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Compare payment processors and secure the lowest payment processing fees for your business

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16 Payment Gateways and Online Payment Systems 2024

We’ll list the more popular payment gateways that can integrate with multiple merchant account providers and those that offer all in one solutions.

Typically, there are three different options to choose from when thinking about using payment gateway on your website. Most payment gateway providers offer at least 2 of these integration options.

Jump to:

Examples: Paypal, Amazon Pay

Website owners can simply copy and paste the payment link onto their own website and customer’s are directed to to a separate payment page when they want to make an online payment. 

This option has the advantages of simplicity and the security offered by the payment gateway. However, this payment gateway means less control for the merchant and also adds a second step which can effect conversion rates. 

Examples: Stripe Checkout, Braintree Direct

Rather than being collected on a 3rd party site, customer payment details are collected directly on the merchant’s website when self hosted payment gateways are installed. The customer’s card details are then encrypted and submitted to the 3rd party payment gateway for authorisation.

This has a much better user experience compared to hosted as the payment page is displayed within the merchant’s website. Most payment gateways also make this relatively easy to install with a simple widget, plugin or code snipper to paste in. 

However, you still won’t be able to control your customers’ entire payment experience and if there are any quirks on the payment gateway site, you won’t be able to amend that for your customers.

API Hosted Gateways enable the entire payment process occurs on the merchants website and servers. This is great if you have a large business and you are working with a large volume of sales. 

Unfortunately, although you now have the power to control your customers’ entire payment experience, you’ll need to pay extra for SSL certification and ensure that the payment process is PCI DSS compliant as you are responsible for security.

Summary of Payment Gateway Fees & Types

Some of the most popular payment gateway providers for UK merchants are listed below (we also cover the best international payment gateways here).  If you are not sure how they work or what elements to consider when reviewing payment providers that process online payments them please jump down to our guide on how a payment gateway works and how to choose one.
Payment Gateway ProviderMonthly Fee

UK Transaction Fees

Free Transactions IncludedType: (Payment Facilitator, ISO, Merchant Acquirer)Checkout Integration: (Hosted, Self-Hosted, API)
PayPal£0 – £201.29% – 3.4% + 20-30pNonePayment facilitatorHosted
StripeNone

1.2% – 2.9% + 20p


0.4% for invoices

NonePayment facilitatorSelf-hosted, API
BraintreeNone1.9% + 20pNonePayment facilitatorSelf-hosted
NochexNone

2.9% – 3.2% + 20p


£10/month for phone payments

NonePayment facilitatorSelf-hosted
Checkout.comNone0.95% – 2.9% + $0.20 fees per transactionNonePayment Service ProviderSelf-hosted, API
AdyenNoneVariesNonePayment Service Provider

Self-hosted, API

Worldpay

£0 - £19.95

1.5% for Mastercard and Visa (Amex, Diners and Discover is higher)


Custom rates above £300,000 per year

None

Merchant acquirer

Hosted, Self-hosted, API

Authorize.Net$25

Payment gateway only: $0.10 per transaction and $0.10 per batch


All-in-one account: 2.9% + $0.30

NoneMerchant acquirerAPI
Verifone (2Checkout)None

3.5% + 25p to 6% + 45p

None

Payment Service Provider

Self-hosted, API
Trust PaymentsVariesVariesVariesMerchant acquirerSelf-hosted, API
Cardstream£189.9p added over 350 transactions350Independent Payment GatewaySelf-hosted, API
BlueSnap$75 for less than 2,500 in transactions per month2.9% + $0.30None

Merchant acquirer

Self-hosted, API
OpayoStarts at £32Start at 0.9%

350 - 500

Merchant acquirerHosted, Self-hosted, API
Shopify Payments£25-259

1.6% - 2.9% + $0.30 (20p); depends on Shopify pricing plan

NonePayment facilitatorHosted, API
MollieNone1.2% – 2.9% + 20-30pNonePayment Service ProviderSelf-hosted, API
SquareNone1.75%NonePayment facilitatorHosted, Self-hosted, API
16 Payment Gateways and Online Payment Systems 2024 stripe logo
Pros
Cons

Stripe

Stripe has millions of customers around the world due to its large set of tools across payment processing and data analysis. Stripe’s optimised checkout flow focuses on the user experience to limit sales friction. Its checkout options are customisable and allow you to take payments from an extensive range of methods and currencies.

Payment methods accepted: Credit and debit cards, bank transfers, direct debits, Click to Pay, digital wallets (Alipay, Apple Pay, Google Pay, WeChat Pay), Clearpay, Klarna, plus seven local payment methods, in 135+ currencies.
 

Integration: Stripe offers a hosted payment gateway called Stripe Checkout, modular UI’s that can easily be integrated called Stripe Elements or an API for merchants that want more control over how their online checkout.

You also have the option to integrate into a wide range of third-party systems, including shopping carts, invoicing systems, analytics tools, email systems, fundraising programs, marketplaces, mobile and card systems as well as a number of POS systems.

They accept all major credit and debit cards in more than 135 currencies and is PCI compliant.

The most common complaints with Stripe are withheld funds and unresponsive customer service when it matters most.

Stripe UK Fees

Stripe’s UK fees are relatively expensive and we can typically find business better alternatives to Stripe with lower card transaction fees. 

  • 1.4% + 20p for UK cards
  • Additional 1.1% for EEA cards
  • 2.9% + 20p for international cards + 2% for currency conversion
  • 1.2% + 20p for all UK cards through Link one-click checkout
  • 1% (min 20p, max £2) Bacs Direct Debit
  • 0.4% per paid invoice

Stripe Features

  • Accept payments from all major card issuers
  • Accept payment in 135+ currencies
  • Extensive wallet payment support
  • Extensive local payments support
  • Fully customisable checkout experience
  • Build your own checkout from scratch using Stripe.js
  • Advanced security features
  • Financial reports
  • Extensive integration with third-party platforms
You may also be interested in:
16 Payment Gateways and Online Payment Systems 2024 Adyen Logo
Pros
Cons

Ayden

Ayden is a Dutch financial technology platform that combines payments, data, and financial management in a single software product. Merchants can accept e-commerce, point-of-sale and mobile payments, connecting online and in-store data in one system.

Adyen offer advanced features that are best suited to large businesses. The platform allows you to combine payment processing from a range of payment methods with useful data analytics. But Adyen’s pricing structure is relatively complex as it depends on the payment method.

You can use Adyen to take a broad range of payment methods, from card payments to Apple Pay in over 150 currencies. 

Many big companies such as Uber, LinkedIn and Microsoft use Adyen to handle both business and customer transactions.

Adyen’s pricing structure can be rather confusing to understand, and processing fees differ with the method of payment. The firm uses Interchange pricing, but to take advantage of this, you will need a merchant bank account.

Payment methods accepted: Credit and debit cards, direct debit, Trustly bank transfer, digital wallets (Alipay, Amazon Pay, Samsung Pay, WeChat Pay), Clearpay, Klarna, PayPal, PaySafe Card, Zip.

Ayden UK Fees

The charge interchange plus pricing so a fixed processing fee plus a fee determined by the payment method. Some of the fees of the most popular payment methods are below.
 
All are in addition to a processing processing fee of £0.10
  • Mastercard: Interchange ++
  • Visa: Mastercard: Interchange ++
  • Maestro: Interchange ++
  • American Express: 3.95%

You can see a full breakdown of Adyen’s fees here and a summary in the table below and how Adyen compares to Stripe here.

Payment method Fee
Clearpay 4.19% + 30p
Alipay 3%
Amazon Pay Mastercard & Visa 0.8% + Interchange++ American Express 0.8% + 3.95% SEPA direct debit 0.8% + €0.25
American Express 3.95%
Apple Pay Depends on card used
BACS direct debit 50p
Diners 3.95%
Discover 3.95%
Google Pay Depends on card used
JCB 3.75%
Klarna 4.99% + 20p
Maestro Interchange ++
Mastercard Interchange ++
PayPal PayPal contract
PaySafeCard 10-12% depending on merchant’s industry
Samsung Pay Depends on card used
SOFORT 1% (min €0.12) for physical goods, 2% (min €0.12) for digital goods
Trustly €0.50, additional rates up to 3% for gaming, gambling, travel and financial services
UnionPay 3%
Visa Interchange ++
WeChat Pay 3%
Zip 4.25%
16 Payment Gateways and Online Payment Systems 2024 paypal 784404 960 720
Pros
Cons

Paypal

Payment methods accepted: Debit and credit cards, PayPal wallet, PayPal credit and 10+ local payment methods in more than 100 currencies from 200+ markets.

Integration Options: Redirect pay buttons for individual items and API-hosted checkout integration into your website.

PayPal is one of the easiest eCommerce payment gateways to add to your online store and offers a range of customisable options from simply adding pay buttons that redirect to its payment page or fully customisable integrated checkouts.

The trade-off for ease of use for small businesses is the higher transaction fees.(see Paypal’s merchant fees). 

There are also numerous complaints from PayPal business that accounts can be suspended without justification and getting a resolution can take too long. 

The ideal PayPal customer is going to be a small business with a relatively low volume of card transactions that will be willing to sacrifice higher transaction fees for the ease of use.  

Paypal UK Fees

 StandardBlendedInterchange
PayPal Online 1.2% + 30pInterchange + 1.2% + 30p
Website Payments Pro
(Express Checkout)
£20 per month
2.9% + fixed fee3.4% + 30pInterchange + 2.9% + 30p
Virtual Terminal
(Express Checkout)
£20 per month
2.9% + fixed fee1.2% + 30pInterchange + 1.2% + 30p
Alternative Payment Methods
(APM)
1.2% – 30p  
QR Code Transactions
above £10
2%+ 5p  
QR Code Transactions
up to £10
1.5%+ 5p  

Additional fees

  • 0.5%  – 2% cross-border fee for non-UK cards
  • 2.5% for currency conversion
16 Payment Gateways and Online Payment Systems 2024 Worldpay from FIS Logo Red High Resolution PNG
Pros
Cons

Worldpay Payment Gateway

Worldpay eCommerce by FIS Global offers one of the most widely used and robust payment gateways, accepting an extensive range of payment methods and currencies. 

It offers a pay-as-you-go option as well as monthly subscription plans, so you can choose what works best for your needs. WorldPay’s default design looks dated compared with newer competitors but you can use the API-hosted version to get your checkout page the way you want it.

Worldpay has been part of Fidelity National Information Services (FIS) Global since 2019 and is used by over 250,000 UK small and medium enterprises.

It is the UK’s biggest payment service provider and it offers everything you need to accept payments online, in-store and over the phone. They offer one of most robust payment gateways in the industry but the default design is dated. Hopefully they will spend more time of their UX.

Businesses with relatively high card turnover will be offered some of the best transaction rates and overall fees in the industry.  

Some businesses are put off their contract length and termination fees but they are becoming more flexible to retain market share and improve customer experience. As always, we’d advise you to negotiate or go use us to secure competitive rates from them.  

Payment methods accepted: 300+ payment methods in 126 currencies, including credit and debit cards, digital wallets and local payments

Integration options: Hosted payment page and API hosted website integration

There is no minimum monthly charge and some other benefits included at no extra cost include:

  • Free next-business-day settlement
  • Virtual Terminal
  • Worldpay Hosted Payments Page
  • Access to your Worldpay portal to manage your online payments
  • FraudSight™ and 3DS Flex™ basic

Worldpay Gateway Fees

 

Worldpay eCommerce

Business Gateway

Corporate Gateway

Monthly fee

None

£19.95

Bespoke

Transaction rate

1.3%+20p

10p

Based on volume

Transactions included

Not applicable

350

 
16 Payment Gateways and Online Payment Systems 2024 trustpayments

Trust Payments

Trust Payments is on a mission to be viewed as one of the best online payment gateways in the UK. 

It offers a payment gateway as part of its wider range of merchant account services. It boasts an impressive 99.97% uptime record and is big on security and it’s won awards for payment innovations – most recently for in-game payments on mobile.

With this in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Trust Payments’ gateway integrates very well with mobile and supports a wide range of alternative payments. 

Payment methods accepted: Credit and debit cards and local European payments (Giropay, SOFORT, esp, iDEAL)

 

Integration options: Hosted API

Fees are bespoke and available on application. We can also secure competitive rates from Trust Payments. 

opayo payment gateway
Pros
Cons

Opayo

Opayo, formerly known as Sage Pay, is one of the UK’s most trusted and widely used payment service providers. The company was acquired in 2020 by Elavon, a payment processor and subsidiary of U.S. Bancorp.

Opayo prioritises data security, encrypting all transaction information, storing data on highly secure systems and transmitting data to the banking network via private links. The platform can be used for merchants and customers. It is mainly used by merchants, particularly for online payments.

You can use Opayo to receive fast and secure online payments, accept card payments in-store using standalone and integrated card terminals, and process phone and mail orders with its web-based virtual terminal. The payment platform has a cloud-based analytics portal with insights into your customer data.

Opayo offers free 24/7 UK-based customer service over the phone, via email, and through social media, so you can always get help and advice — even if it’s outside business hours or a bank holiday.

Payment methods accepted: Credit and debit cards, PayPal and local payment methods (Sofort, Giropay, iDeal, eps).

Integration options: Redirect, hosted and self-hosted checkouts.

Opayo Gateway Fees

Plan Flex Plus Bespoke
Monthly fee £32 £45 Custom
Transactions included 350 350 + 500 token (single-click) 3,000+
Transaction fee 12p above 350 transactions
mollie payment gateway
Pros
Cons

Mollie

Mollie offers a fast and easy account setup process. It accepts a wide range of payment methods with a transparent fee structure, although it charges different fees for each one. There are no monthly account charges or long-term contracts. If you use the hosted API option, you need to make sure that it is secure as the integration is somewhat clunky.

Mollie is a popular choice among businesses getting started in eCommerce as it offers a fast account registration and setup process. The service has transparent and simple-to-understand fees with no monthly charges or long-term contracts. That means you should be able to start taking payments within days rather than weeks.

They off an easy-to-use interface that provides integrations with different platforms such as Shopify, WooCommerce and Magento using free plugins or APIs, and allows merchants to accept multiple payment methods. It’s worth noting though, that while Mollie supports Apple Pay and PayPal, it does not accept Google Pay.

The way that API keys are stored is insecure, so you will need the ability to create a server script that your app can call to create a secure payment.

The standard transaction fee for credit card payments is 1.2% + 20p for UK cards and more for other payment methods. Mollie offers volume pricing for enterprises that process more than €50,000 per month.

Payment methods accepted: Mastercard, Visa and American Express credit and debit cards, SEPA transfers and direct debits, Apple Pay, PayPal, Klarna, PostePay, PaySafeCard, local payments (SOFORT, iDEAL, Giropay, EPS, Bancontact, In3, KBC, Belfius, Przelewy24)

Integration options: Hosted and API hosted

Payment method Transaction fees
Mastercard & Visa 1.2% + 20p for UK cards, 2.9% + 20p for non-UK cards
American Express 2.5% + 20p for UK cards, 2.6% + 20p for non-UK cards
Apple Pay Defined by card used
SOFORT 1.3% + 20p
SEPA bank transfer and direct debit 30p
PaySafeCard 15%
PayPal 10p + PayPal fees
Klarna pay now 1.45% + 25p for Austria, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands
Klarna pay later 2.99% + 35p for Austria & Germany, 2.99% + £1 for Netherlands & Belgium, 2.79% + £5 for Finland
Klarna pay in 3 3.99% + 95p for Netherlands, 3.69% + 20p for France
Klarna: Slice it 2.99% for Austria & Germany, 0.99% + 59p for Finland
iDEAL 30p
Giropay 1.5% + 20p
EPS 1.5% + 20p
Bancontact 1.4% + 20p
In3 3.99% + 95p
KBC Payment Button 0.9% + 30p
Belfius Pay Button 0.9% + 30p
Gift cards 25p + brand for Netherlands
Przelewy24 2.2% + 20p
Eco- gift and meal vouchers 0.5% + 50p
PostePay 1.2% + 20p
16 Payment Gateways and Online Payment Systems 2024 Square Inc. logo.svg
Pros
Cons

Square

Square is a payment facilitator that offers online payments with no dedicated merchant account. The standard online payment service is relatively basis and you will need to pay £9 per month for more features most businesses will require (e.g. custom domain and no Square ads). 

Their online payment service syncs effortlessly with its card readers and software platforms, as well as other POS systems, making it simple to accept virtually any payment method.

Their online store builder tool allows for easy integration with its payment processing, although it is relatively basic compared with competing offerings.

Square charges 1.4% + 25p for UK cards in online transactions and 2.5% + 25p for non-UK cards. At the highest subscription tier (£54/month) these fees drop to 1.4% + 15p for UK cards and 2.5% + 15p for non-UK cards.  

Merchants do not pay any monthly or statement fees and are not subject to monthly minimum transaction thresholds. Square is a good option if you have low transaction volumes but their fees will not be competitive for most SME’s trading online. 

As a third-party payment processor Square often terminates accounts that it deems high risk, making them less stable than using a merchant account provider.

Payment methods accepted: Credit and debit cards, Clearpay.

Integration options: Redirect buyer to a prebuilt checkout page or use Square API hosted page or use the Square Web Payments SDK and the server-side Payments API for a self-hosted checkout

Square Fees

Payment TypeTransaction fees
Online

1.4% + 25p for UK cards.

2.5% + 25p for non-UK cards.

Drops to 1.4%/2.5% + 15p at highest subscription tier

In-person1.75%
Virtual terminal

1.4% + 25p for UK cards. 2.5% + 25p for non-UK cards.

Drops to 1.4%/2.5% + 15p at highest subscription tier

Invoices

1.4% + 25p for UK cards.

2.5% + 25p for non-UK cards.

Drops to 1.4%/2.5% + 15p at highest subscription tier

Online checkout link recurring payments

1.4% + 25p for UK cards.

2.5% + 25p for non-UK cards.

Drops to 1.4%/2.5% + 15p at highest subscription tier

16 Payment Gateways and Online Payment Systems 2024 Shopify Logo
Pros
Cons

Shopify Payments

A part of the Shopify eCommerce platform, Shopify Payments allows you to take payments from customers from your Shopify or Shopify Plus-based online store in a fast, seamless and secure checkout process.

Shopify Payments uses Stripe technology, but it is integrated fully into the Shopify dashboard and is more merchant-friendly than the Stripe platform.

Shopify’s card processing fees are competitive with other major payment providers. Shopify Payments charges a payment processing fee that depends on the type of payment card the customer uses and where the card is registered. Payments from cards issued in the same country as your store incur lower fees than cards issued in other countries.

If you use Shopify Payments as your payment provider with Shopify Plus, you don’t need to pay third-party transaction fees (Merchants in Austria, Belgium and Sweden do pay fees). You will need to pay a 2% currency conversion fee when you accept payments in foreign currencies. Stores based in the US pay a 1.5% fee.

If you have any questions or issues, Shopify Payments offers 24/7 support over the phone or live chat.

Payment methods accepted: Debit and credit cards, Bancontact and iDEAL

Integration options: Hosted

Shopify Payment Fees

Plan Basic Shopify Advanced
Monthly fee £19 £49 £259
Online credit and
debit card fees
2% + 25p 1.7% + 25p 1.5% + 25p
Online international and
Amex card fees
3.1% + 25p 2.7% + 25p 2.5% + 25p
Bancontact and
iDEAL payments
2.2% + 20p 1.9% + 20p 1.6% + 20p
In-person credit and
debit card fees
1.7% 1.6% 1.5%
16 Payment Gateways and Online Payment Systems 2024 braintree paypal logo black 1
Pros
Cons

Braintree

Braintree provides a more advanced option for businesses looking beyond the capabilities of the PayPal. They offer standard and custom pricing, with a full-stack system incorporating a merchant account. The development work needed to customise the platform will be too much work for many small businesses.

Payment methods accepted: Credit and debit cards, PayPal, Apple Pay, Android Pay, Venmo and Google Pay.

Integration options: Self-hosted with a drop in UI or custom UI.

Braintree is owned by PayPal but the company operates mostly as an independent entity from its parent company. In fact, it operates differently from PayPal in terms of the payments service it provides so we’re not talking about a direct alternative.

In contrast to many companies that are included in lists of the best payment gateway providers, Braintree does not aggregate multiple merchant accounts. They offer individual merchant accounts to their users on the behalf of partnership banks.

Braintree is also highly customisable, designed more for programmers, startups and tech-savvy business owners. You’ll need to get your code on to integrate Braintree but you can do it mostly on your own terms and you might find you’re paying lower fees than you will by using PayPal Pro.

16 Payment Gateways and Online Payment Systems 2024 Braintree UI mobile

Braintree UK Fees

Braintree offers standard and custom pricing. Fees in its standard plan include:

  • Cards and digital wallets: 1.9% + 20p 
  • Additional 1% for non-UK cards
  • 2.4% + £0.20 for American Express cards
  • Chargebacks are charged at £20
  • Merchants processing over £50,000 per month can receive discounted rates
  • Additional fees of 1.5% for multi-currency transactions in a scheme currency and 3% fee in an exotic currency apply
checkout.com logo

Checkout.com

Checkout.com bundles its payment gateway with a merchant account as part of its all-in-one payment solution (they are a payment gateway, merchant acquirer and payment processor). They support payment in 159 countries for eCommerce brands with international customer bases and offer flat rate or interchange plus pricing models.
 

They offer straightforward pricing structure with no long-term contracts and fees that can be cost-effective for businesses with low transaction volumes. 

They are best suited to high turnover brands transacting in multiple international regions. 

Payment methods accepted: Credit and debit cards, SEPA transfers, PayPal, digital wallets (Apple Pay, Alipay, WeChat, Google Pay), Visa Checkout, Klarna. 
 
Currencies supported: Over 150 processing currencies and over 25 settlement currencies.
 

Integration options: Self-hosted and API

Checkout.com UK Fees

They offer 2 pricing models:

  1. Flat rate determined by  characteristics of the business and risk profile. 
  2. An interchange ++ pricing model with the scheme fees, interchange fees and Adyen’s fees split out for transparency. 
They also offer free payment processing for charities in countries in which they operate.
16 Payment Gateways and Online Payment Systems 2024 authorize.net logo

Authorize.net

Authorize.net is owned by card network Visa, boasting strong security features. It offers easy checkout integration and customisation and can incorporate a merchant account if you haven’t already got one. However, 

Authorize.net, owned by Visa, has over 430,000 merchants and offers dedicated merchant accounts from its network of partnership banks. It processes more than 1 billion transactions annually. 

Merchants have two service options: a payment gateway if you already have a merchant account, or an all-in-one option that includes a merchant account. There is a monthly account fee, but transaction fees are relatively straightforward. Merchants that process more than $500,000 per year can negotiate pricing.

There are some users report overcharging, locked accounts and poor customer service.

Payment methods accepted: Credit and debit cards, PayPal, Apple Pay, eCheck

Integration options: API hosted

Authorize.net offers strong security features including Address verification service (AVS), Card Code Verification (CW2) and PCI DSS compliance.

Fees are only prices in USD at priced at 2 levels: 

Payment Gateway Only (if you already have a merchant account)

  • No setup fee
  • Monthly gateway $25
  • Per transaction 10¢, daily batch fee 10¢

All-in-One Option (they will provide the merchant account)

  • No setup fee
  • Monthly gateway: $25
  • Per transaction 2.9% + 30¢
16 Payment Gateways and Online Payment Systems 2024 Verifone Logo

Verifone

2Checkout, acquired by Verifone in 2020, is a direct competitor to the likes of PayPal and Stripe. It’s got a good reputation for simple pricing plans and transaction fees are marginally cheaper than PayPal, although chargebacks and currency conversions are more expensive.

On the other hand, there are no monthly fees with 2checkout, which we can’t say about PayPal Pro. Both providers offer their services without any setup or application fees and there are no contracts or termination fees to worry about with either choice.

The key benefit of going with 2checkout is its global support – more than 200 markets in total, making it a strong option for international merchants. How important this is to you depends entirely on which counties you want to sell to, of course. 

Its application process is not as straightforward as some of its competitors, however, and some customers report their accounts were rejected, suspended or overcharged without explanation. 

Verifone Gateway Fees

Subscription 2Sell 2Subscribe 2Monetize 4Customize
Fees 3.5% + £$0.35 4.5% + £$0.45 6.0% + £$0.60 Custom pricing
16 Payment Gateways and Online Payment Systems 2024 nochex logo

Nochex 

Nochex positions itself as the “#1 Alternative to PayPal & Stripe” for businesses looking for a UK payment gateway. 

Nochex provides a merchant account and payment gateway in one and is easy to integrate into your online store. A major advantage of using Nochex is that customers don’t need to have an account with you to make payments. However, Nochex doesn’t accept other payment methods like digital wallets or local payment services, so you’ll also need to use another gateway.
 

Payment methods accepted: Credit and debit cards

Integration options: Hosted

Nocheck fees: 2.9% + 20p for online and invoice payments, 3.2% + 20p and £10 per month for phone payments. Charity accounts pay 1.9% + 20p.

Software Only Payment Gateway

16 Payment Gateways and Online Payment Systems 2024 card stream logo
Pros
Cons

Cardstream

Cardstream is a fully independent “white label” payment gateway provider. It also has a hosted option with easy integration if you want to avoid the development work. The service is feature-rich, but you do have to sign up for an annual contract, so may not be the best option if you want flexibility.

One key feature of Cardstream is that it is acquirer agnostic and can integrate with a wide variety of merchant acquirers and payment processors. This means you can use Cardstream as your online payment gateway and a separate merchant account provider.

Cardstream Features

  • Create a fully branded gateway page, on your own chosen URL.
  • Shopping modules make it easy to integrate with your website, CMS or shopping cart.
  • Virtual terminal allows you to take payments over the phone and by mail.
  • Acquirer independent means you’re not tied to any single acquiring bank.
  • Receive updated cardholder data to prevent failed payments due to cards going out of date, being lost/stolen or other issues.
  • Tokenisation – a secure method of setting up and accepting recurring payments.
  • Velocity checks – a powerful fraud prevention system that limits the number of card payments accepted over a period of time.
  • Alternative payments include PayPal, Apple Pay, Android Pay and MasterPass.
  • Card Security Code checks and 3D Secure authentication.
  • Extensive support for multiple currencies.
  • Embed HTML pay buttons onto your website or emails.
  • Protection against Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.
  • Receive alerts about any chargebacks so you can respond to cases faster.
  • Branded receipts for both merchant and customers.

Cardstream Fees: £18 per month for up to 350 transactions, 9.9p per transaction over 350.

Payment methods accepted: Credit and debit cards, PayPal, Apple Pay and Android Pay

Integration options: Hosted and self-hosted payment pages

 
16 Payment Gateways and Online Payment Systems 2024 bluesnap logo

BlueSnap

BlueSnap Bluesnap has a solid offering for international businesses. Its fees favour those with low volumes rather than large enterprises, although it does charge $75 per month for merchants bringing in less than $2,500 per month. 

Bluesnap is US-focused, so all its pricing is in dollars its customer support is not available 24/7 in the UK.

It is a solid option for international merchants with support for 180 countries, online checkouts in 29 different languages and 110 different payment types. It aims to be the only merchant account provider a modern business needs and it makes a good case for itself.

Fees: Quick start pay-as-you-go pricing of 1.4% + 20p per transaction, or customised pricing options based on Interchange+, tiered or flat-rate fees.

Payment methods accepted: Credit and debit cards, bank transfers, digital wallets (Apple Pay, Google Pay, Click to Pay, Alipay, Skill) local methods (iDEAL, Giropay and SOFORT), PaySafeCard, Splitit and BitPay

Integration options: API hosted

What is a payment gateway?

A payment gateway is software that securely captures card payment data from a customer and transfers it to the acquirer (aka merchant account) which results in an approval or disapproval decision being transferred back to the customer.

The cardholder’s bank only submits payments for settlement once they receive approval from the payment gateway.

You will have used a website payment gateway every time you so a bit of online shopping. It is a critical middleman when taking card payments when the card holder is not present (CNP payments).

At a very high level, a payment gateway provides 3 main functions :

  • Card payment forms on websites and apps
  • Transaction encryption
  • Verification systems on the back end

Most merchant account providers offer their own payment gateway to their customers (and vice versa) but it is often a good idea to investigate whether it may be better to use different companies for your payment gateway and merchant account.

You can get a better user experience, higher conversion rates and lower transaction fees by splitting them (we can give you advice on this based on your business requirements).

Payment gateway vs payment processor: the difference
image credit: Toptal

How to choose the best payment gateway provider for your business?

This is one question where the answer is ‘it depends’. If you are looking to find the payment payment gateway solution for your businesses these are the factors you need to consider.

1. Compatibility

If you are buying separately from your merchant account provider, you need to make sure you can integrate the two. Similarly, if you are using an eCommerce platform check the integrations possible. If not, then it has failed a key requirement and you should cross it off your shortlist.

2. Checkout experience and ability to customise UX

What is the user experience for entering card details on desktop and mobile devices? 18% of online shoppers in abandoned an order in Q1 2021 due to a checkout process that was too long or complicated.

Customer experience at checkout has a significant impact on your bottom line and a good payment gateway will allow you to improve this.

3. Offering payment options your customer wants

Offering the payment options your customers want to use will reduce friction at the checkout screen and increase sales. This could include adding additional card types like Amex, additional payment methods like Apple Pay or  buy now and pay later functionality.

4. Security & fraud prevention

Does it have the level of PCI compliance your specific business requires? As a guide, here is how Visa decide on required PCI levels. Online payments have a reputation of more chargebacks and your gateway wil provider will affect how well fraud is prevented (and save you chargeback costs)

5. Speed of payment

Some gateways are painfully slow to transfer funds so make sure you check how quickly you can expect to access your money once settled (it typically takes 3 days).

6. Reporting & user interface

The user interfaces and reporting of some payment gateways are head a shoulders above others. They are not only intuitive and a joy to use but they can improve your decision making.

7. International coverage

If you are taking international orders it is obviously important to check about the ability to multiple currencies and card types. You should also confirm any additional fees incurred for international payments and if a merchant account in a specific country is required.

You may also be interested in our list of the popular gateways and their fees.

How much do payment gateways cost?

When choosing a payment gateway, make sure you understand their fee structure and the most appropriate option for your business. Look out for hidden fees or restrictions, such as transaction limits.

There are several types of cost associated with a payment gateway that can be split into:

  • One-time account setup fee
  • Transaction fees
  • Fixed monthly account administration charges
  • Additional fees, such as chargebacks

You can see some examples of the fees charged in the payment gateways listed above.

The total cost of using a payment gateway will depend on how those different types of fees stack up. Transaction fees include:

  • Payment method costs
  • Bank and card network charges
  • Wire transfer costs
  • Currency conversion fees

If you only need to accept a relatively small volume of online payments, look for accounts with no setup costs or monthly account charges. While you want to find a payment gateway service that can scale as your business grows, avoid platforms with complicated functionality that will take time and resources to work with.

Compare different fee structures to see whether percentage fees or flat fees + percentage charges would work out the cheapest for your company’s typical transaction types, sizes and volumes. Large businesses can often negotiate a customised pricing package that factors in a discount for large transaction volumes and sizes.

Payment Gateways vs Payment Processors: What’s the Difference?

In short, payment gateway is software that approves or declines transactions between your website and your customers and a payment processor executes the transaction.

Payment gateways capture and send card data to the payment processor and also communicate approvals or rejections to you and your customers. We cover the differences between payment gateways and payment processors in more detail here.

How is a payment gateway different from a payment service provider?

You may hear payment gateways and payment service providers (PSPs) used interchangeably but they are different.

PSPs (aka merchant service providers, payment processors or ISOs) are companies that provide a range of services that help businesses accept payments whereas a gateway is software carrying out a specific service in the payment process.

Many PSPs combine payment gateways and merchant accounts into one package and take a nice premium for the convenience of doing so (which is why it is often worth looking at getting your own payment gateway provider and a separate contract with a merchant account provider which can often lower transaction fees).

Most payment processors will charge higher fees for online sales than face to face payments with additional risk associated with ‘card holder not present’ payments often being used as a reason. However, in most cases there should be no need to pay more for online card processing than in-person payments received via a POS terminal.

What is the cheapest payment gateway?

You should avoid trying to find the payment gateways with the lowest fees as this is likely to cost you more in the long run. Of course price is important but you need to weigh up the fees against potential losses incurred by going down a more budget route.

If a payment gateway’s lower costs are outweighed by the money you end up losing on expensive chargebacks it might not be worth that investment.

A poor checkout experience due to a poor gateway will also cost you in lost sales so going for the cheapest is often a false economy.

Should you get an All-In-One solution (i.e. Gateway + Merchant Account from one provider)?

It depends. Sorry we can’t give a definitive answer but it really depends on your company and level of card turnover.

Most payment gateway providers bundle payment processing services into their offering. This means that they will also provide you a merchant account and the transaction fees will be set by them (which is how they make a large portion of their income).

However, you can get just get the payment gateway software by itself which will easily integrate with your preferred merchant account provider. These providers are acquirer agnostic and don’t force you to accept the fees of a certain merchant account provider.

Just know that you can shop around for the best UK payment gateway and have a merchant account from another company in order to secure better card processing rates (you integrate them with your merchant ID number).

Should you consider stacking multiple payment gateways?

If you find that your preferred payment gateways lack one or two key features and none cover all your requirements it may be worth combining more than one. For example, you may want add functionality so you can accept Amex, Apply Pay, multiple currencies or recurring payments and therefore sign up to multiple providers.

Adding payment options your customers want via multiple payment gateways will cause less friction at checkout and could increase conversion rates.

What is the difference between a payment gateway and an online payment system?

Online payment systems include the 3 elements required to accept online payments, one of which is payment gateway. The other 2 components are a payment processor and a merchant acquirer (merchant bank account).

Compare Payment Processors