The good news, as you’ll see, is that there is an option for everyone – and we can virtually guarantee you’ll be able to accept credit cards on the ‘net with the range of merchant accounts we shall outline…
Firstly, you could try a UK bank – Natwest, HSBC, Barclays with their ePDQ service all have quite reasonable services available.
However if you meet any of these requirements, you’re probably best to look elsewhere:
- A startup
- No trading history
- ‘High risk‘ merchant
There’s a lot of work involved in gaining merchant accounts with UK banks and you can get the same thing elsewhere far easier.
In our experience, the best route is through those companies specifically set up to do one thing and one thing only – provide online merchant accounts.
These companies are more experienced in general, understand the mindset and requirements of website owners and in doing so, are usually far more accepting of new businesses. In our experience, your chances of being able to accept credit cards on your website are far, far greater with these companies than with UK banking institutions.
The main points to bear in mind when selecting an online merchant account are the charges paid for the privilage of being able to accept credit cards online, the time it takes from a customer paying by credit card on your website and you actually receiving payment (time varies from a few days to a month or more), and the features included in the service.
We can split the online credit card processing companies into two distinct groups.
The first of these are the “dead-certs” or the third party processors.
The benefit of third party processors for UK businesses is that you can be set up with merchant account facilities fast (anywhere from 5 minutes to a few days) and your chances of success are 100%.
That is, any website based in the UK can be accepting credit cards within the next 7 days guaranteed. I told you that you were going to like these guys didn’t I?
We have used a variety of third party processors ourselves in the past and interviewed many more businesses for this website and it’s safe to say there are two third party merchant accounts we recommend for UK businesses above all others.
Simply click on the links to read the full reviews of these two third party processors. They’ll pop up in a separate window so you won’t lose your place in this article.
Not sure? You can always use our merchant account fee calculator to check the savings for yourself.
However, as you might have expected, there is a downside to using third party merchant accounts for UK businesses.
It’s this. Firstly, you only get paid every 2-4 weeks (every 2 weeks for our two recommended companies). So if you’re selling a lot of items that are costing you money to buy before selling on, you’ll need enough capital to survive for a month or so.
Whilst the setup fees of these merchant accounts is small (it converts to around £35-£40 on average) the processing fees are far higher. You’ll be charged 5-10% of every sale just for being allowed to process credit cards.
If this doesn’t worry you and you’d like to be accepting credit cards tonight then go for it. The third party merchant accounts listed above are an ideal launch pad for new UK websites. We ourselves use both for different websites we operate, and are thoroughly satisfied with both.
However, if you want to accept credit cards like the big boys – with your own custom designed order form, processing rates closer to 2-4% and get hold of your money in a matter of days (5 days on average) then it will pay you to consider getting your own merchant account rather than using a third party service.
Sure, there’s slightly more paperwork involved in getting it set up and the intial setup fees are more but when you work out how much extra you’ll make each month because of savings in transaction fees, full-blown UK merchant accounts usually pay for themselves very quickly indeed.
Furthermore after this point, you’ll be making more each month thereafter due to the lower overhead.
Our top recommendation for UK businesses is PayPoint. To apply for PayPoint, just submit your contact details below. Your details will be forwarded to PayPoint to process your merchant account application.