Digital fundraising | Funding

7 most popular UK payment gateways compared

Money. Let’s face it, it’s the most important thing for a charity. Doing good is the primary goal, but you just can’t do that if you don’t have any cash to fund yourself with.

By Reason Digital · September 20, 2013

Donations are a great way to get the finances needed, and we’ve talked about some great platforms for fundraising before, but sometimes it’s nice to be able to offer something tangible for people’s donations. So what’s the answer? Well, perhaps an online shop, selling items or subscriptions to your services.

On the face of it, it seems so simple but there are a few things that can trip you up. Such as payment gateways, these are the link between getting the money from your supporters and users to your charity, and are the focus of this blog. Depending on what payment gateway you choose, you may also need to have a merchant bank.

Choosing a UK payment gateway can be difficult, there’s a lot of competition, a lot of confusion and a lot of data to figure out before you can work out which payment gateway to choose. So we’ve decided to compare seven of the most popular options to help charities see if we can try and help narrow down which payment gateway is the best for you:


Key facts and figures

  • Direct debit only

  • 1% transaction fee

If the only payments you want to process are direct debits, then your choice is easy. Simply put, GoCardless is the king of direct debit processing. With the only charge being a 1% transaction fee that is capped at £2 per transaction (so any transaction upwards of £200 will only cost £2), GoCardless is not only one of the cheapest options around, but, at least in terms of cost, it’s also one of the simplest.

With a sleek interface and flexible integration options, GoCardless can be easily set-up on your site. What makes it so special though, is also it’s biggest weakness – the fact that it only deals with direct debits. If you need to process debit cards and credit cards too, then there are likely better choices for you.

Charity Clear

Key facts and figures

  • Donates profits to charity

  • £18 per month

  • Budget option available

Charity Clear is one of the lesser-known payment gateways, but one that is interesting because it is owned by Epilepsy Scotland and donates all its profits to charity. Unlike most of the other payment gateways on this list, Charity Clear uses quite a complex payment scheme; with a base rate of £18 per month, which allows for 350 free transactions, but then requires a subsequent 9.9p per transaction afterwards.

Unfortunately, Charity Clear also needs to be paired with a merchant account, which can increase the price somewhat. The payment gateway makes this as painless as possible though, as it is easily combined with all UK merchant accounts and has a partnership programme with some merchant accounts to help get competitive rates.

Sage Pay

Key facts and figures

  • Free support

  • PayPal integration

  • 0 – 1000 transactions per quarter – £25 per month

As the biggest independent payment gateway provider in Europe, Sage Pay is a well-respected name in the industry. It’s a recognised brand that offers a wealth of experience and expert support.

Provided by the accounts management company – Sage – Sage Pay offers 1,000 transactions per quarter for £25 a month, with any extra transactions costing an extra 10p each. If you only process a small amount of transactions per month, then Sage Pay may not be the best option. However, for charities and not-for-profits that handle a lot of transactions, Sage’s expertise in the area may be worth any potential extra costs.


Key facts and figures

  • No merchant

  • Instantly recognisable brand

  • Doesn’t require PayPal account

PayPal is most commonly known for handling the transactions of its parent company, eBay. But it’s more than just a tool for eBay, its a fully fledged payment gateway system that allows people to pay via credit and debit cards as well as through their PayPal account. The brand is instantly recognisable to most internet users, but there is often confusion amongst buyers, as many people don’t know that you do not need a PayPal account to purchase through the payment gateway.

It’s a simple-to-integrate system that requires little technical knowledge and can be set up quickly. While the pricing usually follows a staggered rate depending on how many transactions are made, registered non-profits and charities can get a special low rate of 1.4% + 20p. Add in the fact that a merchant account isn’t required either, and PayPal becomes one of the most simple payment gateways to get your head around.

Checkout by Amazon

Key facts and figures

  • No merchant

  • Big name brand

As one of the largest shopping sites in the world, it made sense for Amazon to create a payment gateway for others to use, and that’s just what they did. The inventively named Checkout by Amazon allows for companies to embed Amazon checkout buttons onto their site which allow users to purchase items through their Amazon account.

Prices begin from 3.4% + 20p per transaction for accounts that receive less than £1,500 per month and drop down to 1.4% + 20p per transaction for those receiving over £55,000 per month.

Stripe UK

Key facts and figures

  • Newly launched in UK

  • Simple… 2.4% + 20p per transaction

After years of gaining popularity in the US, Stripe has finally made the trip across the atlantic and arrived on UK shores. The popular payment gateway brings with it the features which made it popular in the land of hope and glory. Simplicity and developer-friendliness. With a flat rate of 2.4% + 20p per transaction Stripe is, from a financial point of view, beautifully simple. There are no extra charges for different cards, different payment methods, or even for different currencies.

It may not be the cheapest option, but it’s definitely the simplest. And, even though they are new to the UK, with previous successes in the U.S.A and Canada, Stripe have proven they have a track record of success and are likely to continue that trend with their new UK business.


Key facts and figures

  • Established brand

  • Charity rates

Almost twenty years ago, back in 1994, Worldpay became one of the first payment services on the web. Now, nearly two decades on, they are still going strong, processing millions of pounds worth of transactions every month.

Much like Sage Pay, Worldpay’s strengths are in their experience, support and security. But these come at a higher price, with a 2.75% transaction fee for credit cards and 39p for debit cards. Worldpay do offer special discounts for charities though and will waive their initial setup and monthly fees.

So there’s an overview of the gateways. Now onto the fun stuff… tables!:

Initial Setup Price Price per month Transaction Fee Free Transactions per Month Additional Merchant Account Needed
Worldpay £0 (charity special) £0 (charity special) Credit – 2.75%, Debit – 39p 0 Yes
GoCardless £0 £0 1% (or £2 depending on which is lower) 0 No
Charity Clear £0 £18 9.9p 350 Yes
Sage Pay £0 £25 10p 1000 Yes
Checkout by Amazon £0 £0 3.4% + 20p – 1.4% + 20p (Nonprofit special) 0 No
Stripe UK £0 £0 2.4% + 20p 0 No


Debit Cards Credit Cards Direct Debit Paypal Recurring Payments
Worldpay Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
GoCardless Yes Yes
Charity Clear Yes Yes
Sage Pay Yes Yes Yes Yes
Checkout by Amazon Yes Yes Yes
Stripe UK Yes Yes Yes

There are many aspects to choosing a payment gateway, and the decision cannot be dictated by price alone. Every charity and not-for-profit will have differing wants and needs, so there is no one payment gateway that is necessarily better than any other. Before choosing one, it’s crucial to work out what is most important for your charity; is it security, simplicity, support or price? Finding the right blend of these four, and then finding the right gateway to provide that, can be difficult. But hopefully this article will have started you on your way and you’ll find the perfect match for your charity.

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