5 Top Payment Methods in the UK in 2023: Info for Merchants

Understanding the most popular ways to pay in the UK can fuel your success in the region. Explore our guide to the most common UK payment methods.

The diverse economy of the United Kingdom attracts all types of businesses, especially in the ecommerce and online shopping space. The UK, which includes England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, has the third-largest ecommerce market in the world behind the U.S. and China. 

If you're interested in expanding your brand to the UK, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with these 5 commonly used payment methods. 


5 Top Payment Methods in the UK

These are the most common ways for the nation's residents to make payments according to a 2022 report by UK Finance.

1. Debit and Credit Cards

UK shoppers use debit cards more often than any other payment method. Card payments (both credit and debit) made up 57% of the nation's transactions. Customers used debit cards in about 48% of all purchases.

Most UK residents have two or three debit cards, and 97% have at least one debit card they use for daily spending. Mastercard and Visa are by far the most popular options, accounting for 90% of the country's online transactions.

UK consumers make about 3.4 billion credit card purchases every year, placing this payment method as the nation's third most common. Transactions with this method increased by 21% from 2020 to 2021. Credit cards are the mainstay in industries like entertainment, travel, tourism, and hospitality.

2. Cash

Although cash ranks as the second most popular payment option in the UK, it's been on a steady decline for several years now as electronic payment methods skyrocket in popularity. The percentage of cash payments declined from 62% in 2006 to just 15% in 2021. However, more than a million people in the nation almost exclusively use cash for their daily transactions.

3. Contactless Payments

Contact-free payment methods have more than quadrupled in popularity in the UK in recent years. Consumers used contactless payments in 32% of transactions in 2021, compared to just 7% in 2016. An estimated 91% of debit cards and 89% of credit cards issued in the nation have contactless capabilities.

This dramatic increase occurred as buyers became more familiar and therefore comfortable with the contactless payment process. At the same time, more UK businesses introduced contactless options at point-of-sale, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The UK government also increased the limit for contactless payments to £45 in April 2020.

4. Digital Wallets

About a third of UK adults made at least one digital wallet payment in 2021. Google Pay, Samsung Pay, and Apple Pay are the most popular digital wallets in the UK.

Digital wallet consumers typically use this payment method at least once a month (70%). Although this method is more popular among young adults than for older UK residents, seniors made 12% of total digital wallet payments in 2022.

5. Direct Debit

About 90% of UK customers pay at least some of their bills with direct bank account transfers. This method represented 4.6 billion transactions in 2021 alone. 

Although bill payments are the most common use of direct debit in the UK, it's also a popular method accepted by service businesses. Gym memberships and other recurring subscriptions typically use direct debit for client payments. 

The Best Way to Accept Global Payments 

Pay.com allows your business to accept payments from all over the world, with a full-service payment infrastructure that supports global payment processing. We offer a scalable platform that can easily expand as your business grows. Our solutions include both fast no-code checkout templates and robust developer APIs for fully personalized integration. Both options include the top-level security your customers expect.

When you select Pay.com as your payment service provider, your business will also benefit from:

  • Level 1 compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS), so every transaction meets these global safety mandates
  • Transparent pricing including a straightforward flat-fee per-transaction structure so you can upgrade your payment platform with no hidden fees
  • The ability to accept multiple payment methods, from debit cards and digital wallets to direct debits and many other innovative options
  • Multi-factor authentication through the 3D Secure 2.0 (3DS2) system, which helps protect your business from fraud

Control your account through our comprehensive Pay Dashboard, where you can download valuable data for accurate sales projections and more.

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The Bottom Line 

The UK offers limitless opportunities for new businesses, especially those in the ecommerce space. If you're ready to expand operations here or in another international market, familiarity with payment method trends can ensure that you cater to and connect with the local audience.

Pay.com gives your business the power to accept payments from all over the world. We offer comprehensive payment solutions for businesses of all sizes. You can choose between our simple hosted checkout and developer-friendly APIs. Click here to get started now!


How can my business accept payments from the UK?

Pay.com provides an easy yet powerful way to accept payments from UK customers. You can accept credit cards, debit cards, digital wallets, and more. You can set up a hosted checkout page on your website, integrate our Pay Components into your system, or send your customers direct Pay Links.

Click here to find out how you can get started!

What is the most popular payment method in the UK?

Debit cards are the UK's most popular payment method, representing more than half of transactions. The next most common methods include cash, credit cards, contactless payments, digital wallets, and electronic bank transfers, in that order.

What online payment methods are used in the UK?

UK consumers use many different online payment methods to make purchases. The most popular digital wallets in the nation include Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay. Contactless credit and debit card payments and electronic fund transfers with direct debit are also common online payment methods in the UK.

What's the safest way to accept payments from the UK? (Push Pay.com)

Pay.com backs every transaction with PCI DSS compliance, in addition to high-tech safety solutions such as tokenized payment details and multi-factor authentication. You can even add official badges to your checkout so customers know they can trust your business. Click here to get started now!

Meet the author
Andrea Miller
Andrea Miller has been a writer and editor for more than two decades. Specializing in business and finance, she has written for some of the major websites in the financial sector. Outside of work, she spends most of her time with her family and enjoys hiking, yoga, and reading.
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