Best payment gateways and online payment systems

Ready to open your business' doors to your customers, wherever they are? Let's get you cashing in online

Congratulations, you’ve decided to start selling online. Now, let’s help you sidestep the complexity of getting paid through your website, and find the best payment gateway for you.

There’s never been a better time to join the world of e-commerce. You just need three things: a merchant account, a payment gateway (AKA an online payment system), and a website.

We’ve done the legwork for you in putting the UK’s leading online payment systems to the test, and compare below the best options for small businesses: PayPal, Worldpay, Stripe, Amazon Pay, Shopify and Sage Pay.

Read on for a full run-down of the pros and cons of each, so you can find the one that works best for you – and get free quotes to compare.


1. Worldpay: UK’s No. 1 payment gateway

worldpay

Worldpay is the UK’s most popular payment processing company, and has some of the most flexible plans for small businesses.

  • Ultra-secure payments
  • Flexible price plans
  • All major cards accepted
  • Pay By Link saves time
  • Variable transaction fees
  • Not a complete package

What’s the Worldpay Payment Gateway like?

  1. Flexible – Accepts over a hundred currencies as well as all major debit and credit cards, even PayPal
  2. Comprehensive – Comes complete with an online merchant account which acts as a checking account for the card payments
  3. Secure – Worldpay takes your online security very seriously, and comprehensive fraud screening protects you and your customers
  4. Pay By Link – You don’t need a website to take online payments with Worldpay

Worldpay fees: What’ll it cost me?

  • Pay As You Go£25 set-up, 10p per transaction gateway fee, variable authorisation fees
  • Fixed Monthly – from £49.99 a month all-in (transaction and authorisation fees included)
  • Standard Monthly£19.95 payment gateway fee, plus 10p per transaction, PCI compliance £29.99 a year
  • Pay By Link£9.95 a month

Is Worldpay for me?

Worldpay is one of the more popular payment solutions for small businesses in the UK – it currently processes around half of all payments.

Just make sure you’re aware this isn’t an end-to-end e-commerce solution, so you may need to team up with a third party like Wix or BigCommerce to get you online.


2. PayPal: Best for fast transfers

paypal

You may remember PayPal from such hit e-commerce websites as eBay, where it made checking out more pain-free than we ever thought possible. But PayPal is just as user-friendly for businesses as it is for customers.

Today, it’s one of the most trusted payment gateways, with over 220 million users worldwide. Its online payment system is as user-friendly as it is budget-friendly for businesses with ambitious sales.

  • Easy to pay with PayPal
  • Simple set-up
  • Reliable payments solution
  • Robust fraud protection
  • Mobile-optimised site
  • International cards accepted
  • High fees for low sales
  • Free version looks basic

What’s the PayPal Payment Gateway like?

  1. Easy-to-use – An easy-to-use and flexible payments service that lets you tailor your online check-out to create the best shopping experience for your customers, including tweaking the layout to your brand’s desire
  2. International – Sell products abroad, and get paid from all over the world
  3. Safe – Extra secure online payment solution with encryption and strict PCI compliance
  4. Flexible – Supports all the main credit cards (including Visa, Mastercard, Discover, even American Express)
  5. A team-player – PayPal Payments Pro integrates well with all main e-commerce platforms
  6. Super-speedy – But the question on everyone’s lips – when do I get my money? – is where PayPal really is head and shoulders above the rest. Once you make a sale, you’ll be able to see the funds in your PayPal account near instantly – with many payment processing providers, you can expect a settlement time of two to three days

PayPal fees: What’ll it cost me?

  • PayPal transaction fees1.9% + 20p per transaction (for sales of up to £55,000 a month), 3.4% + 20p per transaction (for sales under £1,500 a month)
  • PayPal monthly feesFree (Web Payments Standard or Express Checkout), £20 a month (Web Payments Pro)

Is PayPal for me?

PayPal’s online payments system is flexible and intuitive enough to work wonders for small businesses and start-ups, even first-timers. And don’t worry, your customers don’t need a PayPal account to use PayPal Payments Pro.

PayPal’s payment gateway is especially perfect for international businesses (or any with their eyes set globally), as it accepts a whopping 26 currencies in over 200 markets.


3. Stripe: Best full service payment provider

stripe

Stripe is one of the most popular full service payment providers – that means it includes your payment gateway and your merchant account – and the go-to for creating your own customised payment system.

  • Clear pricing
  • No hidden fees
  • Intuitive platform
  • Recurrent payment option
  • Live sales reporting
  • Great fees for EU cards
  • Some tech know-how needed
  • High fees for non-EU cards
  • Up to 7-day settlement delay

What’s the Stripe Online Payment System like?

  1. Extra speedy – Digital wallets, including Apple Pay and Google Pay, give customers an extra-speedy way of paying, and you can save time with automated dispute handling
  2. Powerful – Supports handy features like mobile payments, subscription services and one-click checkouts
  3. Robust – Billions of pounds pass through this platform each year, in hundreds of currencies
  4. Safe – Secure payment processing with added authentication to protect you from fraud or costly chargebacks
  5. User-friendly – Handy dashboard that lets you see a 360 of your payments
  6. Clear – Even the pricing structure is as flexible as the software: you can choose to pay for the stuff you really want – and cut out any fluff
  7. Nearly complete – You’ll just need your own website and shopping cart to get selling online

Stripe fees: What’ll it cost me?

  • Transparent prices – No set-up or monthly fees
  • EU cards1.4% + 20p
  • Non-EU cards2.9% + 20p
  • SEPA Direct DebitFree (Web Payments Standard or Express Checkout), 1% + 20p (£5 minimum)

Is Stripe for me?

Stripe is a great online payments solution for small businesses in a range of industries – it’s already trusted by brands as diverse as Deliveroo, ASOS, Made.com, Pinterest, and Under Armour, to name just a few.

But the ultra-clear prices also make Stripe the ideal payment gateway even for low-volume businesses wanting to keep an eye on cashflow, and avoid any nasty surprises.

If you run a subscription service (like a magazine), you’ll like the recurrent payment features. But beware, this platform has plenty of helpful guides, but was really designed for techie business owners wanting a suite of tools to help you build an online payment system yourself.


4. Amazon Pay: Best for ease of use

amazon pay

The Amazon Payment Gateway gives your customers a nice ride with a familiar name, and keeps you in control of your online payments.

Many of us will know how easy Amazon makes the whole check-out process – over 310 million of us to be exact. And if that’s what you have in mind for your own marketplace, Amazon Pay is a great option.

It cuts down on admin both for you and your customers by recycling the details you have already provided in your Amazon account, so people sail through the purchasing stage.

  • Trusted brand
  • Quick check-outs
  • Customer details verified
  • Good integration with sites
  • High fees for low sales
  • 3 to 5-day settlement times

What’s Amazon Pay like?

  1. Generous – Bags of eCommerce tools to help you sell your goods
  2. Open – Complete transactions on your own site
  3. Fierce – Sophisticated fraud detection technology helps shield you from bad debt, while Amazon’s free A-to-Z guarantee protects your customers
  4. Sales-boosting – You can also help grow loyal customers with recurring payment options
  5. Secure – Because Amazon customers have a trusted login, it’s easy for you to verify these accounts
  6. Custom-fit – Easy to customise using free plugins

Amazon fees: What’ll it cost me?

  • No hidden costs – No lock-in or monthly fees (you only pay for the transactions you make using this online payment system)
  • Domestic and IE transactions2.9% processing fee, plus 30p authorisation fee
  • Non-EU cards2.9% + 20p
  • SEPA Direct DebitFree (Web Payments Standard or Express Checkout), 1% + 20p (£5 minimum)

Is Amazon Pay for me?

Familiar payment gateways like Amazon and PayPal are more trusted by customers, and offer a smoother shopping experience. Opting for the Amazon Payment Gateway can help get more people through your check-out.


5. Shopify: Best specialist payment gateway

shopify

Shopify is the UK’s favourite complete e-commerce system, and has everything you need to get started selling online.

  • The full package
  • Free 14-day trial
  • Cheap prices
  • 100+ customisable themes
  • Abandoned cart recovery
  • Third party combo costs more

What’s Shopify like?

  1. Free trial – Shopify is one of the only online payment gateways to offer a 14-day free trial, so you can try out this e-commerce platform before you buy
  2. No credit card needed – You can join Shopify, even without a credit card
  3. Full-fat – Shopify is an all-you-can-eat full e-commerce package, and has all you need to get up and running
  4. Cheap – Shopify is one of the cheapest payment gateways, and ideal for small businesses on a shoestring

Shopify fees: What’ll it cost me?

  • Shopify Transaction Fees2.2% + 20p (Basic), 1.6% +20p (Advanced)
  • Shopify Monthly Fees$29 (Basic), $299 (Advanced)
  • External Payment Gateway Fee2% (Basic), 0.5% (Advanced)

The Shopify transaction fees are the full costs you will pay (including the web hosting, shopping cart, blog and SSL certificate), and the External Payment Gateway Fee only applies if you don’t use Shopify Payments.

Is Shopify for me?

Shopify was made for anyone keen to take the hassle out of selling online. If you’re looking for a complete online payment system that includes everything you need to start selling and taking payments online, Shopify is the No. 1 e-commerce website for small businesses in the UK.


6. Sage Pay Best for security

sage pay

Once upon a time, Sage Pay was a small but ambitious UK start-up – 15 years later, it’s now one of the best payment gateways the world over.

  • Leading reputation
  • Simple check-outs
  • Clear, flat fees
  • Trusted brand
  • Need some tech know-how
  • Support costs 2p per minute

What’s Sage Pay like?

  1. Flexible – Puts a range of payment methods at your fingertips, including mobile and online payments
  2. In-depth – Full payment solution, from start to end
  3. Supportive – Supports all payment methods in around 30 global currencies
  4. Customisable – You’re free to tailor your pages to your specific needs
  5. Fast – You should see your money in your bank within two working days
  6. Protective – The auto-invoicing function helps keep you safe (and your books in check)
  7. Analytical – MySagePay gives you a clear snapshot of how your payments are looking
  8. Goes the extra mile – The virtual terminal helps you get paid over the phone

Sage Pay fees: What’ll it cost me?

  • Sage Pay Flex£19.90 a month for 350 monthly transactions (included e-invoice and phone payments)
  • Sage Pay Plus£45 a month for 500 transactions a month

Is Sage Pay for me?

Sage Pay is a leading online payment system with no hidden charges, and a pain-free check-out for your customers.

If you have an online store as well as a high street presence, Sage Pay can kit you out with a card machine, so you can get paid in the flesh.


Which is the best payment gateway for me?

The best online payment system will make it cheap, easy and safe for your customers to pay you from wherever they find your products.

Ready to nail down the right online payment service for you? Keen to talk through your options? The simplest way to find the best payment methods for your small business is to talk directly to the UK’s leading payment gateway providers today.

If you’d like to get your hands on custom-made quotes, and find the payment systems that best match your needs and budget, check out our interactive quote-finder below, and let the suppliers with the top deals come to you.