How do High Risk Merchants Accept Credit Card Payments?

How do High Risk Merchants Accept Credit Card Payments?

Was your merchant account suspended by Stripe or another credit processor due to your industry type or chargebacks? There may be a better way to handle your payments..

If your business participates in selling products or services that have high risk of chargebacks, you might have a tough time locking down a merchant account partner. Companies like Stripe, Square and a slew of others, are constantly on the suspension run, removing accounts that sell products with inherently high, financial risks. This poses a problem for sellers - where are they supposed to go for their credit card processing needs? While there are some options for high risk merchant accounts, I think it’s important to first look at exactly what is happening that prevents larger providers from working with the company, as well as tips for how to work around those limitations.

What is a high risk merchant account?

The first thing I want to dispel is the notion that a high risk merchant is a bad thing. High risk merchants are defined as selling products or services that have a higher level of risk for customer chargebacks, fraud, etc. Companies that sell items like nutraceutical supplements, offer credit repair services, or perhaps facilitate primarily over-the-phone transactions, may be deemed to be “high risk” by these credit card processing companies, who want to ensure their customers (users) are engaging sales that are not at risk of fraud (more about this in the next section). Startups also typically fall into this category- small teams that facilitate direct word of mouth sales and may not yet have a business bank account or credit card of their own, are considered “high risk” and will face similar limitations when looking for a payment solution. It’s a bit annoying, but there are high risk credit card processing options for these types of individuals, to help them get their business transactions up and running.

Why do credit card processors block you in the first place?

Most major credit card processing companies have direct affiliations with big banks, who are under strict scrutiny and guidelines that are in place to protect the financial institutions. Every fraudulent transaction that is processed through one of these middle providers (Stripe, Square, etc) gets reported to the banks, and this puts pressure on the middle man to be better about not allowing fraudulent transactions from occurring in the first place. It’s in situations like this, where these credit card processing companies will remove merchants from their network entirely, claiming them to be high risk. Obviously, this puts a lot of pressure on the merchants themselves, who then have to quickly scramble to find a way to handle customer sales. It doesn’t matter if the business is a startup or is actually selling a volatile product, the processing company will shut down the account if they perceive any (varying) level of risk. I would also not be surprised if they have general guidelines for which industries are NOT allowed on their platform at all. Before you try selling on Stripe or similar, I suggest reviewing their policies, to prevent an unexpected shutdown.

Where to find high risk merchant credit card processing services?

Thankfully, there are many solutions for credit card processing companies, some of which speak to specific niches or industries, as their ability to maintain a safe community of transactions will depend on their knowledge of the product and customer base. In general though, you’ll want to look for a processing company that has at least some of the following criteria:

  • Providing instant online quotes for how much their processing service costs.
  • Low pricing in general (compare to other industry competitors).
  • Has a good quality support team.

That last point is especially important, as you will want to make sure you and your customers have a dependable contact path for troubleshooting payment issues. Unlike technical or account support, billing support is much more important for the end user- it’s their money (and your business), after all.

How to accept payments on a website in general?

Accepting payments online is the easiest way to start making income from your product or service. If you already know that your business product relies on phone transactions, cash, or perhaps is a borderline risky product to sell (like certain vitamins and supplements), then I suggest going directly to a company like SoarPay, to figure out the best way for you to process credit card payments. If your business is relatively small and not engaging in risky sales, you could look into PayPal for integrated payment solutions, or even Checkoutpage, which is something I wrote about more in depth in this article about processing credit card payments on websites.


In conclusion, high risk merchants shouldn't necessarily get the bad rap that they do- often times they are either new sellers who don’t yet have a standardized product or service sales funnel, or they might sell a service like credit repair in good faith, but have a customer base that is potentially high risk. Take the time to assess your current product and evaluate if working with a high risk merchant processor might be the best course of action, in the long term. If you enjoyed this Mod, you might like to read more about these 8 digital marketing lessons for 2021! Please share this Mod using the social links below.

Tagged in : WebDevDesign

Millennial Moderator Author

Aleksey Weyman

Aleksey Weyman is a web designer, music artist and creator of Millennial Moderator.