The 10 Best Retail Merchant Accounts

Your retail business needs a dependable processor with competitive services in order to reach more customers. However, finding the best one can be a huge undertaking. There are several merchant account providers in the UK and each one comes with a set of their own advantages and disadvantages.

When searching for the right processor, it’s important to consider account fees, available support, contract specifics in regards to duration, ability to cancel, fraud protection, high risk management and other services that can provide support for your retail business. You need to evaluate your company’s priorities, such as online processing, mobile card machines and more.

We’ve tried to take a bit of the work off of your shoulders by compiling a list of the 10 best retail processors in the UK, identifying pros, cons and specialty features to help you make an informed decision.

You should also never go with a processor that doesn’t provide multiple levels of security. All of the following processors are 3-D Secure, which includes a number of screening tools to keep your transactions safe from fraud.

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Universal Transaction Processing

Universal Transaction Processing (UTP) is a good processor for retailers of all sizes. A virtual terminal is included as part of their services, which is great for accessing from any computer, cutting out equipment fees while providing real-time processing, tracking, and reporting. It works in partnership with Barclays as its backend credit card processor.

The Pros

While there is no live chat option available, UTP offers superior customer service. Its payment gateway seamlessly integrates with approximately 25 third-party shopping cart solutions, giving you the ability to diversify. It also offers customised packaging options and access to countertop, mobile, and portable card machines.

The Cons

Contracts can have a long duration and the early termination fee may be as high as £25,000, which is steep when compared to other processors. There have also been complaints about the use of telemarketers and sales practices to gain new clientele.

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PaymentSense is good for companies that are focusing on countertop and e-commerce payment solutions. If you’re looking for mobile payment apps, this one is not for you. PaymentSense is the UK branch of the largest payment processor in the US, First Data, and services more than 30,000 accounts in the region.

The Pros

The minimum standard contract is 18 months, but there are no cancellation fees associated with ending the contract earlier. Sign-up is free and PaymentSense offers customised packaging. They provide 24/7 customer support, but there are no online chat options available.

The Cons

Cancellation fees do exist if you have leased a terminal through your account. There are no high risk management options through this processor. There’s also no contract length customisability.

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Secure Trading

Secure Trading is good for most e-commerce businesses of various sizes that have standard-risk. It’s also a good option for companies that have international dealings. Secure Trading is partnered with multiple banks and does not cite a preferred backend processor.

The Pros

Secure Trading offers one-year contracts that can be preferable to other merchant accounts that require two or three-year contracts. It has relatively favorable reviews online in regards to its pricing, customer service, and sales practices. There is an online chat option that begins with a bot but human support can be requested.

The Cons

While there’s no early termination fee per se, merchants will be held responsible for paying transactions and monthly fees for the remaining duration of the contract. This can be a huge negative impact when you are having to pay for other services that you acquire after terminating with Secure Trading.

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Card Cutters

Card Cutters caters to small businesses by offering the lower rates that are typically reserved for larger businesses. They provide features that meet the needs of most small businesses, including online payments, virtual terminals, and card payment machines. This is a relatively new processor and is an agent of Allied Irish Bank.

The Pros

Fast setup and free sign-on means that you’ll be processing payments in no time. While there is no contract length customisability, you’ll only be charged a termination fee if you are leasing equipment. Card Cutters offers a lot of perks to get you going, including back-office reporting, merchant cash advance, and the latest in security systems. They also provide a Google AdWords credit to get you started with paid advertising for your business. Clients also report enjoying Card Cutter’s transparent marketing processes.

The Cons

The lack of customisability can be a deterrent for some merchants who are looking for specific terms. There is also no high risk management options available, so this may not be a viable option depending on your industry.

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Lloyds Cardnet

Founded in 1997, Lloyds Cardnet is known as the merchant services department of Lloyds Bank, which is considered the largest retail bank in the UK. It provides merchant accounts as well as payment solutions to businesses of all sizes, based in the UK. It supports 51,000 merchants.

The Pros

They offer online management tools and the Clover POS system. It accepts a wide range of debit and credit cards, offers secure online payments, contactless payments, international transactions, and 24/7 UK-based customer support. It also provides mobile, portable, and countertop card machines.

The Cons

Their contracts are from 12 months to 36 months, with an early termination fee at £200. For new customers, there is a joining fee of £175. There were complaints about Lloyds putting long-term holds on funds and rolling reserves on payments. However, these complaints stemmed from high risk merchants.

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AIB Merchant Services

Founded in 1979 and with head offices in Dublin, Ireland,  AIB Merchant Services is one of Ireland’s largest providers of credit card payment solutions. They serve both Britain and Ireland, yet they process both credit and debit card payments across Europe. AIB accepts payments by phone, online, or in person.

The Pros

Other features offered include: dynamic currency conversion, tax free, an online data management system, the Clover EPOS system, comprehensive reporting, secure online payment processing, real time reporting, multi-currency settlement, shopping cart integration, a virtual terminal, fraud protection, mobile terminal lease/rental, telephone payments, and face-to-face payments.

The Cons

Some of the complaints filed against AIB include “shockingly bad customer service”, others cited difficulty signing into their account since the passwords never work. Others mentioned the PCI Compliance Fees being a “rip off”. They also reported slow response time from customer service agents.

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Based in London, UK, Paysafe is a merchant account provider that specializes in international brands and multi-currency payments. It accepts most major international and credit cards In fact, it supports more than 100 currencies, making it one of a few merchant account providers that facilitate payments in international markets.

The Pros

Paysafe provides its merchants with extensive fraud monitoring tools, payment gateway services, seamless integrations with Magento, Shopify, and WooCommerce. They also offer POS solutions, such as Clover, online and mobile card acceptance.

The Cons

There have been numerous complaints filed against Paysafe’s subsidiaries. These dealt with sales tactics that were misleading, undisclosed fees, funds placed on hold, high penalties for cancellation, equipment leases that were undesirable, and poor customer service. When it comes to their Paysafecard, an eCommerce platform to make prepaid purchases, there have been reports of account termination, demands for personal information, and poor customer support.

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Formerly known as Payzone, takepayments is one of the UK’s fastest growing card payment companies. It currently supports 45,000 small and independent businesses with its payments. It’s head office is located in Stockport, UK.

The Pros

Takepayments provides its merchants with card (PDQ) machines, as countertop and wireless devices. It also offers its own secure payment gateway that integrates seamlessly with more than 50 UK shopping carts. Merchants will also have access to the “Merchant Management System”, which is an “intuitive reporting tool” that enables merchants to keep track of all transactions in real time. There is no setup fee. It also features a 12 month contract, which could be considered the shortest in the industry.

The Cons

It has been reported that takepayments lacks transparency when it comes to disclosing its merchant account fees. Other businesses could find that their ecommerce solutions could be “overly simplistic”.

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Retail Merchant Services

Started in 2007, Retail Merchant Services is a merchant account provider that offers retail, mobile, and eCommerce payment processing to more than 27,000 merchants in both the UK and in Ireland. Headquartered in Milton Keynes, England, RMS offers its merchants a secure link for their customers to use for supporting payments.

The Pros

RMS offers countertop, portable, and mobile card machines. For online payments, they provide a payment gateway, e-invoices, shopping cart integrations, virtual terminals, and hosted or integrated payment pages.

The Cons

Several online reviewers reported that the RMS contract is a three-year agreement via Elavon. It has an automatic renewal clause for one-year terms. Early termination fee is £180. The terminal refurbishment fee after cancellation is £96. The PCI Compliance fee was reported to be up to £100 per year. There is also a 36-month terminal lease that cannot be cancelled.

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Best for small or emerging businesses, but still competitive enough to accommodate medium-sized businesses. iZettle is a mobile credit card processing app and card reader similar to GoPayment, Square, and PayPal, which acquired it in 2018. However, unlike those other options, it was created to accept chip-and-PIN cards.

The Pros

The affordable and easy-to-use reader works with iPhone, iPad, and Android devices making it accessible for most merchants. Month-to-month contracts with flat-rate pricing lets you know what to expect. There are also no early termination fees. The software boasts many benefits, including easy integration with 3rd-party POS systems, in-app invoicing, and basic employee management.

The Cons

There is no 24/7 customer service available or online chat functions. There is limited scalability in place to support your company as it grows.

Provider of the Month

Why Universal Transaction Processing

Universal Transaction Processing (UTP) has been offering competitive processing services for businesses of all sizes since 2013. The provided virtual terminal is great for accessing from any computer, and helping to cut out equipment fees while providing real-time processing, tracking, and reporting.

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