The 7 Best Payment Gateways in 2021 (UK) Startups reviews the most popular online payment gateways and their providers to help you choose a secure payment system that has a price to suit your small business. Ross Darragh September 9, 2021 14 min read About us Startups was founded over 20 years ago by a multi-time entrepreneur. Today, our expert team of writers, researchers, and editors work to provide our 4 million readers with useful tips and information, as well as running award-winning campaigns. This article was co-authored by: Ross Darragh Writer Bryn Glover Editor We think the best payment gateway for small businesses is WorldPay. Its payment plans are flexible, making it good for scalability, plus it has smart security features, so your customers can feel confident when purchasing from your website.A payment gateway is a necessity for businesses wanting to sell and take payment online. But there are a lot of different brands to choose from, many of them shouting about being the lowest priced or most feature-rich. This can make finding the right provider a difficult task – particularly for small businesses, that often have a more limited supply of resources to work with.To make this easier, our experts have developed a simple online cost comparison tool to give you a bespoke recommendation to which payment gateway is the best choice for you. All you need to do is answer a few questions. It's completely free, takes only a minute, and does all the work for you.Or you can read on for detailed reviews of the top 7 payment gateways that we've identified as the best for small business merchants in the UK, based on a number of key considerations including cost, security and available customer support.By the end, you'll know everything you need to make an informed decision about which is the best payment gateway for your business. Does your business need to take online payments? We can help you find the best choice for your business in minutes Use our comparison tool The best online payment gateways for small businesses in the UK are: Worldpay Paypal Stripe Amazon Shopify Opayo Cardstream With a range of payment gateway providers out there, it’s important to get to know the market to find the best fit for your small business. Our comparison tool is the simplest way for small businesses to find out which payment gateway provider they should trust with their online sales. It uses simple questions to pair business owners up with payment gateway providers, significantly reducing the amount of research they need to do. It even allows them to save money by comparing payment gateway fees from several payment providers. Or, you can read on for a full run-down of the UK’s best payment gateway options for small businesses, including pros and cons, costs, and key features, to help you find the one that works best for you.Top seven payment gateway providers at a glancePayment gatewayBest forStarting priceWorldpayPopularity and familiarity£19/monthPayPalTransfers2.9%+ £0.30 (no monthly fee)StripeFull service2.9% + £0.20 (no monthly fee)Amazon PayEase of use2.7% + £0.30 (no monthly fee)Shopify PaymentsSpecialist gateway provider2.2% + 20p (with basic Shopify package)Opayo (formerly Sage Pay)Security£25/month for 350 transactionsCardstreamCustomisation£18/month for 350 transactionsPricing is correct as of July 28th, 2021 1. Worldpay: The UK’s number one payment gatewayWorldpay is the UK’s most popular payment processing company. It currently processes around half of all payments taking place in the UK – and has some of the most flexible plans for small businesses. However, dealing with Worldpay is like dealing with any large provider. Customer service will be hit and miss, especially if you do have account issues… but its payment gateway product is solid.Worldpay prosUltra-secure paymentsFlexible price plansAll major cards acceptedPay by link capabilities save timeWorldpay consVariable transaction feesNot a complete ecommerce packageHit and miss customer service What's the Worldpay payment gateway like?Flexible – Accepts over a hundred currencies as well as all major debit and credit cards, even PayPalComprehensive – Comes complete with an online merchant account that acts as a checking account for card paymentsSecure – Worldpay takes your online security very seriously, and comprehensive fraud screening protects you and your customersPay by link – Worldpay enables you to send payment links to customers, meaning you don’t need a website to take online payments, and can save time on chasing invoicesWorldpay fees: What'll it cost me?PackagePricePay as you go2.75% + £0.20Fixed monthlyFrom £19/month, plus 2.75% (credit cards), or 0.75% (debit cards).Pricing is correct as of July 28th, 2021 Is Worldpay for me?If you’re in the market for a flexible offering (with no joining fee), Worldpay could be for you. With advanced fraud protection, 24/7 customer support, and a prolific reputation, you, your business, and your customers should be in safe hands with this payment gateway.Its commitment to security and its ability to integrate with a range of ecommerce website builders and invoicing software doesn’t make it cheap, but as a trusted brand with a fairly decent customer service reputation, it’s probably worth the investment. Just make sure you’re aware this isn’t an end-to-end ecommerce solution, and you may need to team up with a third party ecommerce platform like Wix or BigCommerce in order to get online.Would you like to know more about Worldpay? Read our dedicated Worldpay review! Need to build an online store for your business? An online shop will also be necessary for making those online sales. Check out our review of the best free ecommerce website builders for small businesses. 2. PayPal: Best for fast transfersYou may remember PayPal from such hit ecommerce 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, its payment gateway – named Payflow Gateway – is widely trusted, with over 220 million users worldwide. With variable transaction fees, this payment gateway is nice and budget-friendly for businesses with ambitious sales – though less so for those with smaller targets.PayPal Payflow prosIt's easy to pay with PayPalSimple setupA reliable payments solutionRobust fraud protectionMobile-optimised siteInternational cards acceptedPayPal Payflow consHigh fees for low salesThe free version comes across as basicWhat’s PayPal’s Payflow Gateway like?Easy to use – An easy to use and flexible payments service that lets you tailor your online checkout to create the best shopping experience for your customers, including tweaking the layout to your brand’s desireInternational – Sell products abroad and get paid from all over the worldSafe – An extra secure payment gateway solution with encryption and strict PCI complianceFlexible – Supports all the main credit cards (including Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and even American Express)A team player – PayPal Payments Pro integrates well with all main e-commerce platformsSuper speedy – 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 almost instantly. By contrast, with many other payment processing providers, you can expect a settlement time of two to three daysPayPal fees: What'll it cost me?Fee typeCostPayPal’s transaction fees2.9% plus 20p per transaction Pricing is correct as of 28th July, 2021Is 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 – software you can integrate with Payflow Gateway to create a customisable online payment solution.Payflow 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.Want to learn about some of PayPal’s other offerings? Check out our dedicated review of PayPal Here, the company’s card reader. 3. Stripe: The best full service payment providerStripe is a full service payment provider – that means it includes your payment gateway and your merchant account – and is the go-to for creating your own customised payment system. Despite being trusted by huge brands including Deliveroo, Booking.com, and ASOS, Stripe is designed for businesses of all sizes, and gives you the option of a hosted payments page or full website integration.Stripe prosClear pricing with no hidden feesIntuitive platformRecurrent payment optionLive sales reportingGreat fees for EU cardsSome tech know-how neededStripe consUnfavourable rates for non-EU cardsUp to seven-day settlement delayWhat's the Stripe Online Payment System like?Extra speedy – Digital wallets, including Apple Pay and Google Pay, give customers an extra speedy way of paying with Stripe, and you can save time with automated dispute handling tooPowerful – Stripe supports handy features like mobile payments, subscription services and one-click checkoutsRobust – Billions of pounds pass through this platform each year, in hundreds of currencies. Take payments from over a 150 currencies and receive them in pound sterlingSafe – Stripe offers secure payment processing with added authentication to protect you from fraud or costly chargebacksUser-friendly – Stripe’s handy dashboard enables you to gain a 360 view of your payments. There's even a mobile dashboard so you can check sales performance on the goClear – 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 fluffNearly complete – You’ll just need your own website and shopping cart to get selling onlineStripe fees: What'll it cost me?Payment methodFee per transactionEU cards1.4% plus 20pNon-EU cards2.9% plus 20pPricing is correct as of July 28th, 2021 Is Stripe for me?Stripe is a great online payment gateway for small to medium businesses that operate in a range of industries, especially across Europe – in addition to offering a full-stack pay-as-you-go solution, it offers favourable rates for European cards. Its ultra-clear pricing makes Stripe ideal for low-volume businesses who simply want to keep an eye on cash flow and avoid nasty surprises. Even better is the fact that Stripe pays out in two days – one of the quickest transfer times – making it even easier to manage your money. Plus, if you run a subscription service (like a magazine), you’ll like Stripe’s recurrent payment features.But beware – while this platform has plenty of helpful guides, and offers a hosted payments page for those that aren't too tech-savvy, those that make full use of its API will get the most out of its platform. Want to learn more about Stripe? Read our dedicated Stripe review. 4. Amazon Pay: Best for ease of useMany of us will know how easy Amazon makes the whole checkout 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 and your customers have already provided in Amazon accounts, so people can sail through the purchasing stage.Amazon Pay prosA trusted brandQuick checkoutsCustomer details are verifiedGood integration with sitesAmazon Pay consHigh fees for low salesThree to five-day settlement timesDoesn't accept PayPalWhat's Amazon Pay like?Generous – Amazon Pay has bags of ecommerce tools to help you sell your goodsOpen – Amazon Pay enables you to complete transactions on your own siteFierce – Sophisticated fraud detection technology helps shield you from bad debt, while Amazon’s free A-to-Z guarantee protects your customersSales-boosting – You can also help grow loyal customers with recurring payment optionsSecure – Because Amazon customers have a trusted login, it’s easy for you to verify their accountsCustom-fit – It's easy to customise using free pluginsAmazon fees: What'll it cost me?Amazon Pay comes with no hidden costs, lock-in, or monthly fees. In fact, with this online payment system you only pay for the transactions you make:Fee typeCostProcessing fee2.7% + 30pPricing is correct as of July 28th, 2021Is Amazon Pay for me?There's no doubt that Amazon Pay is a good option for small businesses. Riding on the back of Amazon's brand, you can instil an element of trust, ensuring more people make it to the end of the checkout process.In addition to its traditional checkout, Amazon gives you the option to embed ‘buy now' buttons into your website, and set up recurring billing.One thing to mention is Amazon won't allow customers to pay with PayPal, however, there are ways around this if your customer has a PayPal cash card.But with Amazon Pay enabling customers to pay simply by logging into their Amazon account, it's certainly a way of ensuring customers check out before they've had the chance to change their mind! 5. Shopify Payments: Best specialist payment gatewayAs well as providing a payment gateway, Shopify is a popular complete ecommerce system in the UK, offering everything you need to start selling online.Just bear in mind that if you choose to move away from Shopify Payments and integrate a third party payment gateway provider into your Shopify website, payment gateway fees will be less favourable!Shopify Payments prosThe full ecommerce packageFree 14-day trialVery affordable pricesOver 100 customisable themesAbandoned cart recoveryShopify payments consCosts more to integrate your site with a third party payment providerWhat's Shopify like?Free trial – Shopify is one of the only online payment gateways to offer a 14-day free trial, so you can try out this ecommerce platform before you buyNo credit card needed – You can join Shopify without a credit cardFull-fat – Shopify is an all-you-can-eat full ecommerce package, and has all you need to get up and runningCheap – Shopify is one of the cheapest payment gateways, and ideal for small businesses on a shoestringShopify fees: What'll it cost me?Shopify’s transaction fees are all you’ll pay – including for web hosting, a shopping cart, a blog, and an SSL certificate.Fee typeCostTransaction fees2.2% plus 20p (with the basic package), 1.6% plus 20p (with the advanced package)Monthly fees£23 (basic), £234 (advanced)Fee to use an external gateway (only applies if you don’t use Shopify Payments)2% (basic), 0.5% (advanced)Pricing is correct as of July 28th, 2021 Is Shopify Payments for me?Shopify was made for anyone who’s keen to take the hassle out of selling online.Thanks to a combination of attractive templates, search engine optimisation tools, and – most importantly – its in-house payment gateway, Shopify offers an easy and cost-effective way for small businesses to expand their sales channels.So, if you’re looking for a complete online payment gateway that includes everything you need to start selling and taking payments online, Shopify Payments is an ideal contender for small businesses. Want to learn more about Shopify? Check out our dedicated Shopify review. Or, give their two-week free trial a go. 6. Opayo (formerly Sage Pay): Best for securityOpayo is an all-in-one merchant account and payment gateway service. It's recognised for offering exceptional levels of security, while providing small businesses right through to large corporations fair rates for processing transactions.Its payment gateway is fully customisable, which means you can create a checkout system that suits the feel of your website, and you can even choose Opayo for your face-to-face sales to keep all of your payment data in one place.Opayo prosLeading reputationSimple checkoutsClear, flat feesA trusted brandOpayo consSome tech know-how neededSupport calls cost 2p per minuteWhat's Opayo like?Flexible – Opayo puts a range of payment methods at your fingertips, including mobile and online paymentsIn-depth – It’s a full payment solution, from start to endSupportive – Supports all payment methods in around 30 global currenciesCustomisable – You’re free to tailor your pages to your specific needsFast – You should see your money in your bank within two working daysProtective – The auto-invoicing function helps keep you safe (and your books in check)Goes the extra mile – Opayo's virtual terminal enables you to take payments over the phoneOpayo fees: What'll it cost me?PackagePriceOpayo Flex£25 per monthCredit Card fee - 2.09% Debit Card fee - 0.74%Opayo Plus£45 per monthCredit Card fee - 2.09% Debit Card fee - 0.74%Pricing is correct as of July 28th, 2021 Is Opayo for me?Although Opayo, formerly Sage Pay, has grown over the years, it still remains favourable with small businesses. The payment gateway provider hasn't forgotten its roots, with its small business packages ideal for those getting their online business off the ground.With its online flex package costing £25/month, Opayo is great for small businesses that don't take more than 350 transactions per month. If you upgrade to its Online Plus package, you pay £45/month for 500 transactions – this is more on par with WorldPay's offering.The downside to Opayo is the provider usually ties businesses into a three-year contract. That said, the provider gives very little reason to leave, with package upgrades, reasonable rates, and decent customer service all part of the deal. 7. Cardstream: Best for customisationCardstream is a fully customisable payment gateway provider, enabling you to make branded payment gateway screens and receipts. Unlike Opayo, Cardstream doesn't tie you into a lengthy contract. And while bigger payment gateway providers like WorldPay struggle with customer service, Cardstream seems to excel in this area. Because it's not attached to an acquiring bank, and its solution is white-label, it means there's certainly more to do when getting it set up. So, those looking for convenience may wish to choose an all-in-one solution.Cardstream prosCreate a customised payment gatewayIndependent from acquiring banksDoesn't cost anything to set upDoesn't set a transaction limitCardstream consFees aren't transparentTies you into a 12 month contractWhat's Cardstream like?Customisable – Create your own branded payment gatewayIndependent – Choose Cardstream no matter your acquiring bankRecurring payments – Set up and accept recurring card paymentsCurrencies – Supports multiple currenciesAlerts – Alerts on chargebacksCardstream fees: What'll it cost me?Fee TypeCostMonthly Fee £18/monthPricing is correct as of July 28th, 2021 Is Cardstream for me?If you're looking to create a professional end-to-end purchasing experience for anyone visiting your site or social media pages, Cardstream could be a winner. As the only ‘white label' payment gateway provider, businesses can create branded payment pages and receipts, ensuring familiarity throughout the entire user-journey.In addition to being a white-label supplier, Cardstream isn't attached to an acquiring bank. This means you're free to choose a merchant account provider that offers the best rates for your business. Thankfully, Cardstream has relationships with the likes of Barclays, Worldpay, PaySafe, and loads more, so the provider really does give you the best of both worlds.Cardstream offers businesses heaps of features, including chargeback alerts and the option to set up repeat payments – all for £18/month. £18 includes 350 transactions. After 350, Cardstream charges businesses 9p per transaction. While these rates are pretty good, bear in mind that you have your separate merchant account fees to consider, too.Which is the best payment gateway for me?The best payment gateway will make it cheap, easy, and safe for your customers to pay you, from wherever they find your products. It will be secure, allow you to control your customers’ data, as well as offer a seamless customer journey that accepts all major payment cards. The best payment gateway will suit your budget and offer support when you need it.Tips for choosing the right payment gateway for your businessWhen it comes to payment gateways, there’s a lot to consider and it can be hard to streamline your approach. To help with this, we’ve created a handy list of what to look out for when it comes to choosing the perfect payment gateway for your startup.Security – This is important for both you and your customers. Keep your eye out for PCI compliance (crucial for accepting credit card payments)Data portability – Who owns your customer’s data if you choose to leave your gateway? Make sure you know how to download and move the data you need to sustain your merchant services without breaking GDPRHosted/integrated gateways – what’s the difference?A hosted gateway will redirect your customers to the payment processor’s platform (they’re easy to set up and ideal for new businesses)An integrated gateway connects to your eCommerce website via the gateway’s provided API (meaning that your customers will never leave your site to input payment information)The customer journey – Customers will be looking for convenience, clarity, and security – things to avoid include too many steps and too many details required from the customer. This will take too much time and increase the chances of the customer abandoning the purchaseCards accepted – It’s standard for payment gateways to accept all major credit and debit cards, but double-check (and if the gateway accepts American Express, that’s a bonus – be sure to check the processing fees though!)Mobile optimisation – Phones are the future of e-commerce, and if your payment gateway isn’t geared up for smartphones, then you’re probably missing out on some serious sales opportunitiesFees – Each payment gateway charges a different amount for credit, debit, and overseas transactions – so be sure to read up on what the charges are and make sure you’re not going over budgetCustomer support – If your gateway goes down, you won’t be able to accept payment for your products (which is bad news for business) – so it’s important that your payment gateway provider has an efficient customer support network that can help out with any problems, any time Finding it hard to weigh up all of the above? It's a lot to consider at once, and means thinking simultaneously from the business and customer perspective.Save yourself some time and effort by using our merchant services comparison tool. Take two minutes to answer some questions about what you need, and our custom-built tool will do the legwork for you. In minutes you'll have quotes for payment gateway providers that make sense for your business. 100% free, and can be a big time 9and money!) saver. The Cheapest Payment GatewaysIf you're operating your business on a tight budget and need to keep costs to a minimum, the three cheapest providers – who offer exceptional value for money, are:Paypal Amazon PayStripeThese providers proudly sit on the cheapest payment gateway podium, because unlike their competitors you pay zero monthly fees.All you are charged is a small transaction cost, which for each provider is less than 3%.Next step: compare payment gatewaysNow you know all about the best payment gateways, you're ready to nail down the right merchant account 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 providers today. You can receive quotes based on your business needs specifically, allowing you to compare options that are relevant to your requirements – without comparing quotes, you could miss out on the most suitable packages.Try answering a few quick and easy questions using our payment gateways comparison tool to receive custom quotes from the top providers, many of whom are featured in this article. Share this post facebook twitter linkedin Tags best product payment gateway providers payment gateways Recent Products & Services Ross Darragh Writer Ross has been writing for Startups since May 2021, specialising in sustainable business and telephone systems. He also runs the successful entrepreneur's section of the website.He's previously written for Conde Nast Traveller and the NME and is passionate about music, sustainability, and travelling. Follow him on his Twitter - @startupsross for helpful business tips.