If you’re looking to take Direct Debit or recurring payments from your customers, you may find your existing payment service provider can’t help you out. In the case of Direct Debits, this is a separate niche from card payment processing and there are specialist companies you’ll need to look at for setting up Direct Debit payments with your customers.
When it comes to recurring payments, you may find your existing provider allows you to set up repeat card payments or create subscription plans – but features are generally inconsistent (if offered at all) between different companies.
In this article, we’re looking at the UK’s top ten Direct Debit and recurring payment services providers who help you choose the right combination for your business.
Smart Debit is the UK’s leading Direct Debit provider offering a well-rounded collection of services for enterprise businesses and SMEs and has and impressive list of major clients in the UK.
They offer 2 pricing tiers with their Bureau service offering the cheaper fee structure – £199 setup fee, £30 monthly fee and 20p per transaction. Their Bureau service is for companies who have their own SUN (service user number) which banks consider issuing around the £1M turnover level.
The company also offers cheque processing and it’s teamed up with Global Payments (Realex) to provide online payment services as well. SmartDebit has an excellent reputation for customer service and its account managers will help you make the most of its services.
GoCardless is a newcomer to the UK Direct Debit services scene but it has quickly built itself a strong reputation over the past few years. This is a modern company that’s looking to solve the payment challenges of modern businesses and its flexible approach to Direct Debit management is about as convenient as it can get – for you and your customers.
Aside from setting up weekly, monthly and other recurring payments, you can set different frequencies for more complex repeat purchases. You can also take one-off Direct Debit payments from customers for additional purchases, which means they never need to use their card.
GoCardless doesn’t charge you any setup fee and you also don’t need to pay a monthly fee for the Standard version of its services. However, the monthly fees for its Plus (£50/mo) and Pro (£200/mo) versions are a little steep and transaction fees can work out pricey, too, depending on the value of each transaction. GoCardless charges a 1% transaction fee but this starts at a minimum of 20p per transaction and caps at a maximum of £2 per transaction – so it really comes down to how much you’re charging for each payment.
Vindicia provides an extensive set of features for businesses selling subscription paid services. While there are other payment service companies that allow you to set up subscription payments, this tends to be an additional feature offered as part of wider payment services, which means you don’t get the same specialist features Vindicia has to offer.
Aside from setting up recurring subscription payments, Vindicia allows you to run campaigns, promotions and loyalty programmes to encourage more signups. You can also set up freemium subscriptions to get new customers on board and then upsell them to paid versions later on. Then you have Vinicia Select, an automated tool that aims to reduce customer churn and help you resolve missed payments.
London & Zurich is one of the most trusted names in Direct Debit payments with a long history of helping businesses collect repeat payments from customers. The company also offers card payment services for in-person and online purchases, as well as a payment gateway for you to accept payments over the phone.
London & Zurich is pretty competitive on pricing for SMEs, too.
You’re looking at £199 setup fee plus £29.99 per month and a flat 1.25% collection fee for every Direct Debit payment you collect. These are the kind of fees you’ll be looking at unless you expect to collect a very high volume/value of Direct Debit payments, in which case you can speak to London & Zurich’s sales team to get cheaper rates.
AccessPay also has an impressive list of clients to brag about but it expands beyond Direct Debit payments to provide accounting and payroll solutions, plus a range of other services. They offer an integrated cloud system for setting up Direct Debit payments with customers and managing payroll for your employees. You can do this from the same interface, which makes managing the two processing easy and the interface itself is intuitively designed.
They don’t charge any setup fees or transactions fees, which is isn’t something you’ll find very often in this business. Instead, you pay a flat annual fee for as long as you want to continue using the service. The only problem is it doesn’t list this annual fee on its website as it provides bespoke solutions. It may be worth negotiating by using quotes from other providers.
Eazy Collect allows you to set up Direct Debit payments across all of your sales channels: in-person, online, over the phone, via mobile app and using a tablet. It’s the only platform we know of that offers this kind of truly omnichannel Direct Debit service backed up by a highly secure payment system.
You can also set up flexible payment schedules and manage everything in the Eazy Collect application, which you can see in the video above. It’s not the most attractive of interfaces but it’s intuitive enough in terms of navigation and functionality, which is always more important.
Adyen is a payment services platform designed for modern retailers, software and tech companies. Used by the likes of Spotify, Microsoft and Booking.com, you’re in good company if you choose Adyen as your online payment solution.
While you can’t set up Direct Debit payments with Adyen directly, the platform comes with a really strong set of recurring payment and subscription features – including tools to increase customer retention and minimise cancelled subscriptions and failed payments.
FastPay offers simple, comprehensive Direct Debit services with two main packages: a Managed service for SMEs and a Bureau service for high-volume merchants. The company doesn’t delve into any other payment services so we’re talking about a true Direct Debit specialist here and it happens to be one of the most transparent companies in the business when it comes to pricing.
You can find the full list of fees for both Managed and Bureau services on the FastPay website. The only downsides are these prices aren’t exactly the cheapest options if you’re only going to be collecting a low volume of Direct Debit payments and the initial setup fees are a bit pricey, too. However, there are no monthly fees to pay, which will soon offset the setup fees (most companies charge both).
Clear Direct Debit not only provides Direct Debit processing services but also training and consultancy. So, if you’re looking to take advantage of Direct Debit payments but you’re not entirely sure what kind of setup is best suited to your business, Clear Direct Debit can take you through the entire process.
The company also offers Bacs accredited training for businesses across the UK, which can be useful if you’ve got a team who needs to get up to speed with Direct Debit payments. Unfortunately, Clear Direct Debit doesn’t list its payment processing fees on its website and the company has very little in terms of an online reputation, which makes it tricky to know which kind of businesses the company is most suitable for.
SmarterPay provides Direct Debit and Direct Credit processing, which allows you to set up on-off and recurring payments with customers, as well as pay staff and suppliers with Direct Credit. The company also offers card payment services for both in-person and online payments, complete with shopping cart and payment gateway for selling online. You’re also covered for MOTO transactions (mail order telephone order) and international payments in multiple currencies.
It adds up to a solid offering of payment services but SmartPay is another one guilty of not disclosing its pricing publicly. It also joins the list of Direct Debit processing companies that don’t have much of an online reputation, which only makes it more difficult to make an informed decision.
The potential is certainly there, though.
As you can see, the services offered by each Direct Debit and recurring payment service provider in this list can vary greatly. Pricing isn’t the only thing to consider here. You also need to look at your existing payment services – if you have any at all – and identify what else your business needs. If you’re only looking to add Direct Debit payments to your existing setup, then your choice is a little easier.
However, if you need something a little more specialised (such as advanced subscription payment features) then your list of options is going to be smaller.
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