Back in 2009, George Karibian and Jan Farrarons decided to set up a payment processing company that supported small businesses. They could see that bank fees were far more favourable to larger corporations than they were to independent SMEs, so the duo saw an opportunity to make a marked change.
From its humble beginnings, Paymentsense has grown dramatically in the past decade. The UK-based company (and agent of First Data Europe Ltd) now help over 60,000 small business clients to power their card processing, dealing with over £5 billion worth of credit card payments every single year.
In this article, I'm going to review Paymentsense, taking a dive into their fee structure, and their product and service range, as well as looking at what customers have said about them online.
What is Paymentsense?
As a merchant service provider, Paymentsense wears two hats:
- They acquire customers for their partner firms.
- They handle the payment process and technical support on behalf of the banks.
Basically, they act as a middleman that facilitates the process between merchant account providers and the small business customers - they do the hard work for you.
Since Paymentsense represents a large volume of small business clients, they are able to use this cumulative buyer power to negotiate fair, affordable transaction fees. Signing on with Paymentsense means you can harness the power of the collective to lower your card processing fees, which you wouldn't be able to do as an independent trader acting alone.
Paymentsense has a wide range of products and services to streamline card processing for SMEs (including in-store, online, and phone payments), which we'll look at in a little more depth later on in the article.
Paymentsense Products, Features, and Services
Paymentsense has an extensive range of products and services in their portfolio. I'll look at the three most popular services first:
- Card Machines: Whether you want a fixed terminal, portable terminal, mobile terminal, or a combination of all 3, Paymentsense can provide you with the best card reader for your business.
- Online Payments: Paymentsense will set you up with a payment gateway to take online payments safely and securely. The gateway is compatible with over 40 of the best ecommerce platforms to make the process seamless for your business. You'll also have access to a payment reporting dashboard and fraud detection software.
- Integrated Payments: Using an intelligent payment software called "Connect", Paymentsense offers a very sophisticated integrated payments solution that sets you up with a fully integrated EPOS system. Your card reader and till will communicate with each other with ease.
The company has a sharp turnaround for setting customers up with their services - one of the fastest in the industry. Back in 2011, they were the first company to offer setup for ecommerce payments in no more than 24 hours. For everything else, they aim for a 3-day setup. Very speedy!
In addition to these 3 core services, they offer other products and services:
- 24/7 Customer Service: Paymentsense was the first (again!) UK merchant service provider to establish a customer service support team working around the clock. They're all UK-based too. So, whether you work in a cafe that opens at 7am or a bar that closes at 3am, you know you've always got someone to call if you run into issues with your system.
- PCI Compliance Phone Validation Service: The process of filling out your PCI compliance forms can be very taxing. For business owners who are new to the game, it can be overwhelming. Since Paymentsense is built around serving the smaller business, you can give them a ring and they'll walk you through filling out the form effectively and efficiently. This is particularly helpful for new business owners.
- Paymentsense App: This tool gives you insight into how your business is performing based on your transaction data. At a quick glance, you can grab information like your net sales, total refund amount, and highest spend. You are able to raise customer service tickets and view your Paymentsense bill within the app too.
Paymentsense Costs, Fees & Pricing
Paymentsense operate a bespoke pricing structure to make sure that your business receives a carefully tailored quote and contract. This is helpful once you're tied into a contract, but if you're trying to compare different merchant service providers, it makes it tricky to pin them against each other in terms of cost.
There are no set pricing and fee structures on Paymentsense's website. We were, however, able to find the following pricing for their online payment and virtual terminal packages. We should note that the price listed is per package, so if you want both the online payment and virtual terminal packages, double the price listed below:
- Starter: £9.95/month (for companies processing £50k/year).
- Basic: £14.95/month (for companies processing £250k/year).
- Pro: £19.95/month (for companies processing £1.2m/year).
When you enter into a contract with Paymentsense (the length of which ranges widely, from 18 to 60 months), your fees are capped for the duration of the contract. Back in 2015, there was an outcry from some Paymentsense customers when they raised these capped rates to accommodate the Visa Debit interchange cost increase, and then some. The increase was disproportionate to the interchange fee bump, which angered their client base. There hasn't been any similar action since then, however, so these capped fees look safe for the foreseeable future.
There are many other fees to take into account when you get a quote from Paymentsense. As well as the ordinary charges for your payment gateway and virtual terminals, you've got to add in costs for:
- Card Machine Charges (including rental)
- PCI DSS Compliance
- Authorisation Fees
- Debit and Credit Card Payment Charges
- And many more.
There are also pretty hefty early termination fees so this is something to consider when deciding how long you want to enter into a contract for.
Account and technical setup is free of charge.
Your quote will be based on the type of business you have and your annual turnover. When you get in touch with Paymentsense, make sure that you ask for a broken down quote based on your needs and ask if there are any other additional charges not included in your typical monthly fees that you make be charged down the line.
Across customer review platforms, Paymentsense have very mixed reviews, but there are common positive and negative themes you can pick out to help you make your final decision. Let's take a look at some of their scores:
- TrustPilot: 4 / 5 (4,797 reviews)
- Review Centre: 2.3 / 5 (149 reviews)
- CardPaymentOptions: 2.3 / 5 (129 reviews)
The TrustPilot score is great, whilst the other two are quite poor. However, when you take a look at the star ratings on Review Centre for example, you'll see that there are almost no medium ratings, with reviewers only giving Paymentsense raving 5 stars or ranting 1 stars. You can decide for yourself which reviews to take with a pinch of salt.
Looking at the Paymentsense reviews, here is a roundup of the positive points:
- Great Low Rates. Reviewers noted that they couldn't get these low rates with some of Paymentsense's competitors.
- Quick Delivery. Reviewers praised them for the ease and speed of their account setup.
- Excellent Customer Support. Many reviewers referred to the support assistants by name which should show how personable their service is!
And here are the not-so-positives:
- Terrible Sales Agents. The sales representatives were one of the biggest sticking points for reviewers. Some questioned their sales tactics, insisting that they had made false claims and duped them into long contracts with extortionate cancellation fees. Some reviewers said that they had been conned into a 5 year contract when they believed it was only an 18 month contract.
- Hidden Fees. Other reviewers complained that extra unmentioned costs were sprung on them on top of their monthly payments. Charges like "Re-stocking fees" were alien to these customers. As we mentioned earlier, always double check what extra costs you might be liable for.
Paymentsense also has their own customer success stories on their website, all from a wide range of small business backgrounds.
From the Paymentsense reviews on the 3 platforms we’ve looked at, you should go away with a couple of words of warning if you decide to sign on with them: always check the details of your contracts thoroughly and make sure you read the T&C's before you commit. Keep a copy of your contract somewhere safe too in case you need to dispute anything. The main tripping points are the contract length and the hidden fees, so make sure you address these two points in particular before signing on the dotted line.
Find Your Next Merchant Services
Paymentsense is a great merchant service provider but you should review what else is on the market before committing to any one provider.
Cardswitcher's card processing comparison engine is a fantastic tool that will help you narrow down your search to find the best payment options for your business.