Santander Card Payment Services Review 2021: The Right Choice for Your Business?

Santander logo

By Rob Binns | Senior Writer | Updated: 20 April 2021

Santander –the merchant services provider, not the Cantabrian tourist hotspot – is competitively priced and flexible. But is it right for your business?


Elavon Santander logos

Pros:

  • Dedicated phone-based customer support on hand 24/7, 365 days a year
  • Transparent fees
  • 12-month contracts
  • Provides next day payouts into your Santander business bank account
  • Durable, feature-rich card machines and EPOS solutions
  • Offers processing rates as low as 1% per transaction

X Cons:

  • Because Santander outsources processing and hardware provision, it can be confusing to know where to go for customer support
  • Calls to support cost 7p per minute
  • Not as well-suited to merchants without an existing Santander business bank account
  • Its card terminals aren’t as affordable as similar offerings from competitors
At a glance: The benefits of Santander’s merchant services – which it provides in partnership with Elavon – are naturally weighted more towards those with existing Santander business bank accounts. However, with low rates, a range of hardware for accepting in-person payments, and 24/7 customer support, Santander’s card payment services should still offer something for everyone.

You’re probably already familiar with Santander as a bank. With over 450 branches in the UK, and more than 14 million customers in Britain alone, it’s a well-known mainstay of the high street.

But what about Santander as a merchant account provider?

Like other popular UK banks – Barclays and HSBC included – Santander offers a range of services allowing British businesses to accept credit and debit card payments: whether that’s online, over the phone, or from behind the counter.

To achieve this, Santander partners with major global credit card processor Elavon, a company which handles over six billion transactions – across more than 30 countries – each year. It’s a collaboration that’s been going strong since 2005.

So, though it’s Elavon’s technology that will be helping you take card payments – and Elavon’s team that will provide you with 24/7 customer support – you’ll sign up via Santander, and benefit from next-day settlement into your Santander account.

But are Santander’s card payment services right for the unique needs of your business? Let’s take a look.


What does Santander do?

Santander’s card payment services fall into three broad categories: mobile payments, payments from a fixed premises, and ecommerce payments (that is, transactions conducted online, or over the phone).

Let’s break down what each one entails.

Mobile payments

For businesses looking to accept card payments in-person – but not necessarily from a fixed premises – Santander’s on-the-go solutions are a great fit.

Our favourite? Elavon’s MobileMerchant mobile card reader.

Elavon’s answer to the industry’s best mobile card readers – that is, SumUp, Zettle, and Square – MobileMerchant is a simple, affordable way of getting paid on the go.

It pairs with a free app for iOS or Android – so you’ll need your own tablet or smartphone (and an internet connection!) to use it. Once you’re set up, you can take this thing anywhere, meaning it’s great for micro-merchants – such as market stall operators – or those not based from a bricks and mortar premises, such as tradespeople.

The MobileMerchant card reader costs £29 to buy, with additional devices costing £59 thereafter.

You’ll also pay no monthly fees – just 1.75% (the same as Zettle and Square) per transaction you take. This simple, transparent, and hassle-free pricing structure will particularly suit businesses with a smaller (or at least less reliable) sales volume to a tee.

Fixed premises payments

For business owners keen to start accepting credit and debit cards from a bricks and mortar premises, Santander’s card payment services offer excellent value.

Santander card payment services: For the countertop

If you own a retail shop – whether that’s a small takeaway, a newsagents, or a clothing boutique – it’s unlikely you’ll need the flexibility of a fully mobile card machine.

In your case, you’re better off going for Santander’s countertop option – the Ingenico Tetra Desk 5000.

No, that isn't the evil robot from the classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey. But the Tetra Desk 5000 – from dependable card machine manufacturer Ingenico – is almost as intelligent.

It plugs straight into your business’s mains power and internet – so there’s none of the connectivity unreliability you might get with a mobile device – to allow you to accept payments from your countertop. It’s ideal for merchants that just want to take payments from a single place, in a fixed location.

Costs for this device will depend on which of Santander’s pricing plans you select, but you can expect to pay between £7 and £20 per month for terminal rental.

Click the link below to skip down to our section on Santander’s costs.

Jump to: How much does Santander cost?

Santander card payment services: For restaurants and cafes

Of course, if you’re in the hospitality industry, you’ll need something a little different. You won’t require a fully mobile solution – you’re based at a fixed location, of course – but you’ll still need something a little more portable than a countertop terminal.

Enter the Ingenico Tetra Move 5000.

This card terminal (also known as a PDQ machine) boasts all the durability and reliability benefits of its countertop-based counterpart. However, the Move 5000 has a key difference – that it’s completely portable.

This allows your team to bring payments to the customer – something that’s ideal in a bar, restaurant, pub, or cafe, where you need to take payments from tables or outdoor areas.

Santander’s portable card machine’s costs – like those of its countertop compadre – vary depending on the pricing plan you select.

However, terminal rental costs will usually come in at between £15 and £25 per month.

EPOS (electronic point of sale) system solutions

Santander pairs with two esteemed EPOS suppliers – Poynt and Talech – to provide smart, multi-functional terminals made for a range of businesses. Let’s unpack what these terminals can do for yours.

Poynt terminal

Ideal for businesses requiring that extra touch of flexibility, the Poynt terminal pairs credit card processing with a range of ancillary functions.

It enables you to offer discounts, convert foreign currencies, and issue digital receipts, as well as pairing with Bluetooth printers to produce physical copies. The Poynt terminal also provides access to a range of apps and add-ons, and enables effective, real-time insights into sales and stock figures.

The Poynt terminal comes in both a countertop (P61B) and a mobile (P5) version.

Monthly terminal rental costs come in at between £28 and £37, depending on the model and pricing plan you select.

talech EPOS

With two industry-specific packages – one made for retailers, the other for those in hospitality – Santander’s collaboration with talech allows you to turn your iPad into a fully-fledged EPOS system.

Bars and restaurants can use it to customise their menus, add specials, split bills, and calculate tips. Retailers, meanwhile, will benefit from superlative staff and stock management features, and the ability to implement a faster, more seamless experience at the till.

Santander doesn’t publish costs for the talech EPOS terminal on its website.

Ecommerce payments

No fixed premises? No problem. Santander’s card payment services also extend to businesses looking to accept credit and debit cards online only.

Here’s what’s on offer.

Santander payment gateway

A payment gateway integrates with your website and existing shopping cart technology to allow you to accept card payments online.

Santander’s payment gateway – which is provided by Elavon – accepts all major card types, offers 24/7 access to your transaction records, and comes with fraud screening tools included as standard. In this package, you’ll also receive a virtual terminal, which enables you to accept payments over the phone.

Costs include a £49 setup fee, a £27 fixed monthly fee, and transaction fees that start at 1.5% per sale you make online. Gateway fees (applicable after 350 transactions) come in at 15p per transaction. Total costs will depend on whether you choose a plan with monthly billing, or opt to pay as you go.

To see how Elavon’s payment gateway stacks up against the competition, explore our guide to the best payment gateway providers in the UK.

Santander eShop

eShop is Santander’s solution for those not only looking to sell from their website, but to build one, too.

With it, you can create your website from scratch, then start selling through it via Santander’s pre-integrated payment gateway. Hosting is included, as are both virtual terminal and pay-by-link services.

It comes with a setup fee of £99, plus a fixed monthly fee of £59.99. Transaction fees start at 1.5%, while gateway fees (applicable after 350 transactions) come in at 15p per transaction.

To browse a range of merchant services solutions that are built for online businesses, explore our guide to the best merchant accounts for ecommerce.


What are Santander’s features and benefits?

Fast payouts for Santander customers

If you already have an existing business account with Santander, you’ll benefit from next day settlement. That’s a big deal in the industry, and it means that you’ll see any takings that come through your card machine the next day, sitting comfortably in your Santander account.

Full PCI compliance

PCI compliance. While certainly not the most exciting topic, it’s one all businesses that are planning to accept cards will need to get to grips with. PCI (which is short for PCI DSS) refers to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, and it’s a set of strict rules and regulations that merchants have to know about.

Fortunately, Elavon – the processor which handles Santander’s card payment services – is fully PCI compliant. This means you can rest easy knowing that your card transactions won’t run the risk of breaching customer data security standards, and helps you stay on the right side of those particular laws!

Round-the-clock support

Elavon’s phone support team is available 24/7, 365 days a year in case you get stuck. 

Many of the company’s positive reviews – which, as we’ll soon see, it doesn’t have too many of – praise the customer service on offer. Should you wish to seek the answers to any issues you may have yourself, via Elavon’s cloud-based platform, it’s easy to do so. The platform also has an uptime of 99.9%, meaning it’s always online!

Short contracts

With contracts as short as 12 months – rivalling top merchant services provider takepayments for flexibility – Santander is a great pick for businesses less keen to lock themselves into a long deal.

Santander does charge early termination fees for exiting a contract before it’s up, though, so think carefully before signing on the dotted line.

Scales with your business

With a range of different PDQ machines, ecommerce solutions, and pricing plans, Santander’s card payment services offer something for all types and sizes of businesses.

It’s a breeze to add additional equipment should you need to. And, with ‘Elavon Connect’ – the company’s own online reporting tool, which enables you to view sales growth and totals – it’s easy to stay on top of what’s working, and which areas of your business require more attention.


How much does Santander cost?

To answer that one, let’s break it all down – starting with Santander’s card machines.

For the Ingenico Tetra machines – that’s the countertop and portable varieties ‘Desk' and ‘Move', respectively – Santander offers two pricing plans: ‘Simplicity Ignite’, and ‘Simplicity Drive’.

‘Simplicity Ignite’ comes with a setup fee and higher transaction rates, but a lower monthly terminal rental rate, meaning it’s better for merchants that don’t do business all year round. ‘Simplicity Drive’ offers the benefits of zero setup fees and uber-low transaction rates, but the rental costs can be almost three times steeper than those that the ‘Simplicity Ignite’ plan offers.

Ingenico Tetra Desk 5000/Move 5000

Plan

Simplicity Ignite

Simplicity Drive

Setup fee£99None
Transaction feeFrom 1.5%From 1%
Additional card reader£59None
Monthly terminal rental (Desk 5000)£7£20
Monthly terminal rental (Move 5000)£15£25

Keen to know more about how much a card terminal is going to cost you? Take a look at our complete guide to PDQ machine costs, updated for 2021.

Elavon MobileMerchant
Card reader£29
Additional card reader£59
Transaction feeFrom 1.75%

For a comprehensive runthrough of the finest card terminals in the UK, learn more with our best credit card machines for small businesses.

The Poynt terminal – one of Santander’s couplet of EPOS solutions – also utilises the company’s ‘Simplicity’ pricing plans. Here’s what you can expect to pay.

Poynt terminal

Plan

Simplicity Ignite

Simplicity Drive

Setup fee£99None
Transaction feeFrom 1.5%From 1%
Monthly terminal rental (Portable – P5)£28£31
Monthly terminal rental (Countertop – P61B)£34£37

Now for Santander’s ecommerce services. The company divides its payment gateway rates up into two pricing plans: pay monthly, and pay as you go.

Paying monthly – which offers lower transaction rates, in exchange for a fixed monthly fee – is better for businesses with a higher, more consistent sales turnover.

Paying as you go eschews that monthly fee – meaning it’s great for small or seasonal operations – but increases the setup cost, and bumps up the transaction fee accordingly. Unlike its pay monthly counterpart, you also won’t receive 350 free transactions – meaning that you’ll pay a fee of 12p on each and every sale you make through your website.

PlanPay Monthly Pay as you go
Setup fee£49£99
Fixed monthly fee£27None
Transaction feeFrom 1.5%From 1.99%
Gateway fee12p per transaction12p per transaction
Free gateway transactions350None

Santander’s eShop – which, you’ll remember, allows you to create and sell through a website – doesn’t offer multiple pricing plans, so pricing is fairly easy to get to grips with.

Setup fee£99
Fixed monthly fee£59
Transaction feeFrom 1.5%
Gateway fee15p
Free gateway transactions350

For a breakdown of the minutiae of these costs – based on both plan and card type – explore this guide to Elavon’s pricing.


Is Santander right for my business?

“I have an existing Santander business bank account.”

The biggest benefits of opting to go with Santander card payment services are its perks for existing Santander customers.

If you already have a business bank account with Santander, you’ll get next-day payouts into that account. While this probably should be standard industry practice, it’s not – and with some providers, such as Stripe, you can be waiting anywhere between seven and 14 days to receive your money.

In a nutshell: If you already bank with Santander, you should choose its merchant services, too.

“I run a small business, and I want the cheapest card payment services going.”

In your case, the MobileMerchant is the Santander product that’s best for you. It’s not the cheapest though, and for ultimate value, we’d recommend SumUp.

With SumUp, you’ll pay just a single, flat fee of 1.69% per transaction. That’s less expensive than the MobileMerchant’s fees of “from 1.75%”. We also don’t like the uncertainty suggested by the ‘from’ in Santander’s pricing there, either…

In a nutshell: For the cheapest merchant services for small businesses, make SumUp your selection.

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What do Santander’s customer reviews say?

Santander is best known as a high street bank, so a trip to Trustpilot – usually our go-to when it comes to gauging customer reactions – isn’t all that reliable. Pretty much all the reviews there are aimed at Santander as a bank, rather than as a merchant account provider.

So, while it’s important to note that Santander’s 1.5/5 (or ‘Bad’) Trustpilot rating perhaps isn’t all that reflective of the company’s merchant-facing side per se, you still have to wonder if those issues don’t also pervade its card payment services.


What other merchant services providers should I consider?

If you found the relationship between Santander, Elavon, and all the third-party suppliers it outsources to (think Poynt, talech, and Ingenico) confusing, then you’re not alone.

It’s a little tough to get your hand around, so if you’re in the market for no-frills, no-fuss simplicity, you may want to look at a range of alternative UK merchant account providers.

Below, we’ve summarised our top alternatives to Santander’s card payments, based on the size of your business.

Santander alternatives: for small businesses

Small businesses need transparent rates, zero monthly fees, and slick, user-friendly card readers that work. With that in mind, go for:

For online businesses, Stripe is also an excellent choice, with some of the lowest rates around.

Click on the supplier names to read our in-depth reviews for each.

Santander alternatives: for medium-sized to large businesses

If your enterprise falls into the upper bracket of the distinction ‘SME’, you’ll have a more specific list of requirements from your merchant services provider. These will include lower per transaction fees, dedicated customer support, and fast transaction processing and payouts. For you, we suggest opting for:

And, if you’re set on sticking with the security and familiarity a big name high street bank offers, you could also try Barclaycard’s merchant services. We’ve written a complete and up-to-date review of them, so make sure you check that out, too!


Expert verdict

Santander’s card payment services should tick most of the boxes for UK merchants.

They’re affordable, as well as flexible (those 12-month contracts in particular!), and – with a wide range of card machines and EPOS systems that are built for businesses of all shapes and sizes – it’s the ideal merchant services partner to scale as your operations do.

Our only gripe is that – because Santander outsources its merchant services to Elavon – there’s nothing really stopping you from cutting out the middleman, and going directly to Elavon. Perhaps the only real reason for enlisting Santander here is if you already have a business account open with the bank, in which case you’d get everything in one place, and benefit from next-day payouts to boot.

If you’re not already a Santander customer, though, we’d recommend looking elsewhere.

Where, exactly? Well, we can help you find out. Simply complete our quick, quote-finding form below with a few details about your business. We’ll ask if you’ve accepted card payments before – and if so, with who – plus a couple of other questions about your industry and turnover.

When you’re done, we’ll attempt to match you with merchant services providers like Santander – but only if they’re the right fit for your business’s unique needs. If there’s a good match, those companies will be in touch with you directly, to offer tailored merchant services quotes and advice.

It takes 30 seconds, and is completely free for UK-based businesses.

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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.

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