There are many challenges when you are considered a high-risk business, including finding a payment gateway. Not all payment gateways are willing to work with high-risk businesses, and many that do will impose restrictions that make it challenging for your company to be successful.
We gathered the best high-risk payment gateways, so you don’t have to scramble to find one that works for your business.
The concept of a payment gateway can sometimes be confusing, as it tends to get mixed up in other terms, such as merchant accounts.
A payment gateway is a specific type of merchant service that lets you process your payments. Payment gateways integrate into your online store and capture the payment details. They then route the relevant information to the bank or processor before sending the approve or decline message.
Some prominent examples include Square, Stripe, and PayPal, but none of those are ideal for high-risk businesses.
The Relationship Between Merchant Accounts and Payment Gateways
If you need more clarification, a merchant account is where you store information about payments and transactions. It is where your funds get stored until they are verified and moved to your account.
The payment gateway refers to a very specific part of this transferring process. It is the connection between your merchant account and the customer’s account. The payment gateway lets the funds flow into your account after the transaction is verified.
Many merchant accounts include payment gateways as part of their service. However, in most cases, this comes in the form of integrating the merchant account with one of the best high-risk payment gateways already established. While some merchant account providers offer proprietary payment gateways, most work with the big names on our list.
The following list includes a range of the best payment gateways, including a handful of proprietary solutions from companies that offer merchant accounts and some of the most-respected gateways that most merchant accounts integrate with.
Payment Processors Vs. Payment Gateways
Another commonly confused term is the payment processor.
As a refresher, payment processors analyze and transmit the transaction data, including sending the data to the bank.
By contrast, payment gateways do this AND authorize the fund transfer.
Authorize.Net is easily among the most common and best high-risk payment gateways. This solution has been around since 2010 and was created by PaymentCloud. Authorize.Net also offers clients a free virtual terminal.
There are two options for pricing on Authorize.Net depending on whether you have a separate merchant account. If you have a merchant account, you can get the payment gateway by itself for $25 per month. This option also features a $0.10 transaction fee plus a daily batch fee of $0.10. Without a separate merchant account, you still pay $25 per month, but you also have a transaction fee of 2.9% plus $0.30.
Authorize.Net offers advanced detection and prevention of fraud. Most notably, you can set customizable parameters such as verifying transaction data, IP tracking, or blacklisting scammers. It also supports invoicing and recurring payments.
Bankcard is one of the companies that offer high-risk merchant accounts as well as payment gateways. You can take advantage of both services or just one of them, depending on your preferences.
The gateway integrates with over 200 processors and 125 shopping carts, and a long list of payment devices. It also supports the ability to process payments in the store, online, with mobile payments, or with self-service payments. This includes more recent payment technology, such as EMV and contactless payments.
Bankcard’s payment gateway is easy to manage with multiple MID capabilities. You can also generate reports easily by consolidating reports from various MIDs and organizing your products. For added security, Bankcard uses tokenization.
Other highlights include the ability to accept multiple currencies, the virtual terminal, recurring billing, QR codes, transaction routing, webhooks, and a gateway emulator.
DigiPay has a very large network, something which helps keep costs low for merchants. The company also has a great reputation for preventing fraud and chargebacks. You can use this payment gateway to accept credit or debit cards and ACH checks. It also supports currency conversions and cash discount programs. Moreover, it is worth noting that DigiPay offers merchant accounts in addition to its payment gateway.
The system features direct API integration as well as redirect integration. Moreover, the DigiPay system can send data to the other systems that are part of the transaction, increasing security while managing the data flow.
You can set up customized rules as well, helping you stay in control of transactions without having to monitor them constantly. This is one of the best high-risk payment gateways that prides itself on its scalability, offering enterprise-level security to merchants with businesses of any size.
Some other key features of DigiPay’s payment gateway include complete back-office reporting, PCI compliance, 24/7 monitoring of the system, 24/7 technical support, a virtual terminal, multi-currency support, recurring billing, 3D Secure/VBV, and CVV2/AVS. It also offers advanced fraud management and detection tools that are proprietary.
The various security features can help reduce exposure and liability. DigiPay also says that its payment gateway’s features can free up time and resources from your accounting and IT teams.
eProcessing Network is another payment gateway you are likely to see suggested by merchant account providers. It offers a PCI-compliant solution that lets you process credit and debit cards via swiping or chips. You can also accept NFC payments, ACH or checks, Google Pay, Apple Pay, loyalty transactions, and gift cards.
One unique feature of eProcessing Network is that its services are a la carte. This lets you customize your payment gateway, so you don’t have to pay for any services you don’t need. Some available solutions include Level III compliance, fraud control, master accounts, a customer data manager, inventory management, email billing, mobile, e-commerce, and POS. eProcessing Network even offers its range of POS systems and ePNWOFG, a web order form generator.
A large number of merchant account providers work with and recommend NMI, making this an incredibly popular choice. The payment gateway lets you sell your products everywhere, including the ability to accept online payments, in-store payment, self-service, contactless, EMV, and mobile payments.
Part of the reason for NMI’s popularity is its vast integration. It works with over 125 shopping carts and 200 processors, along with various POS terminals. You also get great security via features like tokenization.
NMI also qualifies as one of the best high-risk merchant gateways, thanks to its ability to generate reports, manage transactions, and process payments from one account. Since many high-risk merchants prefer to use multiple MIDs, the fact that NMI supports multiple MIDs on one gateway account is incredibly helpful as well. This lets you manage branches, consolidate reporting, and organize products, among other features. It even comes with transaction routing.
Some noteworthy features from NMI include powerful reporting, the ability to accept multiple currencies, the virtual terminal, collect checkout, recurring billing, QR codes, batch processing, and a gateway emulator. NMI can also accept all major payment types, including China UnionPay, JCB, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. It even features a customer vault, automatic card updater, fraud prevention, electronic invoicing, a QuickBooks plug-in, and more.
Opayo is the new name for Sage Pay, a product from the European company Sage Group. The company supports multiple methods of payment, including credit card machines and payments over the phone. The company also places a strong priority on fraud prevention and security.
To give an idea of the scope of Opayo, consider that in just 2019, the company’s gateway processed card payments for more than 50,000 in-store and online merchants, totaling over 40 billion pounds.
The name change from Sage Pay to Opayo comes as part of the company’s acquisition by Elavon, which expands its service offerings. You get to take advantage of nearly two decades of experience.
Opayo offers 24/7 customer support via social media, email, or the phone. The company also has a high level of security, including PCI DSS Level 1 compliance, tokenization, and fraud protection.
Like the other best high-risk payment gateways, Opayo scales up with your business, making it ideal for companies that hope to grow in the future. You can use it to accept payments online or in-stores, as well as via the virtual terminal.
Other noteworthy features from Opayo include:
Providing and supporting POS terminals
Virtual terminal for MOTO payments
PayOp is among the best high-risk payment gateways as it accepts more than 300 payment methods across 170 countries. This is particularly helpful for international businesses, as the ability to accept money in the local currency with local payment methods does wonders at attracting customers.
In terms of security, PayOp has PCI DSS Level 1 compliance, preinstalled Maxmind and Seon.io for fraud prevention and tokenization.
With PayOp, transaction fees start at just 2.4% + $0.20 for high-risk companies, with the pricing depending on your risk level, transaction volume, and other factors.
You can set up this payment gateway in just a business day either as a Hosted Payment Page, Server to Server, or via the API.
Some other noteworthy features of this payment gateway include currency conversion in real-time, invoicing for companies without a website, and numerous withdrawal methods.
While you should be happy with any of the best high-risk payment gateways mentioned above, it is still helpful to know how to choose one. This will let you select which of the gateway on our list is right for you. It will also help you evaluate other payment gateways that you come across.
To determine the best high-risk payment gateway for your business, keep the following considerations in mind.
The first thing you should look for in any payment gateway is confirmation that they work with high-risk merchants. Many gateways do not because of the risk, so this is a crucial consideration.
From there, you want to confirm that they don’t just occasionally work with high-risk merchants. This should be one of their specialties. That is important as it indicates that you will have a significantly higher chance of maintaining your account.
If the company focuses on low-risk businesses and only occasionally works with high-risk merchants, they may have high fees or strict requirements that are nearly impossible to meet. In that case, you may quickly find yourself with your account shut down.
That being said, they don’t have to only work with high-risk merchants. As long as they specifically offer services and have a reasonable number of high-risk clients, it should be fine. For example, Authorize.Net made our list despite accepting clients of all risk levels.
Just because a payment gateway regularly works with high-risk merchants, that doesn’t mean that they will work with you. For example, if you sell CBD products, you will likely have fewer options for payment gateways than a debt consolidation company.
This is also important if your business is high-risk for a reason other than your industry. For example, maybe you have poor credit, no credit, a high chargeback ratio, high-volume transactions, or high transaction volumes. While most of the best high-risk payment gateways mentioned above will work with companies in any of these situations, that is not always the case.
Of course, you could go ahead and apply and see if you are approved. After all, they will not approve you if they don’t support your industry or situation. However, this is not a savvy choice. After all, it wastes your time, and some payment gateways may also have application fees. It may also hurt your company’s reputation among other gateways if they know one has denied you.
Even as a high-risk business, some of your considerations for the best payment gateway will be the same as low-risk businesses, including the type of gateway that is best for you. There are three main categories.
Redirects are when the gateway takes the customer to its payment page before bringing them back to your website. A classic example is PayPal.
Some gateways have customers checkout on-site and pay off-site, such as Stripe. (As a side note, PayPal and Stripe are NOT recommended for high-risk businesses; they are just examples.)
Others complete the payments on your website. This gives you the most control and is easiest for customers, but it also leaves you with the most responsibility.
One of the other early things to confirm is that your chosen payment gateway will let you accept the type of payment you want. While most will handle credit and debit cards, you should also confirm that they accept e-checks, ACH transfers, mobile wallets, and NFC payments. With the modern age of smartphones, you will miss out on customers if you can’t accept Apple Pay or Google Pay. Don’t forget to confirm the ability to create and process gift cards. Depending on your business, you may also want to confirm they let you accept EBT cards.
Pay attention to the time that it takes to process payments. The best high-risk payment gateway will only take a few days, and some may even offer quicker processing. Some of the slower ones, however, may take a week or more to process your money.
With the increasingly global world, even small, local businesses may occasionally get international customers. You want to be prepared for this by choosing a payment gateway that supports international transactions. Part of this should include the ability to accept multiple currencies and easily convert them. It should also include the ability to accept local payment methods, such as local credit cards.
No matter the shopping carts or other systems you use, you want to choose a payment gateway that will work with them. This also goes for accounting and billing software. After all, most companies don’t want to change their software to get their gateway to work.
Nearly every merchant will want to take advantage of recurring billing at some point. As such, you should confirm that your chosen payment gateway offers it.
For recurring billing to work, the gateway must securely store credit card numbers.
Security is a prime concern when looking at payment gateways as well. At the minimum, make sure your chosen gateway has level 1 PCI-DSS compliance (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard).
You also want other security features like tokenization.
The best payment gateways will also offer additional fraud-prevention features. One example is the ability to filter IP addresses or block potential scammers.
As with any other service, the more choices you have for support from a high-risk payment gateway, the better for you. Ideally, it should have 24/7-support and provide several methods of contacting them, such as live chat, phone, and email.
Of course, pricing should also be a concern. Pay attention to both percentage-based pricing and per-transaction pricing, as well as hidden fees.
You also need to pay attention to the contract that the payment gateway offers. Some payment gateways will not require a contract and let you use their services month-to-month. Others will require a one-year contract or even a longer one. Remember that longer-term contracts can also come with heavy cancellation fees.
Don’t forget to read the fine print in the contract as well.
All merchants need a payment gateway to be able to accept payments. When choosing the best high-risk payment gateway for your needs, pay attention to pricing, accepted payments, security, and the gateway’s experience with high-risk companies. To save yourself the hassle of searching, choose one of our recommendations.