Has your business been deemed high-risk, and are you finding it challenging to secure a merchant account? Don't panic: it's not the end of the world.
Depending on the industry in which your business operates, it's normal for payment processing companies to keep their distance when they deem a company to be "high-risk". After all, they'd suffer for it otherwise (more below).
With that said, how do you get a merchant account for your business? You work with a processor of high-risk merchant accounts. That's how. This article reveals eight of the best high-risk merchant account processors in 2023. By the end, you should have a better idea of what's out there and which company is right for your business.
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What Are the Best High-Risk Merchant Services?
Below, we've compiled a list of the best high-risk merchant services available in 2023. Each one ticks all the boxes regarding competitive pricing, provision of a traditional merchant account to high-risk merchants, the ability to accept online payments, and more. They are:
PaymentCloud offers "customized payment solutions" to high-risk businesses operating in high-risk industries like guns and firearms, adult products, credit repair, and dating. Established in 2015, the company has quickly grown, driven by a mission to "secure payment processing for any type of business".
This merchant service provider offers secure payment processing through a suite of technologies, including payment gateways, fraud prevention tools, integrations with dozens of popular e-commerce software, and more. Also, the company provides "trained representatives who take a hands-on white glove approach to account management".
Unlike traditional banks, PaymentCloud doesn't turn away individuals with bad credit or who have run failed businesses. Instead, it provides these businesspeople with high-risk merchant accounts. And if you need funding, PaymentCloud provides equipment financing, working capital loans, unsecured business loans, and more to help to get your venture off the ground.
Additionally, PaymentCloud offers a service called Paysley that lets you transform your smartphone into a point-of-sale terminal. In addition to sending invoices via SMS, you can use Paysley for contactless payments, validate fund transfers via customer confirmation code scans, and more.
I've also used payment cloud for my credit repair business which helped me feel safe taking payments from my clients.
- PaymentCloud provides high-risk merchant accounts to all (even individuals with bad credit)
- Trained representatives help you set up a dedicated merchant account
- PaymentCloud provides financing and loans
- It provides tools that prevent fraudulent chargeback fees
- The payment processing methods provided include credit cards, payment gateways, and mobile
PaymentCloud doesn't provide information about its fees on its website, so you'll need to contact the company's sales team for a quote.
Durango Merchant Services has been in the payment-process game for over two decades. This payment service provider makes high-risk merchant accounts accessible to businesses considered high-risk, like tobacco and e-cigarette sellers, credit repair companies, online liquor stores, and more.
The company has a team of certified payment consultants who can help you with your business's in-person or e-commerce credit card processing. In addition, it has partnered with a check verification service that lets it provide quick and hassle-free e-check processing services with minimal or "nonexistent reserves and guaranteed approval".
In addition to high-risk businesses, Durango Merchant Services also caters to medium and low-risk merchants. It provides an easy-to-use payment gateway that supports online, in-store, self-service, and mobile payments (including EMV and contactless). It lets you accept payments powered by credit card-processing companies like Visa, Mastercard, and Discover.
The Durango Merchant Services payment gateway integrates with over 150 third-party shopping carts, including popular options like WooCommerce, Shopify, Magento, Zoho, and BigCommerce. Its EMV 3D Secure 2.0 technology helps prevent fraudulent transactions and losses from chargebacks. And Durango Merchant Services processes cryptocurrency payments.
- Durango Merchant Services provides high-risk accounts to merchants running high-risk businesses
- A team of certified payment consultants is ready to assist with your unique credit card processing needs
- It provides a high-risk payment gateway that integrates with 150+ shopping carts (including Shopify and WooCommerce)
- EMV 3D Secure 2.0 technology prevents high-risk businesses from falling prey to fraudulent transactions and chargeback fees
- Its partnership with a leading check verification service means Durango Merchant Services provides high-risk merchant accounts that can process e-checks
- Durango pay payment gateway works with international merchants
Durango Merchant Services acknowledges that each high-risk merchant has unique needs and states that its fees will vary based on the business and transaction model.
The company recommends you fill out the application form on its website to get a custom quote and states that one of its account managers will contact you within 24 hours.
Host Merchant Services can provide a high-risk account if your business falls into a high-risk category (like firearms, non-profit, and the like). This company has over a decade of experience helping high-risk merchants secure high-risk merchant accounts, process online and in-person credit card payments, and more.
Host Merchant Services provides merchant service payment systems customized for various payment methods, including point-of-sale, EMV terminals, e-commerce, and mobile. The company aims to significantly reduce its customers' merchant fees and is transparent about its fees.
One of Host Merchant Services' unique features is its quick funding times. The company offers next-day funding (provided you "perform the batch settlement from your credit card by the deadline"), meaning you won't have to wait too long to receive your revenue. This service will be essential for maintaining cash flow if you operate in a cash-intensive industry.
In addition, Host Merchant Services provides e-commerce businesses with access to 100+ payment gateways. The company helps high-risk merchants integrate their businesses with online shopping carts. And its TXP payment processing system transforms any Mac or PC into a point-of-sale with features like tokenization and recurrent billing.
- Host Merchant Services has quick next-day funding times
- The company provides access to 100+ payment gateways
- Host Merchant Services provides cash advances to its customers
- Its TXP payment processing system turns your Mac or PC into a full-featured point-of-sale
- It has transparent fees
Host Merchant Services charges on a per-transaction basis, with the fee payable depending on the type of transaction. For example, face-to-face transactions for retail storefronts attract a fee of 0.25% and $0.10 per transaction.
Meanwhile, its payment gateway fees cost $5 per month, while the overall service costs $14.99 monthly. Visit the pricing page on its website for the full list of fees.
Soar Payments is a merchant account provider that serves industries as diverse as fantasy sports, antiques and collectibles, and digital streaming. If the nature of your business means banks and credit card processors are unwilling to provide you with a merchant account, this company can secure one for you.
Whether you need a high, medium, or low-risk merchant account, Soar Payments provides solutions that cater to each merchant type. A high-risk merchant with a traditional storefront business can facilitate retail payments made by credit and debit cards using Soar Payments' credit card and POS machines. And it supports mobile and virtual terminals.
Also, if your business is a high-risk merchant that operates online, Soar Payments' merchant accounts integrate with many shopping cart and payment gateway software programs. The account has built-in fraud protection technology that reduces the risk of fraud and chargebacks.
Soar Payments also provides e-check and ACH payment processing services at a low cost. You can get an instant quote when you apply; its pricing is usually at the industry's minimum. Meanwhile, all of the company's customer support representatives are US-based.
- All merchant account applications receive an instant quote upon completion
- Its retail merchant account can facilitate payments made with credit or debit cards
- The e-commerce merchant account can accept credit card payments through its integration with payment gateways and shopping carts
- It has friendly US-based customer service representatives
- Its merchant account has built-in fraud protection
Soar Payments doesn't provide pricing information on its website, so you'll have to contact the sales team or fill out the application form to get an instant quote.
Goat Payments is a payment processing company with over 12 years of experience providing high-risk merchant services to high-risk businesses. It has a 24-hour application processing time and a nearly 100% approval ratio, with non-profits and multi-level marketing companies being examples of some of the 15,000+ high-risk entities it's served in total.
This high-risk payment processor claims to save businesses 17.3% on their payment processing fees. It maintains relationships with over 25 banks and offers a "concierge white glove service" that carries on throughout its relationship with every high-risk merchant seeking its services.
Unlike other high-risk payment processors who charge for their credit card processing services or charge early termination fees, Goat Payments doesn't. It runs a Paylo Discount Program that offers zero-cost processing. Also, the company provides every high-risk merchant it approves with a free POS machine and offers free in-person installs for local businesses.
When registering with Goat Payments, you can accept credit cards from processors like Mastercard, Visa, Discover, and American Express. Its high-risk accounts also accept pin-based debit cards. And Goat Payments offers dedicated customer support 24/7.
- Goat Payments has a nearly 100% application approval ratio
- Thanks to its relationships with over 25 banks, it's able to provide it high-risk merchant client base with merchant accounts
- Goat Payments doesn't charge an early termination fee
- Its Paylo Discount Program provides zero processing fees for high-risk credit card processing
- It offers 24/7 customer support
As is typical of the high, medium, and low-risk merchant account providers, Goat Payments doesn't disclose fees on its website. You can request more information by filling out the form on its website.
6. SMB Global
SMB Global is a self-described "one-stop shop" for payment processing. The quality that sets this company apart from its competitors is it can provide you with a domestic or offshore merchant account. Also, when leveraging its relationships with over 15 banks, SMB Global aims to provide you with high, medium, or a low-risk merchant account with low rates.
Excessive chargebacks are one of the many factors banks use to deem a business as "higher risk", and SMB Global understands this. Thus, this payment processor provides chargeback prevention software to help you "identify chargebacks before they occur". The platform includes features like real-time analytics and reporting, and chargeback representment.
Also, SMB Global provides services related to ACH payment processing. It processes the payments at a flat rate, helping you reduce costs while providing more diversity in how your customers can pay for your products or services. As a bonus, your customers can save on credit card charges.
If you need a small business loan, SMB Global can help through its partnership with Lendio. The application process takes 15 minutes, and you can access the needed capital in under a day. Lendio has a 60% approval rate for loan applications, looking at factors like your monthly revenue, the length of time your business has been going concerned, and your industry.
- It caters to domestic and offshore businesses
- It provides small business loans through the Lendio marketplace
- Its ACH payments have flat rates that help you reduce costs
- SMB Global provides chargeback software that prevents fraud and chargebacks
- Its high-risk merchant accounts have lower rates
SMB Global doesn't provide information about its fees on its website. You'll need to contact its sales team for the details.
HighRiskPay.com has 25 years of experience providing high-risk merchant accounts and payment processing solutions to customers with all types of personal credit history profiles. The company typically approves merchant account applications between 24 and 48 hours and provides competitive rates on the accounts.
Businesses that operate in industries like adult entertainment, cannabidiols (CBD), credit repair, and more can access the payment gateway solutions HighRiskPay.com offers. High-risk merchants who operate exclusively online can also use its ACH payment processing services to save on fees.
HighRiskPay.com has integrations for popular e-commerce platforms and content management systems like Wix, Shopify, WordPress, 3DCart, and Magento. And it provides technology that prevents fraud and chargebacks.
Meanwhile, businesses that have been turned away by loan companies due to their owner's low credit scores can get next-day funding from HighRiskPay.com.
- All applicants are welcome, regardless of credit score or high-risk merchant processing history
- Applications typically approved within 24-48 hours
- It has integrations with popular platforms and third-party technologies
- It provides next-day funding to small businesses in need of loans
- HighRiskPay.com provides payment gateway solutions for e-commerce businesses
HighRiskPay.com charges a monthly fee of $9.95 for its high-risk account service. Also, transactions attract a fee of $0.25 and 2.95% of the total value.
Payment Depot provides payment processing solutions to businesses of all risk levels. A Stax company charges its members a monthly fee and per-transaction fee that helps them save on credit card processing costs.
The company provides integrations with popular shopping carts and payment gateway software programs, point-of-sale machines, and card terminals, expanding the options your customers have to pay you.
If you need a business loan, Payment Depot can provide you with next-day funding to give your business a capital infusion. Also, its technologies prevent unwanted chargebacks and fraudulent transactions from going through. And it doesn't charge registration or cancellation fees.
- Payment Depot provides next-day funding for businesses that need loans
- It integrates with a shopping cart service, POS, and card terminals
- It doesn't charge a registration or cancellation fee
- It provides chargeback and fraud-monitoring technology
- Its customer service representatives provide 24-hour customer support
Payment Depot has three subscription plans:
- Starter: costs $59/month and $0.15 per transaction if the business processes $125,000 worth of transactions annually
- Starter Plus: costs $79/month and $0.10 per transaction if the business processes $125,000 worth of transactions annually
- Growth: costs $99/month and $0.07 per transaction if the business processes $500,000 worth of transactions annually
Also, it has a custom plan for businesses that process over $500,000 annually in credit card payments.
What Are High-Risk Merchant Accounts?
Payment processing companies assume some risk with each transaction they process on behalf of merchants. When a customer disputes a charge to their credit card, or there's an element of fraud in a transaction, and a merchant doesn't have enough funds to reimburse the customer, the payment processing company usually bears the expense.
In order to reduce their liability, many payment processing companies are picky about the types of businesses they work with. Some businesses are deemed riskier than others, and payment processing companies decline partnerships with them. These businesses are dubbed high-risk merchants and find it difficult to secure merchant accounts for processing payments.
At their most basic, high-risk merchant accounts are merchant accounts for businesses deemed to be high-risk. They provide a means for high-risk companies to accept non-cash payments from their customers (i.e., e-checks, ACH, credit cards, and other electronic payments).
Buyers Guide Overview: High-Risk Merchants
When choosing a merchant account for your high-risk business, what should you look for? We discuss these factors in this section.
Fast Approval and High Approval Ratio
When considering a high-risk merchant service provider, keep the old adage of "time is money" close to your heart. Most companies return to high-risk merchants within 48 hours of applying for a quote.
A company that takes longer to tell you whether you qualify for an account isn't ideal because your business isn't guaranteed approval for the merchant account. Incidentally, it's better to go for companies with a higher approval rate, as it increases your chances of getting an account. Companies with approval rates higher than 80% are golden.
Fraud and Chargeback Protection
As mentioned above, frequent cases of chargebacks and fraud are two of the main reasons businesses get hit with the "high-risk" tag. Therefore, it's better to minimize the likelihood of either happening.
Many high-risk account providers' services include technology for anticipating and preventing chargebacks and fraud, and your chosen provider should also have this service.
Most providers of high-risk merchant accounts don't disclose their fees on their websites, meaning you'd have to talk to a member of their sales teams to tease out this information.
During your conversation, ensure you grill the representative on the fees you'll have to pay when using their service. The last thing you want is fees that creep up on you and erode your profit margin. Also, expect to pay a fee on a per-transaction basis (usually a couple of cents) or, in some cases, a monthly membership fee.
Excellent customer support is a crucial factor to consider when choosing a service-based business. When that business involves payment processing and handling of money, the above applies doubly.
Ensure you choose a company that offers 24-hour customer support, as internet-based payment issues are a round-the-clock affair.
Finally, integrations with payment gateways and shopping cart software are a must if you intend to transact online. Most high-risk account providers offer integrations with platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, and WordPress, and you should expect this service with any provider you consider for your business.
Businesses in industries like gambling, CBD, multi-level marketing, and so on are considered high-risk businesses that need payment processing. The above applies whether the business receives payments in person or over the internet.
The fees for high-risk merchant account solutions are higher than traditional merchant accounts to compensate for the risks borne by the payment processing company.
Since it's detailed in the name, high-risk businesses require delicate and specific measures to ensure the security and safety of payments, which can add additional costs for the payment processor.
Additionally, high-risk businesses have a higher incidence rate of chargebacks or fraud due to the industry in which they operate, so merchant accounts need special risk management protocols to protect from these situations.
Most high-risk account costs come from fees payable per transaction or as part of a monthly membership.
The former cost amounts to a couple of cents, though those can add up if you process a high sales volume. Meanwhile, the latter cost usually doesn't exceed a hundred Dollars. Very few (if any) high-risk accounts have sign-up fees.
No, if you work in a high-risk business, you can't take on accept payments using PayPal for a fee. Certain businesses will require higher fees due to the payment processor and business risk.
Such businesses include: travel, ticketing, money transfer services, gaming, and credit repair. Your high-risk payment processor will have more information on this.
Eddy's Own Methodology
When researching high-risk merchants and payment processors, it's essential to consider a few key factors. Beyond my buyer's guide, I also have my my methodology, which I call Eddy's Methodology, includes the following criteria:
- Reputation and experience: Look for processors with a proven track record of working with high-risk businesses and positive reviews from other merchants.
- Account fees: Make sure to compare account fees, such as monthly or annual fees, chargeback fees, and other costs associated with each processor. These can vary widely, so it's essential to understand what you'll be paying clearly.
- Risk management: Look for processors with robust risk management systems, as these can help protect your business from fraud and other chargebacks.
- Payment options: Consider the different types of payments that the processor can accept, such as credit and debit cards, ACH payments, and e-checks.
- Integration: If you're using a shopping cart or other e-commerce platform, look for processors that can easily integrate with your system.
By considering these factors, you'll be able to find high-risk merchant payment processors that accept payments online.
Final Thoughts: Best High-Risk Merchant Account
If your business was deemed high-risk with honest sales practices, this article should put your mind at ease with respect to your options for securing a merchant account.
Regardless of which provider you decide to use, ensure that it provides world-class customer support, fraud and chargeback prevention tools, has reasonable fees, and approves applications on time.
Also, the more integrations it has with third-party software platforms, the better, as it means you can process payments no matter your preferred platform.