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Merchant Account & Card Processing Guide for Non-Profits

Non-profits icon

With thousands of charities operating in the United Kingdom, it doesn’t make sense that non-profit organisations have so much trouble applying for and opening a merchant account.

Unfortunately, while non-profits often process high levels of transactions, processing and income are often greatly variable depending on the charity and the season, and some merchant account providers just don’t want to take on the risk of fluctuating income.


We have put together a great list of those that are best suited.

So, Read on…


In this guide you will find


Some of the UKs top merchant account providers offer merchant accounts for non-profits, and you can choose from global organisations like WorldPay and PayPal.

  • Most third-party payment processors will offer a merchant account with no-questions asked
  • Some merchant account providers offer reduced rates for non-profits and charity
  • You can find rates from about 1.4% + 20p for face-to-face sales of 0.75% for online transactions
  • Different payment providers offer solutions like recurring payments, face-to-face transactions, and Point of Sale terminals

Choosing the right merchant account provider for your non-profit should be a balance between picking the lowest cost option and choosing a provider with the features and services you need. You can consider the following options as some of the best non-profit merchant accounts in the UK.

For more information about merchant accounts in general see this guide. 


Top 4 Merchant Accounts for Non-Profits


It may be difficult to find a merchant account offering good terms to non-profit organisations rather than treating you like a high-risk business, but you do have options. Worldpay, PayPal, Santander, and Square offer some of the best rates and options for non-profit businesses, all provide PDQ terminals for face-to-face sales, and mostly offer discounts for charity.





Worldpay screenshot


Worldpay is one of the largest merchant account providers for non-profits, and with a custom solution for charity organisations, is a great solution for most. Worldpay offers face-to-face sales with either PoS terminals or Ingenico card machines rebranded as Worldpay, hosted checkout pages with an online payment gateway, and a virtual terminal for accepting donations over the phone or via email.

Worldpay also offers recurring payments, free reporting tools with insight into donor behaviour, and online management tools.

Unfortunately, Worldpay does not typically offer discounted rates for non-profits.

Account Pay as You Go Fixed Monthly Standard
Monthly Fee £49.99 Custom Custom
Transaction Fees Custom (Averaging 2.75%) Included Averaging 2.75% Credit and 0.75% Debit
Startup Costs £150 No No
Terminal Rental Included Included £17.45+ per month
Minimum Monthly Service Charge No Included £15 per month
PCI Management Included Included £29.99 per year
Contract Duration Monthly 12-36 Months 12-36 Months
Terminal Rental 18 Month 18 Month 18 Month

These are the same fees offered to normal account holders, but you may be able to negotiate a lower transaction rate because of your non-profit status.

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PayPal review screenshot


PayPal offers a custom solution for non-profit organisations including a discount for registered charities. The organisation offers custom pricing based on your needs, but you can expect an average of a 0.5% reduction on standard rates with proof of your charity registration. PayPal primarily offers online sales, but PayPal Here and PayPal Pro allow you to accept face-to-face transactions with PayPal’s own PDQ machine. PayPal Pro costs £20 per month and PayPal here PDQ machines range from £15-£75.

Sales Volume Transaction Fee Possible Non-Profit Discount
>1,500 3.4% + 20p 2.9% + 20p
>6,000 2.9% + 20p 2.4% + 20p
>15,000 2.4% + 20p 1.9% + 20p
>55,000 1.9% + 20p 1.4% + 20p

You can save considerably by applying for PayPal as a registered charity. However, you may be offered a lower discount based on your specific business details.

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Santander + Elavon


Elavon screenshot


While Elavon does not always process transactions for non-profits, but Santander does. If you apply for and get a Santander Charity Current Account, you can apply for an Elavon merchant account through Santander.

Here, you will receive Elavon’s standard rates, but with the Santander account, will get next-day settlement on all donations.

Elavon’s fees are similar to Worldpay’s fees:

Fee Cost
Transaction Fee 2.65% + 19= – 3.65% + 19p
Setup Fee £25
PCI Compliance £30 (yearly)
Monthly Fee (per service) £10+
Minimum Merchant Service Charge £20
Minimum Monthly Processing Fee Up to £25
Monthly Statement Fee £4.95
Chargeback Fee £15-£30
Early Termination Fee £0

Elavon also offers a full range of card terminals, Point of Sale, and online payment gateway solutions. However, the merchant service provider will be more expensive than choosing a third-party processor like PayPal.

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Square screenshot


Square charges a flat rate fee of 2.9% + 20p for nearly all transactions, with no extra fees for high-risk accounts. Square also supports face-to-face sales with their own card terminal, recurring payments and invoicing, and a variety of payment options online, allowing you to sell or accept donations. You may also be able to apply for reduced rates as a charity organisation, but this is granted on a case-by-case basis.

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Comparing Merchant Accounts for Non-Profits


With four high-quality options available, you can take your time to review what’s available, what each merchant account offers, and why it might be a good fit for your business.


Merchant Account Square Elavon Worldpay PayPal
Transaction Costs 2.9% + 20p 2.65% + 19p – 3.65% + 19p 2.75% + 20p + 1.9%-3.4% + 20p
Charity Discount Possible No No Yes
Monthly Fee £0 £10+ Custom £0-£20
Payment Processing Time 1-2 Days 1+ Days 7 Days 0-2 Days
Set Up Fee £0 £25+ £0 – £150 £0
Termination Fee £0 £0 £0 – Contract Buyout £0
Chargeback Fee Insured to £250 £15-£25 £15-£30 £14
Contract Length Monthly 3-Year 0-36 Months Monthly


You should look at specific quotes for your business, each merchant service provider’s offerings, and anything your business specifically needs when making your decision.

While non-profits can have more trouble getting the right merchant account, there are still plenty of options, and many of them offer discounts and special deals for NPOs. Hopefully you can use this to find a great solution for your non-profit.


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