Our rating(3.9/5)
Paymentsense sells flexible card machine contracts with next-day settlement.
Paymentsense is an independent sales organisation (ISO) offering card machine rental, online payment solutions and card processing contracts. The packages suit small-to-medium businesses that need a flexible solution.
  • Highs: Quick to get started. Next-day payouts. Good card machines. Competitive fees. 24/7 customer support. Reporting app.
  • Lows: Hidden fees. Pushy sales reps. Need to give enough notice to cancel contracts.
  • Choose if: You want a card machine with decent card rates on a short contract.

How it works

Paymentsense is one of the bigger independent sales organisations (ISOs) based in the UK. The company rents out card machines to small- and medium-sized businesses in a variety of sectors. It also offers online payment methods including payment links for email invoices, a payment gateway for online stores and over-the-phone payments.

Paymentsense processes Visa and Mastercard transactions through its own e-money licence without a long-term merchant account contract. Payment processing used to be provided by Fiserv (previously called First Data), which is still the case for many existing customers. Certain types of new high-risk businesses are still offered a Fiserv merchant account, but only few.

New merchants are offered monthly rolling contracts as standard. Costs are tailored to your card turnover, transaction size and type of business.

To sign up, you need to fill in basic contact details online, then await a phone call by a sales rep. The contact form requires you to include a phone number, postcode and email address, and there’s no option to include a message. You can only get a quote over the phone after submitting additional details about your business verbally.

If the application goes well, you can start receiving online payments within 24 hours already, or by card machine within three working days.

Card machines

Paymentsense has a standard selection of traditional card machines for most uses. Their advertised models include three Ingenico card machines: one for a fixed countertop (Ingenico iCT250), a portable (Ingenico iWL250) and mobile model (Ingenico Move 3500).

All card machines accept chip and PIN, swipe cards and contactless transactions including Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Mobile card machine

  • Lightweight and portable Ingenico Move/3500 model

  • Can be used outside, on the go or at your premises wirelessly

  • With GPRS SIM card that connects to mobile network

  • With built-in receipt printer and colour display

  • Works a whole day on a single charge

Ingenico Move/3500 Paymentsense

The mobile terminal model, Ingenico Move/3500. Photo: Paymentsense

Portable card machine

  • Light and portable Ingenico iWL250 model

  • Works wirelessly over Bluetooth within 100m of base unit

  • With built-in receipt printer and backlit display

  • Can integrate with POS system

  • Long-lasting battery

The portable terminal, Ingenico iWL250. Photo: Paymentsense

Countertop card machine

  • Ingenico iCT250 model that works with cable

  • Ergonomic design and backlit keypad

  • With built-in receipt printer and colour display

  • Can integrate with POS system

  • Uses your Ethernet connection

Ingenico iCT250 Paymentsense

The countertop terminal, Ingenico iCT250. Photo: Paymentsense

The mobile terminal works independently with its SIM card inserted. This makes it ideal for e.g. couriers, taxi drivers, market stalls, plumbers and other professionals meeting clients in different locations.

The portable terminal is intended for use within 100 metres on fixed premises, for example for table-side ordering or queue-busting. The countertop terminal needs the power cable to function, so it can only be used at a fixed till point.

Both the portable and fixed terminals can integrate with a choice of 500+ compatible point of sale (POS) systems so you don’t have to enter transaction totals manually on the card machine to accept payments. Instead, the POS software sends transaction amounts to the card machine, and the card machine communicates the status of payments back to the POS system.

Apart from these three models, Paymentsense can offer some Spire card machines or a completely separate product called Dojo that has its own website. Dojo is a smart POS terminal of the PAX A920 model. It has built-in POS software to use via 4G or WiFi and a 10-hour battery life, so it’s ideal for mobile payments on the go or around your premises.

If you have particular hardware requirements or concerns about features, we recommend asking the sales rep about it.

Contractual commitment: then and now

Paymentsense now offers 30-day rolling contracts to all new customers. Up until recently, the company only offered contracts of between 18 months and five years. This was a big commitment for many small businesses, so Paymentsense lowered this lock-in considerably.

If you’re in another card machine contract, Paymentsense can help you pay the cost of leaving that. The official promise is “We’ll save you up to 40% on your current bill and can even pay up to £3,000 of your exit fees.” Some users report that Paymentsense doesn’t always follow through on the promise to pay these compensations, although efforts are made by Paymentsense to make this process easier.

Another thing we’ve been made aware of is that card rates are capped throughout the contract period. This used to be an issue for those on long contracts whose turnover increased over the years, because lower fees are the norm for a high turnover. With the monthly contracts, you can just cancel the contract or change the fees in line with your growth.

You cannot leave the contract early without cancellation fees that are the equivalent of the costs you would’ve paid for the remaining months of the contract. This used to run into hundreds of pounds with many months left, but the notice period on a monthly plan is just a month, so you should maximum pay a month’s fees if you cancel without enough notice.

You should always cancel the contract in the method agreed in the contract (usually in writing), as otherwise it will auto-renew.

Paymentsense fees

A frustrating thing about Paymentsense is the lack of transparency around fees. You can’t find specific costs on their website, but we do know certain things about the charges.

According to Paymentsense, their card transaction fees are low (we’ve seen between 0.5%-1.6% quoted), but the only way to compare is by talking to Paymentsense for a quote and compare that with other companies.

In any case, card rates depend on your average number and value of transactions, type of business, how long you’ve been trading for and types of cards accepted. UK-issued consumer debit and credit cards have the lowest fees, whereas corporate, premium and foreign cards have the highest fees.

The contract ensures you can accept Visa and Mastercard transactions into your bank account. Acceptance of American Express, Diners Club and Discover may be added at an additional cost. Standard settlement used to be 3-5 working days, but next-day settlement is currently being rolled out to existing customers. All new customers are offered free next-day settlement as the standard.

Paymentsense pricing
Contract length 1 month – 5 years
Setup fee None
Monthly terminal rental cost Depends on terminal model
Monthly minimum charge Agreed at sign-up
Account On File annual fee (Fiserv merchant account) £3.99/year
Transaction rates Depends on business, card type & turnover
Chargebacks £28 each
PCI-DSS compliance £4.95 + VAT/mo (required) + non-compliance fee if applicable
Early termination fee Equivalent to cost of remaining contract fees
Online payments, monthly fee £8.30-£19.95/mo depending on turnover & plan
Paymentsense
pricing
Contract length 1 month – 5 years
Setup fee None
Monthly terminal rental cost Depends on terminal model
Monthly minimum charge Agreed at sign-up
Account On File annual fee (Fiserv merchant account) £3.99/year
Transaction rates Depends on business, card type & turnover
Chargebacks £28 each
PCI-DSS compliance £4.95 + VAT/mo (required) + non-compliance fee if applicable
Early termination fee Equivalent to cost of remaining contract fees
Online payments, monthly fee £8.30-£19.95/mo depending on turnover & plan

You also agree to a ‘monthly minimum service charge’, which is the minimum amount that Paymentsense requires in transaction fees on a monthly basis. If this amount is, say, £24.95 and your month’s card processing fees are only £20, then Paymentsense will bill you £24.95. If your processing fees are £30 for the month, then £30 will be charged. In essence, your monthly card processing fees will amount to at least £24.95 even when you’re accepting few – or no – card payments for the month.

The monthly card machine rental price depends on the terminal model. Usually, a mobile terminal is more expensive while portable and stationary models cost less. You can expect the rental fee to be around £18+ excluding VAT.

Integration with POS software does not cost anything, according to the website. There is no setup fee for the card machine, but you do pay extra for the 24-hour replacement service, should this be part of your agreement.

Chargeback fees apply (we’ve seen £28 quoted per chargeback) as well as PCI-DSS compliance (card security standard) that incurs a monthly service charge. If you don’t complete the necessary PCI-DSS paperwork in time, non-compliance fees will also apply.

You should ask about other fees before signing up, because many users have reported unexpected charges. For example, some merchants mention a surprise annual fee, charges for performance reports and receipt rolls, and costs from third-party providers. Month-on-month, these costs can rack up significantly.

In contrast with in-person payments, the monthly cost of the virtual terminal, payment links and online gateway are disclosed openly on the website.

If you transact for less than £50k annually, you pay £9.95/month on a monthly contract or £8.30/month on an annual contract. A higher turnover of up to £250k per year costs £14.95/month with a monthly plan or £12.45/month on an annual plan. Processing up to £1.2m annually costs £19.95/month on a monthly plan or £16.60/month with yearly commitment. Other costs apply depending on your online solution, which are only disclosed when talking to Paymentsense.

Online payment tools

In addition to card machine payments, Paymentsense offers the following online payment solutions:

Online payment gateway: Checkout for an online store. Can be customised and integrated on your site (makes you responsible for PCI compliance) or hosted by Paymentsense on an external web page (PCI compliance is done for you). Compatible with over 40 shopping cart software solutions. Lets you accept different currencies for international payments, not just GBP.

Virtual terminal: Web page where you can enter card details to process payments on behalf of customers. Accessible from the Merchant Management System in a web browser. Ideal for mail order and telephone order (MOTO) payments.

Pay by link: Payment links for email invoices, so customers can pay from their end on a secure web page. Created and sent from the Merchant Management System in a web browser.

All these solutions are included in the monthly fee for online payments (£8.30-£19.95/month quoted earlier). You can either sign up for a monthly or annual plan for online payments. These can be upgraded or downgraded over time.

Photo: Paymentsense

Paymentsense app

Paymentsense app for reporting.

The online Paymentsense portal is where you can send payment links from and use the virtual terminal. It can be accessed in a web browser, whether you’re on a computer or using a mobile device. The portal also allows you to manage the Paymentsense account and oversee transactions, fees and more.

There is a Paymentsense app, which is specifically for tracking sales, transactions, billing statuses and exporting data for your accountant. This is useful for real-time reporting, but you can’t send payment links or key in transactions from there.

Customer service and reviews

Paymentsense offers card terminal support 24/7 by a team based in London, UK. Onboarding is handled by sales reps that may be outsourced contractors, so they are different to the customer service team dealing with the fixed contract.

However, the number of complaints about Paymentsense is concerning. Recurring themes in the poor reviews include:

  • Pushy sales reps that don’t disclose all fees and terms upfront.

  • Hidden fees that become apparent during the contract.

  • Doesn’t always pay its merchants for leaving a previous card machine contract, even after promising to do so.

  • Inability to leave contract without paying extortionate fee.

  • You have to cancel on a specific date to avoid auto-renewal.

  • Problems receiving a card machine that works.

  • Confusion about who the merchant is dealing with (e.g. First Data, Paymentsense, terminal manufacturer).

  • Poor or slow responses to issues.

Judging by Paymentsense reviews, not even merchants whose businesses have collapsed due to Covid-19 could leave their contract without the early cancellation fee. We should add, though, that most of the fees mentioned by customers are typical of a standard terminal and card processing contract.

In light of all these concerns, you should make sure that Paymentsense is right for you by checking the small print before committing to any contract.

No-contract alternatives: Best card machines for small UK businesses

Our verdict: high promises, standard service

As with any merchant service provider, Paymentsense has its advantages and disadvantages. Although fees are not transparent, and sales reps not totally honest, the costs of a card machine contract with Paymentsense are typical in the industry.

The online payment options are unremarkable compared with other online payment systems. The reporting app, however, is a welcome feature for on-the-go merchants in need of a real-time overview of transactions.

The card machines are standard models of high quality, most of which can be integrated for free with popular POS systems. It is also relatively quick to start taking payments with a card machine – only three days with a successful application.

That said, we’ve seen many negative reviews about the service, hidden charges and dishonest sales reps. Prepare to ask questions about fees, contract terms and package features included, and get answers in writing before committing to anything. Paymentsense could be perfect for your business, but you need the full picture to know for sure.