Credit card processing services have become a routine part of our day to day lives. Whether it’s making online transactions or a contactless payment, making credit card payments has become effortless and has had a decisive impact on the way businesses operate.
Everyone knows how to use a credit card, but how do credit cards work? Despite taking only a couple of seconds to work its magic, credit card processing is a complex process involving multiple steps.
With a number of different card schemes (Visa, Mastercard, etc), merchant services, credit card processors and consumer banks involved, the process is rather convoluted and stringent - as it should be!
You have two main options when it comes to choosing the best credit card processing services. The first involves opting for a simple credit card processor where all card processing charges are paid per transaction. On the other hand, you can go down the route of a merchant account solution which includes a monthly fee, but reduced card processing costs on a per item basis.
If you’re interested in switching card processor provider or you’re just starting out in business, there’s no quicker and better way to compare your options than our credit card processing comparison tool on Cardswitcher.
To help you find the perfect fit for your business, we’ve provided our top 15 card processing services for both offline and online transactions.
Best Card Processing Services
We’ve compiled this list of the best card processing services that will keep your monthly costs low and keep your customer experience running smoothly!
Widely regarded as one of the best online payment processing companies, PayPal has become so popular with businesses because it is incredibly user-friendly.
PayPal has dipped its toes into the world of payment gateways, making things straightforward for e-commerce companies.
PayPal operates in over 200 countries and 26 currencies and their speedy checkout system ensures customers won’t have to worry about entering their credit card details every time.
There are no monthly fees for the small business products, while transaction fees are as low as 1.9% + 20p per transaction. Popular shopping carts including Shopify and WooCommerce have been built to support PayPal, whilst also being used as a standalone payment service for clients.
Simple to use.
No monthly fees.
Fees charged for non-PayPal payment.
PayPal verification system takes time.
Worldpay is another big fish in the global payments pond. As the UK’s leading merchant account provider, Worldpay is not only a well-known payment gateway for processing credit payments online, they’ve also had a great deal of success with offline payments options.
If you’re looking for first-class security from your payment provider, Worldpay comes with built-in fraud alert tools that flag suspicious transactions, giving you the opportunity to cancel them with no ramifications for your business.
On top of accepting all major credit and debit cards, Worldpay offers versatility through its in-store payment options by giving businesses the choice of a card reader, tablet for taking orders, or a Worldpay checkout till with a barcode scanner.
Plenty of in-store options.
18-month minimum contracts.
Square Point of Sale
Square is a highly-regarded company in both the payment processing service and Point of Sale (POS) system industries.
The Square Reader is the world’s most popular mobile card reader (check our Square card reader review). The flat pricing structure of just 1.75% for chip & pin and contactless payments makes it an affordable option for micro-businesses and SMEs.
Furthermore, the POS system means Square can also accept card payments online and by mobile device through a free POS app that uses Apple Pay and Android Pay.
Square's expansion into the invoicing market comes with a free invoicing software that allows suppliers to pay by card. The merchant services provider also comes with no hidden or monthly fees to worry about!
Loads of customer support channels available.
Android and iOS compatible.
Fast growing businesses may encounter frozen accounts due to the appearance of fraudulent activity.
Large businesses susceptible to paying high fees.
First Data offers one of the cheapest merchant accounts that have tailored their processing services and pricing plans to cater for both small businesses and major financial institutions.
As a global powerhouse in payment services, First Data also provides their customers with a whole host of free technical guides that have been specifically designed for smaller businesses.
Their merchant account solutions include eCommerce solutions such as API integration and hosted payment pages, as well as, providing regularly updated currency rates to reduce the risk aligned with poor exchange rates.
First Data also offers gift & incentive card solutions for clients and supports up to 36 of the world’s most dominant currencies. First Data review scores are pretty good on TrustPilot!
Strong focus on booming Asian markets - good for tourism.
Flexible pricing plans for multiple business needs.
Minimum 36-month contracts.
No dedicated account manager.
In terms of market experience, it’s fair to say that Stripe is a bit of a novice. Although, this has actually played into Stripe's favour in that it hasn’t had to evolve through the latest technological updates like the rest of the old guard. Regardless, Stripe reviews are very respectable.
The popular online payment system provides a flexible cloud-based system which not only offers payment processing and fraud prevention, but also business intelligence through their in-house analytics package ‘Stigma’.
Stripe accepts credit card, debit card and Bitcoin payments from over 135 countries and also saves payment details after your first transaction so you’re only one click away from getting the job done. Fees are 1.4% + 20p for European cards and 2.9% = 20p for non-European cards.
Doesn’t process PayPal payments.
Firms looking to have a single processor for online and offline payment handling.
Barclaycard is the payment processing department of market-leader, Barclays. With over 50 years of experience, Barclaycard is the ‘Godfather’ of merchant accounts. They remain one of the UK’s top service providers, but you’re going to have to work very hard or know a friend of a friend to get an account with them.
Barclays are very particular about the businesses it provides payment services for. They’ll assess your company history and dissect your business model before offering a minimum 18-month contract, which will include high cancellation costs.
Despite that, Barclay merchant services review scores are second-to-none and they’ll offer your business: desktop, portable, mobile and anywhere card machines, a virtual terminal for taking payments when a customer isn’t around plus a selection of payment pages that make accepting card and digital payments a piece of cake.
Excellent customer service and support.
Advanced security and anti-fraud processes.
18-month contracts and steep cancellation fees.
Not for smaller businesses.
Sage Pay is a credit card payment gateway that offers full merchant account services including online, face-to-face, phone and invoice payment solutions which works for all types of businesses.
Like most of the well-established payment processors, Sage Pay is a great solution for e-commerce platforms. Businesses can connect to Sage Pay and Sage Accounts which makes light work of bookkeeping and financial recording, as well as, helping you save money on accounting costs.
Fees start as low as 50p per transaction and there’s a monthly fee to pay according to sales volume. Sage pay also guarantees that you’ll receive funds into your bank account within 2 working days and their flexible service accepts any payment type, including PayPal in over 25 currencies.
Integration into Sage Accounts.
Offers a wide range of services.
3-month cancellation period.
Global Payments support multinational banks like HSBC to provide merchant services for over a fifth of all transactions made in the UK.
They are a very flexible payment service in the way that they combine cutting-edge payment features with affordable plans that have been designed to cover all business sectors including retail, healthcare and education.
They’re also a hit with smaller businesses thanks to the absence of setup fees, but keep in mind that they can be expensive for low-volume merchants. Alternatively, if you’re a larger business that handles a high volume of transactions, Global Payments is definitely worth a look into.
No setup fees
Modern payment features
Pricey for low-volume merchants
Intuit QuickBooks Payments
Intuit QuickBooks Payments is a great way to get a better handle on your businesses’ transactions and finances. They’re a solid payment processing solution and part of Intuit’s software ecosystem, which provides numerous tools and resources to assist businesses with their book balancing, mobile payments and tax needs.
Intuit comes with two pricing plans - the pay-as-you-go or the monthly plan. The pay-as-you-go plan is better suited for lower-volume merchants and costs 2.4% per transaction for swipes and 3.4% for keyed-in transactions + 20p transaction fee.
If you see your business as a higher-volume merchant, the monthly plan is a better fit. QuickBooks is well suited for small businesses looking for a digital accountant. It’ll manage payroll, prepare for tax season, while its processing rates are transparent.
Mobile, desktop and POS options.
Great accounting solution.
The desktop version doesn’t have a stage for data storage.
Other processors can connect to QuickBooks online.
Authorize.net authorises merchants to settle and manage credit card payments via online platforms as well as mail order/telephone order (MOTO) call centres. Authorize.net have a couple of options on offer for your business.
The All-in-One option enables credit card processing without a merchant account with a monthly charge of $25, with transaction fees starting at a relatively standard 2.9%. If you opt for the merchant account gateway solution, your monthly fees will remain the same, but you will see your transaction fees spike.
It’s worth noting that your business will also be charged once you sign up even if you’re not actively using the account. On the upside, you will receive advanced Customer Information Management tools that allow multiple payment methods and billing addresses for a single customer. Smaller businesses will be pleased to hear that there are no hidden fees, annual renewal fees and no termination fees.
Customer Information Management tools.
No termination fees.
Merchant account details aren’t always clear.
High transactions fees.
Paymentsense is a UK Independent Sales Organisation (ISO) that caters for SMEs. But what is an ISO? An ISO is a third party or ‘middle-man’ payment processing company that is contracted to handle merchant accounts for businesses.
Paymentsense provides merchant services for over 60,000 SMEs around the UK. Each transaction that’s made is pooled in a shared account which ensures your business will receive cheaper rates and more affordable fees.
If any unforeseen issues arise with your payment system, Paymentsense offers next-day card terminal replacement to soften the blow. Although the company’s online reputation is a little bit hit and miss (check our Paymentsense review for more info), their low fees and high levels of customer service can’t be faulted.
Great service provider for SMEs.
Cheaper rates than Merchant Acquirers.
Mixed online reputation.
Payline Data is a credit card processing service that covers all bases in terms of business sizes and needs. The American giant is an ISO to cater for smaller businesses as well as a financial services platform (FSP) to handle larger clients.
Payline Data offers 2 payment plans for their customers. The ‘Start’ payment plan is aimed at smaller retail operations who operate through POS terminals and mobile POS devices such as card readers.
The fees for the Start plan are competitively priced with costs coming in at 0.2% + $0.10 per transaction and a $10 monthly fee.
The ‘Connect’ plan is designed to support e-commerce platforms and has been praised for its high-levels of security and user-friendliness. The Connect plan costs 0.3% per transaction + $0.20 and a $20 monthly fee, but your business won’t have to worry about paying any annual fees, PCI Compliance fees, gateway fees, cancellation fees or tying yourself into any long-term contracts.
Chargeback fees are inline with competitors and priced at $25 each.
No termination fees or long term contracts.
Flexible payment plans for all business needs.
Cheaper plans out there for smaller businesses.
Equipment pricing not listed on their website.
Formerly known as Merchant Warehouse, Cayan rebranded and revamped their business model to target online payments and POS purchases.
The Boston-based company offers both cost-plus pricing and bundled pricing, but we’d recommend cost-plus or interchange-plus plans because of their competitive pricing and low monthly fee ($4.95).
When it comes to pricing plans, you’ll struggle to find anything pre-negotiation. Only until your merchant gets in touch to discuss a fee structure will you have an idea of costs.
The pricing plan will be based on the company’s needs and transaction volume and once the account is set up your business has a 60-day free cancellation period before termination fees apply.
Responsive and helpful customer service.
Termination fees after 60 days.
No pricing plans available pre-negotiation.
Handepay are the self-acclaimed ‘numero uno’ processing service for low cost merchant providers. They're so sure of themselves that they have pledged they will give your business £1,000 if they can’t save you money!
Handepay also promises no set up charge, no authorisation fees and no minimum monthly service charge. Sound too good to be true? Well, the only downside is that there have been a few complaints from small business owners in relation to their lengthy contracts.
Handepay will sign your business up to a three-year contract and require your business to give them 12 months notice before cancelling, which has resulted in businesses being hit with unwanted cancellations fees.
Despite that, Handepay were given a 9.7 out of 10 rating on TrustPilot for their credit card processing service which reinforces their strong reputation in the market.
Not too many additional fees.
Proven and reliable payment services and card machines.
12-month cancellation notice.
Since their introduction in 2006, Amsterdam-based Adyen have hit the ground running by providing payment solutions for businesses all around the world. The processing service allows users to accept and transfer money instantly via mobile or in person.
It’s no surprise then, that the likes of Uber, Netflix, Spotify and a number of other prominent online platforms use Adyen to process their payments.
The payment service includes an impressive currency support that connects with over 250 payment methods in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia and integrates omnichannel payments to dominate the market so fewer customers slip through their grasp.
If your business is involved in global commerce, Adyen should be high up on your priority list.
Impressive list of clients.
Strong user experience.
Pricey for low-volume merchants.
Not suitable for high-risk merchants.
Get in Touch
At the end of the day, it’s not always the big brands that are best suited to your specific business needs.
If your business would like to get in touch to discuss your option going forward, one of our financial experts would be happy to help! You can reach us at [email protected] or give us a call at 0203 542 9137.