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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.

Unlocking Flexibility in Merchant Contracts

In the dynamic landscape of merchant services, the duration of contracts can significantly impact businesses. Merchant contract lengths vary across providers, whether they be acquirers or banks, and understanding the nuances is crucial for business owners seeking flexibility in their agreements.

Tailoring Contracts to Your Needs

For some business owners, especially those navigating the unpredictable waters of a startup, the concern lies in having the flexibility to exit a merchant services contract if circumstances take an unexpected turn. Similarly, seasonal businesses and event-centric companies may only require a merchant account for a short period. Recognising these varied needs, some providers offer merchant contracts with no fixed lengths.


Navigating the No-Contract Terrain

Enterprises can benefit from credit card processing services that come without a fixed contract. While this flexibility can be invaluable, it’s essential to note that other aspects, such as payment gateway and card terminal rental contracts, may still have specific terms. Although the merchant account itself may not be tied to a fixed period, card terminals are often rented for durations.

Short-Term Solutions for Events

Events and tradeshow merchants, in particular, seek card machines with no contracts, unaware that certain providers offer short-term card machine hire, sometimes for as little as one to two days. These contracts are designed to complement portable PDQ machines, allowing transactions to be conducted almost anywhere using GPRS (radio signals) for authorisation.


Choosing Wisely for Short-Term Gains

When seeking a short-term merchant account, comparing providers like-for-like is crucial. It’s not just about rates or terminal costs; understanding the complete picture is vital. While longer contracts often offer cheaper rates, short-term solutions require a discerning approach. Some providers with no contract periods may charge higher rates, emphasising the importance of exploring all available options.

No Contract – In-Depth Insights:

  1. PSR (Payment Service Regulator) and Contract Limits:

The PSR, through Specific Direction 16 (SD16), mandates providers to limit the initial length of POS terminal hire contracts to 18 months. This restriction aims to empower merchants, allowing them to switch providers more easily in pursuit of better deals.


  1. Catering to Seasonal Businesses:

Seasonal businesses, with fluctuating demand throughout the year, benefit greatly from flexible merchant contracts. Having the ability to align services with specific business cycles ensures optimal cost-effectiveness.


  1. Event-Centric Considerations:

Events and tradeshow merchants, with their unique, short-term requirements, can leverage no-contract card machine options. These solutions provide the necessary tools for seamless payment processing during events, without the burden of lengthy commitments.


  1. Compact Terminals for Convenience:

Compact terminals, especially those suited for short-term use, offer convenience and mobility. Understanding the advantages of these terminals can help businesses make informed decisions based on their specific needs.


  1. Liberating Benefits of No Contracts:

Being free from the constraints of a long-term contract offers businesses the agility to adapt to changing circumstances. This section delves into the benefits of not being tied into extended agreements and how it positively impacts operational flexibility.


  1. Cost Considerations in Processing Card Payments:

This segment explores the intricacies of processing card payments without fixed contracts, shedding light on potential cost implications and the overall economic viability for businesses.

Expert Guidance and FAQs

Commonly Asked Questions
How does Payment Service Regulator, SD16 impact merchant contracts?
SD16 limits the initial length of POS terminal hire contracts to 18 months, facilitating easier switching for merchants.
Are there short-term options for event merchants?
Yes, some providers offer card machine hire for as little as one to two days, catering to the needs of events and tradeshow merchants.
What are the advantages of compact terminals?
Compact terminals provide convenience and mobility, making them ideal for short-term use and events.
Why consider a no-contract merchant account?
No-contract merchant accounts offer businesses the freedom to adapt to changing circumstances without being tied into long-term commitments.
How does the PSR regulate merchant contracts?
The PSR, through Specific Direction 16 (SD16), limits the initial length of POS terminal hire contracts to enhance merchant flexibility.
Can seasonal businesses benefit from flexible contracts?
Absolutely. Flexible contracts allow seasonal businesses to align services with specific business cycles, optimising cost-effectiveness.
What is the significance of GPRS in payment processing for events?
GPRS enables payment authorisation through radio signals, making it ideal for events where Wi-Fi may not be readily available.
How do I ensure I’m not overpaying for a short-term merchant account?
When comparing providers, focus on the complete picture, considering factors beyond rates and terminal costs to make an informed decision.

How Merchant Account Solutions (MAS) Can Help:

At MAS, we understand the diverse needs of businesses and offer tailored solutions to suit your requirements. Our experts are committed to providing personalised guidance, ensuring you find the best merchant services without unnecessary long-term commitments. Discover how MAS can empower your business here.


For more advice like this, visit our blog page.



Navigating the world of merchant services requires astute consideration of business requirements. Particularly for those operating in spring and summer or winter months. It’s essential to understand the impact of contract durations on cash flow and operations. This is true whether you’re running a small business, exploring seasonal business ideas, or dealing with peak seasons,


Flexibility in merchant services during specific times of the year is vital. Opting for short-term solutions or no-contract options can enhance your ability to adapt. This is especially relevant for businesses with fluctuating demand during summer months or other seasonal peaks.


Remember, each legal entity has unique needs. Choosing the right merchant service provider is crucial. Whether it’s processing payments via debit card or seeking information to optimise operations. The key is to align these services with your business cycle. Ensure you’re not bound by unnecessary long-term commitments. All this maintains optimal efficiency and profitability.


Merchant Account Solutions (MAS) stands ready to assist you in navigating these choices. We offer expertise tailored to your specific business needs. Embrace the flexibility and strategic advantage of well-chosen merchant services to propel your business forward. No matter the season.

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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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