High-Risk Merchant Accounts

Shark Processing is a distinguished leader in the realm of high-risk merchant accounts, serving clients since 2016. As an ISO partnering with top-tier high-risk banks and Payment Service Providers worldwide, we offer unparalleled expertise across various legal verticals in the United States and beyond.

When it comes to securing the most competitive high-risk processing rates tailored to your industry, Shark Processing stands head and shoulders above the competition. Our experienced team is committed to addressing any inquiries you may have, ensuring a seamless experience throughout.

To expedite the processing of your application and allow you to focus on your core business operations, we encourage you to apply now. Trust Shark Processing to swiftly navigate the intricacies of merchant account setup, granting you the freedom to excel in what you do best – running your business.



What Is A High-Risk Merchant Account?

It is a payment processing account designed for businesses like online gambling, adult entertainment, and cannabis with a higher likelihood of chargebacks or fraud. They allow high-risk merchants to accept customer payments through their preferred payment gateways and run the business efficiently.

These accounts typically come with higher fees and stricter requirements, but they also offer added benefits like tools for preventing chargeback claims, robust fraud detection systems, and more.

What Makes A Business High Risk?

Operating In Certain Industries

Businesses that operate and deal in specific industries like cannabis, adult entertainment, etc., can be considered high risk because of the nature of their product or service.

These fields can be lucrative but are also heavily controlled and stigmatized. For instance, marijuana is still regarded as a Schedule 1 substance under federal law, although it is becoming increasingly legal.

Additionally, these sectors are more vulnerable to fraud and chargebacks, making them high-risk and perhaps deterring traditional merchant account service providers from forming trade relationships with them.

Therefore, businesses looking to operate in these fields need to be well-versed in the legal landscape, have a solid business plan, and be prepared to face potential challenges.


While a great location can be a boon to any business, it can also be a risk factor. Specific locations, such as those in high-crime areas, can make a business more susceptible to theft or vandalism. Additionally, businesses in areas prone to natural disasters or other crises may face increased risk.

Card-Not-Present Transactions

Modern technology allows buyers to make online purchases through virtual terminals. It entails entering credit and debit card details into a digital form and submitting the information to a payment gateway. These payments made without a physical card are called card-not-present transactions. Of course, this payment method is convenient from the buyer’s end.

However, identity theft and fraud are significant risks for these transactions because using someone else’s card information is easy. So if a business is strictly online and most of the payments they receive come from card-not-present transactions, they tend to have a higher risk rating.

High Average Transaction Cost

High average transaction costs can make your business more vulnerable to fraud or other financial crimes. Large transactions can be more attractive to scammers looking to make a quick buck. The hefty fees may also lead to lower revenues for entrepreneurs, so it’s essential to have strong security measures in place to protect your business and customers.

Optimum service solutions can help you get a favorable cost-benefit balance, maximum profitability, and advantages on other aspects like challenging reconciliation processes.

Subscription Style Billing

Subscription-style billing is a popular payment method utilized by many businesses today. While it may have some benefits, it can also make your business high-risk. It is because it can open the door to potential chargebacks and disputes often associated with these transactions.

Additionally, subscription-style billing requires businesses to have a more sophisticated system for managing their payments, which can be a challenge for smaller companies. As a result, companies that utilize this payment method are often considered at higher risk and may need to take additional steps to protect their business.

Low Personal And Business Credit Scores

There are several payments necessary to maintain your account. Suppose your credit score indicates you struggle to pay for loans and other financial products.

In that case, high-risk merchant account providers might take that to mean that you’re not financially ready to make credit card payments on a high-risk merchant account.

This potential failure to pay for these obligations will automatically add to your risk. When applying for a high-risk merchant account, bad credit can be a hindrance, but it isn’t always the end game. Bad credit merchant account instant approval is possible if you work with the right fast approval merchant account provider.

International Sales

Some businesses open high-risk international merchant accounts to offer their products and services to offshore clients and consumers. While on its own, international sales might not significantly increase your risk, combining the factor with others can impact how providers perceive your offshore business.

For example, political and foreign exchange risks can affect how your business performs overseas, making the likelihood of a financial failure far more significant than if you were to conduct business where laws and currency values remain stagnant.’

How Do High-Risk Accounts Differ From Regular Accounts?

Higher Processing Fees

Your payment service providers will impose a fee when you use your merchant account, accept credit card payments, or agree to pay from your debit cards. You might get a rate of about 0.3% plus interchange if you’re among the low-risk merchants. However, that processing fee can inflate to well over 1.5% for high-risk merchants.

Higher Chargeback Fees

For businesses categorized as high-risk, chargeback rates tend to be higher than those of regular accounts. This is because these industries are more susceptible to fraudulent activity and disputes. As a result, high-risk merchants often face more scrutiny from the payment processor and may be subject to stricter regulations, fees, or reserves.

Longer Application Process

Even financial institutions and merchant service providers that work with hard-to-place merchants will still have their fair share of apprehensions when onboarding a high-risk business merchant account.

So to make sure they’re not missing any potentially problematic risks, the providers like soar payments may take their time to dissect a high-risk business’s history and capabilities with a lengthy KYC process that requires tons of paperwork.

Reserve Requirement

High-risk accounts are subject to higher reserve requirements than low-risk accounts to provide additional protection against potential losses. This means that banks must hold more funds in reserve for high-risk accounts to ensure that they have enough resources available to cover any unexpected expenses or liabilities that may arise.

Volume Limits

The volume limits are usually based on each account’s processing history and can be adjusted based on the account’s risk assessment. However, high-risk merchant accounts are prone to fraudulent activities or chargebacks, making them riskier investments.

Therefore, financial institutions often set lower volume limits for these accounts to manage risks. In contrast, regular accounts, considered low-risk, tend to have higher volume limits because they have a predictable transaction history, making it easier for financial institutions to manage risk exposure.

How To Choose A Reputable Merchant Account Provider?

Today, more than a handful of high-risk merchant account providers want to make money off hard-to-place businesses that would do anything to open an account. And while that makes it easier to find viable providers, that also means exercising a little extra caution as you look for the best merchant account provider for your situation. So how exactly can you choose a reputable high-risk merchant processor?

Reputable Merchant Account Provider Experience

Experience is essential when selecting dedicated merchant account providers. A provider who has been in the high-risk business types for some time will be more knowledgeable about chargebacks, fraud protection, and payment processing.

Working with an experienced merchant account provider will assure you that your company is in capable hands. They can give insightful advice on streamlining payment processing, lowering risk, and increasing income. A seasoned provider will also have a proven track record of success, trust, and reputation.


Shopping around for a low-cost provider will make up a vast selection process. You’ll want to partner with a service provider offering the lowest rates for processing transactions, penalties, and charges.

Contract Terms

Some providers will try to trap you in a restrictive contract to keep you around to make the most money from your partnership. Others will bake in terms that increase charges if you exceed a specific chargeback limit. Read the fine print and check whether the contract might work against your best interest.

Tools And Solutions

With the help of the right tools and solutions, you can ensure that you are partnering with a trustworthy provider that will offer you the best options for your business. These tools and solutions will help you navigate the sea of merchant account providers, clearly showing their rates, fees, and reputation.

By researching and utilizing these resources, you can confidently choose a merchant account provider that meets your business needs and ensures the smooth handling of your financial transactions.


When choosing a reputable account provider, looking for their availability is essential. A good provider will offer various communication channels to reach them, including phone, email, and chat support. Additionally, consider their response time and if they offer 24/7 customer service.

A provider who is always there for you can help you navigate complex payment options, optimize your account, and make sure your business gets the best possible rates.

What Industries Are Considered As High Risk Merchants?

Specific industries are at high risk because of their increased chances of chargebacks, potential for fraudulent or questionable activity, and involvement with services or products in a legal gray area.

Some examples of high-risk industries include:

  • Payday loans
  • Kratom
  • CBD
  • Hemp
  • Adult entertainment, products, and services
  • Digital products and vouchers
  • Travel merchant account
  • Tech support merchant account
  • Alcohol
  • Automotive
  • Charter
  • Firearms
  • Forex
  • Guns and ammunition
  • Jewelry
  • Nutraceuticals
  • Pharmacy
  • Property management
  • Subscriptions

What Are The Features Of A Good High-Risk Credit Card Processor?

A good high-risk credit card processor should possess a range of features to ensure the security of financial details and prevent fraudulent activities. Some examples of these features include:

  • Up-to-date anti-fraud systems, including multi-entity verification, geolocation tracking, and biometric authentication.
  • 24/7 support services
  • Responsive conflict resolutions
  • Seamless integrations with various payment gateway platforms.
  • Reasonable transaction fees and flexible payment options.

What Are The Documents Required For High Risk Credit Card Merchant Account?

If you’re applying for a high-risk credit card merchant account, there are a few documents that you’ll need to submit to your high-risk payment processors.

These documents are necessary to ensure that your business meets all the requirements of a high-risk account and to minimize any potential losses for the processor. Some required documents include the following:

  • Your business license
  • Proof of incorporation
  • Financial statements
  • Processing history
  • Any legal documents (such as a bankruptcy filing or a court judgment).

Depending on the business type, you may need additional documentation, such as licenses or permits specific to your industry.

What Are The Most Common Reasons A Business Might Need High Risk Merchant Accounts?

Quite a few factors can contribute to this, such as:

  • Having a history of chargebacks or refunds
  • Operating in a high-risk industry (such as gambling, cannabis, or travel)
  • Selling expensive products or services.

Additionally, online and offshore businesses may be considered high risk due to the increased likelihood of fraudulent transactions.

How To Get Fast Merchant Account Approval?

You can do a few things to expedite the merchant account approval process.

  • Ensure your business is registered and your financial documents are in order.
  • Research several merchant account providers and compare their rates and fees.
  • Be ready to provide any necessary documentation promptly and accurately.
  • Be prepared to negotiate if necessary.

Does Shark Processing Offer Advanced High Risk Merchant Account Solutions?

Many high-risk merchant service providers are out there — why choose Shark Processing? Aside from having a proven track record, our services aim to put your business growth at the core.

We value our clients and hope to become a proactive partner toward a brighter future for your business. There is a load of reasons why Shark Processing might be your best match, including:

Years Of Successful Experience

We’ve serviced some of the most notoriously hard-to-place clients in various high-risk industries, providing services tailored to their unique needs and situation. We have successfully opened high-risk merchant accounts for all of our clients.

Our years of experience have given us the upper hand in handling complex, exceptionally high-risk cases. Through the expertise of our seasoned, efficient team of financial product specialists, we’re capable of providing fast, targeted, and efficient services that produce accurate results. So it doesn’t matter how often you’ve been rejected in the past — with Shark Processing, there’s hope for your business.

Award-Winning Service

Shark Processing has earned the trust of countless businesses, which has, in turn, earned us the privilege of being awarded several accolades in the high-risk merchant industry. Our award-winning services are a testament to our dedication to actual results and have made us the best merchant account in Canada and many other parts of the world.

Despite being relatively new to the industry, Shark Processing is recognized as one of the most trustworthy, efficient payment processors. We earned countless positive high-risk merchant account reviews from previous clients who received nothing but the best processing services from our team.

Applying For A High Risk Merchant Account

Every provider entails a different set of application steps and requirements, but you can expect the following process more or less:

Fill Up An Application Form

When applying for a high-risk merchant account, filling out the application form can feel daunting. To start, make sure you have all the necessary documentation and business information on hand. This includes your EIN or SSN, business registration documents, financial history, credit card score, and bank account information.

Next, take your time and read through the application carefully to ensure everything is clear. Accurate information can help speed up the approval process and ensure a smooth transition to accepting payments.

Submit The Necessary Documents

Documentary requirements vary from provider to provider. However, it would help to have certain staples, like your identification, business permits, transaction histories, and bank statements.

Wait For Approval

After an interview and reviewing your documents, your provider may ask for copies of other documents and identification. You can expect approval after the verification in a few days or weeks. You may also be called up for follow-up interviews depending on what additional information your provider might need.

Shark Processing – Offshore Merchant Accounts

Round The Clock Support

At Shark Processing, we provide all our clients with accessible, responsive, and dedicated customer support. This allows our merchants to resolve issues by keeping their payment facilities up and running 24/7.

Tailored Features And Solutions

Shark Processing offers a range of features for clients in different industries. We meet your clients to provide relevant features and solutions to your business. Unlike our competitors who use cookie-cutter solutions for each of their customers, we look into your unique situation to implement features and services that you genuinely need.

48 Hour Approval

When you send your application to Shark Processing, we work rapidly to assess your situation and create a contract that fits your needs. We guarantee approval for hard-to-place merchants in a maximum of 48 hours.

No Long Term Contracts

Our short-term, renewable contracts let you determine whether our services suit you. This allows you to change things at the end of your contract and adjust various elements to enjoy a more tailored experience.

No Set Up Fees and Hidden Charges

We require no setup fees to get your application moving. We like to keep things as accessible as possible, especially for our smaller clients who might want to make the most out of every penny their venture makes.

High Risk Merchant Account FAQs

What Industries Does Shark Processing Accept As Clients?

We understand the importance of secure, reliable, and efficient business payment processing and accept clients from a diverse range of industries, among which some of them include:

With its unparalleled customer support, flexible pricing structure, and commitment to excellence, Shark Processing has become the go-to solution for businesses that want to streamline payment processing while minimizing costs and maximizing revenue.

What Type Of Payments Can I Accept With My High Risk Merchant Account?

Your high-risk merchant account will allow you to accept payments in-store or online through credit and debit cards.

How Do Payment Processors Decide To Consider Your Business As High Risk?

The process isn’t entirely as manual as you might think. Instead, the payment processors use computer-based algorithms that compute your risk based on all the information they receive through your application and supporting documents.

How To Find A High-Risk Merchant Services Provider?

Look for a provider specializing in high-risk industries and understanding your unique challenges. Ask for their experience and track record, as well as their pricing and fees. Make sure they offer fraud protection and chargeback mitigation services, as these are essential in maintaining a healthy and sustainable merchant account.

How Can High-Risk Merchant Accounts Find Payment Processors?

With thorough research, find a reputable payment processor working with high-risk merchants. These payment processors typically have experience dealing with various industries considered high-risk. Additionally, they may offer tailored solutions to address the unique needs of high-risk merchants, such as fraud and chargeback protection.

How Can High-Risk Businesses Increase Security In Processing Online Payments?

Here are a few ways how high risk businesses can increase security while processing online payments.

  • Implementing a multi-layered fraud detection approach with real-time monitoring, address verification, and card verification.
  • Ensuring all employees follow secure password protocols and are trained to recognize the possible fraudulent activity.
  • High-risk businesses must also work with reputable payment gateways and utilize secure connections to prevent threats from hackers.
Do You Provide Merchant Services For Non-US Clients?

We offer high-risk payment processing solutions for US and international merchants so you can easily expand into new markets.

Payment Channel

What Are Things To Consider When Choosing A High Risk Merchant Account Provider?

The most important thing you’ll want to consider is the kind of experience. Have they worked with other clients in a similar industry and niche as you? What does their client portfolio look like? Whom have they worked with, and how have those partnerships worked out?

You can learn a lot about a provider by looking into their history like they would look into yours before approving your application.

How To Increase Your Merchant Account Threshold?

To increase your limit, you can contact your merchant account service provider and showcase the evidence that shows potential sales growth. This can work, especially if you’re in good standing with your provider and have been partners for a while.

Another way to increase your merchant account threshold would be to open multiple accounts with different payment processors.

This lets you divide your revenue and cash flow across different accounts. So even if they all have thresholds, you’ll have more room to accommodate payments with a separate account once you reach the limit.

Can My Start-Up Get Instantly Approved For A High Risk Merchant Account?

Obtaining a high-risk merchant account for your start-up can be daunting, but achieving instant approval is even more demanding.

Although there is no magic formula for instant approval, you can streamline the process if you are well-prepared, have all your documentation in order, and present your business in a favorable light.

Working with a payment processing company specializing in high-risk merchant accounts is binding, as they have the expertise to guide you through the approval process.

Is My Merchant Account High Or Low Risk?

Your business risk isn’t set in stone. It depends on several factors determined by your provider. However, you can consider a few things to get a rough estimate of whether or not your firm comes under a high-risk business type.

These include your industry, average transaction cost, the kinds of transactions you most often receive (card not present vs. card present), and whether you accept recurring payments.

What Is ‘Load Balancing,’ And When Should I Consider It?

Load balancing is a strategy that involves opening up several merchant accounts to spread your cash flow across different entry points. You can use it to reduce chargeback rates, mitigate the risk of total merchant account suspension, and increase your volume threshold.

Why Does My Merchant Account Have A Monthly Volume Limit?

Merchant service providers set monthly volume limits to protect the accounts from fraud and illegal activity. These caps safeguard against potentially expensive chargebacks, protecting both merchants & the provider.


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