Finding a high-risk merchant account can be intimidating at first. Many merchant account providers are hesitant to work with high-risk merchants. They are concerned about chargebacks or potential fraud. Because of their concerns, most providers will charge high-risk merchant accounts high fees and have strict requirements, such as reserves or long contracts. The best offerings, however, reduce these requirements. While some will still require reserves and most charge more for high-risk merchants than low-risk ones, the best companies offer affordable options. They also give you the tools you need to keep your account open and reduce chargebacks. Take a closer look at the 10 best high-risk merchant account solutions before exploring how to choose which company to open an account with.
Like many of the best high-risk merchant account solutions, Durango Merchant Services offers month-to-month contracts in addition to longer-term contracts. For example, you can also get a one-year contract with auto-renewal or a three-year contract if your business is very high risk. As with most companies on this list, Durango Merchant Services doesn’t list its prices on its website, as this lets them customize rates for each merchant account. They also approve companies on the MATCH list.
They support the full range of transaction types, including those with the card present and card not present. This includes mobile payments and access to a virtual terminal. You can also take advantage of chargeback protection. Importantly, the chargeback protection comes in addition to free fraud reduction tools, something that some competitors charge for. In terms of customer service, Durango Merchant Services gives every client a dedicated account manager.
One of the highlights of Durango Merchant Services is its long history, as this company has offered high-risk merchant accounts for years. The most important caveat is that this solution won’t accept clients that sell age-restricted products.
Easy Pay Direct is one of the few solutions on this list that does charge an account startup fee of $99, which is something to be aware of. Despite that extra cost, the company earns a spot on this list thanks to its other features and services. They also make up for it by not charging an early termination fee. One of the most useful features is load balancing, which lets you distribute your processing across multiple merchant accounts. This reduces your risk of chargebacks and fraud on each merchant account, dramatically reducing the risk of having your account closed. It also means that if one of the processing accounts gets closed or frozen, you will already have others you can use without waiting for approval.
While eMerchant Broker doesn’t offer month-to-month contracts, they do offer one-year contracts. Just pay attention to cancellation fees and contract terms, as some contracts are up to three years, and cancellation fees can be $295 to $595. Another important note on fees is that chargeback protection costs extra.
You can use eMerchant Broker to accept payments with cards in your store, on your e-commerce website, mobile payments, or using the virtual terminal. This solution specializes in CBD products, which is important as some of the others on this list specifically won’t work with CBD businesses.
You can enjoy chargeback protection with your eMerchant Broker account, thanks to Ethoca and Verifi. It is worth noting that while eMerchant Broker supports in-store purchases, it does so on a limited basis. If you have a strong physical presence and an online one, you may want to consider another option.
High-Risk Holdings specializes in offshore merchant accounts, a specific sub-category of high-risk merchant accounts. The company works with merchants who serve international or domestic clients. While they specialize in offshore companies, they also work with domestic high-risk merchants. An important caveat is that the High-Risk Holdings website doesn’t offer any information about customer support. Instead, you will get contact information when you sign up with them. This can make the sign-up process more challenging. However, it does have a strong reputation with minimal complaints throughout its history.
High-Risk Pay has offered high-risk merchant accounts since 1997, and as the name implies, it focuses on offering services to high-risk merchants. All merchants get chargeback protection to help you maintain a low ratio. This solution offers very quick approval in as little as 24 hours. In terms of pricing, you will have no setup or application fees, and there are no contracts either. High-Risk pay is one of the rare merchants with pricing on its website. For high-risk merchants, pricing starts at 2.95% plus $0.25 per transaction.
While Host Merchant Services is one of the top solutions, it is important to note that the minimum contract length is one year. Most accounts will have a $250 to $500 cancellation fee, although some may not have any. You will have to contact them for pricing details. You get chargeback protection with Host Merchant Services. Moreover, you get the ability to accept cards for e-commerce, using the virtual terminal, with mobile payments, or with the card present.
This solution for high-risk merchant accounts stands out with its large number of integrations, both for e-commerce and point-of-sale systems. You can also qualify for a free EMV-card reader.
It is worth mentioning that Host Merchant Services offers fewer chargeback protection tools than some of the other solutions on this list. Some other considerations to keep in mind are that the company has rolling reserve requirements and limited customer support.
Interestingly, Host Merchant Services relies on a single primary processor, while most of the others on this list have several. This makes pricing more transparent but can make it harder to get approved or maintain your account.
Payment Cloud works closely with every single applicant, helping you complete your application. They also work with a sizable network of processors to maximize your chances of approval at the lowest rates. After opening an account, you get dedicated support as well. Some extra features are the lack of annual or setup fees, chargeback protection, fraud prevention, and next-day funding. There are also frequently $0 cancellation fees and the option of a month-to-month contract or a one-year one. While Payment Cloud offers competitive rates, there is the common caveat that you have to contact them for pricing. As mentioned, this is incredibly common among high-risk merchant account offerings, as it lets them customize the rates to meet client needs.
Payment Cloud supports transactions with the card present or the card not present, such as e-commerce, mobile payments, or the virtual terminal. This is even one of the solutions that offer a free EMV terminal with high-risk merchant accounts. The other caveat to be aware of is that customer support has somewhat limited hours, so they can be hard to reach outside typical business hours.
PayKings is another big name in high-risk merchant account solutions. They support a range of industries, including CBD merchants. This company has a free setup and a decade of experience. Merchants get to take advantage of payment monitoring, chargeback alerts, fraud-scrubbing, and reporting. You also get access to a full selection of payment processing options, including features like recurring billing, shopping cart integration, and a virtual terminal.
SMB Global is the option on our list with the longest standard contract length, three years. This is very long compared to the typical month-to-month offering for high-risk merchant accounts, so keep that in mind before choosing them. On top of that, there is a $500 cancellation fee. Even so, their high approval rate, features, and customer service earn them a spot on this list. As expected, you get chargeback protection to help you improve your chargeback ratio. You can also support card-present transactions, mobile payments, and e-commerce. This includes integrations with over 175 shopping carts. Just pay attention to extra fees as you sign up.
The chargeback solution from SMB Global is one of the best on this list, as it includes an auto-response feature that lets you quickly fight chargebacks. The solution also features an analytics platform to help you view chargebacks and make plans. Another highlight is that SMB Global works with over 20 processors. This improves your chances of approval and helps you keep your account open, and it should also result in more competitive rates.
Soar Payments is another high-risk merchant account solution with a longer contract term, two years, and a $495 cancellation fee. As such, be extra sure that you want to work with them before opening an account. It is also worth noting that they won’t accept high-risk clients on the MATCH list.
That being said, Soar Payments is still a strong option for many merchants. You can accept mobile payments, card-present transactions, e-commerce payments, and use the virtual terminal. While chargeback protection is available, you will have to pay extra for it. This comes via a partnership with Chargeback.com and has everything you need, including email alerts, fraud detection, and representation when fighting chargebacks.
Expect a quick approval process with Soar Payments and the ability to integrate with various software solutions, such as QuickBooks. This is one of the rare high-risk merchant account solutions that give an idea of pricing on its website, starting at 2.49%.
While we suggest that you stick to one of the above high-risk merchant account solutions, plenty of others are available. Whether you need to choose among the solutions we mentioned above or evaluate another solution you found online or heard about, you will want to keep the following considerations in mind.
One of the most important things to consider is pricing. The caveat is that most of the various merchant account providers require you to contact them to get a quote. In most cases, this will not take too long, but it is an extra step. We suggest you use the other considerations to narrow down your choices to a small handful of merchant service providers, then contact those providers for quotes. This will save you the time spent getting quotes from too many providers.
You also want to pay attention to the various fees that the merchant service provider offers and how transparent they are about these. Reviews can be a great source to find undisclosed fees, as is the fine print in the terms and conditions or other areas of their website. Start by looking at potential fees for setting up, applying, or cancelling. Don’t forget to pay attention to monthly fees, if applicable. This is also the time to pay attention to which services are included and which come with additional fees. For example, some may charge extra for e-commerce payment processing, access to the virtual terminal, or in-store processing. The bottom line is that every company has a slightly different pricing structure for high-risk merchant accounts, and you want to make sure you know any fees from your chosen company.
Traditionally, high-risk merchant accounts required high reserves. However, many of the solutions on our list don’t require reserves or have very small reserve requirements. The exact requirements can vary greatly by company. It is also possible that a company will require reserves for some high-risk merchant accounts and not others depending on their industry or history. While they can limit your cash flow, you don’t want to eliminate a company that requires rolling reserves automatically. Their other features or pricing may make up for it.
It should go without saying that you need to confirm that your chosen solution lets you complete the type of transactions that you need. So, if you have a physical store, make sure that in-store payments are an option. If you have an online store, confirm they offer e-commerce. Can you use a virtual terminal for phone or email orders?
You will also want to pay attention to the types of payments that companies accept. Most let you accept credit and debit cards and ACH transfers or e-checks. Confirm the credit cards are EMV-compliant. If you want to offer NFC solutions or mobile payment options like Apple Pay, make sure your chosen solution does.
This is also the time to pay attention to virtual terminals as well as physical terminals. If you have a physical store, make sure the POS options fit your needs, whether you want a mobile or countertop system. Pay attention to the pricing of the terminals as well. Some high-risk merchant account solutions will offer certain terminals for free, while others will sell or rent them.
Because of the high chargeback risk in high-risk industries and the importance of your chargeback ratio, the best solution will offer tools to protect against chargebacks. Most companies offer chargeback protection for free, but some require an extra fee to take advantage of it. However, those with paid chargeback protection may offer more relevant services or protections. The bottom line is that you always want chargeback protection to keep your ratio low.
Cash flow is crucial for any business, especially small or medium ones. So, pay attention to how quickly you will receive your funds. Although rare, some companies offer next-day or even same-day funding, but this is typically only for a few payment methods. Most companies will fund your account within a few days. Don’t skip checking this, as some can take a week to deposit your funds.
Traditionally, high-risk merchants have been locked into long-term contracts. However, this is changing, and now many solutions offer month-to-month contracts. Those are ideal if you want extra flexibility with your processing. Generally speaking, a month-to-month contract is more convenient for you as a merchant than a long-term one, as you can usually switch or cancel without a high fee.
There are a few important things to pay attention to in regards to customer support. You want to look at the availability of support, both in terms of hours and the contact method. After all, support is only useful if you can reach them. You also want to check if the solution offers a dedicated account manager. This is a very common offering in the industry, and it can help you feel more valued as a customer.
Of course, you need to look at which merchant a given solution will accept. Specifically, confirm they accept your industry. If you are on the MATCH list, confirm they accept clients who are. You will also want to pay attention to whether they accept startups or those with poor credit or high chargeback ratios.
Before you make a final decision, take a few minutes to look at reviews and ratings of your chosen solution. Look for both customer reviews and those from third parties, as the latter tends to be more in-depth. This is also the time to look for complaints and any claims of the company being a scam.
The search for a high-risk merchant account does not need to be overwhelming. Any of the solutions mentioned above will be an excellent choice for your business. To choose the right one, consider their offerings, customer support, pricing, and the other factors mentioned above. You will be on your way to accepting payments, preventing chargebacks, and taking advantage of other merchant services in no time.