Merchant Account Providers in 2019

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What Is a Merchant Account Provider?

Merchant account providers grant businesses the opportunity to accept debit and credit card transactions in payment for goods and services. There are currently various merchant account providers within the market, offering different features to organisations according to their customers’ needs, such as support for high risk merchant accounts, transactions over the phone and in physical stores, online payment processing, as well as support both for smaller and larger businesses.

Nowadays, card transactions are on the rise. This makes the implementation of card payment machines and merchant accounts necessary. Banks usually outsource their merchant services to external partners specialised in payment processing, known as Independent Sales Organisations (ISO).

An ISO is a middle ground player within the card payment system that can handle merchant account providers for businesses. An ISO has a pre-established relationship with a bank and is responsible for monitoring the income of the merchant. An ISO is capable of:

  • Acquiring or issuing functions
  • Approaching new customers
  • Providing technical support
  • Soliciting cardholders

If you need more information about merchant account providers, feel free to complete the contact form to receive up to 4 free quotes, without any further obligation.

Merchant Account Providers

What You Need to Know about Merchant Account Providers

How Do I Choose a Merchant Service Provider?
Merchant Account Costs & Fees
Major Merchant Account Providers in the UK
Find the Best Merchant Account Provider for Your Business

How Do I Choose a Merchant Service Provider?

There are currently many merchant account providers on the market for you to choose from. No matter if you are looking for a regular payment processor or an online merchant account  to accept card payments from online customers, your options are vast.

Therefore, it is important to choose the most relevant merchant account provider for your business and your customers’ goals, as they may be able to offer other related services, such as offering the best mobile card machines for your company.

The role of card payment services has become increasingly important, due to the customer’s increasing expectation for card transaction payments for buying goods and services. As so, it is very important to choose a transparent merchant service provider that distributes its services at a reasonable price.

The following table showcases the top 10 major merchant account providers currently leading UK's card payment solutions services by providing payment processing services to a significant amount of clients.

To learn more about each company and get additional information, you can click on their respective logo.

Secure Trading Logo Payment Sense Logo Worldpay Logo Universal Transaction Logo Sage Pay Logo Lloyds Banking Group Logo Global Payments Logo iZettle Logo Card Cutters Logo First Data Logo
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Merchant Accounts Costs & Fees

There are mainly three types of merchant account cost policies that payment processing companies follow. These include:

  • Interchange-plus pricing
  • Tiered pricing
  • Flat rate pricing

Interchange-Plus Pricing

The interchange-plus pricing structure, also known as cost-plus pricing, comprises three different elements: the interchange rate, the card-brand fee, and merchant account services markup.

Considering that there are two main card issuer companies on the market, MasterCard and Visa, they are capable of determining both the interchange rate and the card-brand fee. These two pricing components are inflexible, meaning that neither the merchant account provider nor the business owner can alter them.

Moreover, the merchant account service’s markup is a percentage that is added by the payment processing company in exchange for their provided features and services. Although the way that the merchant account service’s markup is calculated varies based on the merchant service provider, most of them include a fee for every completed transaction, in addition to the standard fees.

The transaction fee typically ranges between 1.75-2.75%, depending on various factors, such as:

  • The industry the merchant is operating in
  • The transaction volume
  • The average monthly income

Although the interchange-plus pricing is considered to be the most beneficial and transparent option, it is only recommended for well established businesses. In the beginning, it is advised that a merchant operates within a tiered pricing policy.

Tiered Pricing

The tiered pricing structure, also called bucket pricing is the most widely used pricing model, amongst the three. The tiered pricing strategy combines interchange rates, card-brand, and markup fees into a single integrated cost with separate transactions fees for different tiers. The tiers are categorised in various sections with different layers for credit and debit card transactions, such as:

  • Qualified: They apply to usual debit cards that are used in person-to-person transactions through a card reader.
  • Mid-Qualified: They are referred to rewards credit cards.
  • Non-Qualified: They are referred to premium rewards, business and foreign credit cards.

Despite the fact that most merchant account providers have three tiers, some card payment solutions provide up to six alternatives. As so it’s important to gain information about your customers’ needs beforehand, in order to select the most cost-effective tier for your business. If most of your customers use traditional debit credit cards and card machines, this model may be a good fit.

Flat Rate Pricing

The flat rate pricing model is based on charging a single, fixed percentage per transaction completed. This pricing model is ideal for accepting card payments for mobile merchant service providers and small businesses that process less than £2,500 on a monthly basis.

Payment Services Providers

Major Merchant Account Providers in the UK

There are multiple merchant account providers currently operating in the UK. This can make the process of choosing the best payment company for your business a time-consuming procedure.

To facilitate you with this process, Market Inspector has selected the top 10 major merchant account providers in the UK. The list was developed by using 7 criteria:

  • Customised Pricing: this measure indicates the possibility to adjust payment plans to the business’ needs
  • Free Sign-On: some merchant account providers do charge administrative fees for opening an account
  • 24/7 Customer Support: this criteria highlights the presence of a 24/7 support service to help the customer
  • High Risk Management: businesses with high volume transactions, or a high number of chargebacks, cancelled or non-authorised transactions are deemed high-risk
  • Wireless Terminal: this measure highlights the possibility for the customer to order a wireless device
  • Free Cancellation: this criteria shows the presence of a fee in case of early dissolution of a contract

A summary of the merchant account providers and their respective Market Inspector Score can be seen in the following tables.

Secure Trading

Market Inspector Score: 6/6

Secure Trading is a payment processing company established in London in 1997. Its merchant services include e-commerce, which has become increasingly important for businesses both in the UK and the US. It is an appealing company for the high risk industrial sector and small start-ups. Also, as it has good experience in the gaming industry it’s are a good alternative for online gaming companies.

The contracts the company provides are based on a yearly term, and are renewed automatically without any early termination fees. However, the merchant should cancel the contract 180 days prior to the expiry of the current term, with the merchant account holding company being responsible for the various monthly transaction fees.

Secure Trading Features Overview
FeaturesEvaluation
Customised Pricing Checkmark
Free Sign-On Checkmark
24/7 Customer Support Checkmark
High Risk Management Checkmark
Wireless Terminal Checkmark
Free Cancellation Checkmark

PaymentSense

Market Inspector Score: 5/6

PaymentSense is a large merchant account provider on the UK market, currently offering its services to more than 30,000 businesses. The company offers a standard contract for a minimum duration of 18 months, while its pricing model depends on the type and size of the merchant account owner.

In the case of this merchant account provider there is no cancellation fee for closing the account earlier than the conclusion of the contract. However, if the merchant account owner also leased a terminal, they will incur cancellation fees on that agreement.

PaymentSense Features Overview
FeaturesEvaluation
Customised Pricing Checkmark
Free Sign-On Checkmark
24/7 Customer Support Checkmark
High Risk Management Crossmark
Wireless Terminal Checkmark
Free Cancellation Checkmark

Worldpay

Market Inspector Score: 5/6

Worldpay is a worldwide payment processor with active clients all over the globe. Being one of the first merchant account providers within the payment services and card payment processing industry, the company managed to build one of the biggest and strongest customer bases, while constantly developing and improving its services.

As such, Worldpay has managed to keep a high rate of satisfaction amongst its customers. Yet, the few existing complaints are in relation to the high early termination fees for the service.

Nevertheless, Worldpay has a standard range of offerings, with one of their highlights being the ability to include services such as gift cards and loyalty programmes within its system, making it one of the best merchant services in the UK.

Worldpay Features Overview
FeaturesEvaluation
Customised Pricing Checkmark
Free Sign-On Checkmark
24/7 Customer Support Checkmark
High Risk Management Checkmark
Wireless Terminal Checkmark
Free Cancellation Crossmark

Universal Transaction Processing

Market Inspector Score: 5/6

Universal Transaction Processing is a newly founded merchant account provider for any type and size of merchant in the UK. While the majority of merchant companies use First Data and Global Payments as their credit card processor, Universal Transaction Processing uses Barclays.

Universal Transaction Processing has a good relationship with its customers, as seen through the multiple positive reviews currently available. It is a good alternative for small and medium companies, especially concerning the free sign-on.

Universal Transaction Processing Features Overview
FeaturesEvaluation
Customised Pricing Checkmark
Free Sign-On Checkmark
24/7 Customer Support Checkmark
High Risk Management Checkmark
Wireless Terminal Checkmark
Free Cancellation Crossmark

Sage Pay

Market Inspector Score: 5/6

Sage Pay offers different merchant account options according to your business needs. Customers vary from small startups to large businesses. Moreover, the merchant account provider offers payroll services and accounting.

The reasons for Sage Pay's success are the award-winning customer support and industry-leading security system.

Universal Transaction Processing Features Overview
FeaturesEvaluation
Customised Pricing Checkmark
Free Sign-On Checkmark
24/7 Customer Support Checkmark
High Risk Management Checkmark
Wireless Terminal Checkmark
Free Cancellation Crossmark

Lloyds Bank Cardnet

Market Inspector Score: 4/6

Lloyds Bank Cardnet serves as the merchant services division for Lloyds Bank, the largest retail bank in the UK. The company offers merchant account services for businesses of all types and sizes with a client base of more than 55,000 merchants.

This merchant account provider has a free sign-on policy only for customers that already own a bank account at Lloyds Bank. Another relevant aspect to mention is the presence of expensive fees for high risk business accounts.

Lloyds Bank Cardnet has managed to maintain a fairly low number of complaints, mostly indicating a worthy customer support service. Over the years, Lloyds' merchant account provider has proved to be reliable with a high degree of transparency.

Lloyds Bank Cardnet Features Overview
FeaturesEvaluation
Customised Pricing Checkmark
Free Sign-On Crossmark
24/7 Customer Support Checkmark
High Risk Management Checkmark
Wireless Terminal Checkmark
Free Cancellation Crossmark

Global Payments

Market Inspector Score: 5/6

Global Payments is one of the largest merchant account providers within the payment processing industry, operating in over 54 countries. The company’s reputation of ‘helping you find any and all solutions you need’ is a perfect representation of its excellent customer service.

Global Payments handles everything internally, which makes it a great fit for businesses with complex needs. As the merchant account provider offers flexible pricing model, you can get tailored offers, such as low rates based on your volume and your business needs.

Global Payments Features Overview
FeaturesEvaluation
Customised Pricing Checkmark
Free Sign-On Crossmark
24/7 Customer Support Checkmark
High Risk Management Checkmark
Wireless Terminal Checkmark
Free Cancellation Crossmark

iZettle

Market Inspector Score: 3/6

iZettle is one of the best mobile card machines currently available in the UK. By combining an integrated solution through its user-friendly and intuitive mobile application, card reader equipment, and no setup fees, it’s an ideal solution for taking card payments for small businesses. The customer has to pay only when a transaction is successfully made.

The transaction fee starts at 1.25% per transaction and follows a downward trend based on the volume of business and the country the merchant is operating in. iZettle's merchant account provider is currently available in a limited selection of countries, including UK, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Spain, France, Denmark, Norway, Italy, the Netherlands, Brazil, and Mexico.

iZettle Features Overview
FeaturesEvaluation
Customised Pricing Checkmark
Free Sign-On Checkmark
24/7 Customer Support Crossmark
High Risk Management Crossmark
Wireless Terminal Checkmark
Free Cancellation Checkmark

Card Cutters

Market Inspector Score: 3/6

Card Cutters, a relatively new payment processing company, serves approximately 6,000 merchants through its services in the UK. Services include standard pricing, transparent contract terms, and free sign-on. The main pricing model that Card Cutters promotes is the interchange-plus pricing.

Although Card Cutters has a significantly lower client base compared to the other merchant account providers, they have an excellent customer satisfaction rate. Also, it does not have cancellation fees but if you are renting a terminal, you will incur fees for terminating the rental early.

Card Cutters Features Overview
FeaturesEvaluation
Customised Pricing Crossmark
Free Sign-On Checkmark
24/7 Customer Support Checkmark
High Risk Management Crossmark
Wireless Terminal Checkmark
Free Cancellation Checkmark

First Data

Market Inspector Score: 5/6

First Data handles every operation internally, and currently has more than 7 million merchant clients worldwide. The wide variety of products support services like e-commerce, mobile processing providers, unique merchant account providers, and POS software providers, ideal for businesses with complex needs.

Furthermore, it offers a wide range of resources and support for third party integration with Google Wallet, offering merchants the ability to legally and securely accept mobile payments.

First Data Features Overview
FeaturesEvaluation
Customised Pricing Checkmark
Free Sign-On Crossmark
24/7 Customer Support Crossmark
High Risk Management Checkmark
Wireless Terminal Checkmark
Free Cancellation Crossmark

Find the Best Merchant Account Provider for Your Business

Finding the best merchant account provider and mobile POS system for your business can be a time consuming and complicated procedure. Different interests based on your business and your customers’ needs lead to various card payment solutions that can be adapted.

Market Inspector can help you with the decision making process. By filling in the contact form above, you can receive up to 4 free quotes that are completely non-binding.

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