small business merchant account

Finding the right merchant account for a small business can be a tricky task. To help you make the best decision for your business, we’ve compared the cheapest merchant accounts in the UK for small businesses.

Prices for merchant accounts vary and tend to be cheaper for more established businesses with lower credit risks. However it is still a good idea to review your merchant account annually to see if you can reduce your fees. If you’re looking to cut costs, we can help you to find the best UK card processing deals for free.

In this article we’ll compare the cheapest merchant accounts for small businesses in 2018 as well as taking a quick look at how you can further reduce the cost of merchant account fees.


  1. Merchant account provider comparison
    1. First Data
    2. Payment Sense
    3. World Pay
    4. Payzone
    5. Sage Pay
    6. Global Payments
  2. Reducing merchant account fees
  3. High risk merchant accounts
  4. Next Steps: Saving money

Cheapest UK Merchant Account Providers in 2018

There are numerous companies that offer merchant services throughout the UK, which can make it difficult to find the right merchant account for your business.

Below, you can compare the best and cheapest merchant accounts in the UK. When you spot the one you like don’t hesitate to let us know your business details so we can help find you the best price deals.

First Data Merchant Account

first data payment gateway

First Data has over 20 years of experience in the UK card acceptance and processing business, combining worldwide and localised knowledge to offer a service ideal for businesses of any size.

Their merchant services can cover mobile, contactless and portable card terminals, as well as online e-commerce solutions including the Clover EPOS system.

In fact, First Data’s e-commerce service is very in-depth, offering the ability to integrate payment gateways into your own website, which can help you collect more customer data through an API (application processing interface). First Data also make data management easy with highly functional and intuitive reporting tools that help you manage your business. Their ‘Global Choice ™’ service allows customers to make payments in their home currency.

First Data provide a highly secure merchant account service with a Data Vault storing secure data for future payments, as well as a dedicated team

First Data Fees

Note: most providers arrange fees by the client, which makes it hard to be accurate with fees. The fees below are accurate as of the time of writing:

  • Monthly Gateway fee of £15 per merchant identification number (includes 500 online payments)
  • Variable transactions fees (for volumes over 500 transactions)
  • The cost of the Data Vault can vary for Corporate clients depending on volume

First Data Checklist

  • Is there a joining fee – Yes
  • Countertop PDQ Machine – Yes
  • Portable PDQ Machine – Yes
  • Mobile PDQ Machine – Yes
  • Virtual Terminal – Yes
  • Accept contactless card – Yes
  • Fraud risk management – No
  • 24/7 support – No

Read more about: First Data Merchant Accounts

Paymentsense Merchant Account

payment sense merchant account
Paymentsense is a UK based merchant account provider that specialises in working with SMEs. They are currently partnered with over 50,000 small businesses.

As you’d expect, Paymentsense offers the full range of face-to-face and online terminals you’ll need to reach your businesses potential. They also work quickly to get your transactions processing, with a card machine sent out to you within 3 days of application. If you need to take payments online, Paymentsense can have you ready to go within 24 hours.

Low card rates keep Paymentsense competitive when compared to their competitors, while the fact these rates are fixed means you won’t be surprised with price hikes at any point during your contract. In fact, Paymentsense are the only UK provider to offer capped contracted rates.

With all their packages, Paymentsense can offer you both a merchant account and payment gateway, online tools for fraud screening and reporting, digital invoices, more than 40 shopping carts and – best of all – no fixed contract.

Security is important too with all accounts being Tier 1 PCI DSS compliant.

Paymentsense Fees

Note: most account providers negotiate rates with each individual business. The fees below represent potential costs – which can vary by the service you choose:

  • Starter Package
    • £8.30 per month
    • Process up to £50k per year
  • Basic Package
    • £12.45 per month
    • Process up to £250k per year
  • Pro Package
    • £16.60 per month
    • Process up to £1.2m per year

Paymentsense Checklist

  • Is there a joining fee – Yes
  • Countertop PDQ Machine – Yes
  • Portable PDQ Machine – Yes
  • Mobile PDQ Machine – Yes
  • Virtual Terminal – Yes
  • Accept contactless card – Yes
  • Fraud risk management – No
  • 24/7 support – Yes

Read more about: Paymentsense Merchant Accounts

Worldpay Merchant Account

worldpay merchant account
Worldpay is the UK’s leading provider of merchant accounts, enabling secure and reliable transactions for more than 300,000 small businesses.

Start accepting more payments with Worldpay’s wide range of PDQ machines, including wireless, GPRS and static desktop terminals. They also provide virtual terminals that enable the acceptance of card payments by phone or by email link.

You’ll also be able to offer customers more secure transactions by linking shopping baskets to a secure payment page hosted by Worldpay. It’s also possible to integrate the payment gateway directly into your website and manage the payment experience yourself.

Costs are kept down by flexible pricing plans that are tailored to your situation and there is no joining fee, which is a major plus point. Monthly fees are determined by the package you opt for and range from £0.00 to £49.99 per month plus transactions fees.

To maximise peace of mind for both you and your customers, Worldpay has highly regarded fraud risk management services and a customer support line available 24/7.

Worldpay Fees

Note: merchant account providers adjust fees on a ‘by business’ approach. The following are the latest market estimates:

  • One off £150 terminal admin fee (face to face transactions)
  • Gateway fee, 10p per transaction (online transactions)
  • Take card payments over the phone for £9.95 per month (optional)
  • Take payments by email for £9.95 per month(optional)
  • Risk manager is 10p per transaction (optional)
  • Worldpay Benefits Club is £5.99 per month (optional)
  • My Business Dashboard is £4.99 per month (optional)
  • PCI Annual Management fee is £29.99 (optional)

Worldpay Checklist

  • Is there a joining fee – No
  • Countertop PDQ Machine – Yes
  • Portable PDQ Machine – Yes
  • Mobile PDQ Machine – Yes
  • Virtual Terminal – Yes
  • Accept contactless card – Yes
  • Fraud risk management – Yes
  • 24/7 support – Yes

Read more about: World Pay Merchant Accounts

Payzone Merchant Account

payzone merchant account

With no setup or exit fees and short-term, 12 month contracts, Payzone are a great choice for SMES looking for a new merchant account provider. As you’d expect, they can cover your card transaction needs by supplying you with countertop, portable, mobile or PDQ terminals. They can also facilitate online and phone payments, giving you maximum versatility with which to convert customers.

Payzone are quick to set up merchant accounts, with some card terminals up and running in minutes. Likewise, replacements are quickly shipped if an issue arises so that you don’t miss out on transactions. The latest security technology is used by Payzone, which helps to guarantee the safety of your customers.

If a query or issue does arise, then rest easy as Payzone offer UK-based support 7 days a week and if the problem can’t be resolved over the phone then they have local specialists who will be able to drop in and help you out.

With more than 25 years experience behind them, Payzone are a reliable and affordable choice for SMEs looking for a fast-processing merchant account.

Payzone Fees

Note: merchant account fees vary by business and so the following are ony potential fees. These will be affected by the package you opt for:

  • There are no fees for set up or exit

Payzone have no other fees displayed on their website.

Payzone Checklist

  • Is there a joining fee – Yes
  • Countertop PDQ Machine – Yes
  • Portable PDQ Machine – Yes
  • Mobile PDQ Machine – Yes
  • Virtual Terminal – Yes
  • Accept contactless card – Yes
  • Fraud risk management – No
  • 24/7 support – Yes

Sage Pay Merchant Account

sage pay
Sage Pay offer users a merchant account that will accept debit and credit card payments. They have various fees based on the different types of transactions users make.

Credit cards are charged a 2.5% transaction fee, debit cards 40p per transaction, business cards attract a 2.5% premium charge, AMEX cards have a 1.68% transaction fee and cards processed without 3D secure have a 0.5% charge for credit cards and 0.10 p for debit cards.

On an £1,500 per month sale split between debit and credit cards, transaction fees would be around £24.75, however on top of this there is a £10 per month PCI compliance fee and a charge for a payment gateway. Sage Pay have a three month notice period on their merchant accounts.

Sagepay Checklist

  • Is there a joining fee – Yes
  • Countertop PDQ Machine – Yes
  • Portable PDQ Machine – Yes
  • Mobile PDQ Machine – Yes
  • Virtual Terminal – Yes
  • Accept contactless card – Yes
  • Fraud risk management – Yes
  • 24/7 support – Yes

Read more about Sage Pay fees and reviews.

Global Payments Merchant Account

global payments merchant account

Global Payments is an American company listed on the Fortune 1000, whose UK headquarters are situated in Leicester. It acquired HSBC Merchant Services in 2009 and boasts a 20% market share in the UK based on transaction value.

For face-to-face transactions, Global Payments can supply any of the above mentioned terminals through one of two service offerings: Global PAY Now and Global POS Link.

Both offer rapid card processing and excellent security features. The key difference is that GPNow integrates terminals with an existing EPOS system via bluetooth, while GPLink connects desktop or fixed terminals straight to the till, so there’s no duplication of information.

For digital transactions, Global Payments offers GP Webpay and the more integrated Global Iris Solutions Platform. Both support all major credit cards.

GP Webpay may be more preferable to most businesses due to its flexible pricing, rapid processing and support for recurring payments (FastPay). In-depth reporting tools are also included.

Global Payments Fees

Note: Fees are flexible and therefore we can only highlight potential additional costs you might expect to pay on top of transaction or monthly fees.

Global Payments does not list any fees on its website.

Global Payment Checklist

  • Is there a joining fee – Yes
  • Countertop PDQ Machine – Yes
  • Portable PDQ Machine – Yes
  • Mobile PDQ Machine – Yes
  • Virtual Terminal – Yes
  • Accept contactless card – Yes
  • Fraud risk management – Yes
  • 24/7 support – Yes

Read more about: Global Payments Merchant Accounts

How To Reduce Your Merchant Account Fees

If you are looking to reduce the amount your small business spends on a merchant account then are a number of ways in which you can try and reduce your fees.

Federation of Small Businesses

Some merchant account providers offer users a discount if they are members of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). In some cases, for example with NatWest, the reduction can be significant (up to £250) whereas other providers may offer less than this.

If you do opt for FSB membership it costs around £100, so make sure the savings you achieve will outweigh this investment.

Have A Good Credit Rating

More established businesses are often charged less as they are perceived to be lower risk, so if you can prove your trading history to the account provider, they may well cut your costs.

Likewise, having a good credit rating, both personally and in terms of your business, can also reduce the amount you are charged.

Many providers will negotiate their fees so it is always worth contacting them to discuss the issue as many will be prepared to consider a reduction.

Shop Around

As with many other contract services (phones, bank accounts, etc), you should always review your small business merchant account annually as better rates may be made available to new customers than existing ones.

To compare merchant account providers quickly and easily, just fill in the form at the top of this page.

Merchant Accounts for High Risk Businesses

A small business is usually considered high risk for one of two reasons:

  1. It operates within a risky industry, e.g. the high cancellation rates of an independent travel operator
  2. It has an unreliable cashflow, e.g. a debt collections agency

These two factors determine the health and viability of your small business in the eyes of merchant account providers.

If you are considered high risk then you can expect the following merchant account terms and conditions:

  • Higher costs
  • Higher set-up fees
  • Higher transaction fees
  • Minimum transaction targets per month

For further information read our in-depth guide to High Risk Merchant Accounts.

Next Steps: Saving Money On A Merchant Account

To compare the best merchant accounts for small businesses, you jsut need to complete the form on top of this page or click the button below.

Once we know complete the form, one of our team will contact you to find out a bit more about your unique business needs and then match you to the best merchant accounts for your requirements – it really couldn’t be simpler.

So, what are you waiting for! Fill in the form now!