Need to take payments over the phone, but not sure which virtual terminal to choose? Quite a few payment providers in the UK offer virtual terminals, but only few are truly good value for a small business.

Compared to card machine payments, manually typing card details is more expensive because there’s a greater risk for the card company to accept a card that is not read physically in a terminal.

There is, however, a lot of variation in costs between phone payment terminals. Some providers require a monthly fee, formal PCI documentation and fee per transaction. Others only require the transaction fee, completely bypassing a traditional contract and subscription fees.

What is a virtual terminal?

  • Web page for entering card details securely to accept a payment from a person who is not present.
  • Does not read payment cards in a card machine – instead, credit card processing is done through an internet browser.
  • Commonly used for mail orders and over-the-phone payments.

So which is the right one to choose? Our virtual terminal comparison gives you an overview.

Best virtual terminals in the UK:

Provider Costs Rating Website

Square

£0/mo
2.5% card fee

Best for range of free features

Worldpay

£9.95 + VAT/mo
Varying card fees

Best for high-volume payments

PayPal

£20/mo
2.9% + 30p card fee

Possibly best fees on domestic cards

SumUp

£0/mo
2.95% + 25p card fee

Access in both app and browser

Sage Pay

£15 + VAT/mo
Varying card fees

Best for advanced reporting
Who Cost Link
Square No monthly fee & 2.5% card fee
Worldpay £9.95 + VAT/mo & varying card fees
PayPal £20/mo & 2.9% + 30p card fee (standard)
SumUp No monthly fee & 2.95% + 25p card fee
Sage Pay £15 + VAT/mo & varying card fees

Square – easy and no monthly fees

Square
Our rating
  • No monthly cost, only pay card fee

  • Easy sign-up

  • Very simple and user-friendly

  • No commitment

If you’re looking for no commitment, quick registration and no monthly fees, Square is your best solution. The only thing you pay is a fixed transaction fee per Virtual Terminal payment.

Square Virtual Terminal UK

Square Virtual Terminal is a very simple page focusing on card details. Photo: Square

You can go many months without using the terminal, without being charged anything, and it will still be available as a complimentary feature in your Square account.

Square Virtual Terminal accepts Visa, Visa Electron, V Pay, Mastercard, Maestro and American Express.

The virtual payment terminal page is straightforward – enter the card details, amount to be paid and a short note that will be shown in your sales reports (i.e. not for personal details), or itemise the bill with products from your library (or new custom items), taxes, discounts and variants.

Pricing

Monthly cost: Free

Transaction fee: 2.5% for all cards

PCI compliance: No fee

If you’ve saved a customer’s card details in the system, you can pick that for the payment, or start a recurring payment if you’re setting up a new regularly occurring transaction. It is also possible to record the payment in cash, gift card or other tenders, or split the transaction into different payment methods.

Square really has lowered the threshold for getting started with payments, whether it’s for the point of sale, via invoicing, ecommerce or in this case a virtual terminal. With a Square account, you can take payments in any of these ways for a fixed percentage. There is no requirement to submit PCI documentation with Square, but they do expect you to follow general safety check recommendations in line with PCI regulations.

Best for: Small, new or seasonal businesses needing an easy, not-committing option for remote payments.

Worldpay – popular in the UK

Worldpay
Our rating
  • £9.95 + VAT/mo + transaction fees

  • Card rates determined during sign-up

  • Advanced online interface

  • Rolling, cancellable 30-day contract

As the biggest payment processor in the UK, Worldpay offers everything from card machines to online payments, including virtual terminals. Transaction rates are shaped around your card turnover, business area and card types accepted.

Worldpay Virtual Terminal review

Worldpay Virtual Terminal allows you to add billing address.

Precise card rates are given by Worldpay when you contact them, but one thing is sure: the Virtual Terminal, on its own, has a fixed monthly fee of £9.95 + VAT. You pay for transactions on top of the monthly cost, and the plan can be cancelled any time with 30 days’ notice.

Worldpay has a broad range of features for remote payments, including recurring payments and pay-by-link where customers can pay via an email link. If you want a payment gateway and pay-by-links together with the virtual terminal, it costs £19.95 + VAT per month.

Transaction fees can be negotiated to comprise of a fixed amount like 10p or 20p + a percentage based on the card type. Debit cards are cheaper (from 0.5%) than credit cards (from 1.4%), and foreign, corporate and premium cards like American Express cost even more (from 1.9%). With no transaction history, you may just get a fixed general rate like 1.75%.

Pricing

Monthly cost: £9.95 + VAT

Transaction fee: Depends on plan, card type & turnover, higher for premium & foreign cards

PCI compliance: Additional costs apply

Visa, Visa Electron, Mastercard, Maestro, American Express and Diners Club are accepted through the Worldpay virtual terminal, but it is possible they allow other card brands with an extra agreement.

Some features – such as advanced reporting – may incur extra fees, and the monthly costs would not be suitable for businesses who only use the virtual terminal occasionally. Customer service is available over phone and email 24/7.

Best for: Businesses with a relatively stable monthly turnover of over £2k monthly, accepting mainly UK-issued debit cards.

PayPal – possible low fees for domestic debit cards

PayPal
Our rating
  • £20/mo + choice of fee plans

  • Standard transaction rate: 2.9% + 30p

  • Quick settlement in PayPal account

  • Integrates with other PayPal services

PayPal is a popular choice for small business, perhaps partly because it is so well-known. The virtual terminal itself is effective and highly secure, but PayPal makes it your responsibility to set up PCI compliance, which can be costly if you require assistance. PayPal Virtual Terminal accepts Visa, Mastercard and Maestro, and transactions settle in your PayPal account within minutes. Customer service is only available during working hours in the UK.

PayPal Virtual Terminal

PayPal’s virtual terminal is simple to use, but costs are a little complicated.

To cut to the chase, the costs of their virtual terminal are some of the highest for small businesses. Firstly, there’s a £20 (no VAT applicable) monthly fee for having the virtual terminal in the first place.

As standard, virtual terminal payments cost 2.9% + 30p of the transaction amount. Alternatively, you can apply to be on a Blended pricing plan where transactions cost 1.2% + 30p, or Interchange Plus plan where transactions cost the interchange rate + 1.2% + 30p.

Interchange fees range between 0.2%-2% according to the type of card accepted. For example, a UK-issued, personal Visa Debit card will have the lowest fee, while non-UK, premium or corporate cards have the highest interchange rates.

There is no cross-border charge applied for the Interchange Plus pricing structure, but it is applied to the Standard and Blended rates.

A currency conversion fee of 2.5% on top of the base exchange rate is applied on all plans if the payer’s account is in a non-GBP currency.

There may also be additional fees applied on certain transactions, e.g. for “card account verification” or “uncaptured” payments.

Pricing

Monthly fee: £20

Transaction fees:
Standard: 2.9% + 30p
Blended: 1.2% + 30p
Interchange Plus: Interchange % + 1.2% + 30p

Fees for foreign cards:
Cross-border: 0.5%-2% (Standard & Blended)
Currency conversion: 2.5% (any plan)

PCI compliance: Costs apply

Tired of reading about PayPal fees? Maybe this virtual terminal isn’t for you. However, the platform does offer a broad range of online payment features such as recurring payments and a PayPal checkout on your website. If you’d like to have all this in one place, you may prefer PayPal.

To sign up, you submit an online form followed by a phone call with PayPal to discuss your requirements.

Best for: Online businesses using PayPal services regularly and with primarily UK-based customers.

SumUp – best for occasional phone sales on any device

SumUp
Our rating
  • No ongoing fees

  • Simple layout

  • Requires approval by SumUp

  • No commitment

SumUp is mostly known for its low-cost card readers. They don’t advertise its Virtual Terminal, but if you have a SumUp account, you can message customer support to get the virtual terminal activated. SumUp will ask you to complete an application and submit documentation and proof of your online presence, which they will check. If all goes well, the virtual terminal will be activated for use in your account.

SumUp Virtual Terminal has a simple layout, in line with all of SumUp’s no-fuss products.

The virtual terminal costs nothing in monthly fees, but transactions are charged at 2.95% + 25p regardless of card type or sales volume. Although higher than some other virtual terminals’ card fees, the lack of monthly costs could still mean this is the most economical solution for occasional phone payments.

SumUp merchants taking card payments through the Air or 3G card reader can benefit from keeping both face-to-face and phone payment transactions viewable in the same account, or exported to Excel for accounting purposes.

The virtual terminal accepts Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, American Express, Diners Club, Discover and JCB, which is the largest selection of accepted cards (on this shortlist) included as default.

Pricing

Monthly cost: Free

Transaction fee: 2.95% + 25p for all cards

PCI compliance: No fee

There is no contract to commit to with SumUp. Once it is activated, you will be able to accept payments through the virtual terminal when required, but a period of non-usage may deactivate it eventually, requiring you to contact SumUp again.

The only additional information you can enter on the virtual terminal page is a short description. No customer address or other information than essential card details can be added, so it is by far the most basic option on this shortlist.

The main strength of SumUp Virtual Terminal is the fact you can use it in both SumUp App and a web browser. Most virtual terminals are only accessible in internet browsers, but SumUp’s access in their mobile app makes it ideal for on-the-go merchants with no computer access.

Best for: SumUp users requiring a simple solution for occasional over-the-phone payments.

Sage Pay – best for reporting

Sage Pay
Our rating
  • £15 + VAT/mo + transaction fees

  • Different fee plans available

  • Integrates with advanced accounting

  • Highly-rated 24/7 customer support

Sage Pay is one of the biggest merchant service providers in the UK, with solutions for ecommerce, accounting, invoicing, point of sales and more. You can subscribe to the Sage virtual terminal under a plan called ‘Sage Pay Phone Payments’ (suitable for small businesses) or ‘Sage Pay Phone Payments Corporate’ if you’re a high-volume business looking for customised fees.

Sage Pay virtual terminal

Sage virtual terminal allows you to enter quite a few details.

The basic Sage Pay Phone Payments plan costs a fixed monthly fee of £15 + VAT. This gives you 100 transaction tokens and includes 24/7 phone, email and Twitter support. The Corporate plan has bespoke pricing and is for companies expecting to make over 1,500 transactions a month.

Plans have a contract period, so do ask Sage about that before signing up for anything – otherwise, you can get a heavy termination fee if cancelling before the contract is up.

With Sage Pay, you usually pay a fixed transaction percentage – or fixed-amount fee – per sale, that vary between card brands or whether a premium card is used (debit cards are cheaper to accept). You will only get information about exact fees when you start an application process with the company.

Pricing

Monthly fee: £15 + VAT

Transaction fees: Determined at sign-up

PCI compliance: Costs included

By default, Sage accepts Visa, Visa Electron, Mastercard and Maestro via the virtual terminal, but is also able to set up acceptance for other payment types. Their round-the-clock customer support is generally highly rated.

Best for: Merchants already using Sage’s accounting software and who want to integrate it with phone sales.