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Get started with card payments with our merchant accounts comparison and guide.


Do you need to take payments in store, on the go, over the phone or even online?


With a merchant account you can do this. Our merchant account providers provide a wide range of countertop, mobile and portable card readers along with online payment solutions to get your small business taking card payments quickly and securely.


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How does a merchant account work?

When a customer uses his credit or debit card to buy something, a payment request passes through the payment gateway to the bank. The bank then sends the request to credit or debit card schemes, i.e. Visa or MasterCard for authorisation. If the request is approved, then the merchant can complete the sale and the money is deposited to their account.


Who are the best UK Merchant Services Providers?

Merchant services providers give businesses the necessary tools to accept debit and credit card as a payments. There are many leading merchant account providers in the UK. Some of the most popular providers include Worldpay, iZettle, PaymentSense, Paypal and BarclaysCard.


How do I apply for a Merchant Account?

credit card payment in cafeFor any business applying for a merchant account there are several options that we would advise. Firstly, and the route many start-up companies use is to apply for a merchant account via a card payment services provider. The other popular option is applying for a merchant account through your bank. However, expect the fees charged by banks to be significantly higher than independent payment providers or ISO’s. Most merchant services providers do not advertise their fees. It is important that you shop around and compare several providers to find the best deal for your business.


For start-ups applying for a merchant account, it is not always a given that your business will be granted one. Banks view granting a merchant account as an extension of credit. They will evaluate your business and may not grant you a merchant account if you have poor credit.
We now live in a society where people no longer carry around cash. Most customers automatically assume that any business they want to make a purchase from accepts card payments. The recent rise of contactless card payments have made it the most convenient payment method. It is important that your business accept card payments to avoid the risk of losing customers.


UK Merchant Services For Small Businesses  – what are the best benefits and features.

Having a merchant account enables a business to accept payments securely both in person or online. The term merchant services covers a broad range of service options:


Credit Card Processing Services

Paying through debit and credit card is the most popular payment option among customers. Accepting card payments will allow your customers to pay for products or services in person, online or over the phone.


What is a Payment Gateway?

Internet Payment Gateway/ Virtual Terminal processes payments from customers who are shopping online. A payment gateway allows businesses to receive authorisation required to complete the transaction.


Mobile Card Payment Solutions

Businesses can now take payments on iPhones, Android’s, Tablets and other popular mobile devices. Customers have to tap their credit card on to a mobile card payment device such as iZettle or Sumup card reader to make a contactless payment. For purchases over £30 they would have to enter a pin.


Point of Sale Solutions (POS)

POS is commonly known as the check-out point in retail stores. Point of sale includes all the software and hardware that is required to accept payments through credit card terminals or cash registers. Most of these have touch screens which allow the cashier to get accurate product and price information to complete a transaction efficiently.



Best 12 Cheapest Merchant Services Providers For Small Businesses

There are many merchant services providers in the payment processing industry in the UK. Each of them provide a variety of services with their own features and fee structures. Below are some of the key players in the payment processing industry:


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  1. Worldpay allows you to take payment securely online, over the phone or in person using a card machine. They are a global leader in the payment processing industry. Their merchant can take payments anywhere in the world.

Read our Worldpay Review Here


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2. Izettle through their card reader allow small businesses to take payments and grow. Its an ideal platform for entrepreneurs and startups who need to accept card payments.


Read our Izettle Review Here


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3. First Data is one of the leading card payment providers in the UK. They cater for both small and large businesses that need card payment solutions.



4. Another leader in the payment processing industry. Card Cutters provide both online and in-store card payment solutions to businesses.


5. Stripe allow business to take payment online through their websites. They offer cost efficient online payment solution for merchants in the UK who need to accept payments online.


6. Part of the Worldpay Group – StreamlineUK offers portable, countertop and mobile card machines.



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7.Paypal offers online merchant services to businesses. They also have entered the mobile payment market through their paypal here contactless chip & pin card reader.

Read our Paypal Here Card Reader Review


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8. Handepay  offer card processing solutions to businesses. They provide chip and pin machines to small to medium businesses in the UK.


9. Cardsave is part of the Worldpay group and offer affordable card machines to UK customers.


10. Global Payments is one of the biggest worldwide players in the payment market. They offer many solutions including providing merchant services to businesses of all sizes.


11. Elavon merchant services cater for small businesses in the UK .  They have solutions that allow companies to accept all credit card payment.


12. Llyods Bank Cardnet have card payment solutions that are scale-able to your needs. You don’t need a personal bank account with Llyods to sign up for a merchant account with them.


13. Sagepay process millions of card transactions each month. Founded in 2001 Sagepay were one of the first payment providers to introduce a simple flat rate monthly fee. They now cater to business of all sizes by providing flexible card payment solutions.



How much are merchant account fees in the UK?

There are various fees involved in opening and using a merchant account. Fees should not be the only factor to consider when choosing a merchant services provider. It is recommended to have a clear understanding of costs before signing the contract.


How much is a merchant account Payment Gateway Fee?

Fees are paid to the payment gateway providers to cover the cost of receiving and processing a transaction online. This covers the use of the payment gateway to receive payment information, request bank authorisation and send authorisation to the merchant to facilitate the payment.
What is a merchant account transaction fee?
This fee is charged per transaction. The fee is charged on both successful and declined transactions. The transaction fee is usually the highest cost of maintaining a merchant account. The average transaction fee on card payments is somewhere between 0.5% to 4%.



How much does a merchant accounts cost monthly?

Many merchant account providers charge a monthly or annual fee. These fees range between £10-£25 per month. Prices can vary depending on your business type.


How much is the Early Termination Fee charged by merchant account providers?

Some provider will have it stated in the contract that merchants will be charged a cancellation fee. This fee is charged if they wish to cancel before the end of their contract.


What companies provide high risk merchant accounts to businesses?


A high risk merchant accounts are giving to  business whose cash flow is not steady. Travel, insurance, payday loan, debt collection companies for example will often be considered for a high risk merchant account. Despite the unstable nature of these businesses, there are merchant account providers who will accept them. High risk merchants will often go through a more thorough background check before being accepted for a high risk merchant account. They may also incur higher setup and transaction fees. their payments may also take longer to reach their account than low risk merchants.


If you are rejected for a merchant account with your bank it is not the end of the world. Shop around and talk to different merchant account providers.


How to accept card payments with a merchant account?


Credit Card Machine/PDQ Machine  – Getting set up with a portable, countertop or wireless credit card machine is the number one option of businesses of all sizes who want to accept payments. With the total number of card payments eclipsing cash payment in recent years it is a no brainer if businesses who wish to maximise their profit. There are many companies out there such as Worldpay, Sagepay and Barclaycard who can help you get started.



>>>Click here to check out the top 20 UK credit card machine providers



Mobile Card Reader – In recent years we have seen the rise of the mobile card reader device. Companies such as Izettle, Sumup and Square have enabled small businesses to use their mobile phone to take card payments at an affordable rate.



>>>Check out the top mobile card reader providers.



Online Payment Gateway – Small businesses can accept payments online on their website via a payment terminal / virtual terminal. Getting the right online payment gateway will enable your business to accept payments from all the major credit cards providers as well as providing features such as fraud protection and real time transaction tracking.



>>>Check out the top 20 online payment providers

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