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When you’re running a business, the name of the game is to get paid as fast as possible after sending your invoice.

One of the ways you can achieve this is to allow your customers to pay with credit or debit cards. This makes the process of paying as easy as possible.

What do I need to start accepting credit & debit card payments?

It used to be that you needed a payment gateway to process card payments and a merchant account to accept the money.  Nowadays, there are companies that offer both a payment gateway and a merchant account in one. They take care of all of the steps required to authorise the payment between merchant (you, the business) and your customer.

Questions to ask when choosing a payment service

The questions you ask at this stage will help you to work out which option is right for your business.

  • What type of business do you need it for?
  • How much will it cost?
  • Does it integrate with your current system?
  • Will this payment gateway grow with your business?
    • Can you take online payments?
    • Can you take payments over the phone?
    • Can you take payments in person? Will you need a card reader?
    • Will it become cheaper or more expensive as your business grows?
  • How soon do you need to receive the funds from your sales?
  • Do you need to take international payments?
  • Do you need to take recurring or direct debit payments?
  • What’s the company’s support like?
  • How easy is reconciliation?

Payment Service Provider Comparison

I’ve put together a comparison of the most popular payment services, so you can see how they stack up against each other.
The main features to take into account are the transaction fees (how much you’ll pay to use them) and the deposit wait time (the amount of time you have to wait before you receive your money).

Payment ServiceStripeWorldpaySquarePayPaliZettle
Transaction Fee1.4% + 20pCredit cards: 2.75% + 20p / Debit cards: 0.75% + 20p1.75% per chip & pin or contactless payment / 2.5% per keyed in, online or invoice paymentThis depends on how much you sell each month. From 1.9% + 20p - 3.4% + 20px1.75% card reader / 2.5% invoicing
Monthly FeeNone£19.95 on their pay monthly planNoneNoneNone
Card ReaderNot required (if you use the ServiceM8 app)Card machines available at an additional cost, with an additional worldpay plan. More information here£39 ex VAT£29.17 ex VAT£29 ex VAT for new iZettle users / £59 ex VAT for existing iZettle users
Cards AcceptedVisa, Mastercard and American Express credit or debit cardsVisa, Mastercard and American Express credit or debit cardsVisa, Mastercard and American Express credit or debit cardsVisa, Mastercard and American Express credit or debit cardsVisa, Mastercard and American Express credit or debit cards, contactless, Apple and Android pay
Deposit Wait Period7 days3 - 4 daysNext working dayManual transfer1-2 working days
Refund CostThere is no charge to process refunds + the original transaction fee is returned.There is no charge to process refunds, however the fee for processing the original order cannot be returnedThere is no charge to process refunds + the original transaction fee is returned.When you issue a full refund, your original transaction fee is credited back to you minus a thirty cent processing feeWhen you refund a card payment, the fee will be paid back to you
Additional Fees / Upgrade OptionsAnnual PCI compliance costs of £29.95 / additional costs for getting a card reader (terminal)Upgrade with extended support hours & lifetime card readers warranty for £20 per month
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Comments & DetailsStripe is the only payment gateway fully integrated with ServiceM8. This means that you can take card payments in person using the ServiceM8 app and automatically add online payment links to your invoices.Worldpay has a myriad of options for businesses, making it pretty difficult to get to the bottom of what you need.You need to get the Square card reader if you want to take payment in person, and you have to pay higher transaction fees for online payments.PayPal rewards you with a lower transaction fee the more you sell, but you have to be charging more than £15000 per month to get the 1.9% fee.

Hazel is an Online Marketing Consultant & ServiceM8 expert. She's been building websites since 1998 and most recently worked for Royal Caribbean International as an Online Development Exec and previously for Snow + Rock as Ecommerce Manager.