Card Payments

Card Payments: Where should my business start?

With January well underway, business plans are being finalised ahead of what looks to be an interesting trading year to say the least (we’ll not mention the dreaded B word). In a testing market, any advantage, no matter how small, can go a long way.

In the following post, we focus on card payment solutions, often referred to as ‘Merchant Services’.

The fact that you’re reading this means there’s a good chance you’re one of the 2.6 million SMEs across the UK not accepting card payments and considering your next move. With a recent study showing that 81% of shoppers claim they’d be more inclined to shop locally if they knew that shop accepted cards (and let us not forget that 2018 saw card payments surpass cash transactions for the first time in the UK), the time to act is now.

But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. Before you start, the likelihood is you have a few questions that need answering first…

Where do I start?

Who do I need to approach?

How do I make sure I’m not paying over the odds?

We’ve spoken previously about the type of deals available, including whether a Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) or Contracted option is the best for your business (if you still don’t know the answer to that, head over to our blog first).

In the following article, we’ll discuss the main options available to you, who to avoid and how you can get a GREAT deal for your business.

Think twice about using your bank for card payments

Ahh, our trusty friend the bank. Surely, it’s a no brainer to start here?

Unsurprisingly, card payment solutions are mostly sourced from a business’ own bank. However, just because you’re a current customer, don’t assume that they’ll give you the best rate available. Remember, card processing is a source of income to banks, so they’re looking to maximise their margin.

It would be wrong to assume that most banks own their own card payment services. In fact, they simply partner up with a large card processor and resell their products. In the long-run, because most people don’t question the deals they’re being offered, this results in some of the most expensive rates on the market.

Avoid approaching suppliers directly  

So, we’ve established that as resellers, banks offer expensive rates, so maybe it’s cheaper to cut out the middle man and go directly with the supplier? Well, it’s certainly cheaper than the bank, but they still fall short of offering the most competitive prices in the market.

Their sales people will charge a price just below that what banks offer and still make a handy profit. Speaking to them directly only confirms that you’re interested in their product, so, if you choose to approach a supplier (something we wouldn’t recommend) make sure you negotiate with them as much as you can to obtain the best possible price.

Referral Sites don’t offer you the best deals

Many people using these sites believe, mistakenly, that the prices they’re viewing are the best available. They simply collect your data and pass it onto their partners.

There are many online sites which will refer any enquiry you make directly to a supplier. Whilst it may appear on the outside that they will take your details, compare the market and present the best deal to you, in reality, that’s not the case. Referral sites will often have a select few pre-ordained partners who they’ll automatically send your details to, regardless of the fee they charge. They are not specialists in the field of providing merchant services, they just referred your data for a quote.

Compare the prices of Independent Sales Organisations (ISO)

ISO’s are firms authorised by providers of merchant services to act as resellers of specific products. In this instance, they are reselling merchant services on behalf of the card processor. Due to the sheer volume of business they refer to suppliers, an ISO can typically access discounts (on your behalf) of up to 35%.

ISO’s differ and there are variances between the prices they offer. To ensure that you get the cheapest price for merchant services, it is important that you evaluate numerous offers by various ISO’s. Use an expert in the market to compare them all to find the ultimate best price.

We’re here to help

If you need any assistance in identifying the best deal on the market for you, our team of experts are on-hand to steer your business in the right direction. As a value-added service, we don’t add any margin or uplift in your deals, meaning you only pay for the service you receive.

Simply give us a call on 0800 130 3514 or drop us an email and we’ll get back to you.

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Paul JohnsonGroup Financial Director

Paul Johnson is very much a home-grown talent.

He joined Great Annual Savings Group in its infancy, fresh from a youth career as a professional footballer with Hartlepool United.  He quickly established a reputation within the business and aced all required accountancy qualifications in the space of four years to become the Group’s Management Accountant.

Several successful projects later, Paul was promoted to Head of Finance.  When the former FD left GAS, he took on the mantle of the business’ most senior finance professional; boasting a string of incredible achievements all under the age of 30.


“I have witnessed phenomenal growth at the Group over the many years I’ve worked here and I’m looking forward to guiding the Group into an exciting new chapter.”

Interesting fact:

Paul made his professional debut for Hartlepool United against Bournemouth in the Football League.  Some say Danny Ings still resides in his pocket to this day.