Top 9 online payment methods for small businesses

By Rob Binns | Senior Writer

Find the best online payment provider for your business and never miss a sale

87% of all purchases in the UK this year will happen online. Are you taking payments through your website? If not, you’re missing out on big business. And getting an online payment method set up is so much easier than you think. There’s lots of great providers out there bringing value and simplicity to how you take payments.

But which one is right for you? That’s where we come in.

We looked at the range of online payment providers on the market and handpicked the best solutions for your small business. We took into account features like brand trust, price and the level of phone support available. We also read online reviews to find out what other small business owners are saying.

Read on and find a payment provider to help take your business to the next level. Short on time? Jump straight in and start comparing quotes from Expert Market approved suppliers now.

online payment methods

Neglecting the power of taking online payments is a card-inal sin

9 best online payment methods

Our top online payment providers were Stripe, PayPal, Worldpay, SagePay, Square, Braintree, takepayments, Handepay and Shopify.

The best online payment methods for small businesses in the UK:


Best for flexibility

With attractive and flexible options for taking payments online, there’s a reason Stripe is one of the big names in the industry. Stripe’s emphasis on design and integration lets you build your own custom payment form. This ensures your customers get a payment experience that looks and feels the same as when they’re browsing your website.

Stripe also offers a payment form you can embed into your website. This means your customers can easily pay there and then, without the annoyance of getting redirected somewhere else. All in all, Stripe offers a simple and intuitive interface to smooth your customers through the payment process. And the best bit? It’s cheap!


1.45% + 20p transaction fee (2.9% + 20p for non-European cards).


  • Process Bitcoin payments and cash in on the crypto-currency craze
  • Payment form available in 12 languages

X Cons:

  • Customer service is lacking compared to other online payment providers
  • Read the terms carefully – Trustpilot reviews tell of Stripe holding money and closing accounts without notice
Want to start taking payments online? Get free quotes


Best for global reach

PayPal is a household name trusted by 17 million businesses worldwide. With PayPal you can accept payments in over 25 currencies around the world – perfect if your business goes beyond borders.

PayPal’s sliding price scale is perfect for growing businesses. As you start to take more and more payments online, you’ll pay less in fees. And their micropayments discount means you’ll save on fees for transactions less than £5. Great as this is, you’ll need to be taking at least several thousand pounds in card payments a month. If not, there are cheaper options down the page.


If your business takes less than £1,500/month in card payments the transaction fee is 3.4% + 20p per transaction. Above that, you can expect to pay a fee of between 2.9% and 1.9% +20p per transaction.


  • Level of brand trust worldwide can increase chance of conversion

X Cons:

  • Customer is redirected away from your website to make the payment
  • Users need to have (or create) an account with PayPal to complete transaction
Did You Know?

Millennials make 54% of their purchases online.


Best all-round provider

Worldpay offers a range of ways for your business to take payments online. It collects payments in 116 currencies and provides advanced protection from fraud. It’s also PCI compliant, so you don’t have to fret about the small print! Worldpay also supplies packages that include virtual terminals so you can take payments over the phone. And its online reporting tools help you stay on top of your transactions and invoices.

A Worldpay payment page can be hosted on their site or integrated within your own website, offering flexibility. And while you’ll need to spend some time deciphering their pricing plans, you’re sure to get a deal that’ll reflect the unique qualities of your small business.


On a pay as you go plan you’ll pay 2.75% + 20p transaction fee. On a monthly plan expect to pay a £19.95/month fixed online payments gateway fee plus 2.75% + 20p per transaction.


  • 24/7 customer support within the UK
  • Range of pricing plans offer flexibility

X Cons:

  • Like PayPal, it’s expensive – almost double the cost of Stripe for each transaction
Ask The Experts
Question symbol

What’s the difference between a virtual terminal and a payment gateway?

Lucy Crossfield
Both are ways of accepting payments. A virtual terminal allows you to take payments over the phone as well as in store and via mail. Virtual terminals are essential if you don’t do business face to face. They’re also a great tool for tracking payments and storing your customer data.

A payment gateway is what your customers use when buying something online. It can be integrated within your website or hosted on a separate page. A payment gateway takes the payment, helps safeguard against fraud, and checks if the buyer has enough funds on their card.

Sage Pay

Best for quick payouts

Processing millions of payments a month for over 45,000 businesses, Sage Pay is making waves. Its powerful cloud-based reporting and integration features let you manage different parts of your business with one tool. Their payment pages look fantastic on your website and provide a seamless customer experience.


And when it comes to the best part of the process – you getting paid – Sage Pay don’t mess around. They release payments within two days, rather than the seven you can expect with other providers.


For their cheapest plan, you’ll pay a monthly fee of £20.90, with a transaction fee of 2.09% (credit card) or 0.74% (debit card). After 350 transactions, you’ll pay 12p per each online payment.


  • 24/7 phone support
  • Offer other services like payroll and accounting to help you grow your business

X Cons:

  • One of the more expensive providers out there
Want to start taking payments online? Get free quotes


Best for simplicity

If you want to start taking online payments but don’t have an online store, Square can help you build one. They’ve partnered with easy-to-use website builders like Wix, Weebly and GoDaddy to help you get online and start selling.

Square offers API integration so you can take payments from your own website. They aim to cut out the hassle of keeping tabs on your online transactions, letting you track all your sales from one place. And, while the price is on the expensive side, there’s no cost to sign up or any hidden fees.


2.5% transaction fee.


  • They won’t ask you to commit to a long-term contract
  • Simple pricing

X Cons:

  • Phone support only available Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm


Best for innovation

Combining innovation with the backing of online payments giant PayPal, Braintree is a growing ecommerce force. It offers a range of custom ways to embed its checkout form within your website. And boasts an array of third-party app integrations like Salesforce.

Braintree also offers intelligent tools to prevent fraudulent transactions to help keep your money safe online. And with low rates and no setup fees, it’s an affordable solution for your small business.


1.9% + 20p transaction fee


  • Low, simple, and transparent fees
  • Accepts payments in over 120 currencies

X Cons:

  • Can be a long and difficult process to set up Poor online reviews
Did You Know?

By 2040 it’s predicted that 95% of purchases will be made online.


Best for short contracts

With 25 years of experience and helping over £1 billion change hands every year, takepayments is an established online payment method for your business. There’s no cost to join. Its 12 month contracts are some of the shortest on the market. And after your contract is done, it won’t cost to leave.

takepayments provides both payment gateways and virtual terminals. Its ‘Pay by Link’ feature lets you easily send payment links to customers., which is great if you’re dealing with small, bespoke transactions.


takepayments plans are tailored to your business and you’ll need to contact them for a quote. Better yet, compare quotes instantly by taking a minute to pop your details into our short form.


  • Good relationships with acquirers like Elavon and Barclaycard

X Cons:

  • Customer support can be slow and phone wait times long


Best for affordability

With an overwhelming 94% of Trustpilot reviewers awarding five stars, Handepay is the clear people’s favourite. And last year they rang up over £3.75 million worth of savings for their customers.

Handepay accepts all major credit and debit cards and its real-time reporting rivals the big names. And you’ll only play a flat monthly fee, avoiding those pesky transaction fees cutting into your profits.


For a package that includes both a payment gateway and a virtual terminal it’s £19.99/month. After 400 transactions each one incurs a 10p fee.


  • Claim they will pay out £1,000 if you can find a cheaper deal
  • Impressive customer service record

X Cons:

  • Expensive to get out of a contract early
Want to start taking payments online? Get free quotes


Best for creativity

Shopify’s ecommerce platform gives you the chance to get creative. Its online store builder invites you to create a stunning platform to showcase your products. There are drag and drop elements, so you don’t need design skills to set up your online payment headquarters.

And there are plenty of options for actually taking the payment too. Shopify offers integration with over 100 payment gateways. So you can give your customers a flexible and secure buying experience.


Shopify’s cheapest plan will set you back just over £20, and there’s a transaction fee of 2.2% + 20p for online sales.


  • Store design elements look great and respond well on mobile

X Cons:

  • Expensive and prices on website not offered in pounds

Next steps

Which online payment method is the best for your business?

If you’re just looking for value, Handepay or Stripe should be the first name on your list. If you don’t mind paying a bit more for the trust and reputation of a big name, look at WorldPay or PayPal. And a provider like Square or Shopify are best if you like to get hands-on with design.

Like the sound of them all? Fill out our short form to get quotes from our hand-picked suppliers and choose the best for your business.

Top 3 tips for taking payments on your website

Online shoppers can be a fickle bunch. Almost 75% of online shoppers abandon their baskets before completing a purchase. Transactions can break down in seconds if you don’t give your customers a smooth and snappy shopping experience. Follow these tips to keep people on your site and inspire them to buy.

1) Make it easy

Don’t make your users have to sign up for an account to pay. It’s one of the biggest barriers to making a sale. People can’t be bothered to enter their details and will often choose to abandon the purchase rather than doing it. By offering guest checkout you simplify your user’s journey and boost your chances of them making a purchase.

2) Make it look good

No matter where you host your payment page, it needs to look like it belongs to your website. Add your logo and colours to ensure a visually consistent path from browser to buyer. If your customer feels like they’re lurching around different websites to make a payment, they won’t buy.

3) Make it quick

Don’t ask your customers for lots of details and make them navigate long, data-heavy forms. Only take the minimum amount of info you need for the transaction to take place. This speeds up the process and inspires trust in your website and services.

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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