Two of the most popular UK providers for phone payments are PayPal and Worldpay. As with any virtual terminal, you don’t need any equipment – only a laptop or tablet with an internet connection, since you’ll be using a web page to put payments through.

In the table, we compare entry rates from Worldpay and PayPal. Only if you process more than £1,500 a month with PayPal do you qualify for a rate below 3.4%. If you opt for a more expensive monthly package with Worldpay, you can qualify for better rates than the estimate below.

PayPal logo

Virtual terminal review

Worldpay logo red text

Virtual terminal review

Website
Website
Monthly fee£20From £9.95
Transaction fee1.9-3.4% + 20p + other fees~2.75% + 20p + 10p (gateway fee)
PCI complianceYour responsibilityIncluded, with option to upgrade
Accepted cardsVisaVisa ElectronMastercardMaestroAmerican ExpressVisaVisa ElectronMastercardMaestroAmerican ExpressDiners Club
Customer service8am-8.30pm Monday-Saturday
9am-8.30pm Sunday
24/7 phone support

*Rates depend on sales volume and other factors.

PayPal logo

Full review

Worldpay logo red text

Full review

Website
Website
£20/mo£9.95+/mo
1.9-3.4% + 20p + other fees per transaction~2.75%* + 20p + 10p per transaction
PCI compliance your responsibilityBasic PCI compliance included, upgrade costs extra
VisaVisa ElectronMastercardMaestroAmerican ExpressVisaVisa ElectronMastercardMaestroAmerican ExpressDiners Club
8am-8.30pm Mon-Sat, 9am-8.30pm Sunday phone support24/7 phone support

*Rates depend on sales volume and other factors.

The first question that comes to mind is: how come PayPal has gained such a high market share with rates that are clearly not competitive? A percentage of 3.4% on top of a fixed 20p can eat well into the margin of a lot of businesses.

The answer is in part the ease of signing up with PayPal’s virtual terminal, particularly for merchants who already have a PayPal Business account. Worldpay involves a bit more hassle, although they are trying to smarten up their onboarding process.

The first question that comes to mind is: how come PayPal has gained such a high market share with rates that are clearly not competitive?

It should also be said that for new PayPal customers, signing up for the virtual terminal is not as easy as it once was. Given the potential for fraud with phone payments, PayPal now requires new customers to talk on the phone with an onboarding rep setting up the virtual terminal.

Fixed monthly fees unavoidable

The PayPal fee is fixed at £20, while Worldpay’s monthly fee varies from £9.95 to £49.99. The latter is a fixed monthly price for a package that includes a relatively high number of transactions per month up to a “fixed threshold turnover level”.

CostsWorldpayPayPal
Fixed monthly fee£9.95-£49.99£20
Base transaction fee~2.75% depending on business, card type and turnover1.9-3.4% depending on turnover
Extra fixed transaction fee20p20p
Gateway fee10pn/a
Cross-border feeUndisclosed0.4-2% depending on card’s country
Currency conversion feeUndisclosed3-4% depending on currency
PCI compliance£0-£29.99 annually + non-compliance fee if applicableVaries depending on provider (e.g. US$250 annually with Trustwave)
Per chargeback£15£14
WorldpayPayPal
£9.95-£49.99 /mo£20 /mo
Base transaction fee
~2.75% depending on business, card & turnover1.9-3.4% depending on turnover
Fixed card fee added
20p20p
Gateway fee
10pn/a
Cross-border fee
Undisclosed0.4-2% depending on card’s country
Currency conversion fee
Undisclosed3-4% depending on currency
PCI compliance
£0-£29.99 annually + non-compliance fee if applicableVaries depending on provider (e.g. US$250 annually with Trustwave)
Per chargeback
£15£14

The information online about Worldpay’s fees for just the virtual terminal is confusing, to say the least. While there used to be a package promising competitive fees, you now have to phone up and ask about plans. It is all very secretive, isn’t it – they refused to give us any details for publication when we last phoned them, but promised to tell you more over the phone.

If you are interested in Worldpay, by all means ask for a callback and prepare to negotiate. This is a company that definitely has the ability to give you a good price, as long as you know what you are looking for.

PayPal also requires a phone call to finish your application to activate the virtual terminal in your PayPal Business account, but their fees are at least the same for everyone.

That being said, if you’re set on deciphering all the virtual terminal charges from the PayPal website, prepare to spend time trying to figure out which charge applies to what exactly in the lengthy service agreements. PayPal has notoriously made it difficult to be absolutely sure of the total card fee to expect from especially a payment made by a foreign card, but they do have a fee calculator inside the PayPal account, which you can use only at the point of payment.

How do you adhere to PCI regulations? Safely accept over-the-phone payments this way

A refreshing entrance to the UK market is Square Virtual Terminal. In stark contract to PayPal and Worldpay, Square doesn’t charge merchants any fixed monthly fees for their virtual terminal – only a flat 2.5% rate for all key-in transactions no matter what card is used. It will be interesting to see if Worldpay and PayPal will eventually simplify their fees in response to this kind of transparent package that will undoubtedly be attractive for small businesses.

PayPal’s interface is more modern

Is the design of the virtual terminal important to you? Then you should know there’s a difference in standards.

The Worldpay interface is totally acceptable and understandable. It just looks like it was made ten years ago, which is probably the case.

PayPal is more on the ball with online user experience and constantly tweaks their user experience to be as fast and painless as possible.

Worldpay virtual terminal page

Worldpay’s interface can be a bit hard to read, but it is relatively intuitive. Image: Worldpay

Worldpay’s customer service only slightly better

Worldpay offers 24/7 phone service. With PayPal, you will have to call within working hours. Both have email support options.

The customer service of Worldpay has a reputation for leaving a lot to be desired, but compared to PayPal, you are closer to real customer support teams based in the UK. This is, however, only a slight improvement on PayPal, as we have seen plenty of customer reviews stating Worldpay’s slow responses and the nuisance of being passed on from one department to another in an endless loop.

Although, if you get a frozen PayPal account and all phone payments have to be put on hold, you might actually wish you opted for the mixed bag of Worldpay responsiveness. It is no fun to have your hard-earned money put on hold due to the strict security protocols enforced by PayPal, which does happen occasionally, while also paying high transaction fees.

Verdict

If you don’t already have a PayPal Business account and feel you should stick to your own system for accounting purposes and ease, we recommend getting an offer from Worldpay so you can make a qualified decision between the two.

Especially if you are a business with over-the-phone payments totalling less than £3,000 a month, Worldpay rates are likely better, even on the basic £9.95 pay-as-you-go monthly package.

PayPal logo
PayPal offer
Worldpay logo red text
Worldpay offer