HomeBusinessBest payment processors for UK small businesses - 11 of the best

Best payment processors for UK small businesses – 11 of the best

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UPDATED: Now that your business is ready to take payments, it’s time to think about how you’ll be processing payments. Alternatively, you might just want to change your current payment system. But how do you know which are the best payment processors for UK small businesses right now?

You’ll find that payment processors perform largely the same tasks, but it could be a single feature – or the cost – that’ll ultimately steer your final decision.

Knowing what’s on the market will help get you going, which is why we’ve compiled a list of the most widely recognised systems. But first: a quick definition.

Why getting up to speed on card payments is essential for SMEsIn this piece, in association with Boost Capital, we look at why card payment technology is crucial for small businesses to stay ahead of the curve

Setting up card payments for retail and online selling Find out how to set up and get the most out of a POS system for your retail or hospitality business

What payment processor should I go for?

Let’s compare some of the best payment processors for UK small businesses on the market, focusing on cost, pros, cons and what kind of payments the system is best suited to.

Or, if you feel like you’re ready to decide, why not get quotes today? All you need to do is provide us with some basic info about your business in the form at the top of the page and we’ll match you with the best providers for your needs. 


WorldPay

What is it? WorldPay has specialist small business packages which you can fit to your requirements.

You can choose your equipment and pricing plan. You’ve got your pick of countertop card machines, portable card machines, mobile card machines and Pax terminals.

It can also take a variety of global payments. You can accept Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, Diners’ Club International, Discover, China Union Pay, JCB and American Express (with a separate agreement).

How much does it cost? WorldPay offers the Simplicity Payment Gateway which can be bought as a standard package or a bespoke item:

Simplicity Payment Gateway (£19.95 a month)

It has:

  • Free next business day settlement
  • No set-up fee
  • Visa Checkout
  • PayPal
  • Digital payment links
  • Phone payments
  • Standard fraud management tools
  • Support service

Bespoke

Many of the features on the other package, plus:

  • Lowest transaction fee based on volumes
  • Bespoke set-up available
  • Advanced fraud management tools
  • 24/7 support line
  • Fully customisable
  • Account management

Pros: Strong customer reviews on TrustPilot, can deal with all types of different payments with one merchant ID.

Cons: Auto renewal can catch some customers out unless they write to WorldPay 30 days before contract end telling them they don’t want to renew, reports of pushy salespeople.

Best for: Medium-sized businesses with consistent transaction levels all year round or more established businesses with higher transaction volumes and more complex needs.

Compare payment processor quotes


Small Business Pro

What is it? Small Business Pro is an all-in-one solution for entrepreneurs, allowing you to take payments with some of the lowest rates on the market, organise your appointments and invoices you’ll even have the chance of winning a £2,500 grant every month.

How much does it cost?

Small Business Pro has two packages depending on the size of your business:

Sole Trader
(excluding employment disputes)

£39.99 (including VAT) per month

1 to 30 employees
(including employment disputes)

£49.99 (including VAT) per month

Pros: Save over £30 per month with an all-in-one package.

Cons: Not suitable for businesses with over 30 employees.

Best for: Construction, healthcare and beauty, coaches and freelancers, hospitality, retail and market traders, taxis and driving instructors


Zettle

What is it? Zettle by PayPal (formerly iZettle) offers up a point of sale, card reader, invoicing and an ecommerce platform. Manage your inventory, send abandoned cart emails and get a better grasp of your performance with real-time sales analytics. It has the ability to generate sales reports, do inventory management and track staff performance.

How much does it cost?

Zettle Payment Terminal (£149 a month + VAT)

  • All-in-one reader and POS service
  • No monthly fee
  • 1.75 per cent transaction fee

It has:

  • Preloaded SIM card in case WiFi is unavailable. Mobile usage covered in original policy
  • Terminal with built-in barcode scanner for speed and ease of transaction
  • POS app which helps to manage inventory and print receipts
  • Get bank deposits in 1-2 business days
  • Accepts PayPal QRC, Payment Links, Apple Pay and Google Pay

Zettle Card Reader 2 (£59 + VAT)

  • Card reader only
  • No monthly fee
  • 1.75 per cent transaction fee

It has:

  • Payment data encryption
  • Is tamper-proof
  • Capabilities to work with a range of POS apps
  • Integrates with platforms you may already use including Lightspeed, Quickbooks and BigCommerce
  • 12-month warranty

Pros: This payment processing platform has no contract and the ability to integrate with Xero and Shopify. It’s also compatible with iOS and Android, accepting Samsung, Google and Apple Pay. It has a visually pleasing design and you get deposits to your bank account in one-two business days.

Cons: The only phone support is available 9am-5pm Monday to Friday.

Best for: Food and drink, retail, health and beauty and service-based businesses that run on multiple platforms.

Compare payment processor quotes


Square

What is it? With Square, you set up an account and buy a reader online or in-store. You’ve got the option to take payments in person, over the phone, by invoice or online. The basic version comes with free real-time analytics as well as inventory and location management.

How much does it cost?

  • Chip and PIN, mobile and contactless payments in person: 1.5 per cent
  • Manually entered transactions: 2.5 per cent
  • Online payments with UK cards: 1.4 per cent + 25p
  • Online payments with non-UK cards: 2.5 per cent + 25p

Pros: Square is an easy to use payment gateway with quick launch and a free magnetic stripe reader which accepts international cards. Invoicing and virtual terminal are also included. Integrate Xero and Synder, elect to get your money the next business day.

Cons: Reviews on Trustpilot reveal that customer service is poor

Best for: Small businesses with less consistent sales who want to start up quickly.

Compare payment processor quotes


Stripe

What is it? Stripe is a payment solution for online payments which is customisable with applications and third-party integrations.

How much does it cost? Depending on the size and sales volume of your business, you’ve got two options.

Standard

  • UK cards: 1.5 per cent + 20p
  • EU cards: 2.5 per cent + 20p
  • Link cards: 1.2 per cent + 20p
  • International cards: 3.25 per cent + 20p

Customised

You can design a custom package for your business if you have large payments volume or unique business needs. Base it on volume discounts, interchange pricing, multi-product discounts and country-specific rates.

Pros: It offers simplicity, with customised billing plans for membership and subscriptions, rolling bank transfers which can be made weekly or monthly depending on when you want to get paid. Stripe also offers integration with the mobile app, uses over 135 different currencies and customers don’t need a Stripe account in order to pay, so the process is seamless. There are no setup fees, monthly fees or hidden fees to worry about either.

Cons: The chargeback policy may lead to some aggravation. You’ll be charged £20 for any disputed transactions (from April 10, 2023).

Best for: Online businesses with access to a developer.

Compare payment processor quotes


GoCardless

What is it? Collect one-off or recurring payments with GoCardless, with a package specifically geared at small businesses.

How much does it cost?

Standard

  • 1% + £/€0.20 per transaction
  • 2% + £/€0.20 per transaction for international transactions

Advanced

  • 1.25% + £/€0.20 per transaction
  • 2.25% + £/€0.20 per transaction for international transactions

Pro

  • 1.4% + £/€0.20 per transaction
  • 2.4% + £/€0.20 per transaction for international transactions

Pros: Has integrations with Xero, QuickBooks, Sage and Salesforce, successfully collects 99 per cent of one-off payments and 97 per cent of recurring payments are collected first time, customisable packages, no set-up costs.

Cons: Takes a while for payments to clear, limits to how many currencies it can accept, can be difficult to track payments.

Best for: Small businesses looking for ease.

Compare payment processor quotes


Amazon Pay

What is it? I’m sure this payment system needs little explanation. Customers on Amazon Pay can make purchases using their Amazon account on eligible websites and apps and do their shopping by voice with Amazon Pay for Alexa Skills.

How much does it cost? If your monthly payment volume is under £50,000, your payment processing fee will be 2.7 per cent and the authorisation fee will be 30p per transaction.

If it’s over £50,000, then you can apply to Amazon for a payment volume discount.

Cross-border fees

Amazon Pay also charges cross-border fees for sales outside the UK of up to 1.5 per cent.

Amazon Pay cross-border fee

Aland Islands, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden 0.4%
Austria, Belgium, Canada, Channel Islands, Cyprus, Estonia, France (including French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Réunion and Mayotte), Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Portugal, Montenegro, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, United States, Vatican City State 0.5%
Andorra, Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine 1.0%
Rest of the world 1.5%

Source: Amazon

Currency conversion

Amazon charges a currency conversion set at 0.5 per cent above its bank’s wholesale exchange rate.

Chargeback dispute fee

If you dispute a chargeback claim not covered under Amazon’s payment protection policy, Amazon Pay charges a fixed fee of £14 + VAT to your merchant account.

Pros: Amazon Pay gets a huge boost from its name recognition – lots of people have an Amazon account. Shopping is quick and easy if the user is already logged in, but you can embed a “buy now” button on your site to make purchasing even easier. It’s also high security, offers merchant protection, and integrates with Shopify and BigCommerce

Cons: Amazon Pay can be quite a target for fraudsters. You may find your account being shut down without prior warning for security reasons, there’s no PayPal support and the transaction fee is pretty high.

Best for: Online retail businesses

Compare payment processor quotes

You can find the right card payments provider for you with takepayments.


Shopify Payments

What is it? Shopify Payments allows you to accept credit cards directly with Shopify in contactless, Chip and PIN or by swiping the customer’s card.

Offers online payments solutions and ecommerce as well as a point of sale system.

How much does it cost?

The standard prices are listed below. However, using Shopify Payments removes the commission Shopify takes on top of payment gateway fees. That’s 2 per cent on Basic, 1 per cent on Shopify and 0.5 per cent on Advanced.

Basic

  • Monthly cost: £25 (£1 per month for the first three months)
  • Online credit card transaction fees: 2 per cent +25p
  • In-person credit card fees: 1.7 per cent + 0p in person

Shopify

  • Monthly cost: £65 (£1 per month for the first three months)
  • Online credit card transaction fees: 1.7 per cent + 25p
  • In-person credit card fees: 1.6 per cent + 0p in person

Advanced

  • Monthly cost: £344 (£1 per month for the first three months)
  • Online credit card transaction fees: 1.5 per cent + 25p
  • In-person credit card fees: 1.5 per cent + 0p in person

Pros: You can set up Shopify Payments instantly and try it out free for three days. Your customers can still pay through another payment system if they prefer. However, using Shopify Payments removes extra transaction fees.

Cons: Shopify also has chargeback fees of £10 per chargeback and, like Stripe, if the decision doesn’t go your way, you lose the fee.

Best for: Online retail businesses

Compare payment processor quotes


SumUp

What is it? SumUp offers card readers that can be used on-site or on the go.

How much does it cost?

No contract

Transaction fees of between 1.69 per cent and 2.5 per cent when you take a payment using a SumUp card reader but no monthly charges or contract.

  • £0 monthly cost
  • Card readers 1.69 per cent
  • POS Lite 1.69 per cent
  • Tap to pay on iPhone 1.69 per cent

SumUp One

Lower fees if you take out a cancel-anytime subscription plan.

  • £19 monthly cost
  • Card readers 0.79 per cent
  • POS Lite 0.79 per cent
  • Tap to pay on iPhone 0.79 per cent

POS Pro

  • £49.99 monthly cost
  • Card readers custom
  • POS Lite custom
  • Tap to pay on iPhone custom

Pros: SumUp’s offering has a fixed transaction rate which is lower than its competitors and no monthly fee. It also has paperless onboarding and no contractual obligations. The Air can process over 500 transactions on a single charge while the Solo card reader has unlimited mobile data and WiFi connectivity.

Cons: There’s no phone support on weekends or late evenings and their social media feeds have several complaints about poor customer service.

Best for: Remote businesses, such as freelance beauticians or food vans.

Compare payment processor quotes


Adyen

What is it? Adyen has the ability to take online payments and in-person with a POS system. If your customer is paying online, they can do so through the web, in-app, pay by link or subscription. It also has AI-powered fraud protection.

How much does it cost?

You’ll be charged a processing fee of €0.11 (10p) plus a fee depending on what payment method you use (MasterCard/Visa 0.3-0.4 per cent, American Express 3.95 per cent)  

Pros: Adyen has no monthly fee and no set-up, integration or closure fees.

Cons: With the fees it does charge, it’s expensive for businesses with lower volumes of sales. Plus, it’s no good for high-risk merchants (ones that get a significant number of chargebacks) as you’re more likely to get blocked. The system is not really designed for brand-new start-ups – you must a minimum of 1,000 transactions a month to keep your account in good standing. Reviews on TrustPilot say that the customer service is lacking.

Best for: Better for larger SMEs, not start-ups.

Compare payment processor quotes


Cybersource

What is it? Owned by Visa, Cybersource allows you to accept payments online, in-person and via mobile throughout the world. Automated screening helps you prevent fraud and Click to Pay allows customers to pay faster without account details or passwords, meaning more satisfied customers and a lower likelihood of abandoned carts.

How much does it cost?

Contact Cybersource directly to find out pricing.

Pros: Cybersource has payment acceptance in over 160 countries around the world in more than 50 currencies.  

Cons: Larger sales volumes incur larger fees and it’s available on a long contract. On top of that, you can’t access transactions that are more than six months old, no free trial.

Best for: More established small business who have developers.

Compare payment processor quotes


Opayo

What is it? Opayo (formerly Sage Pay) offers solutions for online payments, card terminals, phone and point of sale.

How much does it cost?

Pricing plans are split as follows:

Face-to-face payments

  • Start Simple: No monthly fee and 1.75 per cent transaction fee, £29 one-off device fee
  • Business Booster: From £15 per month for two card machines with a 0.99 per cent transaction fee
  • Operate Smarter: £40 per month for tablet-sized terminal with a one per cent transaction fee
  • Business Control: £62 per month with a 15.6″ talech Register touchscreen with a 1.2 per cent transaction fee

Payments online (also covers payments over the phone and by mail)

  • Always Open – fixed: £25 per month, from 0.99 per cent transaction fee, no joining fee, 350 free transactions
  • Always – Pay as you go: £0 with transaction fee from 1.99 per cent, £0.12 gateway click fee, £99 one-off joining fee
  • Pros: No hidden fees, 24/7 telephone support available, quick to set up, strong customer service reviews on Trustpilot.

Cons: Opayo is more expensive than Sage Pay was.

Best for: Small businesses who want to go with a trusted name.

Compare payment processor quotes

Easily find the right card payments provider for you with takepayments.

Further reading on payments

Five tips to get started taking card payments
High risk merchant accounts: What you need to know
How to set up a POS system for your small business

Looking to take card payments?

Click your monthly turnover to get free quotes

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