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.
|Monthly fee||£20||From £9.95|
|Transaction fee||1.9-3.4% + 20p + other fees||~2.75% + 20p + 10p (gateway fee)|
|PCI compliance||Your responsibility||Included, with option to upgrade|
|Customer service||8am-8.30pm Monday-Saturday|
|24/7 phone support|
*Rates depend on sales volume and other factors.
|1.9-3.4% + 20p + other fees per transaction||~2.75%* + 20p + 10p per transaction|
|PCI compliance your responsibility||Basic PCI compliance included, upgrade costs extra|
|8am-8.30pm Mon-Sat, 9am-8.30pm Sunday phone support||24/7 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”.
|Fixed monthly fee||£9.95-£49.99||£20|
|Base transaction fee||~2.75% depending on business, card type and turnover||1.9-3.4% depending on turnover|
|Extra fixed transaction fee||20p||20p|
|Cross-border fee||Undisclosed||0.4-2% depending on card’s country|
|Currency conversion fee||Undisclosed||3-4% depending on currency|
|PCI compliance||£0-£29.99 annually + non-compliance fee if applicable||Varies depending on provider (e.g. US$250 annually with Trustwave)|
|£9.95-£49.99 /mo||£20 /mo|
|Base transaction fee|
|~2.75% depending on business, card & turnover||1.9-3.4% depending on turnover|
|Fixed card fee added|
|Undisclosed||0.4-2% depending on card’s country|
|Currency conversion fee|
|Undisclosed||3-4% depending on currency|
|£0-£29.99 annually + non-compliance fee if applicable||Varies depending on provider (e.g. US$250 annually with Trustwave)|
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.
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’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.
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.