To take credit card payments from your customers, you’ll need a payment gateway. But there are so many options to choose from, with bleeding-edge start-ups pitting their wares against global behemoths, that it can be difficult for small businesses to know where to turn. We’ve put together a simple guide to payment gateway providers, giving you some insight into the big names and helping you work out how to choose the best payment gateway for your business.
What is a payment gateway?
A payment gateway is a secure tool used by businesses to validate the payment details of their customers, ensuring that they have enough funds in their account to complete the transaction. Put simply, it’s the service that allows both online and offline businesses to authorise credit card transactions. While payment processing is a relatively complex process, payment gateways are responsible for three main areas: collection, transfer, and authorisation. First, the customer’s credit card details are collected. Then, they’re transferred to the payment processor. Finally, once payment has been accepted by the customer’s issuing bank, the payment gateway authorises the transaction.
Best payment gateways in the UK
There are lots of different payment gateway providers to choose from in the UK. We’ve put together a list of some of the best options, so you can find a provider that works for you:
Worldpay – Worldpay is the UK’s most popular online payment gateway. It’s a very flexible option (no joining fee) that accepts all major cards, while also providing comprehensive fraud screening. However, it’s worth noting that Worldpay isn’t a complete e-commerce solution, although it does come complete with a merchant account.
PayPal – PayPal is a trusted payment gateway provider that’s easy to set up and use. It’s also particularly speedy, with funds appearing in your PayPal account almost immediately after a transaction. Because of its simple and intuitive interface, this payment gateway is especially good for start-ups and small businesses. Plus, it’s great for international businesses or companies exploring international expansion, as it accepts 25 currencies in over 200 markets.
Stripe – Stripe is a full-service payment provider (offers both a payment gateway and a merchant account) that enables you to create a customised payment system for your business. It offers a flexible pricing structure, so it’s also a potential option for low volume businesses that don’t need to process a large number of transactions.
Sage Pay – Sage Pay is a great option for businesses that value security. It’s one of the world’s most trusted payment gateway providers, offering a pain-free checkout experience to your customers.
Amazon Pay – Amazon Pay is relatively easy to customise and enables you to complete transactions on your business’s own site. This online payment gateway is also familiar to customers, providing a smoother checkout experience with less friction.
How to choose the best online payment gateway for your business?
It’s clear that there are lots of excellent options when it comes to online payment gateways. When you’re deciding which provider to go with, there are several issues you should consider, including:
Speed – How quickly do you need to start accepting payments? Some payment gateway providers, such as PayPal and Stripe, allow you to sign up and get started immediately. In other cases, you may need to wait before your merchant account is set up.
Payment flow – Most payment gateways give you a couple of different options when it comes to customising your payment flow, including a site with an integrated payment form, iFrame, or an Escrow system. Choose a provider that offers a payment flow that works within your site’s existing infrastructure.
Cost – There are lots of different costs you need to be aware of, including set-up costs, admin costs, and transaction costs. Typically, payment gateways cost around £600–900 to set up, with a £50–100 monthly fee and 15p + 2% per transaction. If you accept lots of transactions, high costs aren’t such a big deal, but if you deal with a lower volume, you should avoid payment gateways with high monthly fees.
Ultimately, the best payment gateway for your company depends on your business’s needs and existing infrastructure. But by making the right choice, you can have an immediate impact on your customer’s experience, and hopefully boost your company’s profitability and cash flow at the same time.
We can help
GoCardless helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of admin your team needs to deal with when chasing invoices. Find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc payments or recurring payments.