Best Virtual Terminals For UK Businesses

Many businesses need the option of processing distance payments. For example, you could be a restaurant taking payment for an at-home delivery, or a furniture supplier accepting catalogue orders. Indeed, freelancers from a range of industries could require a way to charge their clients without relying cash or a portable card machine.

If your business has revenue streams via phone, postal or fax orders, then a virtual terminal could allow you to process all your payments from one place.

What is a virtual terminal?

A virtual terminal is an online portal that allows any business to take card payments over the phone, by post or fax, by manually entering credit or debit card details into the portal. 

Chances are, you’ve had personal payments processed through a virtual terminal, whether you know it or not. If you’ve ever paid for an insurance policy renewal, or council tax payment, over the phone, likely this was done using a virtual terminal.

Virtual terminals are most often used to process MOTO transactions (mail orders or telephone orders), but you don’t need to be a purely distance seller to benefit. Indeed, many bricks and mortar or online-only businesses will also invest in a virtual terminal, to expand their customer base.

Advantages of using a virtual terminal

Virtual terminals are generally quick and easy to set up. And their web interfaces tend to be very user-friendly so there’s little, or no, training required.

More importantly, when you use a virtual terminal you don’t have the responsibility of storing your customers’ card details – a real plus when it comes to PCI and GDPR compliance.

However, you can still set up recurring payments, so subscribers can continue to be charged on a regular schedule.

Best 6 virtual terminals

Whilst virtual terminals can streamline payments for a range of businesses, which one works best for you will depend on your sales needs. We’ve reviewed 6 of the best virtual terminals, and compared each on the following criteria:
  • Fee Structure: fee structures vary from terminal to terminal, so we calculated the fees for each to find the best one for different types of businesses.
  • Features: while some of the virtual terminals on our list are simply payment processors, others offer a toolbox of features to help you manage your business.
  • Set Up & Usability: we considered how simple it is to set up each virtual terminal, process payments over the phone, and get paid from your processor — a very important consideration for small businesses in particular.
  • User Reviews: we searched online to see how current and past users felt about each payment processor’s virtual terminal, rates, and service.
Here’s how it played out…

Virtual Terminals With No Merchant Accounts Required

Best for: Lower crad turnover businesses who don’t want to sign up a for a merchant account.
Provider Rating out of 5 Monthly Fee Per Transaction Website
Square 5 £0 2.50% Go to site
SumUp 4 £0 2.95% + 25p Go to Site
Paypal 4 £20 3.4% + 20P Go to Site

Virtual Terminals With Merchant Accounts Required

Best for: Higher card turnover businesses due to cheaper transaction fees.

ProviderRating out of 5Monthly FeePer TransactionWebsite
SagePay3£15 or bespokeN/AGo to Site
Paymentsense3£8.30, £12.45 or £16.60N/AGo to Site
Worldpay4£9.952.75% + £0.20Go to Site
Best Virtual Terminals For UK Businesses Square Inc. logo.svg
Pros
  • No monthly fee.
  • Simple, one-figure transaction rate.
  • Commitment free.
  • Easy and fast sign up process.
  • Very clean and simple processing and user interface on the dashboard.
Cons
  • Detailed transaction information is to be recorded separately.
  • Refunds take a long time to clear.

Square fees

Total Processed By Virtual Terminal£1,000 from 1 payment£10,000 from 1 payment£50000 from 1,000 separate payments
Square’s Processing Fees2.50%2.50%2.50%
What You’ll Pay£25.00£250.00£1,250.00

Square features

Where most other providers charge a flat fee of around £0.25p per transaction, plus a percentage of total sale, Square does not charge an additional flat fee. This means that you can benefit greatly from Square if you have high volume, low value sales. A simple pricing structure also makes budgeting and cash flow management much more straightforward. 

Square also stands out as the only provider with no monthly fee — making it one of the cheapest virtual terminals, and a great option for start-ups who can only afford to pay for the service once they start earning themselves.

The Square virtual terminal can be accessed through a web browser, and there’s a keyed-in card entry in the official Square app on phone/tablet devices. Additionally, the invoices created can be shared via its URL.

Customer support is available from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, via phone or email. And should you encounter any payment disputes with customers, Square will step in to help you resolve them.

Who is Square is best for?

Square is great for start up businesses, for a multitude of reasons. For one: signing up to Square is easy, and all it takes is a fast form and getting your bank account verified. Your bank account may take several days to be verified, but you can still process payments in the meantime. Most importantly, though, is the lack of monthly or transaction fees.

Best Virtual Terminals For UK Businesses sumup logo
Pros
  • No monthly fee and no commitment.
  • Possibility of negotiating a better service if annual sales are greater than £250,000.
  • Other products on offer for possible integration, such as mobile payment solutions.
  • Customer support available at the weekend.
Cons
  • Very few features to utilise.
  • Expensive transaction fee.
  • Not the fastest or simplest sign up process.

SumUp fees

Total Processed By Virtual Terminal£1,000 from 1 payment£10,000 from 1 payment£50000 from 1,000 separate payments
SumUp’s Processing Fees2.95% + 25p2.95% + 25p2.95% + 25p
What You’ll Pay£29.75£295.25£1,725.00

SumUp Features

SumUp is a global mobile payments company, founded in 2012. Its headquarters remains in London, but has since expanded around Europe and to America. Since 2012, SumUp has expanded into a range of sales hardware and software, and its main focus is certainly not the virtual terminal — a quick glance at their homepage and you’d be forgiven for assuming SumUp is all about the portable card reader.

With the virtual terminal not a primary product for SumUp, the features here are somewhat lacking. As a positive, SumUp’s dashboard is simple, easy to use, and is responsive to both mobile and PC setups. The provider also covers all the security basics—  with PCI compliance and a focus on customer safety, so all remote transactions are secure.

When it comes to pricing, SumUp has benefits and drawbacks. On one hand, there’s no monthly fee for using a SumUp virtual terminal.On the other, the transaction fee is quite high, at 2.95% + 25p. And whilst businesses can make use of a full suite of integrated SumUp products, including POS and API solutions, this will likely work out quite costly as each product is priced separately.

However, SumUp openly states the potential for negotiating a better (potentially cheaper) service when annual sales are over £250,000, which indicates that this virtual terminal could be beneficial for high-turnover companies. Yet, it seems to target smaller companies instead regarding its free monthly fee, which is usually negligible for larger firms.

Helpfully, SumUp’s customer support team is available over the weekend too — something to consider if you’re a retail or hospital business. Call centres are 8am – 7pm, Monday to Friday, and 8am – 5pm, Saturday and Sunday.

Who is SumUp best for?

Overall, SumUp doesn’t seem to have a strong angle for why you should choose them specifically for a virtual terminal, other than its £0 monthly fee and reasonable transaction fee. If it’s important to have a full POS range from one provider, then SumUp can deliver.

Best Virtual Terminals For UK Businesses paypal 784404 960 720
Pros
  • Simple and easy to use user interface.
  • State-of-the-art technology, including fraud protection.
  • Integrated with the many other highly-used PayPal services.
  • Supports many other currencies.
Cons
  • Expensive monthly costs and transaction fees.
  • No room for bespoke negotiations.
  • Pricing structure is convoluted and opaque.

PayPal fees

Total Processed By Virtual Terminal£1,000 from 1 payment£10,000 from 1 payment£50000 from 1,000 separate payments
PayPal’s Processing Fees3.4% + 20p or 0.2%-2.0% + 2.9% + 20p3.4% + 20p or 0.2%-2.0% + 2.9% + 20p3.4% + 20p or 0.2%-2.0% + 2.9% + 20p
What You’ll Pay£34.20£340.20£1,900.00
or£2-20 + £29.20 £100-1000 + £1650

PayPal features

PayPal needs very little introduction and its ubiquitous nature, for personal and business payments alike, can be reassuring those taking on their first virtual terminal.

And with this presence, comes a very impressive infrastructure. PayPal says it will accept major cards from over 200 markets and you can get paid “in minutes”. This, in essence, is PayPal’s competitive advantage — it is at the forefront of technology.

What’s more, PayPal has a massive global presence in payment systems, so you can rely on fast transactions from anywhere in the world. Many businesses already rely on PayPal for invoicing and receiving online payments, so the virtual terminal would perfectly accommodate this.

Reliability and security are a given with PayPal, and the business has spent many years engineering strong fraud protection. Not only will your data be secure, but PayPal customers helpful instruction and support, and someone is available on the phone 8am to 6:30pm, Monday to Sunday.

But if you’re thinking that PayPal may be the perfect virtual terminal provider, let’s talk fees first.

Being a part of its large ecosystem, PayPal’s virtual terminal comes at a cost. Whether you’re receiving business payments, converting currency or processing MOTO payments, the fees are substantial. For its virtual terminal, both its monthly and transaction fees are some of the highest in the market.

Indeed, scratch a little beyond the surface and two fee structures are on offer from PayPal. First, its Blended Pricing Structure of 3.4% + a fixed fee of 20p per transaction. Second, its Interchange Plus Fee Structure of an interchange fee (charged by the customer’s credit or debit card provider) of anything between 0.2%-2.0% + 2.90% + a fixed fee of 20p.

Who is PayPal best for?

PayPal is ideal for high earning companies that already use PayPal’s other services, such as invoicing. Additionally, companies looking for state-of-the-art fraud protection and cyber security infrastructure will be impressed by PayPal’s stature.

Best Virtual Terminals For UK Businesses sagepay top v2
Pros
  • Real-time reporting.
  • Dedicated account manager.
  • Potential for bespoke pricing when processing over 1,500+ transactions per month.
  • Advance fraud screening tools.
  • 24/7 customer support.
Cons
  • Complaints surrounding cancellation length and fees.
  • Lack of transparency around transaction fees.

Sage Pay fees

Total Processed By Virtual Terminal£1,000 from 1 payment£10,000 from 1 payment£50000 from 1,000 separate payments
Sage Pay’s Processing FeesSage Pay’s fees are available upon request  
What You’ll Pay  

Sage Pay features

The Sage brand is somewhat of a juggernaut when it comes to finance, and accounting in particular.

So it’s little surprise that Sage Pay’s strongest features is its ability to provide on-demand analytics and real-time, cloud-based reporting, to help you manage your cash flow. This data can be easily exported to Excel too, but if you have any issues, you can contact a 24/7 support line. Fraud is of course a priority too, with “advanced fraud screening tools” in place, along with real-time AVS checks.

Businesses must apply for a quote to discover how much a Sage Pay virtual terminal will cost. But if you tend to process a high volume of MOTO transactions, then you could make use of a fee discount (applicable to businesses accepting 1,500 transactions a month or more). In addition, Sage Pay has global reach and can accept payments from over 25 currencies — very helpful for businesses in most markets nowadays.

Who is Sage Pay best for?

Sage Pay’s features lead us to assume that Sage Pay’s service may be more suitable for established firms with substantial transaction volumes, and who could benefit from strong reporting integrations.

Best Virtual Terminals For UK Businesses paymentsense merchant services logo
Pros
  • Fast onboarding process (under 24 hours).
  • No cancellation fees.
  • 3 pricing tiers depending on transaction volume
  • Easy handling of paperwork such as receipts.
  • 24/7 customer support.
Cons
  • Lack of transparency regarding transaction fees.
  • Customer complaints of hidden fees and pushy sales agents.

Paymentsense fees

Total Processed By Virtual Terminal £1,000 from 1 payment £10,000 from 1 payment £50000 from 1,000 separate payments
Paymentsense’s Processing Fees Paymentsense’s fees are available upon request
What You’ll Pay

Paymentsense features

Like most of the other virtual terminals, Paymentsense offer a responsive service where you can log on from any PC, tablet or mobile.

But the speedy onboarding process is a huge advantage, as you can be up and running in under 24 hours. This allows you to test out the service quickly and get straight to business — and this is leverage by the fact there’s no cancellation fee, so you can dip in and out if it doesn’t seem right for you.

Plus, Paymentsense seems to give more resources and focus to its virtual terminal service than some of its competitors. Its 24/7 support is extremely useful, and because it’s not as big of a company as say PayPal, you’re going to get a little morepersonalised and potentially friendlier UK-based support.

It’s not all rosy though, as we found some customer reviews online suggesting that Paymentsense has some hidden fees once you’re up and running, as well as a pushy sales team. This can’t be 100% validated, as the majority of customer experiences are positive, but it’s worth bearing in mind.

Lastly, Paymentsense ultimately lacks transparency regarding its transaction fees, so again it’s difficult to gauge costs despite the monthly fees being reasonable. The tiered pricing structure however makes it flexible enough to accommodate different business types.

Who is Paymentsense best for?

Smaller companies who are looking for flexibility in regards to pricing, with an abundance of choice. Additionally, Paymentsense will appeal to those who want the ability to sign up and cancel on-demand, and for no extra cost.

Best Virtual Terminals For UK Businesses worldpay logo small
Pros
  • Simple to user user interface.
  • Competitive pricing.
  • Potential for a discount when processing over 1,000 monthly transactions.
Cons
  • Unreliable payout times.
  • Subpar customer reviews.
  • Tied down in a contract.

Worldpay fees

Total Processed By Virtual Terminal£1,000 from 1 payment£10,000 from 1 payment£50000 from 1,000 separate payments
Worldpay’s Processing Fees2.75% + £0.202.75% + £0.202.75% + £0.20 or less
What You’ll Pay£27.50£275.00£1,575 or less

Worldpay features

Worldpay offers an easy-to-use virtual terminal at a competitive rate. Whilst Worldpay could be more transparent and clear regarding pricing, at least the price is stated somewhere without having to get a quote. 

The further good news is that the price is competitively set, with a small monthly fee and a reasonable transaction fee — along with the ability to benefit from high transaction volumes. There is also potential to negotiate contract length and even pricing when monthly transactions are substantial, and Worldpay has a ‘call back’ service for customer support, which can really help when you’re juggling a lot of business tasks at once.

As with Sage Pay, Worldpay’s on-demand analytics functionality allows businesses to track payments more easily, and the provider has effective risk management processes in place, to help protect customers from fraudulent activity.

When it comes down to it though, Worldpay has themost negative customer feedback we’ve seen in this review — usually a strong indicator of a less-than-perfect service. Issues such as unreliable payout times and lengthy contracts can really hinder a company’s cash flow, which completely goes against the reasons for investing in a virtual terminal!

Who is Worldpay best for?

Worldpay is most suited to seasonal, yet established businesses, who don’t need to lean on the products all-year round. Startups may not be interested due to the apparent contract length of 18 months that users describe to exist, yet the low monthly fees make it affordable in the off-season for those types of companies.

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Summary

Ultimately, if you’re a business that already uses PayPal and receives international payments, it may be beneficial to remain in its very well developed and secure ecosystem. If PayPal’s fees are too high however, Sage Pay is certainly a great alternative for similar companies who want a comprehensive and reliable service.

For smaller companies, Square and SumUp have no monthly fee virtual terminals, so both are a good place to start with no real risk or commitment — if you ask us, Square seems to edge it in terms of pricing and its very simple onboarding process. Paymentsense also has something to offer for startups, with it’s tiered monthly fees and fast sign ups and cancellations.

ProviderBest For
SquareStartups looking for no monthly or added transaction fees
SumUpBusinesses who need a full suite of integrated POS kit, including card readers and API
PayPalFirms already using PayPal and/or looking for state-of-the-art cyber security & global infrastrucutre
Sage PayCompanies with substantial transaction volume and/or looking for good reporting intergrations
PaymentsenseSmall companies looking for a tiered pricing structure that offers flexibility as well as fast sign ups
WorldpayThose who have a high volume monthly transactions, as well as seasonal businesses

FAQs

Transactions via virtual terminals tend to be slightly more expensive because, by nature, the cardholder is not present and able to enter their own PIN number. Instead, sensitive information is manually entered and keyed-in for card transactions. This of course poses a higher risk, and with greater risk comes more cost. Card networks will charge virtual terminal providers higher fees, which are then reflected onto the virtual terminal costs respectively.

Regardless of the increased risk, virtual terminals are still very safe and are a PCI compliant way of accepting credit card payments from customers. Transactions take place through payment gateways that are encrypted or tokenized, meaning there are measures in place to secure such sensitive information.

Additionally, CVV requests and address verifications are also used to authenticate the legitimacy of a transaction, ensuring it is isn’t fraudulent.

Despite these safety measures, human error is always possible — faults aren’t so much to do with the virtual terminals, but rather the worker that handles the data. In order to mitigate this, staff should undergo full GDPR and virtual terminal training, so they don’t start writing card details down on paper in the office, etc. Always enter card details directly into the payment forms, and the chances of data breach will remain very low indeed.

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