cards and 2.5% for online invoices||Only suitable for face to face transactions|
|No monthly fees||Does not work with e-commerce|
|Cheap mobile card reader (around £30)|
Fee for iZettle services:
- iZettle reader costs £29
- Card transaction fee 1.75%
- E-commerce transaction fee 2.5%
iZettle do offer a Go PLUS service for £29 per month including warranty, e-commerce and premium support.
For more information visit the iZettle website.
Stripe is a popular option for online payments, with their low fees they are one of the cheapest options for startups. However, this option is not suited to everyone so be sure to consider the likelihood of needing to accept face to face payments for your business.
|Free reporting (online)||No credit card terminal|
|Easy integration with the majority of online shopping carts||No way to accept face to face payments|
|Low fees||Online only|
|Works with over 135 currencies|
Fees for Stripe pay as you go services:
- No setup or monthly fees
- Transaction fees: 1.4% + 20p for European cards and 2.9% + 20p for non-European cards
For more information visit the Stripe website.
Square is the most popular mobile card reader in the world, it is oriented towards small businesses and offers some of the best pricing and feature options in the current UK market.
|Straightforward pricing – no hidden or monthly fees||Targeted towards smaller businesses making it less suitable for larger businesses|
|Only transaction fees will apply (2.5% if the payment is online or keyed and 1.75% if the payment is made via chip or contactless).||No way to accept face to face payments|
|Accepts online and phone payments using POS app|
Fees for a Square Basic plan:
- Square reader: £39 + VAT
- Chip & Pin/ Contactless payments: 1.75%
- Virtual payments: 2.5%
For more information visit the Square website.
Although we have overviewed some of the most popular and most widely searched account providers, there are plenty of other options that are not far behind. Below we take a look at some of the other merchant account providers you may be interested in, including their fees and rates.
Card Cutters are known for being clear and upfront about their prices. Transparency is a very important factor and with no hidden fees there’s a good chance you can save some cash using their services.
|Competitively priced & transparent||Slow customer service response time|
|Offer payment solutions for online, phone and face to face||Card Cutters employs sales reps which can lead to a misrepresentation of the product|
|Offer short-term and seasonal packages|
Fees with Card Cutters:
- For the Payatrader card machine: £3 per week for rental or £199 to buy + £1.50 weekly charge
- For a virtual terminal: £10 per month + £0.15 transaction fee (the first 100 transactions are free)
- For ecommerce incl. virtual terminal: £19 per month + £0.09 transaction fee (the first 350 transactions are free)
For more information visit the Card Cutters website.
One of Europe’s leading providers, they also provide services to over 60,000 businesses in the UK. They have good customer service and an easy to use system but the locked-in contracts can cause problems for some customers. A great option for small businesses thanks to their capped rates and support services.
|Offer capped rates for their customers||Locked-in contracts|
|Quick and easy set up||High cancellation fees|
|Locked-in rate is guaranteed|
Fees with Payment Sense (rates may vary)
- Start package: £9.95 monthly fee or £8.30 in a 12-month contract
- Basic package: £14.95 monthly fee or £12.45 for a 12-month contract
- Pro package: £19.95 monthly fee or £16.60 for a 12-month contract.
For more information visit the Payment Sense website.
With over 25 years of experience handling payments within the UK, Payzone offer safe hands and great options for startups.
- No setup or exit fees
- Offer varying contract lengths from only 12 months
- No fixed rate plans
- Customer service has been reviewed as being a bit hit and miss
- Payzone will create a plan based on your needs, therefore they do not advertise pricing details.
For more information visit the Payzone website.
Handepay are confident in their money saving abilities, they are not only the provider people go to for low cost merchant services but they also have a pledge that they’ll give you £1,000 if they can’t save your business money.
- Minimal fees
- Offers all payment solutions from virtual, mobile, portable and countertop terminals to online for ecommerce.
- Automatic renewal of contracts
- 3 month notice for cancellation
- Early termination fee
- Handepay do not advertise their fees, however, they do state there are no joining fees, authorization fees, no minimum monthly service charge, no premiums for transactions without cards.
For more information visit the Handepay website.
Part of Barclays Bank, the Barclaycard offers computer, mobile and portable card machines. They offer a variety of services and the fees vary depending on the service chosen. Barclaycard is a service suitable for larger businesses, although they do have the pay as you go Barclaycard Anywhere card reader which may be suitable for startups.
- Comprehensive selection of services
- Contract length of 12 – 18 months
- Fraud prevention tools
- Early termination fee
- Some users have experienced difficulty cancelling their account
Fees for an 18-month contract
- Desktop card machine – £15 + VAT per month
- Portable card machine – £20 + VAT per month
- Mobile card machine – £25 + VAT per month
- Transaction fees vary based on volume and value.
- Barclaycard Anywhere – once of purchase £60 + VAT, pay as you go, 2.6% transaction fee
For more information visit the Barclaycard website.
This huge payment company handle $80 billion worth of transactions globally each year. This U.S. based company offer a range of solutions that allow businesses to easily accept multiple forms of payment.
- Great option for international merchants
- Price plans and bundles are available
- Early termination fee
- Expensive leases for hardware equipment
EVO Payments fees:
- EVO Payments do not advertise their fees online, however they do state they have pricing plans and all-inclusive bundles available.
For more information visit the EVO Payments website.
This UK company offers a range of services that can help you process payments from major bank cards in close to 180 currencies and with over 50 payment methods.
- Offers a huge range of services
- Work with almost 400 banks
- Offer solutions for high-risk businesses
- They do not publish their prices online
Axcess Merchant Services Fees:
- Axcess do not advertise their fees online, if you’d like to know more about their services and prices feel free to contact their team and request a quote.
For more information visit the Axcess Merchant Services website.
With a focus on ease, transparency and security Monek provide a clear service to help businesses process payments.
- All in one; one contract, one product and one platform
- Access to over 30 payment types
- Protection against fraud
- No options for a product tailored specifically to your needs
- Wifi terminal: from £18 per month
- Static terminal: from £12 per month
- Online payment standard processing account: £18.95 + VAT per month
For more information visit the Monek website.
Elavon is a very large credit card processor that is best suited to bigger businesses who process high volumes each month.
- Accepts most major card types
- No cancellation fees
- Safety and fraud prevention features
- Elavon does not return interchange fee refunds to you
- Transaction fees ranging between 2.55% – 3.75% + 10 – 19p
- Card readers from £25
- Monthly fee of £10 +
For more information visit the Elavon website.
This UK based merchant account provider was created by experts and primarily offers services suitable for small businesses who may struggle to qualify for an account with other providers. Even though they aim their services at micro-businesses the fees and other terms and conditions make this provider appear more well-suited to businesses with a higher cash flow.
- Card machines and virtual terminal available
- No set up fee
- Higher transaction fees than competitors (3.65% + 19p)
- Automatic contract renewal
- Early termination fees
Retail Merchant Services Fees:
- Transaction fees between 2.55% – 3.75% + 10 – 19p
- Card machines from £20 per month
For more information visit the Retail Merchant Services website.
NetPay is an award-winning company in the UK that offers solutions for all payment processing types. They offer a unique payment capability and 24/7 tech support. NetPay is powered by First Data and is now one of the leading independent sales organisations in the UK.
- One of the cheapest UK options
- Quick and easy set up
- Comprehensive range of products and services
- May not be small business friendly due to the minimum monthly charge
- Card processing fees: Consumer and business debit cards from 0.39% + 2.5p, consumer credit cards from 0.69% + 2.5p and business/ corporate credit cards from 2% + 2.5p.
- Terminal fees: Corded terminal from £8.99 + VAT per month, wireless from £14.99 + VAT per month and GPRS terminal from £16.99 + VAT per month.
- E-commerce fees: from £9.99 + VAT per month
For more information visit the Netpay website.
Lloyds Bank Cardnet is part of the large and well-known Lloyds Bank. They offer services for international transactions, online payments and card machine payments. They have a lot to offer businesses of all sizes, they have a great track record and offer a fixed rate for holders of a Lloyds Bank Business Account.
- Appealing, competitive rates
- Strong security
- Early termination fee
- Smaller businesses may experience high fees compared to a provider specifically geared towards SMEs.
- Lloyds Bank Cardnet do not advertise their prices online, however we did find the following information that can be used as a rough guide (quoted prices from 2016)
- Joining fee: £175
- Authorisation fee: 3p per transaction
- Termination fee: £200
For more information visit the Lloyds Bank Cardnet website.
Shopify POS is a great option for small businesses looking to sell online. It is easy to set up and has everything ready for you so even though the cost may be higher than competitors if you want a system that’s already up and running it could be a good option. You can also purchase a card reader to enable you to sell products offline too.
- Easy way to start an online store
- Suitable for small – medium sized businesses
- Shopify will host your website and handle everything for you
- Not well suited to cafes or restaurants
Shopify POS fees:
- The card reader costs around £79
- Transaction fees: Basic shopify 2.7%, Shopify 2.2% and advanced Shopify 1.6%.
For more information visit the Shopify website.
The Co-operative Bank has joined up with First Data to provide merchant services to customers. They provide solutions for businesses of all types and sizes and they can accept every card type.
- Transaction approval in less than 2 seconds
- Offer many services and resources
- Debit card purchases can be offered cashback
- Fraud screening feature
- Fees can be high
- High early termination fees
- Equipment leases are expensive
Co-operative Bank Merchant Services fees:
- Unfortunately, they do not advertise their fees online but you can request more information from their website.
For more information visit the Co-operative Bank Merchant Services website.
AIB is one of the largest payment solution providers in Ireland, offering many services throughout Ireland and UK. Services include mobile and counter top terminals, online payments and virtual terminals.
- Clear and well presented information
- Offer a range of solutions
- Great for established merchants
- Not suitable for high risk merchants
AIB Merchant Services Fees:
- Online small business bundle: £21.99 per month including 300 transactions, £0.20 per transaction after that.
- Online medium business bundle: £50.00 per month including 1,000 transactions, £0.15 per transaction after that.
For more information visit the AIB Merchant Services website.
This London-based provider serves e-commerce businesses and is a particularly good option for those with an ecommerce business selling high-risk products.
- Specialise in ecommerce
- Handles high-risk business’
- Good customer support
- Not suitable for face to face transactions
Secure Trading fees:
Although the fees are not advertised on the website, these were the 2017 fees.
- Standalone virtual terminal service from £10 per month.
- Merchant account setup fee: £75
- Transaction fee: Credit card from 2% and 25p per debit card transaction.
For more information visit the Secure Trading website.
This organization works in partnership with First Data and AIB, they have a range of products and services including countertop terminals and virtual terminals. Fidelity is a suitable option for businesses of all sizes and is a very good option for larger businesses who would like the services of First Data with a more personal touch.
- Tailored price plans
- Wide range of products
- Excellent customer support
- Early termination fee
Fidelity Payment Services fees:
- The fees vary depending on the merchant requirements, however there is a large early termination fee to keep in mind.
For more information visit the Fidelity website.
This provider is a great option for retailers in the UK, they offer multiple services and options and work with Barclays Bank.
- UK banking partner
- Individually tailored pricing and contract terms
- Offers multiple payment options for retailers
- There have been complaints of hidden fees and high rates from past customers
Universal Transaction Processing fees:
- The rates and fees are not advertised online, however customers interested in the service can request a quote via the website.
For more information visit the Universal Transaction Processing website.
This American company has a UK headquarters and boasts a 1/5 share in transaction value in the UK. They offer two services for face to face transactions as well as two services for digital transactions.
- Multiple options
- High level security features
- Rapid card processing
- High termination fee
Global Payments fees:
- Transaction fees from 1.1% – 3.3% + 19p
- Monthly fee from £10 per month per service
- Termination fee starting from £250
For more information visit the Global Payments website.
This entirely independent service provider aims to help you find the right merchant account, so they do not actually offer merchant accounts themselves. However, this may be a useful service for businesses who are searching for the right merchant account provider and would like unbiased advice from experts.
- Help you find a suitable merchant account provider
- Independent service
- Excellent customer support and loyalty
- Do not actual offer merchant accounts themselves
Independent Merchant Services Fees
- No exit fees
- Do not charge for their services
- Offer a free review on your current merchant provider to see if they can find a better price for you.
For more information visit the Independent Merchant Services website.
The merchant services offered by Natwest are in partnership with Worldpay.
- 24/7 support from a UK based helpdesk
- No hidden fees
- Card transactions clear within 2 working days
- All services are with Worldpay, so it is them you’d be working with not Natwest
- You need to buy out the contract you no longer want and pay an additional fee
- High monthly fee
Natwest Merchant Services Fees:
- Transaction rates from 2.75% + 20p
- Debit card processing at 0.75%
- PDQ terminals from £17.45 per month
For more information visit the Natwest Merchant Services website.
World Pay and Streamline provide the RBS merchant services. They have thorough systems that work to prevent against fraud even with the high processing speeds.
- High speed processing
- Payments are sent directly to the account of your company
- Systems ensure your company is protected
- Better suited to larger businesses
- RBS do not advertise their prices online as they calculate rates based on requirements.
For more information visit the RBS Merchant Services website.
Metro Bank work with independent company acceptcards to offer their merchant services.
- Offer competitive rates
- Range of card terminals available
- Friendly and helpful customer service and advice
- Very little online information available
Metro Bank Merchant Services fees:
- Metro Bank do not advertise their prices online but do have an online merchant services contact form that customers can fill it to receive more information.
For more information visit the Metro Bank Merchant Services website.