Best merchant services for hospitality

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By Rob Binns | Senior Writer

Dine out on our reviews of the finest merchant service providers for UK businesses


It doesn’t matter whether you’re in silver service, or running a food truck. If you want to start taking payments – and we assume you do – then you’ll need a merchant account. And you’re in luck – because there’s a whole buffet of companies offering merchant services for the hospitality industry.

Tuck into the list below to view the best merchant accounts for hospitality, sorted by business type. You can also pig out on our FAQs below, or skip straight to dessert with our free, no-obligation quote-finding webform.

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Best merchant services for hospitality

Best merchant accounts for ecommerce

Not taking card payments at your cafe, bar, or restaurant? You’re missing out on big business


Our team of in-house experts looked at the range of UK merchant services on offer, and what they can offer you.

We focussed only on hospitality businesses looking for traditional merchant services. That’s why we left out online payment providers such as Stripe and PayPal.

With that in mind, we found that the best restaurant merchant services come from Payzone, First Data, Retail Merchant Services, Handepay, Worldpay, and iZettle.

What you’ll find here are dependable, no-nonsense merchant account providers. Expect good value, great customer support, and a simpler approach to accepting card payments.

The best merchant services for UK hospitality businesses:

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Payzone

Best for cafes

With the shortest contracts on the market and seven-day customer support, Payzone offers merchant services that are both simple and honest. Payzone’s small, lightweight PDQ machines are perfect for cafes of any size. Serving coffee and cake from the counter? Bustling around bringing bills to a room full of brunchers? However your business works, Payzone offers an easy – and good-looking – way of getting paid.

Pros:

  • Teamed up with UK-based EPOS Now to offer full Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) solutions
  • Excellent online reviews
  • Has spent a quarter of a century working with UK businesses

X Cons:

  • Be careful of the auto-renewing contract!

▶ Read more: The best EPOS system for cafes


First Data

Best for restaurants

First Data is so much more than a merchant account. With its low fees and quick credit card processing, it’ll help your business grow – and if you’ve always wanted to spruce up your counter with a beautiful EPOS system, then look no further. First Data has teamed up with POS pro Clover to offer a dynamic solution tailored to restaurants. What’s more, it makes switching from your current provider easy, and will shell out up to £150 to cover your costs. Put your restaurant First, and start taking payments in style.

Pros:

  • Give your customers the opportunity to reserve tables and order takeaway online
  • Bespoke packages for bars, pubs, restaurants, and salons

X Cons:

  • Online Trustpilot approvals are average
  • Customer support not as strong as some other providers

▶ Read more: The best EPOS system for restaurants


Retail Merchant Services

Best for pubs

The name might be a bit of a mouthful, but UK-based RMS offers merchant services that are anything but complicated. Expect hassle-free setup, feature-rich card machines, and cracking customer support. Speed up service, and get through more customers – crucial in a busy pub service environment. Plus, processing fees are low, and RMS offers same day settlement of funds– meaning you’ll get payouts days quicker than with some competitors.

Pros:

X Cons:

  • Lack of transparency regarding exact pricing

Handepay

Best for takeaways

We love Merseyside merchant services mainstay Handepay. It has glowing customer reviews, and zero hidden fees. On top of this, it’s dedicated to helping UK businesses not only grow, but save money, too. That’s right – you’ll get a thousand pounds if Handepay can’t save you money. It’s easy to switch to, with fees that are easy to understand. And if you get stuck, its 24/7 support centre means it’s easy to get a hold of someone, too!

Pros:

X Cons:

  • You may have to sign up for a longer contract

▶ Read more: The best EPOS systems for takeaways

Compare hospitality merchant service providers
Get quotes

Worldpay

Best for hotels

Working at a hotel, you’re not just taking payments at the front desk. You have to accept room and dinner bookings online and over the phone. That’s where UK giant Worldpay comes into its own. It lets you give your guests more ways to pay by card, while you benefit from the flexibility of its pricing plans. Plus, Worldpay understands the hotel industry; it’s a trusted partner of hotshot hotel chains Radisson and Park Inn. But it’s not just the big boys that Worldpay is boosting – with over 300,000 clients, it’s a boon for businesses of all sizes across Britain.

Pros:

  • Mobile-optimised payment pages help to maximise sales and bookings
  • ‘Worldpay Total’ brings together all the payment methods your hotel needs
  • 24/7 UK-based support

X Cons:

  • Doesn’t boast the best online customer approval ratings

▶ Read more: The best EPOS system for hotels


iZettle

Best for popups

Quite literally made for small popup bars and restaurants, iZettle’s versatile card reader is as popular as it is practical. It pairs with your smartphone and connects to wifi or a 3G connection, making it perfect for popping up wherever you do. And for small businesses, it’s almost unbeatable for price. The reader itself can be bought for as little as £29, and all you need to fork out is a single, fixed fee per transaction. Better still, it won’t take up much space in your shop or stall – it’s small enough to fit in your trouser pocket.

Pros:

X Cons:

  • No weekend phone support
  • Ecommerce transaction fee is high
  • Not as suitable for businesses with higher sales volume

▶ Read more: The best EPOS system for popups


Next steps

Looked at the menu, but still can’t decide which merchant account for hospitality is best for your business? We don’t blame you. The service you pick depends on all sorts of factors; your premises, your budget – even your wifi connection! Let’s sum up.

Payzone is great for ease of use, and with Handepay, you’ll get sterling support. Worldpayand First Data provide the backing of huge industry names, and are ideal for hotels and restaurants of all sizes. Mobile businesses, though, should plump for iZettle.

If you’re still not sure, why not give our form a go? It only takes a minute, and here’s what you can expect:

  1. We’ll ask a couple of questions about the kind of card payments you want to start accepting
  2. We’ll match you with the right merchant services providers for hospitality
  3. You’ll receive quotes from Expert Market-approved suppliers

What’s not to like? Try it here.


FAQs

What do I need to take payments at my hospitality business?

▶ Read more: How to take credit card payments – 4 simple steps

We know that you need a merchant account to start taking payments at your bar, restaurant, or hotel.

When you sign up with a merchant account provider, you’ll get a card machine to accept payments. Depending on the package and provider, you’ll also get a payment gateway for taking reservations online. And for an extra charge, you can get a virtual terminal for taking payments over the phone.

But if you really want to grow your business – and give your customers the best possible service – you’ll need more. That’s right – you’ll need to grow your point of sale first, with the help of…

An Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) system

If your card machine is like the simple spaghetti of your point of sale, then an EPOS system is like the meatballs.

An EPOS system includes everything your staff need to take quick, convenient payments. Think the cash register, the receipt printer, and the screen you use to clock up sales.

EPOS systems are often, but not always, provided as part of your restaurant merchant services package. You’ll need one, so make sure you know what deal you’re getting when choosing a provider.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

If the EPOS system is the meatballs, then a CRM system has to be the Bolognese sauce. CRM software lets you build up a database about your customers’ culinary likes and dislikes, which means you can reward your most frequent visitors with discounts – and run loyalty campaigns to keep them coming back for more.

▶ Read more: The best CRM systems for restaurants

What merchant account for hospitality fees can I expect to pay?

Merchant account fees in the hospitality industry come in several shapes and sizes. Expect to pay all, or a mixture of the following:

Transaction fees

Whether it’s a breadstick or a beefburger, you’ll pay a portion of every card transaction that takes place at your restaurant or bar. It’s usually a percentage, but can also be a flat rate – or a mixture of both.

Setup fee

This one is what it says on the tin – a one-off admin cost to get you started with the merchant account and card machine installation.

Monthly fees

Many card providers impose a minimum monthly service charge (MMSC). It’s basically a charge for not taking an agreed minimum amount in card payments every month. Restaurant merchant services will also typically charge a monthly PDQ rental fee, too – so read the small print carefully.

▶ Read more: Merchant account fees

What do all these fees have in common? Well, they all differ from one merchant service provider to the next. Also, they’re all pretty hard to understand!

Let us do the work for you. Partake in our quick, free quote-finding form and start comparing top suppliers today.

Rob Binns Expert Market
Rob Binns Senior Writer

Rob writes mainly about the payments industry, but also brings industry-specific knowledge of CRM software, social media monitoring, and invoice finance. When not exasperating his editor with bad puns, he can be found relaxing in a sunny corner, with a beer and a battered copy of Dostoevsky.

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