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Best Virtual Terminal for Small Business

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Last editedApr 20233 min read

If you want to accept card payments over the phone, your business will need a virtual credit card terminal. UK businesses are spoiled for choice when it comes to this type of service, but how can you choose which virtual terminal solution is right for you? Keep reading for a breakdown and comparison of the business virtual terminals for small businesses.

What is a virtual terminal?

A virtual payment terminal acts as a digital credit card reader allowing businesses to accept card payments over the phone. There’s no need for any additional equipment or dedicated phone line – all you need is a secure internet connection. Virtual terminals appear as a streamlined webpage from the business’s end. You simply ask for your customer’s credit card details and input them into the webpage for processing.

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Why do you need a virtual payment terminal?

There are certain types of businesses that are more likely to need a virtual terminal than others. Restaurants can accept deposits, while ecommerce merchants can generate payment links. Retailers can send out product catalogues, and delivery services can accept orders over the phone. Some customers simply prefer making an order over the phone where they can speak to a customer service representative. In all these cases, virtual terminals are designed to handle what are known as MOTO, or ‘mail order/telephone order’ transactions.

Benefits include ease of use, a simple set-up, and the ability to take recurring payment from subscribers. There’s no need to worry about PCI compliance, as the provider handles and stores customer card details.

The UK’s five best virtual terminals for small business

There are dozens of virtual credit card terminal service providers out there Here are our top five picks within the UK.

1. Square

Square’s virtual terminal offers a simple flat fee of 2.5%. It’s ideal for freelancers, contractors, and small businesses who don’t need to process high volumes of transactions. The virtual terminal service handles PCI compliance and data security, keeping your customer card details safely encrypted.

2. SumUp

Another great option is SumUp, which is particularly well suited to start-ups and business beginners. It comes with a clean, user-friendly interface and easy setup. Like Square, SumUp charges a straightforward fee of 2.95% plus an additional 25p per transaction. You won’t need to worry about contracts or monthly fees.

3. PayPal

If your business already uses PayPal to accept payments, you might naturally want to add the company’s virtual terminal to your package. It comes with built-in brand recognition – most customers have heard of PayPal and trust it to process payments. This service also comes with additional features including activity tracking and analytical reports. Transaction fees are easy to understand, without any month-to-month charges. However, there are additional charges for cross-border payments and currency conversions, which is something to keep in mind for businesses with an international client base.

4. WorldPay

As your small business starts to grow, you might need a virtual terminal capable of processing higher volumes of transactions. WorldPay is a good option for those who need additional features including customer support and fraud management tools. Unlike the options mentioned above, it does come with minimum-term contracts which means you’ll pay a monthly fee for payment processing. At the advanced level, this includes the ability to accept mobile wallet payments and access 24/7 support.

5. Opayo

Our fifth choice is Opayo, formerly known as Sage Pay. This virtual payment terminal comes equipped with a bevy of features including built-in fraud screening, real-time reporting, and 24/7 customer support as standard. It is ideal for businesses who deal with customers abroad, allowing you to take payments in over 25 currencies over the phone.

6. GoCardless

GoCardless can also help businesses take payments online using Direct Debit. Unlike virtual terminals, which require manual input for each transaction, with Direct Debit payments customers only need to provide their payment details the first time. The business can then collect payments as they’re due, for greater convenience at both ends of the transaction.

Best virtual terminal for small business comparison table:


Best For

Key Benefit



Small ecommerce businesses

Range of free features

2.5% transaction fee


Small businesses

User friendliness

2.95% + 25p per transaction


PayPal business users

Widely used internationally

2.9% + 30p per transaction


All businesses

Handles high volumes of payments

£19/month (Standard) or £45/month (Advanced)


SME businesses

24/7 customer support

£15/month for small business plan

How to choose a virtual terminal solution

To narrow down the field and select the most appropriate virtual credit card terminal, you should consider the following factors.

  • Cost -Some virtual terminal providers don’t charge any monthly fees, including PayPal, SumUp and Square. If your monthly transaction volume fluctuates, this might be a better option. Be sure to compare transaction fees as well as any other hidden costs.

  • Flexibility - Does the provider offer a month-to-month plan or are you locked into a long-term contract? What types of packages are available? Pricing structures will vary along with contract lengths and types.

  • Customer support - For small ecommerce businesses, a higher level of support might be needed as you won’t have your own dedicated IT department. Look for providers that offer customer support, including weekends and evenings, to help you serve your own customers more effectively.

On a final note, you’ll need to open a merchant account to use alongside your virtual terminal. This is where the credit card funds are held for processing and clearance before they’re transferred to your business bank account. Fortunately, most providers offer both functions, but you should always double check before locking in any contract.

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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.

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Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

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