The 10 Best Online Payment Systems in the UK - Cardswitcher (2024)

An online payment system is the bread and butter of any e-commerce website. E-commerce sites require ‘card not present’ transactions, and without an online payment system, you have no reliable way of taking payments. That PDQ machine is no use to you here. As we’ll see, however, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to online payment processing.

We’ve no doubt that you’ve already heard of Paypal and Worldpay - they are household names after all. As we’ll uncover, however, online payment systems can serve entirely different purposes and depending on the type of business you own, you may find considerable differences in how much they will cost to operate.

All information correct on 14/07/2022.

What is an online payment system?

An online payment system, simply put, is the system that allows you to take payments online.

The online payment system for an ecommerce site consists of two main parts:

  • The payment gateway - the software that links your site’s shopping cart to the payment processing network
  • The payment processor (or merchant service), which does all the important bits like actually moving the transaction through the processing network, sending you statements and working with your bank.

Another solution for processing online transactions is a virtual terminal. Unlike payment gateways, these are typically used by an employee once they have collected a customer’s details. This could be over the phone, in-store, or by email.

An online payment system is typically managed by a third-party, such as Paypal.

What are the best online payment systems on offer right now?

The 10 Best Online Payment Systems in the UK - Cardswitcher (1)

1. Worldpay

The UK’s most popular payment processing company, Worldpay currently processes about half of all online payments in the UK. It’s also a great choice for small businesses, with lots of flexibility when it comes to choosing a plan.

A Worldpay payment gateway can either be hosted on their site or integrated into your own site, depending on your budget and requirements. You can accept payment from around the world, with over 120 currencies supported. It’s also got advanced fraud protection to keep your business safe.


WorldPay offers two main pricing plans:

  • Pay as you go: 2.75% + 20p per transaction, applicable to both credit and debit card payments.
  • Pay monthly: From £19.95 per month plus 2.75% for credit card payments and 0.75% for debit card payments.

The website also states that any business with over 1,000 monthly transactions can get in touch for pricing discounts based on volume. However, it’s worth noting that for PCI compliance, Worldpay’s SaferPayments PCI service comes at an additional cost of £29.99 / year.


  • Secure payments
  • Flexible pricing
  • All major cards accepted
  • No hidden fees


  • Expensive
  • Minimum contract term 18 months

The 10 Best Online Payment Systems in the UK - Cardswitcher (2)

2. Stripe

Stripe offers a customisable payment form that you can embed directly into your website so that your customers can pay easily without getting redirected. This can be important for earning trust as a brand and boosting your conversion rate. It accepts over 135 currencies. What's more, it’s actually a lot cheaper than rivals like Worldpay.


Stripe offers some flexibility when it comes to choosing plans, though it’s not entirely clear how much from the website:

  • Integrated: 1.4% + 20p per transaction for UK cards, 2.9% + 20p for European/International cards.
  • Customised: Offers volume discounts, interchange pricing, multi-product discounts and country specific rates.


  • Accepts Bitcoin
  • Payment form available in 12 languages
  • Affordable


  • Customer service not up to the standards of other providers
  • Additional features are not user friendly

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3. Opayo by Elavon

Opayo by Elavon, formerly Sage Pay, is one of the UK’s most popular and trusted payment providers. Providing services to over 50,000 merchants online and in store, Opayo is a reliable choice with no hidden fees. They also offer 5 star customer support that is 24/7.


  • Flex £25/month - Allows 300 transactions per month, no set-up fee and no fee for refunds.
  • Plus £45/month - Allows 500 transactions per month, 9p/transaction for transactions >£350.
  • Corporate - Bespoke Pricing, 3000+ transactions per month.


  • 24/7 customer support
  • Transparent pricing
  • Accepts a wide range of major card providers


  • Price increase since takeover

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4. Square

Square’s a great choice if you’re looking to get your online business up and running as quickly as possible, especially as it’s partnered with website builders like Wix and Weebly for ease of use. It’s cheaper than Paypal if you’re a small business (not the cheapest, admittedly), but it also offers a tonne of free features which you’ll want to take into account before you opt for any of its rivals. If you also accept a low volume of face-to-face payments, the low transaction fee could make all the difference.


Square offers a simple flat fee for both its card and card-not-present transactions. However for online transactions, their fees are:

  • 1.9% for UK/EEA cards, or 1.75% if you upgrade to a premium plan
  • 2.9% for non-UK/EEA cards
  • Additional charge if you want to purchase your own domain name/email address


  • No commitment to long-term contracts
  • Simple, transparent pricing
  • Sell online, accept payments and manage orders immediately


  • Customer support not 24/7

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5. Shopify

Shopify offers a complete ecommerce platform, allowing you to build a site from scratch, integrate over 4,100 different apps and plugins, and use the Shopify payment gateway to take customer payments.


Shopify offers 3 main payment plans for different sizes of business:

  • Basic: £19/month, online credit card rates 2% + 25p, online AMEX/International card fees 3.1% +25p, in person credit/debit card fees 1.7% + 0p
  • Shopify: £49/month, online credit card rates 1.7% + 25p, online AMEX/International card fees 2.7% + 25p, in person credit/debit card fees 1.6% + 0p
  • Advanced: £259/month, online credit card rates 1.5% + 25p, online AMEX/International card fees 2.5% + 25p, in person credit/debit card fees 1.5% + 0p
  • All plans include fraud protection, unlimited products, various staff discounts, and a POS system to accept in person payments.


  • Customers pay in their local currency using their preferred payment method
  • Offers integration with over 100 payment gateways.
  • Transparent fees
  • 24/7 customer support


  • High monthly fees, but this is more than just an online payment gateway at the end of the day.


Founded in 2012, ECOMMPAY is an entire fintech ecosystem that allows businesses to take online payments and make payouts globally. Merchants using the platform benefit from direct acquiring and a dedicated B2B bank, as well as access to top local payment methods and multiple currencies. ECOMMPAY prides itself on its custom, tailored approach and offers consulting services for businesses entering new markets. No irrational decisions or one-size-fits-all technologies. The company's solutions are based on analysis, and it constantly monitors the payment process, which allows it to find the synergy between conversion and security for each client.


ECOMMPAY doesn’t have a set fee structure, and in line with the company’s tailored solutions, requires businesses to apply to receive an individual offer.


  • All-in-one payment solution tailored for specific industries with integrated dashboard and analytics
  • Intelligent payment routing for higher acceptance rates and lower fees.
  • Bespoke risk control system with a 97% fraud detection and prevention rate
  • Stable service that ensures 99.99% uptime
  • Very attentive customer support with individual account managers


  • Focused on mid to large sized businesses mainly
  • You’ll need to be a legal entity in Europe or the UK

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7. Braintree

Braintree is the lesser known division of Paypal which specialises in mobile payments and online payment solutions for ecommerce businesses. That said, Braintree also powers many of the brands you’ve come to know and love, including Uber, Airbnb and Skyscanner. It’s got some great fraud protection, accepts over 120 different currencies and low rates and zero setup fees make it an equally affordable choice for your small business.


Braintree fees are nice and easy to get your head around:

  • 1.9% + 20p per transaction, with no hidden or monthly fees.
  • Additional 1% fee for cards outside of the UK, or 1.5% for multi-currency transactions.
  • AMEX transactions cost 2.4% + 20p per transaction.


  • Merchant account and payment gateway is automatically included.
  • Low and easy to understand fees.


  • Online reviews suggest it can take a little longer to set up than alternatives.

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8. Paypal

Paypal made itself known through the ecommerce giant eBay, allowing for fast, reliable and generally pain-free transactions. All customers need to do is sign up for a Paypal account. It’s clearly earned a special place in consumer’s hearts as a household name, even as new alternatives to Paypal flood the market. Needless to say, Paypal’s payment gateway, Payflow, is a firm favourite with online businesses.


Paypal checkout can be expensive for businesses with a low monthly sales volume, but fees become much more manageable for higher volume retailers:

  • Website Payments Pro (standard): 2.9% + 30p per transaction
  • Virtual Terminal (standard): 2.9% + 30p per transaction
  • Standard Debit/Credit Card Payments: 1.2% + 30p per transaction
  • Advanced Debit/Credit Card Payments (AMEX): 3.5% per transaction


  • Widely trusted, over 220 million users worldwide.
  • Budget-friendly if you have an ambitious sales target.


  • High transaction fees for small businesses with low volume.
  • Various, albeit transparent, fees to be mindful of.

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9. Amazon Pay

Amazon Pay really needs no explanation. Amazon makes the whole checkout process incredibly easy, with 1-click payment options, the ability to load Amazon accounts with gift cards and more. According to a recent survey, 89% of buyers are more likely to buy products from Amazon than any other online retailer. Checkout time is also significantly reduced for customers, who can re-use their previously entered details.


For a business with low monthly volume, Amazon Pay processing fees can be expensive:

  • Monthly payment volume <50,000: 2.7% + 30p
  • Monthly payment volume >50,000: Bespoke pricing


  • 2.5 million active sellers, 150 million Prime members, and millions more standard accounts.
  • 49% faster checkouts compared to other providers.


  • High transaction fees for small businesses with low volume.

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10. is a highly customisable payment system and one of the favourite choices for online retailers. It’s also one of the oldest and most trusted - and with over 400,000 merchant accounts around the world, it shows. UK customers can choose between either a Payment Gateway and Online Merchant Account or a Payment Gateway by itself.

Fees can feel a little expensive, particularly for low volume merchants.

  • Payment Gateway Only - £19 per month gateway fee, + 10p per transaction.
  • Merchant Account and Payment Gateway - £19 per month and 2.49% + £0.15 per transaction. Additional £35 set up fee.


  • Recurring billing is included.
  • Includes a virtual terminal.


  • Monthly fee.
  • Extra monthly fee for non GBP currencies (£15 per month).

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11. Adyen

The word Adyen means ‘start over again’ in Surinamese, which is exactly what the company planned to do with online payments when it was founded in 2006. The company aimed to create a frictionless payment experience for the customer, and with over 250 payment methods accepted online, in person and over the phone, there’s no doubt it has achieved this.


There are no setup fees, but a range of different fees depending on the payment method can make Adyen seem quite complex:

  • Visa - £0.10 + interchange ++*
  • Mastercard - £0.10 + interchange ++
  • AMEX - £0.10 + interchange ++


  • Accepts hundreds of payments all on one platform.
  • Competitive fees.


  • A minimum invoice of £100 makes it a difficult sell for small businesses.
  • Not good for higher risk merchants with larger numbers of chargebacks.
  • Funds are settled to your bank account twice a week, which is a little slower than competitors.

*Interchange fees are variable depending on your location. Within Europe they are typically around 0.3/0.4% and within the US it’s 2%.

12. Fondy

Fondy is a one-stop solution for all your online transactions. You can make online payments from websites, mobile applications, computers, and other payment portals from any device.


It costs nothing to get started with Fondy and there are no set-up fees, subscription payments or other costs. Simply pay a set fee for each transaction – and the more transactions you have, the lower the fee.

Pricing for businesses of all sizes:

  • UK based: debit & credit cards from 1.3% + £0.2 , alternative payment methods from 0.5% + £0.2 , bank transfers from 1.2% + £0.2
  • EU based: debit & credit cards from 1.3% + €0.25 , alternative payment methods from 0.5% + €0.25 , bank transfers from 1.2% + €0.25

Actual price:


  • Don’t have hidden and additional fees;
  • Cross-border payments;
  • Payuts solution
  • Custom Checkout and Payment link
  • Integrations with popular CMS and Web-builders


  • Not 24/7 customer support


There’s a lot to think about when it comes to deciding on the type of payment service that your business needs. This roundup is designed to give you an insight into the variety of services and fee models on the market to make your decision easier.

If you’re looking to cut your overall card processing costs, CardSwitcher is here to help. We compare prices from a number of providers, helping you to save up to 40%! Start comparing card processing fees today.

As an expert in the field of online payment systems, it's evident that the landscape of e-commerce relies heavily on robust and reliable payment processing solutions. My depth of knowledge encompasses various concepts discussed in the provided article, and I'll shed light on each of them.

Introduction to Online Payment Systems: The article rightly emphasizes the critical role of online payment systems in facilitating e-commerce transactions. It identifies two key components: the payment gateway, responsible for linking the shopping cart to the payment network, and the payment processor, handling transaction movement and coordination with banks. Additionally, it mentions the use of virtual terminals for certain types of transactions.

Major Online Payment Systems:

  1. Worldpay:

    • A prominent UK-based payment processing company handling a significant share of online payments.
    • Offers flexibility in hosting the payment gateway on their site or integrating it into the merchant's site.
    • Supports transactions in over 120 currencies.
    • Pricing includes both pay-as-you-go and monthly plans with detailed fee structures.
  2. Stripe:

    • Provides a customizable payment form embedded directly into websites for seamless transactions.
    • Accepts over 135 currencies and offers competitive pricing, often more affordable than rivals.
    • Flexible plans with integrated and customized options.
  3. Opayo by Elavon:

    • Formerly known as Sage Pay, a trusted payment provider in the UK.
    • Transparent pricing with different plans based on transaction volume.
    • 24/7 customer support and no hidden fees.
  4. Square:

    • Partnered with website builders for quick online business setup.
    • Transparent flat fees for both card-present and card-not-present transactions.
    • Ideal for small businesses with free features.
  5. Shopify:

    • Offers a complete e-commerce platform with various payment plans.
    • Transparent fees, fraud protection, and support for multiple payment gateways.
    • Different plans catering to businesses of varying sizes.

    • An entire fintech ecosystem for global online payments with tailored solutions.
    • Customized approach, intelligent payment routing, and a focus on mid to large-sized businesses.
    • No set fee structure, requires businesses to apply for individual offers.
  7. Braintree:

    • A division of Paypal specializing in mobile and online payments.
    • Powers well-known brands and offers fraud protection.
    • Simple fee structure with no hidden or monthly fees.
  8. Paypal:

    • Widely recognized and trusted, especially through its association with eBay.
    • Offers different plans with varying transaction fees based on sales volume.
    • Popular, but transaction fees may be high for small businesses.
  9. Amazon Pay:

    • Provides an easy checkout process with 1-click payment options.
    • High adoption rate due to Amazon's popularity.
    • Fees based on monthly payment volume.

    • Highly customizable payment system, suitable for online retailers.
    • Monthly fees with additional transaction fees based on the chosen plan.
    • Trusted with over 400,000 merchant accounts worldwide.
  11. Adyen:

    • Aiming for a frictionless payment experience with over 250 accepted payment methods.
    • Complex fee structure based on different payment methods.
    • Ideal for businesses with higher transaction volumes.
  12. Fondy:

    • A comprehensive solution for online transactions with a focus on flexibility.
    • No setup fees, subscription payments, with fees based on transaction volume.
    • Cross-border payments and custom checkout options.

Conclusion: The article concludes by highlighting the complexity of choosing a payment service and suggests CardSwitcher as a tool to compare prices and cut overall card processing costs. This roundup provides valuable insights into the diverse services and fee models available, empowering businesses to make informed decisions in the ever-evolving realm of online payments.

The 10 Best Online Payment Systems in the UK - Cardswitcher (2024)


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