Barclays is a household name, but do its merchant services deliver?
- Excellent range of card machines
- Pay-as-you-go options available
- Its 18-month merchant account contracts are shorter than those offered by other providers
- Barclays’ recognisable brand inspires consumer trust and loyalty...
- …but its branded payment gateway could disrupt your website’s UX (user experience)
- Fees aren’t as transparent as they could be
Barclays. Founded in the 17th century, it’s one of Britain’s most enduring banks. It’s also one of the most recognisable – we’re all familiar with its name, its sky blue branding, and Barclaycard, its unique brand of credit and debit cards.
What you may be less familiar with, however, is how Barclaycard can help you take credit and debit card payments at your business. Barclays offers several different card machines and readers for accepting cashless payments, and its merchant services are both flexible and easy to understand.
A Barclays card machine helps you speed up sales, encourage consumer loyalty, and facilitate a more secure, convenient experience at the checkout. But which Barclays card machine is the best fit for you?
What are Barclaycard’s features and benefits?
Barclays offers many different ways for you to accept card payments; face-to-face, over the phone, or online.
Barclays card machines
For card-present payments
If you’re taking payments in person – whether that’s from a physical, bricks and mortar store, or from the back of a van – you’ll need a card machine. Barclaycard’s offerings are as follows:
Barclaycard Flex mobile card reader
Are you a taxi driver, tradesperson, or sole trader who’s taking payments out and about? The Barclays Flex mobile card reader is the machine for you. The Barclaycard Flex is equipped with Bluetooth, GPRS, and wifi, meaning it’s as easy to accept card payments on the go as it is cash.
Barclaycard Flex accepts mobile wallets, as well as contactless payments from Visa, Mastercard, and Diner’s Club. You’ll need a separate agreement to process American Express transactions, but Barclays sorts this for you.
Barclaycard desktop card reader
For businesses that sell strictly over the counter, the Barclaycard desktop card reader ticks all the boxes. Barclays offers two versions of this machine, depending on the size of your countertop; one with a separate PIN pad, and an ‘integrated’ version (pictured) to save space.
The Barclays desktop card reader is perfect for retail businesses, such as clothes outlets, newsagents, bookshops, and supermarkets.
Barclaycard portable card reader
The Barclaycard portable card reader suits hospitality businesses, including bars, restaurants, cafes, and pubs. Barclays’ slick, portable terminal is more mobile than its desktop counterpart, allowing your staff to take service directly to the customer.
The Barclaycard Anywhere connects to a free app on your tablet or smartphone. This app allows you to track stock and sales, turning your device into a basic (yet effective) POS (point of sale) system. The Barclaycard Anywhere, as the name suggests, is ideal for businesses that take payments on the move.
Plus, zero monthly fees and transparent, pay-as-you-go pricing make it suitable for seasonal businesses, micro-merchants, and brand new businesses.
Barclays ecommerce options
For card-not-present payments
Not all businesses need to take payments in person. And many don’t – which is probably one of the reasons why the UK boasts the third-largest ecommerce market in the world. So how does Barclays work with you to accept online payments?
Barclays offers a virtual terminal, allowing you to accept card transactions over the phone. It’s a secure webpage you log into from a computer or tablet. Then, simply enter your customer’s card details to take the payment.
Barclays’ virtual terminal facilitates up to five users, and allows you to process several payments at the same time. It also accepts multiple currencies, and you can log in from anywhere. However, because these transactions are classified as ‘card-not-present’ (and are thus seen as more risky than face-to-face sales), fees are higher.
A Barclaycard payment gateway lets you accept payments through your website. So how does it work?
First, your customer hits that big, beautiful ‘Buy Now’ button on your site. Then, they’ll be redirected to another page (hosted by Barclays) to enter their card details. Here is where Barclaycard authorises and secures the sale, before sending the customer back to your site.
Having a Barclays-hosted payment gateway is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, Barclays branding is a powerful trust signal (the bank has been around since 1690, remember!). Plus, you still have some control over the customisation of the payment page, to ensure it fits the look and feel of your brand.
However, some customers may be put off by being redirected elsewhere to complete the sale. At best, it’s a minor disruption of the customer experience… but at worst? Well, those dreaded three words: shopping cart abandonment.
On a lighter note, let’s talk about how much it’s all going to cost you.
How much do Barclays' merchant services cost?
The price of Barclays merchant services changes depending on the type of card machine you select. For a traditional ‘PDQ’ (Process Data Quickly) terminal (Barclays’ desktop, mobile, and portable models), you’ll pay a rental fee of between £15 and £25 per month.
However, Barclays also charges a fee per transaction. This cost is expressed as a percentage of the sale’s value, with a small flat fee on top. Barclays doesn’t advertise these rates transparently. Rather, Barclays calculates bespoke processing rates, based on your sales volume and value.
On top of transaction costs, you’ll also face a setup fee when you open your account, and an early termination fee when you close it. Oh, and a minimum service fee will apply, should you not meet the agreed monthly threshold in charges. You’ll also face a cost for PCI compliance – the payment card industry’s way of ensuring you meet its strict set of data security standards.
Here is a rough guide to what you’ll pay with a Barclaycard merchant account:
- Transaction fee: 1.4% (credit), 0.6% + 10p (debit), up to 2.05% for business credit cards
- Monthly minimum fee: £20
- Setup fee: £150
- Chargeback fee: £9
- Virtual terminal: £15 to £75 per month
- Payment gateway: £20 to £75 per month
- PCI fee: +0.30% per non-compliant transaction
- Refund fee: 30p to 75p
For the Barclaycard Anywhere, you’ll pay just a single fee to purchase the card reader. There are no monthly rental costs, and none of the more murky fees outlined above. You’ll just pay a single, flat fee of 1.6% per transaction. It’s a simpler solution (and great for sole traders), yet likely to be more expensive in the long run for larger, more established businesses.
Barclaycard: is it right for your business?
I don’t want to tie myself into a long contract. Is Barclaycard right for me?”
If you’re looking for a short-term, month-to-month deal, the Barclaycard Anywhere is your best bet. It’s pay as you go, which means no ongoing fees, and ultimate simplicity.
If your sales volume warrants one of Barclaycard’s other card machines, you’ll have to sign an agreement for a fixed term. Barclays offers contracts of 18 months across the board. Considering most terminal rental contracts in the UK last at least three years, we reckon 18 months isn’t too bad.
“Do I need a card machine to take payments with Barclaycard?”
Nope! Barclays has several excellent ecommerce solutions.
Barclays’ virtual terminal, for example, is perfect if your business lacks a fixed premises, or mainly trades via mail or telephone. If you already have a website set up, though (and you want to start selling through it, pronto!) Barclaycard’s payment gateway is a better option.
“I run an online poker game website. Should I sign up for Barclaycard merchant services?”
When you sign up to any merchant account, you’ll face a thorough underwriting process. As well as conducting a credit check, one of the things a provider will do is examine the nature of your business and industry.
Online gambling (along with industries such as pharmaceuticals, alcohol, travel, and foreign exchange) is deemed ‘high risk’ by merchant account providers. If this sounds like you, you’re better off applying for a deal with a high risk merchant account provider. Fees will be higher, but you’ll have a better chance of being accepted.
What do Barclaycard’s customer reviews say?
We won’t sugarcoat it. Barclaycard’s online customer approval ratings are abysmal. Of Barclays’ 1,527 independent reviews on Trustpilot, almost nine in ten (86%) are one-star. Just 8% of people rated Barclaycard five stars, and its overall score is currently a disappointing 1.3/5… or, in the review aggregator itself's terms, simply ‘Bad'.
However, there is a major mitigating factor.
Remember, Barclays issues credit and debit cards (in addition to providing services that allow merchants to accept them). And, as it turns out, a lot of Barclaycard’s negative reviews online are focussed on its issuing services. Customers report not being able to register newly-received credit cards, or problems with Barclays’ mobile banking app.
There’s less negative press, however, surrounding Barclays’ merchant (acquiring) services.
Actually, Barclaycard merchant services reviews are few and far between. It looks as though Barclays’ customer support could do with a makeover, sure – though nothing else we found online would suggest a reason not to go with Barclaycard.
Barclaycard is suitable for businesses of all sizes. With intuitive card machines and reliable ecommerce solutions, Barclays should satisfy the requirements of your SME. Sure, its customer reviews aren’t too favourable. But Barclays is still leagues ahead of any other high street bank when it comes to merchant services… and that big blue brand is still something you can bank on.
So what’s next? Well, read on to explore more content designed to help your business scale. Alternatively, complete our 30-second webform to start comparing quotes from leading merchant services suppliers.
We’ll ask who your current provider is (if you have one), and about your industry and expected card volume. We’ll also need your postcode, so that we only connect you with merchant account providers serving your location. Then, they’ll be in touch with tailored quotes to help you grow your business by accepting card payments.
What other merchant services providers could I consider?
When it comes to choosing a merchant account, you’re not restricted to applying with a bank, such as Barclays. There are many third-party merchant account providers (called Independent Service Organisations, or just ISOs) in the UK. And, when compared to Barclaycard, many ISOs offer better deals, superior customer support, and shorter contracts.
For starters, why not check out the following:
However, an ISO won’t always present the best option for your business. Very small businesses (such as market traders and micro-merchants) may want to opt to take payments with a mobile card reader.
We recommend any of the following providers whole-heartedly:
That’s it from us! To let us know what you think about Barclays, and this article – or to share your own experiences of using Barclaycard to accept card payments – drop a line to email@example.com. And make sure to keep an eye out for new merchant accounts articles landing soon!