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3 simple steps when choosing merchant services...

1
How do you want to take payments? Depending on how and where you need to take payments, will determine the type of merchant services that your business will require. We'll help you compare card machines and payment gateways to find the right solution for your business.
2
What type of commitment do you want to agree to? We compare merchant services from a range of providers, with options that include allowing you to take payments online, face to face, over the telephone and by mail. We'll help you find the right solution, from pay as you go deals to contracts ranging from 1-5 years.
3
Customer support service level agreements? It's always worth taking into consideration the service level agreement offered by providers. You may not need the ability to call and speak with an advisor and online support may be sufficient.
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What is merchant services?

Merchant services’ is a term used to describe financial products and services which enable businesses to accept electronic payments. These include physical products such as credit card machines, card readers and point of sale (POS) systems, as well as services such as payment gateways, merchant accounts and online payment systems.

What do merchant services do?

Although we are all familiar with the speed and convenience of making a card payment, there are many products which work together behind the scene to process the transaction. Merchant services allow customers, business banks, customers banks, the payment processor and the card provider to work together.

When a customer makes a payment by card each of these products and services must align, for the payment to be processed successfully. This may sound complicated and time consuming, however merchant services which are operating successfully will automatically take care of everything in just a few seconds.

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How can I take credit card payments?

Merchant services provide multiple opportunities for businesses to accept card payments, which will allow your business to provide customers with more ways to pay.

Many businesses need to be able to take payments face to face and also virtually, so merchant services offer built-in fraud screening and security features. The most popular ways to take card payments are:

  • Online
  • Face to face
  • Invoices
  • Telephones
  • Mail

Accepting card payments when the customer is not present is often a convenient option, however there is always a risk that the customer may not be the authorised card holder. It’s possible to avoid potential fraudulent payments by asking for complete information and using secure merchant services.

What are the benefits of accepting credit card payments?

    Credit and debit cards are increasingly becoming the main form of payment, as we gradually shift towards a cashless society.

    Accepting card payments will open your business up to customers who do not carry cash, which is sure to have a positive impact on the business. However, there are many other benefits to your business when it comes to accepting card payments.

  1. Legitimise your business

    Accepting card payments will establish your business as a legitimate option in the minds of potential customers. Displaying the logos of card types which you accept will capture the attention of cardholders, whilst the trust cardholders have in their card providers will transfer to your business.

  2. Increase sales

    Moving from a cash only business will broaden your potential customer base, enabling you to attract more customers and increase sales.

  3. Compete with other businesses

    If other competitors are accepting card payments your business needs to offer the same service. To stay profitable and level the playing field with competitors, you should begin to accept card payments.

  4. Increase impulse purchases

    Offering a quick and easy way to pay allows customers to make impulse purchases, rather than being limited by the amount of cash held in their purse or wallet. If a potential customer must leave to take cash out of the bank, they may change their mind and your business could lose a potential sale.

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  1. Improve cash flow

    Card transactions are processed almost immediately, so the cash will settle into your bank account quickly. This means your business does not have to wait for checks to clear and there is no need to visit the bank to deposit cash payments. Card payments will also eliminate the risk of accepting a cheque which may not clear.

  2. Operator online

    If your business is looking to operate online by selling products or services via an ecommerce website, accepting card payments is essential.

  3. Affordable card processing

    There are a variety of companies which offer card payment processing solutions, with affordable options available to businesses of all sizes. In many situations the increase in sales by accepting card payments will offset the costs involved. It is also a quick solution, so your business could begin accepting card payments in less than 48 hours.

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We have partnered with a variety of online payment solutions, so your business has access to the best merchant account services at the best possible prices. We understand that no two businesses are the same, so our team will get to know your unique requirements to find the best card processing package for you.

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Frequently asked questions

Here in the UK businesses have many merchant services providers to choose from, with both high street banks and independent sales organisations (ISOs) offering a range of great services. The following are the most popular providers of merchant services:

  • Square
  • Paypal
  • Barclaycard Business
  • Elavon
  • Worldpay

A merchant services account is essentially a bank account which holds an agreement between a business, the merchant bank and the payment processor for settlement of card transactions. Merchant services accounts, otherwise known as merchant accounts, are designed to hold funds when a card transaction is first processed. These funds are then transferred to your businesses bank account once the transaction is settled.

The best merchant services account is the one which meets the exact needs of your business at the best possible price. Spending time comparing merchant account providers could save your business money, whilst also ensuring you benefit from easy to use services and integrated software. The majority of merchant account providers will offer useful additional products and services, such as POS terminals and card readers, so take your time to find the most comprehensive solution for your business.

The merchant is the business which sells services or products to the cardholder. If a merchant processes a card payment, the card processor will notify the merchant bank that the payment is authorised, and the deposit settlement process begins.

To accept payments on your website, you need to choose from a variety of online payment options. Enabling debit and credit card payments via a merchant account solution is the easiest way to accept online payments, with Visa and Mastercard being the most widely used cards.

Many businesses choose to utilise simple online payment forms, which are often hosted by third party payment processors. In addition, if you are looking to offer customers a quick and easy way to pay, mobile payment apps are also gaining increasing popularity. These apps work by storing payment details within smartphones and mobile devices.

If your customers pay regularly for products or services, it is possible to send click-to-pay email invoices. These allow your customers to pay outstanding bills within a few seconds via an integrated online payment form. Although, it is also possible to accept payments through eChecks which act as direct debits to process payments electronically.

If you are searching for the cheapest online payment solution, you will be pleased to know that there are a variety of competitive options available. It is possible to choose from full-service merchant account providers and those which simply offer card processing via payment services, without the full range of features offered by traditional merchant accounts.

Payment service providers which simply process card transactions are the cheapest option, with popular options being companies such as PayPal, Stripe and Square. However, as these accounts do not assign a unique merchant identification number there is an increased risk of fraud. In comparison, a more expensive merchant account provider will offer a unique merchant identification number, flexible payment solutions and a variety of additional features.

The best merchant services company for your small business will be the provider which offers the most suitable services for your requirements. It is important to search for the most competitive rates, although you also need to be sure that the company will offer excellent customer service, transparency, quick processing, and a transparent service. As a small business there are several options available, including Worldpay, Payzone, PayPal, Paymentsense, Barclaycard, RMS and Elavon.

The safest online payment methods are those which significantly reduce the risk of financial fraud when your customers are making online payments. Online payment processors such as PayPal, Skrill and Neteller offer a secure solution for micropayments, thanks to their online security features.

For example, if a customer makes a payment via PayPal the deposit is processed instantly, and the financial details are only shared with the e-wallet. However, larger card payments and bank transfers are facilitated by the latest bank encryption techniques, which are the most secure option.

Credit card payments are either approved or declined when a customer inserts or swipes their card using a card reader or pdq machine, the card details are entered into a virtual reader or an online payment is completed. If the transaction is approved the funds are transferred to your business merchant account, with these funds settling into your business bank account usually within a few days.

Yes, there are several apps which allow merchants to accept credit card payments. The following apps offer a variety of features and range from free solutions to premium options with many useful features:

  • Square – Offers a free mobile app and free card reader with no contracts and low rates.
  • PayPal Here – Provides a free app with a reader that is capable of accepting both debit and credit cards, with no monthly fees or minimum transaction amounts.
  • Shopify – Offer a point-of-sale app and reader which allows retail stores to accept payments.
  • SumUp – Available on a pay-as-you-go basis with no setup fees, this app enables businesses to accept both card payments and those from mobile wallets.
  • QuickBooks Payments – A useful app for businesses which use the Quickbooks accounting software, with great integration features and flat processing rates.

The following are some of the cheapest ways for businesses to accept credit cards:

  • Worldpay – Worldpay offer a variety of entry-level package with no joining fees, including pay-as-you-go plans. The simplicity and custom plan are just £19.95 per month and charges per transaction are just 10p.
  • Stripe – Stripe also offer competitive transaction fees of just 1.4% + 20p for EU cards, with payment processing supported by a robust cloud bases system.
  • PayPal – PayPal is a simple option with no monthly fees and transaction charges of between 1.9% and 3.4%, depending on the volume of your sales.
  • Square – Square offer competitive transaction fees of 1.75% for card payments and 2.5% for virtual transactions.

Yes, you can accept credit card payments via your mobile phone, if you partner with a payment processor that offers mobile card processing solutions. Popular examples include, PayPal, Square and SumUp, which each offer mobile applications. Many processors also offer free mobile credit card readers which accept payment cards by connecting to your phone app via a Bluetooth or WiFi connection.

To accept credit card payments using your iPhone you need to choose a suitable provider. Once you have found the ideal payment processor simply download the relevant app and link it to your mobile card reader. A great example is Sumup or iZettle, both allow businesses to accept card payments and ApplyPay.

To accept credit card payments on your Android phone you will need a portable card reader, which connects to your phone via an internet or Bluetooth connection. Simply signup for an account with your chosen mobile payment processor, download the app and connect it to your card reader. When a customer pays, you will need to enter the amount to be charged and ask the customer to enter or swipe the card.

There are many merchant service providers available to businesses across the UK, whether you are looking for a full-service solution or a simple online solution. With so many options available it is important to choose the most suitable merchant services for your business. Here at BusinessComparison, we have partnered with many of the leading providers so your business can quickly compare the options available.

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