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Top credit card processing companies

If you sell a product or service and want to take card payments, you’ll need a card processing provider. But which one will suit your business best?

According to a study conducted by UK Finance, the UK’s payment landscape is set to change considerably between now and 2028:


Cash payments

Debit card payments

With the charts above showing the rapid decline of cash payments and the prominent rise of card payments, you could be doing your profits a serious disservice if you don’t onboard the services of a card processing company. 

There are lots of these providers out there, but they all differ in terms of the range of fees and services they offer. This means you’ll need to take care in finding the right processing provider for your needs. 

Thankfully, we’ve put together this guide to help you. We’ll take a close look at the best card processing companies and fill you in on all the features and fees, so you know exactly which company is best for your business. 

You may also want to check out our page on credit card processing fees, which goes into more detail about the processing charges of a number of card processing companies. 

Alternatively, you can discover the best credit card processing companies for your business by filling in our quick form. Just pop in a few details about your business, and you’ll hear back from our partners that best match your needs. 

If you’d like to learn a bit more about what credit card processing companies are and how they work, skip ahead to the FAQ section at the bottom of this article.



Best credit card payment processing services

 WorldpaySquarePayPal
SageAmazon PayiZettleShopify
Suitable forBricks and mortar and online retailers SMB bricks and mortar and online retailersBricks and mortar and online retailers Bricks and mortar and online retailersSuitable for SMB online retailersSmall bricks and mortar retailersSmall bricks and mortar and online retailers
Equipment offered/provided
Mobile payments
Early termination fee
Phone support
Multi-currency support
Supports ecommerce
Third party integrations
24/7 support


Worldpay: best all-round card processing provider

 

worldpay screenshot

 

Features and benefits:

Live dashboard displaying real time sales data

Fast payouts – receive funds in a matter of days

Supports over 120 currencies 

Robust system offers minimal downtime

Set up recurring billing

Processing an incredible 400 card transactions every second, there’s no denying that Worldpay is one of the UK’s biggest credit card processing providers. 

Offering payment solutions for small businesses, right up to tailored solutions for large enterprise businesses, Worldpay is a renowned, reputable option for anyone looking to take card payments.

Read full Worldpay review

Includes card machineYes
Includes merchant accountYes
Multi-currency payment processing Yes
All major payments methods acceptedYes
Payment process time 1-3 business days

Fees

Pay as you goPay monthly
2.75% + £0.20 per transaction£19.95

Square: best card processing with POS

Square payment processing

 

Features and benefits:

Sleek, smart point of sale hardware

Merchant account services

Payment processing 

Free software 

Set up recurring billing

Square has come a long way since its launch in 2009. Not only does it provide smart, modern POS systems, but it also provides businesses with end to end payment processing. 

Investing in a payment processor with a merchant account service is convenient for retailers, but means you won’t have as much control over when funds are paid out. 

Read full Square review

Includes card machineYes
Includes merchant accountYes
Multi-currency payment processing No
All major payments methods acceptedYes (except PayPal)
Payment process time 1-2 business days
Pay as you goPay monthly
1.75% 2.5%

Hugh Topping, Director of Topping & Company Booksellers, tells us why he chose Square for his business:

When we opened the Edinburgh branch of Topping and Company Booksellers, we were looking for a flexible payment system that mirrored the changing needs of our business. We run our physical stores but also sell books at events and online, so we were after something that would work everywhere.

Our Square Terminal allows us to connect straight to WiFi at events and take card payments there and then, without using a different system. It means we have complete visibility of our takings across a single platform.

We chose Square because the Square Terminal provides the freedom we need to take payments on and offsite, but also because we love the elegance of the design and the promise of a system that is faster and more straightforward for the business.

Apart from the freedom it’s given us, we love the back-end reporting and the visibility it gives us into our finances. It’s also a talking point with our browsers, who regularly comment on how snazzy it looks!


PayPal: best for online retailers

 

paypal screenshot

 

Features and benefits:

Option to purchase POS equipment 

Merchant account services

Payment processing 

Integrates easily with ecommerce sites

Set up recurring billing

With over 7 million active accounts in 190 markets, PayPal is a popular option for small businesses looking for simple card payment processing. 

Much like Square, PayPal includes its own merchant account service, making it super-easy to start selling. And now, thanks to its card reader, bricks and mortar shops can also take advantage of the provider’s payment services. 

Read full PayPal review

Includes card machineYes
Includes merchant accountYes
Multi-currency payment processing No
All major payments methods acceptedYes
Payment process time 2-3 business days
Pay as you goPay monthly
1%–2.75% depending on volume of sales3.4% + £0.20 per transaction

Sage: best for secure payment processing

 

Sage card processing

 

Features:

Option to include card reader

Merchant account services

Integrates with Sage accounting software

Highest level of security

Set up recurring billing

Sage prides itself on prioritising payment security and fraud reduction. Add to that its almost perfect TrustPilot rating, and it’s not hard to see why Sage has over 6.1 million customers around the world. 

On top of that, Sage provides online payment, a card terminal, phone payment, and point of sale services, making it a great all-rounder for both online and bricks and mortar retailers.


Includes card machineYes
Includes merchant accountYes
Multi-currency payment processing
Multi-currency payment processing
Yes
All major payments methods acceptedYes
Payment process time 3-5 business days
Pay as you goPay monthly
1.99% for credit cards and £0.40 for debit cardsFrom £19.90/month

Amazon Pay: best for small online retailers

 

Amazon Pay

 

Features and benefits:

Easy integration

Secure payments

Customers can pay using their voice

Recognisable brand name

Set up recurring billing

Amazon pushes the fact that its payment processing system can help to increase conversion rates and reduce the number of abandoned shopping baskets. This is because customers trust the Amazon brand, and they can use the card details that are saved on their Amazon account, rather than enter their details again. 

Retailers can even start experimenting with voice payments, thanks to Amazon Pay’s integration with Alexa.

Includes card machineNo
Includes merchant accountYes
Multi-currency payment processing Multi-currency payment processing
Yes
All major payments methods acceptedYes (except PayPal)
Payment process time 1-2 business days
Monthly Payment Volume (GBP)Processing FeeAuthorisation Fee (GBP)
Less than £1,5003.4%£0.20
£1,500.01-£6,0002.9%£0.20
£6,000.01-£15,0002.4%£0.20
£15,000.01-£55,0001.9%£0.20
Above £55,0001.4%£0.20

NB – As of 31st March 2020, Amazon is introducing a flat rate of 2.7% + £0.30 per transaction for all businesses that process up to £50,000 a month. 


iZettle: best for low payment processing fees

 

iZettle card processing

 

Features and benefits:

POS equipment and software

Merchant account services

Payment processing 

Analytics dashboard

Set up recurring billing

iZettle is up there with Square when it comes to convenient payment processing for small businesses. 

Offering an end to end solution, retailers can benefit from point of sale equipment and software, card readers, and a merchant account. 

And with the addition of instant invoice creation, the option to take a cash advance, and in-depth reporting, it’s no wonder iZettle is such a popular choice.

Includes card machineNo
Includes merchant accountYes
Multi-currency payment processing Yes
All major payments methods acceptedYes
Payment process time 1-2 business days
Pay as you goPay monthly
1.75%2.5%

Shopify: best for multi-channel retailers

 

shopify card payments

 

Features and benefits:

POS equipment and software

Merchant account services

Payment processing 

Create ecommerce websites

Chargeback (returns) management

Shopify offers a quick and easy way for retailers to create ecommerce websites. And now, thanks to Shopify’s payment processing, online retailers can start selling even quicker. 

But that’s not all – with third party processor Stripe onboard, retailers can also use Shopify to take in-store payments, allowing them to combine sales from both channels on one dashboard.

Includes card machineYes
Includes merchant accountYes
Multi-currency payment processing No
All major payments methods acceptedYes
Payment process time 1-3 business days
Pay as you go

Pay monthly

1.75%2.5%

Credit card processing in 2020: what to expect

In 2020, convenience is key. 

A survey conducted by Ekata, a company which specialises in providing software as a service (SaaS) products, revealed that 92% of respondents expect a “fast, frictionless experience” – and the card processing industry keeps coming up with the answers. 

First on the scene was mobile payments. This is where card readers detect a nearby phone using near-field communication (NFC). As long as a customer has mobile payments set up on their phone, they can tap it against the card reader and pay without having to reach for their wallet. 

While most credit card processing providers offer this service, there are some, like Amazon Pay, that are taking it even further. 

The rise of Amazon Pay

First and foremost, Amazon Pay has created a payment processor that retailers can embed on their website. 

When people choose to pay through Amazon Pay, its payment processor uses the card details assigned to the customer’s Amazon account to process the payment, meaning customers can avoid the hassle of entering their details each time they make an online purchase. 

Secondly, Amazon Pay can operate alongside Alexa to give customers the ability to make payments using their voice. 

Customers can ask Alexa to open their favourite retailer, and continue to use their voice to purchase things like theatre tickets and clothing items.

And with banks including Natwest and Santander already on the voice payment bandwagon, we expect this technology to have a far more prominent place in the payment processing industry by the end of 2020. 

More money to be spent fighting credit card fraud

As credit card technology becomes cleverer, so too do fraudsters – which is why credit card processing companies are investing more money into improving the security of their products. In fact, Business.com reveals that payment processors will spend over $7.5 billion on detecting and preventing fraud by 2023. 

Did you know?

On average, UK businesses could be jeopardising £35,680 annually by not accepting card payments.


Credit card processing companies: the FAQs

Below, we answer the most common questions people ask about credit card processing. 

How do credit card processing companies work?

The graphic below explains how the payment process works as a whole.

card processing process

The credit card processor sits between the merchant website or shop and the various card payment companies, such as VISA or AMEX. 

It is the job of the payment processing company to conduct various security checks to ensure that the payment is valid and true. Once it’s been approved, the payment continues along the purchasing process funnel. 

What are the types of credit card processing? 

There are several different types of credit card processing. These are:

High-risk credit card processing

High risk credit card processors are an option for retailers that have a bad credit rating, or those that operate in a high risk industry, such as travel or online dating. 

High-volume credit card processing

The volume of transactions you need to process will differ from business to business. Generally speaking, the higher the volume of credit card processing, the lower the fees you will pay.

Low-volume credit card processing

A low-volume credit card processing company usually charges higher transaction fees but lower set-up fees, and no monthly minimum charges.

Mobile credit card processing

Most card processing providers offer mobile payment technology. Mobile card readers use a 3G or 4G connection, enabling you to take payments on the go. 

Online credit card processing

Card processing is also a necessary step in ecommerce and telephone sales. Most credit card processing companies offer specific online payment packages that you can embed into your website’s backend. 

How do I pick the best credit card processing company?

Use the list above to help you pick out the best credit card processing company that best matches your requirements.

If you’re still unsure, you can find out which payment processing providers are best for your business by filling in our short online form. Provide us with a few basic details, and our system will not only match you with the best card processors, but also send you quotes based on your needs. 

Aimee Bradshaw
Aimee Bradshaw

Writer and researcher

Aimee recently joined Startups as resident expert in business tech, products, and services. Having ran her own egg delivery business from the age of 12, she is an advocate of self starters and small businesses.

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