The best credit card processing services of 2018

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It's never been easier to set up shop on the web and sell your wares to the world. The UK is a global leader in e-commerce and the sector is characterised by constant innovation. So it’s worth investing time and money on an effective card processing service.

But time is money itself and if you need help then we hope this quick guide ill give you a head start when making your decision. Yes, PayPal is in there, but we’ve selected four others that go the extra length to make life easier and safer for you and your customers, alongside other features that can boost your business.

So, let’s get straight to it…

1. PayPal

Well known for good reason

Key features: One-click purchasing, mobile optimization | Integrations: Shopify, Magento | Free trial: Free option available (commission only)

Used by huge amounts of businesses
Plenty of features
Free option
Varying costs per transaction

You must have been living under a rock for the last couple of decades if you haven't heard of PayPal. We don't think it's an over exaggeration to say that for 99% of people, PayPal will be the first card processor that comes to mind. It's used by multitudes upon multitudes of retailers and service providers around the world.

And if your business is small, it's absolutely free to sign up. That's for the standard package that includes fraud protection, one-click purchasing and an optimised experienced for mobile visitors. The focus is on fast, simple payments from anybody, regardless of whether they have a PayPal account or not.

Last year, PayPal added Global Sellers, a new cross-border trade service that aims to make it easier for SMBs to increase their international presence and sales. This includes translation tools, international shipping and returns and payment localisation.

As well as the free option, you can pay $30 (£20, around AU$38) a month to upgrade to PayPal Payments Pro. That allows you to customize your checkout and ensure that your customers stay on your website when they pay.

2. Square

Ideal for small businesses

Key features: Same-day deposits, payment hardware available | Integrations: Magento | Free trial: Free service (commission only)

Focusses on your business type
Physical point-of-sale available
Free option
Lacks the features of others

Rather than a one size fits all approach to card processing, from the outset Square looks to mould its solution to suit your business. Whether your specialty is culinary, beauty, service provision or simply retail, Square will direct you appropriately.

The interface (whether on desktop or via Square's mobile app) is clean and simple to understand, and the commissions for each payment are a flat rate for all transactions instead of on a sliding scale. If you have a shopfront or office where you accept payments, you can also order its Square Reader hardware so that you can quickly take card payments in person, rather than faffing around with the online portal every time.

The most recent addition to Square’s platform is a new instant deposit service that can help firms manage cashflow.

There are no monthly payments to get Square, unless your transactions are going to amount to more than $250,000, then you'll have to speak to Square to find out its rates.

3. Worldpay

International online payment gateway

Key features: Fraud screening, recurring payment subscriptions, reporting tools | Integrations: PayPal, Magento, Oracle | Free trial: No

Accepts 100+ currencies
All common card types covered
Opaque pricing plans

Worldpay's online payment gateway is the one to go for if you're expecting payment from all corners of the globe. You can accept payments from more than 100 currencies worldwide - from Rand to Rupees, Pesos to Pound Sterling.

Worldpay takes the 'if you can't beat them, join them' approach to PayPal - it accepts payments from PayPal members, as well as the usual standalone card payments from non-PayPal users. We like that it includes reporting tools to keep track of your invoices and transactions and the company makes a lot of its advanced fraud protection. Clearly, Worldpay suits larger and growing businesses with greater needs.

In early 2018, US firm Vantiv completed its takeover of WorldPay, with the combined firm processing more than 300 payment types across 146 countries and 126 currencies.

Sorry, but we can't give you specific details on pricing. You have to speak to a member of its sales team if you want to sign up to Worldpay.

4. Intuit QuickBooks Payments

A familiar name in accounting

Key features: Invoice management, automatic bookkeeping | Integrations: Shopify, Expensify | Free trial: Free service (commission only)

Ideal if you're already in Intuit ecosystem
Fast invoice payment processing
Won't suit all businesses

If Intuit QuickBooks Payments sounds familiar, that's because Intuit makes some of the oldest and most respected accounting software out there.

The Payments strand of Intuit's service is focussed on the fast payment of invoices that you issue to customers, allowing you to add a 'Pay now' button to make it quick and easy for the payer. And because Intuit is so accounts inclined, it's no surprise to see that it makes a lot of the automatic invoicing and bookkeeping features you get access to. If you already use Intuit, it makes sense to sign up for Payments too.

Again, there are no monthly fees to pay. You can check out the Intuit QuickBooks Payments commission structure here.

5. Stripe

Great for online retailers

Key features: Single click payments, checkout design | Integrations: Shopify, Expensify, GoDaddy | Free trial: Free service (commission only)

Quick and easy to get started
Reasonable fees
Lacks the features of others

Compared to some of the merchant services above, Stripe is a young pup - it only came into being in 2011. But what it lacks in years of experience, it makes up for in a slick, youthful design.

But Stripe isn't merely style without substance. It states that you can start accepting payments within 10 minutes of signing up. And that pretty much sums up Stripe's raison d'être - a stripped down and straightforward card processing service. It also goes to great lengths to make integration on your website as easy as possible, with lots of help and guidelines to developers. And there are easy-to-navigate reporting suites, too.

Stripe has a strong developer focus and recently added a new developers section to the dashboard so you can monitor your integration and API usage.

It's another free service to subscribe to Stripe, with commission payable on each transaction.