Best Merchant Accounts for Travel Businesses in 2020

By Rob Binns | Senior Writer | Updated: 7 February 2019

Your customers are going places – make sure your business is too

There are maybe four things human beings need to do: eat, sleep, breathe… and go on holiday. So it’s no surprise that the travel industry is a booming one, with around 6 million Brits heading for warmer climates every month. The demand is there. So what’s the first step for your business to keep up the supply?

Let’s face it – noone books a flight, package holiday, or luxury villa and pays with a wad of cash. Your business needs to be ready to deal with cashless payments online and in store.

In other words, you’ll need a merchant account – but not just any merchant account. You need a way of taking high-value payments while staying safe and avoiding chargebacks. And you’ll need a provider that understands the line of work you’re in and what the challenges are.

Put simply, you need a merchant account that’s going to meet the unique demands of your travel business. These five merchant account providers lead the way for value, efficiency and safety in what’s always been a high risk industry. Unlike a long-haul flight, choosing the right provider doesn’t have to be a long and arduous journey.

Click here to take off and start comparing quotes from top suppliers.

Travel agent smiling at her desk

Top merchant services for travel agents

We compared five of the best merchant services on the market for travel businesses. Our handpicked suppliers reflect those best suited for the unique demands of travel agents. They’re suited to higher value, higher risk transactions, and have a track record in the travel trade.

Our top picks include Worldpay, First Data, Instabill, Retail Merchant Services, and CashFlows. Scroll down to start comparing, or fill out our short form here to get quotes now.

Did You Know?

Last year Brits spent nearly £46 billion abroad. Exactly how much sunburn that equates to we don’t know.


Best for all-round excellence

With high-flying clients like Airbnb, Expedia and eDreams, Worldpay is one of the biggest names in the industry. It offers bespoke solutions tailored to your business. Whether you’re a travel agent or in cruises or hotels, Worldpay can craft the best payment service for you. It also claims to offer your clients a smooth and seamless payment experience, from desktop and mobile all the way to virtual reality payments.

Worldpay also offers a customer support team specialising in travel sector payments. Its market-leading approach can help you reduce costs as well as fraud, while its innovative features can help you enter new markets and grow your business. If you’re a larger merchant operating internationally, Worldpay is the provider for you.


Like its bespoke payment solutions, Worldpay tailors its pricing plans to your business. Get in touch for more info, or request quotes.


  • Accepts payments in 126 currencies
  • Over 20 years of experience

X Cons:

  • Not the best option for smaller businesses

First Data

Best for ecommerce solutions

With a strong name and even stronger selection of ecommerce solutions, First Data should be your business’ first port of call. First Data wants to help grow your sales volume and expand your global reach. It has a history of innovation and success, boasting 50 years of experience supporting high-risk businesses. First Data also aims to streamline and speed up your online transactions, meaning hassle-free staff and even happier travellers.

First Data has a range of payment solutions ideal for your travel business. Its hosted payment gateway is ideal for taking big payments like flights or hotel bookings. And it takes the weight of PCI compliance off your shoulders while slotting soundly into the look and feel of your website.


You’ll have to enquire for a unique package for your business.


  • Solutions for both smaller and larger travel businesses
  • Large variety of payment options available

X Cons:

  • No travel industry-specific customer support team


Best for high-risk transactions

When you’re taking high value, high-risk payments every day, you need to make sure your payment provider can keep up. Luckily, Instabill takes on the responsibility. Its risk management and fraud protection tools are handmade for travel agencies, while its flexible merchant account is tailored to selling airline tickets, hotel reservations, and even timeshares. Instabill welcomes high-risk businesses with open arms, and accepting several currencies is no problem. Insta-brill!

People don't book their holidays and hotels on a 9 to 5 basis, and your merchant account shouldn't work this way either. Instabill’s secure servers handle transactions in real-time; what’s more, its dedicated phone support team are available around the clock. So you can get the advice you need, no matter what the time zone.


A quote will depend on your expected turnover and transaction volume. You’ll need to get in touch for more detailed pricing.


  • 24/7 customer support
  • Great if you do a lot of business in the US

X Cons:

  • US-based – not as honed to the specific needs of UK businesses

Retail Merchant Services

Best for customer satisfaction ratings

It doesn’t matter whether you do the bulk of your business in person or online: RMS offers plenty of simple ways to take high value payments. RMS caters to thousands of businesses across the UK. It counts hotshot hoteliers Best Western as one if its top travel industry clients. So we reckon it’s pretty well-equipped to help propel your business towards your targets.

And in terms of what their customers are saying about them online, RMS soar above the competition. 4,420 reviewers awarded RMS five out of five stars on Trustpilot – 94% of the total. It’s not just RMS’ illustrious clients in the travel industry that love them – it’s the people on the ground too.


Prices are available on enquiry. Or you can fill out this form to get quotes and save by comparing top suppliers.


  • Customer service available late and on weekends
  • Understands UK businesses

X Cons:

  • Doesn’t offer support specifically for travel businesses
Did You Know?

There were 39.2 million visits to the UK by overseas residents last year, totalling a spend of £44.8 billion.


Best for chargeback avoidance

CashFlows offers a straightforward and intuitive merchant service for travel agents. It’s simple to set up, and streamlines your workload – think downloadable reports, low prices, and top-notch fraud protection. What does it mean? More time and money saved, and fewer chargebacks cluttering your desk.


CashFlows claims to offer much lower rates than its rivals, but don’t give exact details about pricing. So you’ll have to enquire if you feel CashFlows is the option for you.


  • Flexible payment gateway solutions
  • Quick on-boarding process

X Cons:

  • Less experienced than other merchant account providers here

Expert verdict

Whether you’re a hotel hotshot or a brilliant B’n’B booker, there’s a merchant account for your business. Worldpay is the best all-rounder and comes with a big name and one eye on the future. Retail Merchant Services have a track record of making their customers happy. And First Data can help your travel business branch out into a truly global outfit. Convinced? Pop your details into our short form for tailored quotes. Or read on to cover your bases before you choose.

3 things to consider before jumping in

How do you take payments?

How you take payments will depend on how big your travel business is, where your clients come from, and how much money you take at a time. We’ve broken down the options based on how you want to accept payments.


You’ll need a payment gateway to accept online payments. These act as a bridge between accounts, facilitating payment and providing security. They’re hosted by the payment provider you choose, or integrated within your own website. Selling higher-value goods like flights or package holidays online? A payment gateway is a must-have.

 In store:

Does your travel business rely on face-to-face dealings with your clients? If so, it’s likely you take a lot of payments in person. Which means you’ll need a merchant account offering portable card (PDQ) machines. Cash payments are dying, and without a reliable PDQ solution, you are exposing your business to unnecessary risk.

 Mail or phone:

If this is how your travel agency does business, you need a merchant service with a virtual terminal. As well as letting you take payments remotely, they’re great for storing data and tracking payments.

Read: Our guide to credit card machines for small businesses

What kind of volume of card payments will you be taking?

This is a big deal, and will almost certainly decide which merchant service is right for your travel agency. Each provider will have different pricing: some offer flat rates, others offer a fixed transaction fee, while you’ll often encounter a combination of the two. Other providers work on a sliding scale depending on the amount of card payments you take per month. Make sure you’ve compared the quotes and know which company will save you the most money in the long run.

Consider where your business is coming from

Does most of your travel business deal with inbound clients from overseas? If you aren’t dealing with international payments now, you will be soon. Make sure you take into account what the fees are for borderless transactions. And pick the merchant account service for travel agents that’s perfect for you.

Rob Binns Expert Market
Rob Binns Senior Writer

Rob writes mainly about the payments industry, but also brings to the table industry-specific knowledge of CRM software, business loans, fulfilment, and invoice finance. When not exasperating his editor with bad puns, he can be found relaxing in a sunny (socially-distanced) corner, with a beer and a battered copy of Dostoevsky.

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