Payment links are an easy way to accept payments online without customers having to use a card machine. They are, for example, handy for impromptu sales on the phone, social media, online and in person – and you don’t even need a website.

Depending on the merchant provider, you may be able to send a pay button via email, text message or social media. Fees for these transactions are higher than for card terminal sales, given the fact that card details are entered manually rather than confirmed physically in a card reader.

There’s still a big difference in the kinds of costs involved in pay links. Pay by links (different term, same thing) also work slightly differently with each provider, as we shall see below.

Overview of the best payment links for small businesses in the UK:

Payment link Best for Offer
Square Many free payment link features
Takepayments Competitive, good in-browser features
Zettle Text and messaging links from POS app
Revolut Cheap, with multi-currency account
Worldpay Desktop management of payment links
SumUp Versatile payment links managed from app
PayPal.Me Reusable links for simple purposes
Pay
link
Best for Offer
Square Many free payment link features
Take-
payments
Competitive, good in-browser features
Zettle Text and messaging links from POS app
Revolut Cheap, with multi-currency account
Worldpay Desktop management of payment links
SumUp Versatile payment links managed from app
PayPal.Me Reusable links for simple purposes
online payment systems UK

More ways to accept payments online:

Best online payment systems for small businesses

Square Online Checkout – versatile payment links

Square Online Checkout is probably the most versatile payment link solution without monthly fees or a contract. Rather than generating links for a specific POS transaction, individual links are created for individual products or donations with fixed or open amounts.

You can then share these links via a social app or copy and paste the URL where needed. For example, you go to the Online Checkout menu in the Square POS app and pick the link for a certain sandwich, then send it to the customer who wants to buy it. You can also show or print a QR code to display at your business. Embed codes can even be generated for embedding pay links on your website.

In the Square Dashboard (browser), you can then see how many transactions have been accepted through the different links.

Square payment link

The customer opening the links will only need to enter their name, email address and card details for completing the transaction. If they access a link with an open amount, they will also enter the amount to pay.

Square has a simple sign-up form on their website, requiring you to connect a bank account for receiving the payouts. The only cost is a transaction fee of 1.9% for cards issued in Europe and 2.9% for non-European payment cards.

Read our full Square Online Checkout review

Takepayments Pay by Link – good link features

Takepayments (formerly Payzone) also offers payment links, but only for sending over email. As with Worldpay, you’re able to customise the email to include your own logo and text together with a ‘Pay Now’ button, or you can copy and paste the pay button into a pre-written email. You also have the option to create and send electronic invoices with a payment button.

The links are created in your Merchant Management System account accessed from any web browser on a computer or mobile device.

Takepayments Pay By Link

Where Takepayments differs on this shortlist is the fact that you enter into a 12-month contract to use payment links. If you don’t cancel your contract with enough notice, you will roll into a further 12-month contract term, or you can cancel early for a termination fee.

Transaction rates will be given during sign-up as they will be tailored around your business and typical turnover. Generally, Takepayments rates will only really be competitive with a consistent pay-by-link turnover of over £2k-£3k monthly.

Read our Takepayments Pay by Link review

Zettle Payment Links – simple payment requests from app

Formerly known as “iZettle Payment Links”, the Zettle Payment Links require no monthly fee or contractual commitment. It’s free and extremely easy to create an account with Zettle, and then you only pay a simple 2.5% transaction rate for payments received.

After signing up through the online form, it may take a few days for your bank account to be linked, but you can start sending payment links straight away from the free Zettle Go app on your smartphone.

payment link iZettle

To send a pay link, you first enter a transaction total with a product description or add items from the product library to a new bill, then choose Payment Link as the payment method. After entering the name of the recipient, you get the option to send the link by SMS or sharing through any of the social apps on your phone including email.

There is also an option to show a QR code, but customers can only scan this through their PayPal app on their phone.

The recipient will get the link and fill in card details, pay, and choose to receive a receipt if they want. If you want to customise the message that comes with the link, you can do that after adding it to an email or message draft when choosing to share the link through an app.

Read our full Zettle Payment Link review

Revolut payment requests – low-cost international links

If you sign up for a Revolut Business account, you can set up online payments acceptance as well. This gives you these features:

  • Payment links (“payment requests”) sent from the Revolut app by text or email
  • QR code payments displayed in app for contact-free payments
  • Online payment gateway for website

You can choose between 14 different currencies for the payment link amount. Since you can hold multiple different currency accounts with Revolut (GBP, EUR, USD etc.), payments can settle in the matching account to avoid currency conversion fees. Payouts only take a day to reach your Revolut account.

Revolut payment link

The online payment features are available even with a free Revolut Business plan, but paid plans include an allowance (£500-£100k/month depending on the plan) of free transactions paid with a UK/EEA consumer card. Beyond the free quota, they cost 1.3% per transaction. All other online payments cost 2.8% each. Only Visa and Mastercard are accepted.

Read our full Revolut Online Payments review

Worldpay Pay by Link – traditional email invoicing

Worldpay’s Pay by Link allows you to send a Pay Now button in an email or embed it in a digital document for the customer. You can use it for creating email invoices, request deposits, finalise a booking or send a quote payable on a web page.

The service is best for those with a consistent monthly turnover because you have to pay a fixed monthly fee of £9.95 + VAT on top of transaction fees. Pay by Link is on a rolling, 30-day contract that can be cancelled with a month’s notice to Worldpay any time.

Worldpay Pay by Link editor

You get custom transaction fees based on sales volume, which is most competitive for a monthly sales volume above £2,000. UK-issued debit cards have the lowest rates and credit cards higher, while foreign, premium and corporate cards cost more to process.

Though it comes at a monthly cost, a Worldpay link does have some nice features. For example, you can set payment due dates to help chase up late payments, send payment reminders and customise emails with a pay button, logo and personalised message. A downside is that you have to log into an internet browser to send the links from a computer or tablet – it’s not recommended to use a browser on your phone.

Read our full Worldpay Pay by Link review

SumUp Payment Links – handy features on the go

Without monthly fees or a contract, merchants can send SumUp Payment Links directly from an app to customers.

All it requires is to sign up online, order a card reader (SumUp is, after all, primarily aimed at face-to-face merchants) and start using the SumUp App. It may take a few days for your bank account to link up, but then you will receive payments directly in the bank account after 1-3 days. The only thing you’re paying is a fixed rate of 2.5% per transaction.

SumUp Payment Links

You can add products to the bill for itemised receipts or just set a pound total for the transaction before sending a link. There are actually few ways you can use SumUp Payment Links:

  • Send it via SMS
  • Share it through a social app on your mobile device
  • Copy the link to paste it into a message elsewhere
  • Show a QR code for the customer to scan with their phone (opening the link)

The customer can then pay on the checkout page that opens from the link, or if using QR code, they can pay through a special SumUp app where their card details are already saved.

Read our full SumUp Payment Links review

PayPal.Me – reusable links for PayPal transactions

PayPal offers a very convenient service where businesses can create a pay link for free through the PayPal.Me service. It has no contractual commitment, no monthly fees, and payouts appears in the online PayPal account almost immediately after each transaction. If you need the money in your bank account, however, you will need to manually transfer it to your linked bank account, but even that is quick (a few hours).

It costs 2.9% + £0.30 to receive a PayPal payment link transaction, which is not that cheap, so it might be best suited for occasional or limited sales.

PayPal payment links

The links work like this: create a link URL in the format “paypal.me/yourbusiness” – this will be yours to use indefinitely. When you want to get paid, you send this link to the payer who will be able to enter an amount manually to pay, or you can pre-specify an amount for the recipient by adding the number at the end of the payment link (“paypal.me/yourbusiness/30” goes to a payment page for a £30 bill).

You can send the link in any context online, e.g. by text, chat message, email or any social media channel. Clients have to pay through their own PayPal account (with Buyer Protection), in any of 25 different currencies.

The fact you can choose not to specify a transaction amount for the customer means that PayPal’s payment links are great for donations, while also suitable for any other business payments.

Read our full PayPal Me link review

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Honourable mention for high-volume businesses: Adyen

Adyen is a renowned online payments provider offering international card acceptance mostly for medium-to-large businesses. It is intended for businesses transacting at least £1.5-£2 million annually, and who would like to consider Adyen as their payment platform for all sales channels, not just payment links.

Adyen Pay by Link transactions cost a 10p gateway fee plus the interchange rate of the payment card which can be anything from 0.2% to 3% (e.g. domestic debit cards cheapest, foreign premium cards on the high side). This is good value for merchants accepting mostly UK-issued debit cards for transaction amounts averaging over £15.

Adyen Pay by Link

There’s no setup, closure or monthly fees, but Adyen requires a minimum invoice of €100/US$120 monthly. Opening an account requires a minimum deposit of 500 EUR, which is returned when the account is closed. To make this worthwhile, your card turnover through Adyen Pay by Link should be at least £20k monthly, in most cases significantly more.

Adyen accepts many payment methods globally. The links can be sent via any channel online in various currencies and can be time-limited. The built-in payment security tools such as ‘3D Secure 2’ make Adyen more advanced than most payment links on the market. You can also customise the checkout page, create a QR code for the link and create open donation links.

Which provider to choose?

Merchants with seasonal, temporary or short-term needs are best served by Square, Revolut, SumUp, Zettle or PayPal.Me. They all offer quick ways to get started, require no monthly fees and have fixed transaction fees. Their links can typically be sent to social media like WhatsApp, Messenger, Facebook, emails, texts and anywhere else you want to get paid online.

Revolut, Zettle, SumUp and Square do have an edge (or more) over PayPal due to the low fixed transaction rates, choice of cards accepted and the fact you can easily send and view links through a mobile app. With Square and SumUp, you can even print QR codes for specific links to display on your premises for socially distanced payments.

If cash flow is important, Revolut’s settlement takes just one day whereas PayPal.Me receives transactions directly in an online account.

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Merchants with a consistent turnover of at least £2,000-£3,000 per month might prefer Worldpay or Takepayments. Both offer rolling contracts, though Worldpay’s is easier to swallow with its 30-day commitment compared to Takepayments’ 12 months. Transaction rates and overall value of the two are similar.

Adyen could be used for medium, big and enterprise businesses with a pay-by-link transaction volume of at least £20k per month. Above this threshold, the variable interchange rates on payment cards will save you money compared to more fixed rates from e.g. Worldpay.

Provider Costs Website
Square £0/mo, no contract
1.9% for European cards
2.9% for non-European cards
Takepayments Negotiable monthly fees
12-month contract
Custom transaction rates
Zettle £0/mo, no contract
2.5% per transaction
Revolut £0+/mo, no contract
1.3% for consumer UK/EEA cards
2.8% for other cards
Worldpay £9.95 + VAT/mo
30-day rolling contract
Custom transaction rates
SumUp £0/mo, no contract
2.5% per transaction
PayPal £0/mo, no contract
2.9% + 30p per transaction
Provider Costs Site
Square £0/mo
No contract
1.9% for European cards
2.9% for non-European cards
Takepayments Negotiable monthly fees
12-month contract
Custom rates
Zettle £0/mo
No contract
2.5% per transaction
Revolut £0+/mo
No contract
1.3% for consumer UK/EEA cards
2.8% for other cards
Worldpay £9.95 + VAT/mo
30-day rolling contract
Custom transaction rates
SumUp £0/mo
No contract
2.5% per transaction
PayPal £0/mo
No contract
2.9% + 30p per transaction