Free Payment Gateway Services in 2022: Do Such Things Even Exist?

Is a free payment gateway the best option for your business? We’ll help you decide

A free payment gateway may sound like an appealing proposition, but there’s more to consider than cost alone when choosing between providers.

This article covers all the need-to-know information to help you find the cheapest online payment gateway for your business.

Free payment gateway providers

Here’s the thing: there’s no such thing as a free payment gateway. At least, not totally free.

All card transactions attract a charge, and you should turn and run away very fast from any provider claiming to offer you completely free online payment processing.

There are a number of providers that offer free payment gateway signup, or no monthly service charge, but in most cases the high transaction fees associated with these accounts offset any savings.

Other providers, such as Lloyds Cardnet, claim to offer a “free” payment gateway as part of an all-in-one merchant accounts solution. But, again, the true costs are hidden in the price of the package.

So rather than looking for a free payment gateway, it makes more sense to focus your efforts on finding the cheapest payment gateway for your business.

Select your business's monthly turnover below, and answer a few questions about your business, and the type of card payments you're looking to accept. When you're done, we'll match you with the merchant services providers that fit your business's needs, and they'll be in touch with you directly to offer advice and tailored, no-obligation payment gateway quotes. Enjoy!

How much should I pay for a payment gateway?

Payment gateway fees vary for each business. Essentially, the more money you process in card transactions, the less you’ll pay to your provider.

The only way to get an accurate idea of costs for your business is to request a tailored quote, but let’s look at some ballpark figures.

Payment gateway: guide prices
Joining feeFixed monthly feeTransaction fees
Up to £50£10 to £2010p fixed or 2% + 20p

With most providers, the fixed monthly fee will cover transaction fees up to a certain threshold. The payment gateway from Handepay, for example, is charged at £19.99 per month for the first 400 transactions, after which you pay an additional 10p for every payment processed.

If you’re a small business owner determined to find yourself a free payment gateway, then it’s worth looking at alternative online payment methods such as Paypal — it’s the closest you’re going to get!

PayPal is a third-party payment service provider. There's no fee for setting up your payment gateway account, no monthly charge, and transaction fees come in at 2.9% + 30p.

Other alternatives offering these ‘free' payment gateway services are mobile card readers. Again, you won't pay a setup fee or an ongoing monthly cost to maintain the service, though you will pay a larger per transaction charge. For options such as these, you can check out Zettle (2.5%), SumUp (2.5%), or Stripe (1.4% + 20p for European cards).

But what about larger businesses? Well, mid-large sized businesses will probably be better served by a traditional payment gateway provider, such as takepayments or Clover, or by a bank, such as Barclays.

Cheapest payment gateway providers

These guys might not offer a free payment gateway, but they come close. And, importantly, you can rely on them to provide secure payment services for your business.


Worldpay is one of the world’s largest card payment processing companies, and its online payment gateway comes with the kind of reliability and flexibility you’d expect from an industry giant. With a simple, pay as you go rate of just 2.75% + 20p per transaction, it comes with a couple of extra perks, too. You’ll also get a virtual terminal for accepting payments over the phone, and a ‘Pay by Link' feature for sending payment links via email.

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Paymentsense is a specialist small business card payment service provider. It offers a three-tiered payment gateway price plan that starts at just £8.30 per month (when you bill annually), which includes reporting and analytics tools for keeping track of sales. The company promises to have you up running in just 24 hours. If you’re not, jump on the phone to its 24/7 support team and demand some answers!

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Sage Pay

Opayo (formerly Sage Pay), as an Elavon company, has the backing of one of the UK’s largest industry players, and – true to form – is one of the fastest growing online card payment processors around. With free payment gateway integration support, as well finance and payroll services, the company offers everything you need to start and grow your ecommerce business. Prices start from £25 per month with 350 transactions included.

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When you sign up with PayPal you get more than just a fully-customisable payment gateway for your business — you get a trust signal, and perhaps even an instant sales boost too. In one recent UK survey of online buyers, an eyebrow-raising 24% said they wouldn’t have made their purchase had PayPal not been available. Prices come in at 2.9% + 20p per transaction.

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Stripe offers a simple, pay-as-you-go international payment gateway that allows UK businesses to bill customers around the world in US Dollars or Euros, as well as British pounds. There’s no setup charge or monthly fees, and transaction fees are fixed at 1.4% + 20p (2.9% + 20p for non-European cards). Money is deposited in your account on a seven-day rolling basis.

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Expert tips for keeping online payment costs down

There are plenty of payment gateway providers for UK businesses to choose from, so it really pays to shop around. Online payment processing is highly competitive, and providers will work hard to win your business. But to negotiate the best deal you need to know what you’re talking about — and you have to ask the right questions.

Follow these simple steps to find the cheapest payment gateway for your business:

  • Research payment gateway providers. Know the key benefits of their services and what they can offer your business.
  • Understand what a merchant account is and how it works. To process debit and credit card payments face-to-face as well as online you’ll need to first set one up.
  • Explain your business needs to providers, including the number of card transactions you expect to process monthly and projected turnover. This information will determine rates.
  • Compare quotes. Costs vary hugely, so the only way to know that you’re getting the best deal on a payment gateway is to talk to as many providers as you can. And this is where Expert Market can help…

Next steps: getting a payment gateway for your business

Getting free payment gateway quotes with Expert Market is as easy as 1, 2, 3…

  • Step 1: Fill in our form — so we can get a better idea of your requirements
  • Step 2: We’ll put you in touch with the most suitable providers for your business
  • Step 3: You save money by comparing quotes. Simple!

Select one of the icons below to get started. Happy researching!

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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.