Are you looking for a high risk merchant account for your business? But what providers will work with you, how expensive are the fees and is there any safeguards in place? We can answer all your questions.

Below is the ultimate guide to high-risk merchant accounts including a rundown of account types, all fees & contracts and the top service providers. Ready, let’s go!

What is a High-Risk Merchant Account

Each bank and third party provider will have their own criteria for determining ‘high-risk’ status. In general, those businesses that operate in questionable industries or have a poor credit history will be considered here.  Due to the higher risk, businesses will be forced to pay higher transaction fees than those thought of as ‘safer’.  

Those businesses which meet these standards are deemed ‘high-risk’:

  • High chargeback/fraud rate: Historically high levels of ‘chargebacks’ or outright fraud. 
  • Questionable industry: Distributing products or services of dubious legal standing.
  • eCommerce business: Accepting high-cost credit card transactions and B2B payments.
  • Offshore businesses: Those that operate in one country but are based in another.

The High-Risk Industries

There are a number of industries that are considered more ‘high-risk’. Even though these industries can be as profitable as others, most mainstream providers refuse to work with them. This is because of their increased risk. The most common ‘high-risk’ industries are listed below.  

  • Debt Management & Collection.
  • Gambling & Casinos.
  • Alcohol & Tobacco.
  • Timeshares & Holiday Clubs.
  • Pharmaceuticals.
  • Multi-level Marketing.
  • E-Wallets.
  • Travel, Booking & Tickets.
  • Credit Repair & Money Transfer.
  • Investment Services.
  • Technical Support & Web Development.
  • Jewelry Stores.
  • Digital Downloads.
  • Nightclubs.

In the event a business belongs to one of these industries, they will probably need the help of a ‘high-risk’ merchant account provider.

Pricing & Fees

There are a number of merchant account providers offering ‘high-risk’ services with a range of prices. All pricing and fees below come from Web-Merchant. They are a ‘high-risk’ payment processing firm who charge some of the lowest fees. 

  • Set-up Fee: £200
  • Monthly Fee: Bespoke
  • Transaction Fee: 3% + 15p per transaction
  • Payout: Weekly
  • Terminal: Free

Standard Account v’s High-Risk Account

When a business applies for a high-risk account, there will be noticeable differences in the terms charged. A list of these differences is outlined below.

  • Much higher transaction fees (up to 10% on average).
  • Account subject to rolling reverse (percentage of transactions bank will keep as safeguard against chargebacks).
  • High annual fee usually charged.
  • Much longer settlement period. 

When they are looking for a high-risk merchant account, a business should avoid dishonest credit-card processing providers. Some of these charge much higher rates and fees to businesses who may need urgent approval. These companies will usually have red flags such as a dated or basic website layout and a terrible reputation on consumer protection websites like Ripoff Report. 

High-Risk Merchant Account Providers

A selection of some of the ‘high-risk’ merchant account providers active today are listed below.  

  • ccNetPay

This European merchant account provider works with businesses in the adult, gaming and multi-level marketing industries. They accept all major credit and debit cards. The company offer global card processing and advanced fraud protection. As well as working with high-risk and prohibited businesses, they cover almost all account types. 

For more information, see the ccNetPay website.

  • Web Merchant

An independent payments provider that specialises in providing services to the FOREX, Cannabis, Technical Support and Dating industries. They provide repeat billing, and can receive payments in over 120 currencies.  

For more information, see the Web-Merchant website.

  • Epoch Payments

This American company provide a strong merchant integration worldwide. Their high-risk service includes access to a worldwide call centre, flexible billing and full PCI Compliance. They also tend not to hold a reverse from transactions. 

For more information, see the Epoch website.

  • PaymentCloud

They sell themselves as the ‘high-risk merchant account specialises’ and work with businesses of all sizes.  PaymentCloud offer their services to a mixture of industries including Firearms & Ammunition, Credit Repair, E-Cigarettes and Airlines. They also provide a secure service with zero fees or charges. 

For more information, see the PaymentCloud website.

Our Advice

The number of merchant account providers offering ‘high-risk’ payment services continues to increase each year. Many of these companies offer similar products and services. In most cases, only pricing and fees are the distinguishing factor. Each business should take time and carefully select which provider is the best match for them.