Credit Card Processing

Best High-Risk Credit Card Processors for Shopify

July 7, 2023

Shopify is one of the world’s largest e-commerce platforms, with over one million businesses across 175 countries. It powers more than four million live websites, with the vast majority registered in North America and Europe.

However, despite powering so many online businesses, Shopify allows only low-risk merchants to use Shopify Payments, its internal payment gateway, to manage transactions. This means that if you’re one of the high-risk merchants, you won’t be authorized to use Shopify Payments to accept or manage transactions for your high-risk merchant account.

Fortunately, Shopify offers third-party payment integration, allowing high-risk merchants to partner with various high-risk credit card processors for their Shopify accounts. In some cases, some of these high-risk payment providers may prove to be the best payment method for Shopify accounts.

Read on to learn more about which businesses Shopify classifies as high-risk and the best high-risk credit card processors for Shopify accounts.


image of what merchant account does shopify classify as high risk

What Merchant Accounts Does Shopify Classify as High-Risk?

A merchant account is basically a type of business bank that allows online businesses to accept and process credit card and debit card transactions virtually or in person. In e-commerce, merchant accounts are classified into two categories: low-risk and high-risk.

Low-risk merchant accounts are usually associated with online businesses selling low-risk items, such as clothing, auto parts, food supplies, office equipment, shoes, and furniture. Low-risk merchant accounts also have low chances of fraud and minimal sale amounts.

On the other hand, high-risk merchant accounts deal with high-risk items like cannabis, tobacco, firearms, airplane tickets, virtual currencies, and pharmaceuticals. These merchant accounts generally have higher chances of fraud and chargebacks.

Even though some industries naturally fall under the high-risk category, there are ways your online business can be deemed high-risk on Shopify. They include the following:

  • Bad personal credit: Most of the time, having bad personal credit makes it difficult for you to get loans from banks. In addition to banks, having a credit score of less than 600 deems you high-risk to online payment processors like Shopify Payments.
  • High chargeback, fraud, and payment dispute rates: If your online business has high chargeback and refund rates, Shopify may classify your merchant account as high-risk. In fact, Shopify can easily pause or cancel your merchant account if your business keeps dealing with increasing rates of chargebacks, fraud, and refunds. Moreover, your online business is likely to become less trustworthy to banks if its refund rates surpass sales.
  • New retailer: Online businesses without a track record or which have never accepted or managed debit/credit card payments in the past may also be classified as high-risk by Shopify.
  • Accepting payments from abroad: Shopify may classify a merchant account as high-risk if it sells items to customers residing in nations with cases of fraud. Shopify Payments accepts and manages payments only from clients based in North America, Australia, Japan, and various European countries.
  • Offering subscriptions and free trials: Most of the time, people don’t realize they’ve signed up for an indefinite package, which leads to high chargeback rates. Every time your business takes money from a credit/debit card of a client who forgot to cancel their free trial, it will increase your chargeback rate.
  • High transaction volume: Shopify may also classify merchants as high-risk if they deal with a high volume of transactions or a high average transaction rate. For example, if a merchant account processes over $30,000 in payments in just a month or less, they may be categorized as high-risk. The same will happen if a merchant account processes more than $500 per transaction.

image of indusries shopify classifies as high risk


Industries Shopify Classifies as High-Risk

As per Shopify’s terms and conditions, the following are some industries that will likely put your merchant account under the high-risk category:

  • Multi-level Marketing (MLM)
  • Technical support
  • Gambling
  • Virtual currency
  • Credit repair
  • Firearms and ammunition
  • eCigarettes
  • Aggregation Businesses
  • Get-rich-quick schemes
  • Adult content and products
  • Prescription-only products
  • Online pharmacies
  • Age-restricted products
  • Counterfeit goods
  • Continuity subscription

How the Payment Gateway of Shopify Payments Works

Even though a merchant account retains funds, it is a payment gateway that accepts and manages debit/credit card transactions between the business and customers. Payment gateways allow businesses to securely accept and manage card transactions by taking charge of all the steps involved, from when a customer buys a given item to when the money reaches the merchant’s account.

Shopify Payments is Shopify’s internal payment gateway and a direct result of the e-commerce giant’s partnership with Stripe. Shopify Payments was created to process customers’ information without the need for a third-party payment gateway. Therefore, instead of Shopify’s low-risk merchants logging into a third-party account to accept and manage transactions, they can simply use Shopify Payments with their Shopify account. Basically, Shopify Payments eliminates the need for a third party in payment processing.

While Shopify Payments streamlines payment processing for low-risk merchants, high-risk merchants have to use a third-party payment gateway to accept and manage card transactions. Shopify has the authority to close any high-risk merchant account that uses Shopify Payments to accept payments from customers.

Best High-Risk Credit Card Processors for Shopify

Being classified as a high-risk merchant by Shopify is not the end of the world. If you operate a high-risk business per Shopify’s terms and conditions, you need to add a third-party payment processor to your merchant account for credit/debit card processing. This way, you can continue accessing your Shopify account without any limitations or restrictions.

Here are some of the best high-risk credit card processors for Shopify that you can work with:

image of durango merchant services


Durango Merchant Services

Durango Merchant Services is undoubtedly one of the most popular high-risk credit card processors for Shopify merchant accounts. The payment provider has a great reputation for honesty, unparalleled customer service, and fair rates. In addition to working with US-based banks and card payment processors, Durango Merchant Services also allows you to set up an offshore Shopify merchant account if you need one. This way, you can continue accepting and managing credit/debit payments from customers based in other countries.

Some of the great features Durango Merchant Services offers to Shopify merchants include eCheck processing, mobile processing, 24-hour customer support, iSpy fraud protection service, and a variety of credit card terminals. The payment provider also has years of experience working with high-risk businesses, such as CBD, firearms, non-profits, multi-level marketing, membership websites, adult entertainment, and many others.


PaymentCloud is a reputable high-risk payment processor that services low-risk, medium-risk, and high-risk merchants. The payment provider is well-known for its competitive rates, easy setup process, and great customer service. It offers integrations with various e-commerce platforms, such as Shopify, Adobe Commerce, OpenCart, Wix, Drupal, and WooCommerce. Some of PaymentCloud’s greatest features include mobile processing solutions, a free credit card terminal, fraud prevention tools, and ACH/eCheck processing.

Even though PaymentCloud doesn’t offer a broad lineup of products and services like some of the high-risk credit card processors out there, it offers all the essentials you’ll need to operate a small or medium-sized high-risk business. The payment provider enjoys a great online reputation among high-risk merchants. Various low-risk payment providers like Stripe Payments usually refer high-risk merchants to PaymentCloud.

image of national processing

National Processing

In addition to working with Fiserv to provide credit card processing services to low-risk merchants, National Processing also partners with various banks to serve high-risk merchants. It serves a wide selection of high-risk industries, including credit repair, firearms and ammunition, non-profits, tobacco, continuity subscription, and many others. One of the best things about this payment provider is the fact that it offers high-risk merchants the same features as low-risk merchants.

These features include mobile payment processing, chargeback prevention tools, fraud protection tools, e-commerce support, ACH/eCheck processing, and a free credit card terminal. It’s worth noting that the prices displayed on National Processing’s official website apply only to low-risk merchants. Normally, high-risk merchants should expect relatively high prices. Fortunately, the payment provider doesn’t charge any account setup fees.

Shark Processing

Another great high-risk payment processor to consider for your Shopify merchant account is Shark Processing. This payment provider offers card and non-card payment processing services to all kinds of high-risk industries, including e-commerce, information technology (IT), blockchain, and financial technology. Up to date, Shark Processing has made it possible for over 3,000 high-risk businesses around the world to accept and manage payments.

The company partners with some of the best credit card issuers around the globe, including Mastercard, American Express, and Visa. On top of credit card processing, Shark Processing also enables high-risk merchants to accept over 20 cryptocurrencies through SharkPay Crypto. Even better, merchants can convert these cryptocurrencies into euros at the best market price available.

image of factors to consider before choosing a high risk credit card processor for shopify

Factors to Consider Before Choosing a High-Risk Credit Card Processor for Shopify

Before choosing a given high-risk credit card processor for your Shopify account, you must consider various factors. Every credit card processor is different, with varying terms and conditions for merchants it considers high-risk.

Some of the factors you should consider include the following:

High-Risk Industries Accepted

Even high-risk credit card processors do not accept all high-risk businesses. Some high-risk credit card processors may not want to work with you if you have a poor credit score or if your line of business is exceptionally risky. Therefore, ensure that the credit card processor you choose has years of experience catering specifically to your kind of business.

Pricing Structure

High-risk credit card processors balance their risk by charging high-risk merchants relatively higher payment processing fees than low-risk merchants. However, you should know that the pricing structure varies from one credit card processor to another. That said, consider comparing the rates charged by different payment providers to find the most affordable solution for your high-risk business.


It’s important to choose a high-risk credit card processor that integrates seamlessly with your Shopify merchant account. This means that the processor should provide you with a simple and easy-to-use integration, facilitating smooth payment processing for your online business.

The Bottom Line

A reputable high-risk credit card processor is needed to keep business activities on your high-risk Shopify account running smoothly. By following the above guidelines and directly reaching out to various high-risk credit processors, you’ll be able to land one that best suits your high-risk Shopify store.

It’s also important to read the terms and conditions before signing a contract to ensure that the high-risk credit card processor’s services align with your unique business needs.

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