Boost your business and start taking card payments – without breaking the bank
Comparing merchant account fees can be a real drag. Not only is there usually a range of different charges involved, but these costs also differ hugely by the company and plan you choose.
Plus, merchant account providers tend to keep their cards close to their chest when advertising fees. Surfing the net to get the best deal on a merchant account is often more trouble than it’s worth.
Because while there’s a bunch of factors that make for a good merchant account, the biggest one – let’s face it – will be cost. Why should you have to pay through the nose to collect your own money?
You shouldn’t – and you don’t have to. Whether you want to start accepting payments in-store, online, or over the phone, there’s an affordable merchant account for you. Read on for pricing and reviews of the cheapest merchant services in the UK.
Cheapest merchant services in the UK
With different solutions for ecommerce operations, bricks and mortar businesses, and those that trade in remote locations, it’s fair to say there’s a lot of merchant accounts for UK-based SMEs to choose from.
We’re only concerned with the most affordable. The cheapest merchant service providers in the UK are Handepay, First Data, takepayments, Stripe, SumUp, iZettle, and Square.
▶ Read more: UK merchant account comparison
Best for customer approval ratings
Handepay is a UK-based merchant account provider aiming to make fees as low and simple as possible. And with no PCI compliance charges or joining fees, we reckon it’s doing a pretty good job of providing value for small UK businesses. It also offers easy switching, and will pay you £1,000 if it can’t save you money on your merchant account fees. To top it off? Handepay is one of the highest rated companies by customers online, with an incredible 4.9/5 Trustpilot rating. Not bad, Handepay… not bad.
|Transaction fee:||10p (first 400 transactions free)|
- 24/7 customer service and support
- No joining fee
- Offers average merchant account fee savings of 36%
- May come with high contract early termination fees – read the small print carefully
Best for security and fraud prevention
First Data is a merchant account provider with 50 years of experience, and it’s a big player across the pond. It’s thought to handle close to half of all credit and debit card transactions in the US. And it’s this size and reputation that allows it to offer some of the cheapest merchant account rates in the UK. The only catch? We don’t exactly know how cheap – you’ll have to enquire, and the fees you pay will depend on your industry, business size, and sales volume. Jump into the table below for tailored quotes.
First Data pricing
Available on request
- Partnered with Clover to provide sleek, stylish Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) solutions
- Top-notch fraud and security prevention features
- Hassle-free setup
- No 24/7 support
- Distinctly average online customer approval ratings
Best for short contract lengths
With no costs to sign up, zero cancellation fees, and some of the shortest contracts on the market, takepayments' merchant account isn’t just cheap – it’s flexible, too. It’s highly rated online, which is no surprise – who doesn’t like a bargain? takepayments also boasts seven-day customer support for UK businesses. Factor in a range of good-looking card machines – and a lack of any pesky hidden fees – and takepayments emerges as one of the cheapest merchant account providers in the country.
Available on request
- Quick replacement of defective card machines
- 20 years of experience with UK businesses
- Lacks round-the-clock support
Best for ecommerce businesses
Stripe is a truly modern merchant account solution. Used by over 100,000 businesses worldwide, it’s a quick, innovative, and secure way of taking payments online. Process over 135 currencies, including the crypto kind (yep – it accepts Bitcoin!) and be safe in the knowledge that all your transactions are fully PCI compliant. Best of all, be sure that you’re getting one of the cheapest ecommerce tools on the planet. That’s right – Stripe’s rates are low, easy to understand, and more transparent than your bedroom window. What’s not to like?
|Transaction fee (EU cards)||1.4% + 20p|
|Transaction fee (non-EU cards)||2.9% + 20p|
- Smooth, stylish payment forms slot soundly into your website
- Integrates with a wide range of apps
- Not a solution for traditional bricks and mortar businesses
Cheapest card readers
Going with a mobile card reader has big benefits – they’re easy to set up, easy to use, and can fit in your pocket. But they’re most ideal for small businesses because of – you guessed it – their price.
These card payment machines from SumUp, iZettle, and Square are cheap to buy, with straightforward, low-cost fee structures. Read on for reviews and pricing.
Cheapest mobile card readers for UK businesses:
▶ Read more: Best credit card machines for small businesses
SumUp Air card reader
Best for price
SumUp tops our list of the cheapest card machines because, it’s…well, the cheapest! You can buy its card reader with the twenty pound note in the back of your jeans. And because it’s so small, you can walk away with it in your pocket, too. There’s no setup fees, no monthly fees… just a mind-bogglingly simple (and affordable!) fixed transaction rate. Sum-ptuous.
SumUp Air card reader pricing
|Card reader cost||£29 (often discounts to £19) (excl. VAT)|
|Card transaction fee||1.69%|
- Sign-up takes only five minutes
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Good online customer approval ratings
- Payout times slower than its rivals
iZettle 2 card reader
Best for speed
iZettle emerged out of Sweden a decade ago with a card machine that’s as slim as it is speedy. Taking payments in seconds, it’s Scandinavian style and efficiency at its very best. The iZettle card reader is hugely popular among small UK businesses – chances are one of these savvy machines took your money the last time you got a drink at a local pop-up bar or food truck. And should that popularity come as a surprise? With just a single fixed transaction fee to worry about and no hidden costs, we think not.
iZettle 2 card reader pricing
|Card reader cost||£59 (often discounts to £29) (excl. VAT)|
|Card transaction fee||1.75%|
- Strong customer approval ratings online
- Quick payouts to your bank account
- No weekend phone support
Square card reader
Best for style
To paraphrase Huey Lewis and the News’ classic song, it is indeed ‘Hip to be Square’ – or, rather, to take payments with it. The Square card reader is small and shapely, and looks good on any bar or countertop. With a single, low transaction fee and no other costs to get up and running, it’s also an affordable way to give your business a boost. And with a dedicated team of staff to help you with chargebacks and resolve disputes quickly, you’ll find that Square has more than just two dimensions.
Square card reader pricing
|Card reader cost||£29 (excl. VAT)|
|Card transaction fee||1.75%|
|Ecommerce/Virtual terminal fee||2.5%|
- Funds deposit times some of the quickest on the market
- Intuitive real-time reporting and sales analytics
- Good Trustpilot ratings
- Unlike other mobile card readers, it lacks a pin pad
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again; merchant account fees are about as transparent as a brick wall. Which means it can be hard to know what kind of deal you’re in for.
With the providers here, though, you do know what you’re getting – merchant accounts with simple pricing, and with the lowest rates.
As a next step, then, why not try out our form? We’ll ask a couple of brief questions about what kind of card payments you want to accept, and provide free merchant account quotes tailored to your business. Saving you time, money – and potentially a headache, too.
What is the cheapest card machine?
The SumUp Air card reader breezes in as the cheapest card machine on the market. You can buy it up front for a price as low as £19, and its transaction fee of 1.69% is lower than any of its mobile card reader competitors. Which means the SumUp Air card reader is easy on the eye… and the wallet!
What are the cheapest merchant accounts for small businesses?
Handepay, takepayments, and Retail Merchant Services are all merchant accounts based in the UK and tailored to small, ambitious businesses. And Worldpay offers simple, versatile pricing plans for SMEs of all sizes.
What are the cheapest merchant accounts for larger businesses?
If your card sales volume will be high, it’s likely you’ll find mobile card reader rates to be too expensive. As a large business, signing a contract with a traditional merchant account provider generally works out cheaper.
There’s also some card readers (like PayPal Here) with sliding price scales, so the more payments you take, the less you pay in fees.