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Libby James
Merchant Services Expert

Libby James is co-founder, director and an expert in all things merchant services. Libby is the go-to specialist for business with more complex requirements or businesses that are struggling to find a provider that will accept them. Libby is regularly cited in trade, national and international media.

Affordable Credit Card Processing and Merchant Accounts

In today’s fast-paced business world, every penny counts. If you’re a merchant looking to boost your profit margins, reducing your credit card processing costs is a smart move. At Merchant Advice Service (MAS), we’re here to help you navigate the world of affordable credit card processing while providing expert guidance and solutions to make your business thrive.

Why Affordable Credit Card Processing Matters

When it comes to merchant accounts, minimising expenses is crucial. Affordable credit card processing is not just about cutting costs; it’s about enhancing your bottom line and providing a seamless experience for your customers. Here are the key points you need to know:


Competitive Rates: At MAS, we understand that every business is unique. We’ll help you find the best credit card processing rates tailored to your specific needs.


Transparent Fees: No one likes hidden fees or complicated pricing structures. We’ll make sure you have a clear understanding of all costs associated with your merchant account.


Payment Security: With increasing online transactions, security is paramount. We’ll advise you on secure payment processing options to protect your business and your customers.


Exceptional Service: When you partner with MAS, you’re not just a number. We provide exceptional customer service, ensuring that you get the support you need when you need it.

How to Save on Credit Card Processing

To save money on credit card processing, it’s essential to make informed decisions. Here are some strategies to consider:


Compare Providers: Don’t settle for the first merchant account provider you come across. Compare different options to find the best deal for your business.


Negotiate Fees: Negotiating fees is a common practice in the industry. MAS can guide you through the negotiation process to secure more favourable terms.


Stay Informed: Credit card processing technology evolves constantly. Staying informed about industry changes can help you adapt and save money.


Embrace Technology: Utilise the latest payment processing technologies and tools to streamline your operations and reduce costs.


Switching Accounts and the Benefits

Switching your merchant account can be a strategic move to reduce costs and improve services. Here’s why you should consider it:


Cost Savings: New account providers may offer lower rates and fewer fees, saving you money in the long run.


Improved Services: Up-to-date technology and services can enhance your payment processing, making transactions smoother for your customers.


Customisation: When you switch, you can tailor your new account to better suit your business’s unique needs and preferences.


Better Customer Support: A new provider might offer better customer support, ensuring your issues are resolved quickly.

Discovering Cost-Effective Solutions for Receiving Card Payments

In the world of business, the bottom line is paramount. Regardless of your industry, keeping costs down is a top priority. At Merchant Advice Service, we’ve consulted with a panel of experts and advisors to craft this concise guide. Our aim is to assist you in uncovering the most cost-effective methods for accepting card payments for your business, both now and in the future.


The Quest for the Lowest Costs


Many clients who seek our assistance are primarily driven by the desire to reduce costs. A common question we encounter is, “Who offers the most affordable credit card processing fees?” The simple answer is that no two businesses are identical. What’s economical for one may not be the best choice for another. Let’s delve into this further.

Tip One: Comparison Shopping

What many clients may not realise is that the rates they’re currently paying, or the quotes they’ve received (especially if they’re a start-up), are often negotiable. If you’re using a broker service, ask your advisor to approach at least two companies. If you’re navigating this journey on your own, always seek multiple quotes. If you possess evidence of a lower quote from another provider, don’t hesitate to share it with the alternative provider and enquire if they can match or beat it. You’ve got nothing to lose. Requesting discounts with your new or existing merchant account provider is a standard practice.


Tip Two: Watch Out for Hidden Costs

Discovering the most affordable merchant account doesn’t merely involve securing the lowest rates. It’s important to be vigilant about “add-ons” and hidden fees to avoid any unpleasant surprises on your transaction statements. It’s astonishing how many of our customers, despite having some of the lowest market rates, end up paying more than necessary. For example, a pub or restaurant business handling a substantial number of phone bookings and payments were incurring excessive additional charges for over-the-phone payments. These fees comprised over 50% of their total costs, but they weren’t comprehending the full extent of their expenses due to a lack of understanding of their transaction statements. In such a scenario, a provider with competitive rates that doesn’t impose extra fees for virtual terminals could have saved them a substantial sum. Similar issues can arise with charges like (often unnecessary) additional PCI compliance fees and other fine print details.


To ensure you’re getting the best deal for credit card processing, it’s crucial to compare providers holistically, considering the overall cost rather than rates alone. If you’re using a broker, share your transaction statements so they can determine what you would have paid with a different provider during the same months. Keep in mind that what constitutes a cheap merchant account for one company may not be the same for another. Explore your options to discover the most economical approach to accepting card payments.


Tip Three: Recognise the Difference Between Online and Offline

Identifying the most cost-effective online card processing can be somewhat more complex. When accepting online payments, you encounter two primary costs: the merchant account and the payment gateway. Business owners often perceive these as a single expense, potentially missing out on the most budget-friendly method to accept online card payments. As previously mentioned, be attentive to hidden fees and add-ons when seeking a merchant account. When it comes to selecting a payment gateway for affordable online credit card processing, it’s essential to remember that “cheap” doesn’t always equate to the best solution for your business and client security. Don’t compromise security levels for the sake of price; a few pounds per month could determine whether you have a trusted, high-quality payment gateway or jeopardise the security of customer card details. If your focus is primarily on face-to-face payments, your priorities may revolve around card terminal prices, EPOS systems, and, of course, the merchant account.


Tip Four: Tailor to Your Business and Customers

As briefly mentioned, finding the most affordable merchant card services should be an individualised process. Take the time to understand the origins of the majority of your payments, as this is vital in finding the best solution for your business. Different types of cards—credit, debit, business, and American Express—are subject to varying rates. Similarly, mobile and contactless payments often offer the most cost-effective and sometimes even free processing, so this should be reflected in the account you choose. Discovering the most cost-effective way to receive credit card payments largely depends on how your business is run and the industry you operate in. For instance, a coffee shop owner will handle many contactless transactions under £30, primarily on debit cards. However, a store selling large electrical items will conduct fewer transactions at higher amounts, often on credit cards. To secure the lowest credit card processing for your business, take a few moments to analyse your customers and how they choose to pay.

Tip Five: Economical Methods for Accepting Phone Payments

Accepting payments over the phone when the customer is not present is known in the industry as MOTO payments (mail order/telephone order) and often carried out using a virtual terminal. Finding low-cost merchant accounts to accept these types of transactions can be a little more challenging than standard face-to-face payments. The reason for this is that MOTO accounts are considered slightly higher risk. To ensure you find the most affordable virtual terminal credit card processing, speak to companies experienced in online processing; some even offer virtual terminals free of charge when you use their payment gateway service.


Tip Six: Cost-Effective Card Processing Machines

Card payment machines (PDQ) are more often than not rented on a monthly basis by businesses. The cost for the machines themselves tends to be low, starting at as little as £15.00 per month. However, when searching for affordable card payments, it’s essential to consider the overall cost. For example, renting a machine for £15.00 a month over a four-year contract costs £720 (plus VAT). In comparison, card machines can be bought outright for around £250. Having said that, most companies prefer to rent PDQ machines, and you may be restricted in the choice of providers if you wish to buy rather than rent. When looking for the most affordable way to accept card payments, why not consider both options.


Tip Seven: Keep Shopping for the Best Deals

So, you’ve secured the most affordable credit card processing fees available to your business; that’s pretty good, right? Now, the challenge is to maintain this advantage. When it comes to banking, both business and personal, people tend to develop a sense of loyalty to their providers and banks. However, in many cases, the most economical way to accept credit card payments in the long term involves changing providers. Set a date in your diary to review your account annually – or even better, let us do it for you! Rates and fees are constantly changing, and they are almost always negotiable! A start-up business often pays higher fees in the first year of trading, for example. Once a clear transaction history has built, they can nearly always secure better rates and fees elsewhere. Finding small discounts each year could save hundreds on your credit card processing costs as your business grows.

Tip Eight: Utilise a Broker Service to Find the Best Deals

At Merchant Advice Service, we collaborate with industry experts to assist businesses with anything payments-related, from discovering the most affordable online credit card processing to face-to-face payments, including affordable iPhone credit card processing and portable solutions. From small start-up businesses to larger, more established, and international firms, our advisors possess a wealth of industry knowledge to help you secure the lowest cost merchant services for your business now and in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions about Affordable Credit Card Processing

Commonly Asked Questions
What’s the most cost-effective way for a small business to accept credit card payments?
Sourcing the most affordable card processing solutions for a small business typically involves avoiding high overheads. Consider steering clear of long contract lengths and finding straightforward solutions that match your business needs, rather than all-encompassing machines and terminals that may be more expensive. Like any business, finding the lowest credit card processing fees for smaller businesses is an ongoing commitment, so be sure to shop around annually to secure the best rates.
How can I find the most affordable merchant account fees and rates?
The industry can be bewildering, and we understand that. Most banks will provide rate and fee quotes, but what do those figures actually mean? To find the lowest rate credit card processing, it’s important to make a like-for-like comparison. If necessary, ask your advisor what you’ll be saving in pound notes rather than percentages. As mentioned earlier, we often use a previous transaction statement to conduct a fair comparison for our clients. Remember, it’s not solely about the cheapest merchant account rates; it’s the overall cost that matters.
Are there any discounts available for merchant accounts?
Absolutely! As discussed earlier, finding a merchant account discount rate often involves simply asking. If you come prepared with quotes from other companies, you’ll likely find that fees can be negotiated, and many providers are keen to beat what you’ve been quoted elsewhere. This can give you additional leverage for better rates, particularly when you use a free brokerage service like ours.
How do I find cost-effective mobile card payments?
If you’re accepting a significant number of contactless or mobile payments, be sure to mention this when seeking quotes. Some merchant account providers do not charge a fee for contactless payments. In reality, this could save a merchant handling high volumes of lower transactions hundreds of pounds per month, ensuring you secure the most affordable merchant account fees overall.
What are the best practices for securing the cheapest online credit card processing?
The key to obtaining the most affordable online credit card processing is to balance cost-effectiveness with security. While lower prices are enticing, don’t sacrifice the safety of customer card details. It’s essential to choose a payment gateway that provides both affordability and robust security measures.
How can I ensure my business maintains the lowest credit card processing fees in the long term?
To keep your business’s credit card processing fees low, consider switching providers when better opportunities arise. Many providers offer lower rates and fees as your transaction history builds. Regularly reviewing your account and shopping around can lead to substantial savings.
Is it better to rent or buy card payment machines for my business?
The choice between renting and buying card payment machines depends on your business’s specific needs and preferences. Renting offers flexibility and lower initial costs, while buying can be cost-effective in the long run. Assess your business requirements and budget to determine the best option.
How do I know if my business requires a virtual terminal for card payments?
A virtual terminal is typically used for processing card payments over the phone or online when customers are not physically present. If your business frequently engages in mail order or telephone order (MOTO) transactions, a virtual terminal is essential. It simplifies the payment process and ensures secure card processing for remote orders.

How MAS Can Help

At Merchant Advice Service, we offer clients access to industry experts. Working together, we aim to not only secure you affordable credit card processing rates but provide a long-term service that suits your company now and in the future. Our advisors will stay in touch with you throughout the lifetime of your business. If they believe you should switch providers to access more attractive and low-rate merchant services, they will let you know. Alternatively, if your current provider is the right fit for you, they’ll provide that feedback. Our team of UK-based experts makes finding an affordable merchant account easy.


For further assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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Libby James

Libby James Co-founded Merchant Advice Service alongside David Bird in 2016. Her finance background, coupled with retail and customer service experience, gave Libby the drive to bring transparency and non-biased advice to the world of merchant services. Having come from the heavily regulated mortgage and insurance industry, Libby found it puzzling that other financial sectors lacked regulation and transparency leaving customers confused and unable to make informed decisions when it came to accepting card payments. This was soon to become Libby’s obsession!

With the help of some of the industry’s best, Libby began to research acquiring banks, complex terminology/regulation, and the problems customers experience within merchant services and payment gateway markets. She spent years on sourcing solutions for complex clients, which previously others were unable to assist with. Libby established relationships with brokers and banks which would soon form the cornerstone of Merchant Advice Service. As a result Libby has been featured in high-profile publications across the web.

Libby is proud to be the entrepreneur’s champion, supporting start-up businesses regularly. Her industry insights can often be found on LinkedIn where she provides free of charge advice and money saving pointers. It’s safe to say she has her finger on the pulse of everything card payments related.

Libby speaks of her experience in founding and running Merchant Advice Service…

‘Merchant Advice Service is one of my greatest achievements to date. We help business owners to overcome card processing issues which can become detrimental to their business. We assist SME’s in finding suitable card payments solutions, helping them create their vision. Each and every day is different, exciting and fore filling. As technology advances I can’t wait to see the way in which the merchant services market advances, and I’m pleased that our business will play a part in educating company owners along the way.’

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