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The Best High-Risk Merchant Accounts in 2024

When looking for a high-risk payment processors, you can expect different pricing and contract terms, but our recommended providers are fair, honest, and transparent.

    Frank Kehl
  • Last updated onUpdated

  • Chris Motola

    Chris Motola

    Expert Contributor

Advertiser Disclosure: Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity.

High-risk merchant accounts are designed to serve businesses that cannot obtain a standard, low-risk account for credit card processing. Although expensive, high-risk accounts allow companies that would otherwise have to operate on a cash-only basis to accept credit and debit cards, ACH transfers, and other payment methods.

This article highlights seven of the best high-risk merchant account providers and provides tips for selecting the one that is best for your business.

Top Picks For High-Risk Merchant Accounts

Learn More About Our Top Picks

CompanySummaryNext StepsSummary

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  • No application or account setup fees
  • Supported Industries: Firearms, vape shops, real estate, gambling
  • No application or account setup fees
  • Supported Industries: Firearms, vape shops, real estate, gambling

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  • No cost to apply or set up account
  • Supported industries: CBD, firearms, vape shops, financial services, shipping
  • No cost to apply or set up account
  • Supported industries: CBD, firearms, vape shops, financial services, shipping

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  • No application or account setup fees
  • Supported industries: adult content, CBD, credit repair, firearms, vape, etc.
  • No application or account setup fees
  • Supported industries: adult content, CBD, credit repair, firearms, vape, etc.

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  • No cost to apply or set up account
  • Supported Industries: Adult services, CBD, MLM, nutraceuticals
  • No cost to apply or set up account
  • Supported Industries: Adult services, CBD, MLM, nutraceuticals

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  • Account approval in as little as 24 hours (typically 4-6 business days)
  • Supported Industries: eCommerce, bail bonds, debt services, offshore businesses
  • Account approval in as little as 24 hours (typically 4-6 business days)
  • Supported Industries: eCommerce, bail bonds, debt services, offshore businesses

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  • Instant online quote to expedite account approval process; 3-5 business days for full approval
  • Supported Industries: Credit repair, legal services, pawn shops, CBD
  • Instant online quote to expedite account approval process; 3-5 business days for full approval
  • Supported Industries: Credit repair, legal services, pawn shops, CBD

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  • One-time $99 account setup fee
  • Supported industries: CBD, telemarketing, online gaming, massage parlors
  • One-time $99 account setup fee
  • Supported industries: CBD, telemarketing, online gaming, massage parlors

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Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

Table of Contents

The 7 Best High-Risk Merchant Account Providers

The best high-risk merchant account providers offer honest sales practices, a transparent onboarding process, personalized customer service, fair contract terms, and reasonable rates and fees. With these criteria in mind, let’s look at our top seven high-risk merchant account providers:

How The Best High-Risk Payment Processors Compare

Account Setup FeesAccount Approval TimeNotable Supported IndustriesPayment Gateway(s)
Host Merchant ServicesNoneNot advertisedAdult entertainment, debt collection, firearms, SEO servicesTransaction Central, HMSExpress,
National ProcessingNoneUp  to 24 hoursCBD, firearms, vape shops, financial services, shippingNational Processing Gateway, Authorize.Net
CorepayNone24-72 hoursAdult entertainment, CBD, firearms, travel industryNetValve, Authorize.Net, etc.
PaymentCloudNone48 hours +Adult entertainment, CBD, MLM, nutraceuticalsAuthorize.Net, NMI, USAePay, etc.
Durango Merchant ServicesNone24 hours to 4-6 business dayseCommerce, bail bonds, debt services, offshore businessesDurango Pay
Soar PaymentsNone3-5 business days (for full approval)CBD, credit repair, firearms, nutraceuticals, travel industryAuthorize.Net, NMI, or USAePay
Easy Pay Direct$991-4 business daysCBD, firearms, nutraceuticals, credit repair, bad credit merchantsEPD Gateway, Authorize.Net, NMI

Host Merchant Services: Best For High-Risk eCommerce Merchants

Host Merchant Services

Total Rating 4.9
Fees & Rates5.0

Products & Services5.0


Sales & Advertising Transparency4.7

Customer Service4.6

User Reviews4.8


  • No early termination fee
  • No setup or application fees
  • No monthly minimums
  • Excellent customer support


  • Can be expensive for low-volume merchants

Why Host Merchant Services Is The Best Choice For High-Risk eCommerce Merchants

As a former web hosting company, HMS is ideally suited for eCommerce merchants. The company offers users a choice between Authorize.Net and its own proprietary Transaction Express gateway. Each account also comes with free web hosting for your business website.

Host Merchant Services accepts some high-risk industries through a partnership with Electronic Merchant Systems (EMS). Because high-risk accounts are underwritten by a different back-end processor, you'll have to obtain a customized pricing quote that will be quite different from the low-risk rates found on the HMS website.

Retail merchants can choose from various terminals for sale, as HMS does not lease equipment. Mobile processing is also supported through either Vital or SwipeSimple, which are third-party products. The company offers a variety of POS systems as well.

HMS uses interchange-plus pricing exclusively for low-risk businesses, but your rates and fees will probably be higher than those published on its website as a high-risk merchant. The company provides 24/7 customer service and has an excellent reputation in this area. If your business falls into one of the categories of high-risk activities that it can accommodate, HMS is a top-notch merchant account provider.

Host Merchant Services Features

Host Merchant Services primarily serves low-risk businesses but also accepts merchants in many high-risk industries. Available features include the following:

  • High-risk merchant accounts
  • Full line of countertop and mobile credit card terminals
  • Free terminal available to merchants processing over $20,000/month
  • Vital and SwipeSimple mobile processing solutions
  • Choice of Vital or Bonsai (proprietary) POS system
  • Choice of Authorize.Net or Transaction Express (proprietary) payment gateway
  • Virtual terminal included
  • Web hosting service included with each account
  • Cash discounting program available

Host Merchant Services Pricing

  • No application or setup fees
  • Variable account fees per customized quote
  • Variable processing rates per customized quote
  • $5-$10/month gateway fee
  • $15 chargeback fee
  • No PCI compliance fee

When To Use Host Merchant Services

  • You run a high-risk eCommerce business
  • You want to use a credit card processor that offers high-quality customer support

Get Started With Host Merchant Services

Read our in-depth review

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National Processing: Best For Clover Processing Hardware

National Processing

Total Rating 4.6
Fees & Rates4.8

Products & Services5.0


Sales & Advertising Transparency4.4

Customer Service4.1

User Reviews4.4

Get a free Clover Go card reader from National Processing when you sign up. Claim your card reader.


  • Flat-rate & customized pricing offered
  • Excellent online reputation
  • Low-cost ACH & echeck payment processing


  • “Free” equipment may require a long-term contract
  • Early termination fee charged for “free” equipment

Why National Processing Is The Best Choice For Clover Processing Hardware

National Processing uses Fiserv (formerly First Data) and several other back-end processors for both low-risk and high-risk accounts, making it one of the relatively few providers that can offer the popular Clover processing devices to high-risk merchants.

High-risk categories served include dropshipping, firearms and ammunition, credit repair and debt consolidation services, nonprofits, subscription services, high-volume sales, tobacco/vape sales, and bad credit merchants. High-risk merchants will have access to most of the same features National Processing offers to lower-risk merchants, including terminals, mobile payment processing, eCommerce support, and chargeback prevention tools.

Note, however, that the transaction pricing disclosed on the company's site applies to low-risk accounts only. High-risk merchants should expect higher fees (although you won't have to pay an account setup fee).

While the company now offers flat-rate pricing to low-risk merchants, you'll be offered a customized pricing quote (with higher rates) if you're in a high-risk category. You should, however, be able to obtain a "free" credit card terminal for use with your account if you're willing to accept a long-term contract.

National Processing Features

National Processing primarily caters to low-risk small businesses but also serves several high-risk categories. Key features include the following:

  • No long-term contract if processing hardware is purchased outright (may not apply to some high-risk businesses)
  • “Free” credit card terminal available
  • Offers a choice between either flat-rate or customized pricing plans (low-risk businesses)
  • Offers ACH and echeck processing as an add-on
  • Cash discounting program available

National Processing Pricing

  • Variable monthly account fee for high-risk businesses
  • Variable processing rates for high-risk businesses
  • $0.00/month for the cash discounting program (optional)
  • $15.00/month and 0-1.5% + $0.48/transaction for ACH and echeck processing (optional)

When To Use National Processing

  • You want to use Clover hardware for your high-risk business

Get Started With National Processing

Read our in-depth review

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Corepay: Best For Mail Order/Telephone Order Businesses

Total Rating 4.0
Fees & Rates4.3

Products & Services5.0


Sales & Advertising Transparency3.9

Customer Service4.3

User Reviews3.0


  • No application or account setup fees
  • No annual fees
  • Offers proprietary NetValve payment gateway
  • Accounts include extensive antifraud & chargeback protection features


  • Very few pricing disclosures

Why Corepay Is The Best Choice For Mail Order/Telephone Order Businesses

We chose Corepay as one of the relatively few high-risk specialists that provide unique mail order/telephone order-only accounts to businesses that don't have a website, but still need to accept remote payments. The company accepts a wide variety of high-risk industries,  providing extensive information about the unique factors that go into getting this type of merchant account.

Corepay can usually place merchants in most high-risk industries, provided they only sell legal products and haven’t had a previous account terminated by another provider.

Corepay offers a full range of products and services, with a particular emphasis on online and mail order/telephone order (MOTO) sales. Credit card and ACH processing are available, with rates for credit card transactions starting at 2.95% for high-risk businesses. Note that Corepay fully discloses that most high-risk merchants will pay processing rates that are significantly higher than what a comparable low-risk business would pay.

The company is also mum about its contracts, so you can expect to have a long-term contract with an early termination fee, as well as a rolling reserve when the account is first established.

Corepay Features

Corepay offers a variety of products and services for retail and online high-risk merchants, including the following:

  • High-risk merchant accounts
  • Mail Order/Telephone Order (MOTO)-only accounts
  • Multiple options for processing hardware
  • Proprietary NetValve payment gateway
  • Authorize.Net and NMI gateways are also available
  • ACH processing
  • Ethoca and Verifi chargeback protection services
  • Visa’s Rapid Dispute Resolution (RDR) service

Corepay Pricing

  • No application or account setup fees
  • No annual fees
  • Variable monthly fees
  • Variable processing rates (starting at 2.95% for high-risk merchants)

When To Use Corepay

  • Your business primarily accepts payments through the mail or over the telephone
  • You’re in an industry that Corepay specializes in working with, such as adult entertainment

Get Started With Corepay

Read our in-depth review

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PaymentCloud: Best For "Free" Credit Card Terminal

Total Rating 4.1
Fees & Rates4.3

Products & Services5.0


Sales & Advertising Transparency3.9

Customer Service4.2

User Reviews4.0

Exclusive Promo: PaymentCloud will give you $200 if they can't beat your current rate. Get Your Quote


  • Excellent customer support
  • No account setup fee
  • Free credit card terminal
  • Few public complaints


  • No publicly disclosed pricing

Why PaymentCloud Is The Best Choice For A "Free" Credit Card Terminal

PaymentCloud specializes in placing high-risk businesses, relying on a network of third-party processors, and acquiring banks to get you approved for an account. You'll need to obtain a pricing quote from the company to find out what it can offer you, but merchants' feedback indicates that its fees and rates are reasonable.

Best of all, PaymentCloud does the extra work required to accept a high-risk account without charging you any application or account setup fees.

For retail merchants, the company can provide you with a "free" EMV-compliant credit card terminal -- it's free so long as you return it if you close your account or switch providers. PaymentCloud also offers eCommerce merchants access to either Authorize.Net or one of several alternative third-party payment gateways. A free virtual terminal is also available with each account.

PaymentCloud enjoys a great online reputation, with our readers and merchants on other sites giving the company a positive endorsement. Low-risk providers such as Dharma Merchant Services and Stripe Payments routinely refer high-risk applicants to PaymentCloud.

It's also our top choice for a merchant account if you have bad credit.

PaymentCloud Features

PaymentCloud offers services to businesses with low, medium, and high levels of risk, but specializes in getting merchant accounts approved for a wide variety of high-risk industries. The company offers the following primary features:

  • “Free” credit card terminal available with each account
  • Mobile processing solution available
  • Virtual terminal included
  • Authorize.Net, NMI, or USAePay payment gateways are available
  • ACH and echeck processing are available
  • Paysley QR-code payment service available

PaymentCloud Pricing

  • No account setup fee
  • No monthly minimum (low-risk accounts)
  • Interchange + 0.05%-0.30% + $0.08-$0.10 per transaction (low-risk accounts)
  • Processing rates vary by the acquiring bank/back-end processor (high-risk accounts)
  • $15/month account fee (low-risk accounts)
  • Account fees vary by the acquiring bank/back-end processor (high-risk accounts)

When To Use PaymentCloud

  • You want the best chance of getting approved for a high-risk merchant account
  • You want a “free” credit card terminal with your merchant account

Get Started With PaymentCloud

Read our in-depth review

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Durango Merchant Services: Best For Offshore Merchants

Durango Merchant Services

Total Rating 4.8
Fees & Rates4.5

Products & Services5.0


Sales & Advertising Transparency4.9

Customer Service4.4

User Reviews5.0


  • Offers offshore accounts for international merchants
  • Fair pricing & contract terms
  • Offers an EMV-compliant mobile card reader
  • Dedicated account manager for customer service


  • Early termination fee in some cases

Why Durango Merchant Services Is The Best Choice For Offshore Merchants

Durango Merchant Services is one of the oldest and best high-risk merchant service providers. The company has an excellent reputation for honesty, fair rates, and great customer service. Like almost all high-risk providers, Durango uses a quote-based pricing system and doesn’t disclose fees or rates on its website.

In addition to working with US-based processors and banks, the company can also set you up with an offshore merchant account if you need one.

Durango supports eCommerce merchants through its proprietary Durango Pay payment gateway. This gateway includes all the standard payment and security features you’ll need to run a web-based business, including an Authorize.Net emulator mode. Support for retail merchants consists of a variety of countertop terminals that accept both EMV and NFC-based payment methods, as well as the iProcess mobile payments system.

All merchants will be assigned a dedicated account manager for all customer service-related issues. While this can sometimes be problematic outside of regular business hours and when your account manager isn’t available, it usually provides a much higher level of service than you’ll get from a random customer service representative.

Personalized customer service and the ability to work with various domestic and offshore payment processors set Durango Merchant Services ahead of most of its competitors.

Durango Merchant Services Features

One of our favorite high-risk providers, Durango Merchant Services offers a full range of products and services for eCommerce and retail businesses. Primary features include the following:

  • High-risk merchant accounts
  • International merchant accounts available
  • Cryptocurrency merchant accounts are available
  • Durango Pay payment gateway and virtual terminal
  • Mobile processing through the iProcess app and card reader
  • 150+ shopping cart integrations
  • iSPY fraud protection service
  • eCheck processing available
  • A variety of universal credit card terminals are available
  • Dedicated account manager for customer support

Durango Merchant Services Pricing

  • Highly variable processing rates
  • Highly variable account fees
  • A long-term contract and an early termination fee may apply

When To Use Durango Merchant Services

  • Your business needs an offshore merchant account
  • You want a dedicated account manager for customer support

Get Started With Durango Merchant Services

Read our in-depth review

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Soar Payments: Best For Rapid Account Approval

Total Rating 3.9
Fees & Rates3.8

Products & Services3.9


Sales & Advertising Transparency4.7

Customer Service4.4

User Reviews4.0


  • Automated custom pricing quote
  • Automated application process
  • Fast underwriting
  • No application fees


  • Only works with US-based businesses
  • Early termination fee

Why Soar Payments Is The Best Choice For Rapid Account Approval

Soar Payments works with about a dozen banks and processors to place high-risk merchants. The company uses an automated quote-based pricing system and does not publicly disclose its fees or rates. You should expect a rolling reserve and a monthly minimum to be part of your high-risk account. Using Soar's online application process, your account can be preapproved in less than 24 hours. Note that full approval can take 3-5 business days.

Soar Payments specializes in serving the high-risk community and has competitive pricing and terms that are attractive to low-risk companies as well. The company mainly focuses on eCommerce services but also offers countertop terminals and mobile card readers for retail use.

In addition to the Authorize.Net and USAePay gateways, it also offers the NMI payment gateway, which can integrate with most of the more popular online shopping carts. The gateway also integrates with Chargeback Armor, an automated chargeback prevention and response program.

The company's standard contracts include an initial two-year term, which will automatically renew for one-year periods after that. There's also a $495 early termination fee, but this only applies during the first two years of your contract.

Overall, Soar Payments offers very competitive terms for high-risk merchants.

Soar Payments Features

Soar Payments offers a variety of products and services to enable credit card payments and help your business grow. The following key features are available:

  • High-risk merchant accounts
  • Offers PAX A920 “smart” credit card terminal
  • Authorize.Net, NMI, or USAePay payment gateways are available
  • ACH and echeck processing are available
  • ChargebackArmor anti-fraud and chargeback protection package available

Soar Payments Pricing

  • Variable processing rates for high-risk accounts (tiered pricing usually used)
  • Variable account fees for high-risk merchants
  • Usually includes a monthly minimum
  • A long-term contract and an early termination fee may apply

When To Use Soar Payments

  • You need a merchant account for your high-risk business that can be approved right away

Get Started With Soar Payments

Read our in-depth review

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Easy Pay Direct: Best For Load Balancing Feature

Easy Pay Direct

Total Rating 4.1
Fees & Rates4.0

Products & Services4.5


Sales & Advertising Transparency3.9

Customer Service4.1

User Reviews4.0


  • Accepts a wide variety of high-risk industries
  • Load balancing feature for high-risk merchants
  • No early termination fees for most merchants
  • In-house sales team


  • $99 account setup fee

Why Easy Pay Direct Is The Best Choice For Load Balancing

High-risk specialist Easy Pay Direct offers its proprietary EPD Gateway as its primary product. It also provides full-service merchant accounts for both high-risk and low-risk merchants.

To get started with Easy Pay Direct, you’ll have to pay a one-time account setup fee of $99. However, the company doesn’t charge an early termination fee if you close your account early. We don’t normally like account setup fees, but the extra effort required to underwrite your account justifies the expense for a high-risk business.

Easy Pay Direct offers load balancing, which helps you get around the monthly processing limits that often come with high-risk merchant accounts. Just be aware that you’ll usually have to pay separate monthly fees for each account, so it might not be cost-effective for some merchants. The load-balancing option and the robust features of the company’s EPD Gateway make it an excellent choice for high-volume businesses with an online sales channel.

Easy Pay Direct Features

Easy Pay Direct enjoys a strong reputation among users. Although its focus is primarily on the eCommerce sector, the company also offers support for retail businesses. Key highlights include the following products and services:

  • High-risk merchant accounts
  • Load-balancing feature available
  • Proprietary Easy Pay Direct (EPD) Gateway
  • Virtual terminal available with EPD Gateway
  • Countertop credit card terminals are available
  • Proprietary QuickClick shopping cart (plus support for 250+ third-party carts)
  • APIs and SDKs available for site customization

Easy Pay Direct Pricing

  • $99 account setup fee
  • $24.95 monthly account maintenance fee
  • Variable processing rates (tiered and interchange-plus pricing used)
  • Variable additional monthly and annual fees
  • A long-term contract may apply
  • No early termination fee (except for offshore accounts)

When To Use Easy Pay Direct

  • You need load balancing to get around monthly processing limits

Get Started With Easy Pay Direct

Read our in-depth review

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Payment Processing Rating Methodology

Merchant Maverick has been researching the payment processing industry since 2009. Our writers have reviewed hundreds of credit card processors, merchant account services, and mobile payment apps, evaluating each provider carefully on several different metrics.

Weighted Rating Breakdown

Fees & Rates 25%
Products & Services 25%
Contract 20%
Sales & Advertising Transparency 15%
Customer Service 10%
User Reviews 5%

When comparing different payment processing companies and applications to one another, we consider numerous data points. Our experts start by comparing credit card processing rates, the presence of additional fees, contract length, sales practices, and the presence or absence of additional features and services, like point of sale software. Each provider is judged on its own merits and how well it stacks up to industry standards; then it is weighed against the other providers on the list.

We spend an average of 10-15 hours researching and updating each one of our lists, making sure every company or application included meets our internal standards for quality and reputation. Any list of recommended payment processors on our site might contain a mix of standard merchant accounts, third-party payment processors, mobile payment devices, and high-risk payment processors, depending on what our expert feels is the best fit for certain scenarios or business types.

For additional details about Merchant Maverick’s review and rating processes, please refer to any or all of the following methodology pages:


Years reviewing payment processors


Providers evaluated


Attributes and features assessed per vendor


Years combined experience

Check Out These High-Risk Merchant Accounts For Specific Industries

If you’re looking for more specific recommendations relating to your particular high-risk business type or circumstance, the following resources will give you some further guidance:

What Is A High-Risk Merchant Account?

A high-risk merchant account is an account designed specifically for businesses classified as being in a high-risk category. While each provider has its own criteria for determining whether a business is high-risk, an elevated rate of chargebacks or a higher risk of fraudulent transactions are the most common factors.

Why High-Risk Merchant Services Are Different Than Traditional Merchant Accounts

Naturally, having your businesses labeled “high-risk” is frustrating. While certain business types (adult entertainment, gambling, bankruptcy law firms, etc.) nearly always get the designation, having poor personal credit or high average ticket sales can also do it. See our article on running a high-risk business for a full list of the business types typically considered high-risk, along with other factors that might get your business that designation.

A high-risk merchant account has the same features and functionality as a traditional, low-risk one. The primary differences include the following:

4 Benefits Of Using A High-Risk Merchant Account

While high-risk merchant accounts have their disadvantages, they come with certain advantages as well:

  • Enhanced support for recurring billing
  • Load balancing for reducing chargebacks and processing higher sales volumes
  • Additional payment security and fraud protection features
  • Fewer restrictions on international transactions

By necessity, high-risk processors are experts in risk mitigation. While this comes at a cost, your businesses will enjoy these benefits with a quality, high-risk provider.

How To Choose A Reputable High-Risk Payment Processor

If you’ve been identified as a high-risk merchant, or if you suspect you might be one, following these tips should help you find a merchant account that accepts your business and meets your needs:

  • Check The Processor’s Accepted Business Types: Even high-risk specialists usually don’t take all types of high-risk businesses. Check your provider’s website or contact its sales department to confirm that it can accept your particular business type.
  • Look For A Processor That Offers Load Balancing: With load balancing, you can spread your transactions across multiple merchant accounts, which are integrated into a single payment gateway. If one of the accounts drops you, you’ll still have the others to rely on. You’ll also be able to process more every month with multiple accounts.
  • Read Your Contract Carefully: As most high-risk merchant account providers work with multiple banks and backend processors, they usually don’t list their rates and fees online. These costs can vary depending on the bank or processor that underwrites your account. Pay close attention to the rates you’ll be charged, and ensure you understand any extra fees.
  • Get Quotes From Multiple Providers: Due to the variability in pricing among providers, we recommend obtaining quotes from at least three providers before choosing which one to do business with.

Other Considerations For Choosing High-Risk Payment Processors

What if the high-risk payment processor you’re considering isn’t on our list? It doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not a good choice. In fact, it might be perfect for your business’s particular needs.

Having already discussed some general guidelines on pricing, contracts, and customer support to think through when deciding on a processor, there are some additional factors you might want to consider.

Hardware For High-Risk Processing

If you’re going to accept in-person payments, you’ll need the appropriate processing hardware to do so. Your choices include a standard countertop credit card terminal, a wireless terminal, a POS system and hardware, or a mobile app-based system that uses a card reader connected to your smartphone or tablet.

In most cases, you should buy your equipment outright. We strongly recommend against terminal leases, which are noncancelable and usually come with four-year contracts. If you close your account, you will have to buy out all the remaining months of your lease.

Due to the unpopularity of terminal leases, many providers now offer a “free” terminal with your account. Be wary of this and read the fine print. While this offer might work out if you only need one terminal, you’ll often pay a higher monthly account fee. You could also be locked into a long-term contract with a hefty early termination fee.

Accepting Alternative Payment Methods

In today’s payments environment, accepting credit and debit cards is merely a good first step toward maximizing the number of ways your customers can pay you. Your merchant service provider will often offer additional alternative payment methods to make it more convenient for your customers to make a purchase. Depending on your business’s needs, you might consider adding ACH transfers, echeck payments, QR code payments, cryptocurrency payments, or digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay.

High-Risk Payment Gateway & eCommerce Support

If your business has an online presence, you’ll need a payment gateway to process your eCommerce transactions. For mail or telephone orders, a virtual terminal (available as a gateway feature or as a separate product) will allow you to input card-not-present transactions from any internet-connected device with a web browser. Card readers that connect to your computer via USB or Bluetooth expand the usefulness of a virtual terminal by allowing you to process card-present transactions as well.

These services aren’t fundamentally different from what a low-risk business would use. Most high-risk providers typically offer a choice between the popular Authorize.Net gateway and a proprietary product designed to be compatible with all the banks and processors they work with to underwrite your account.

Regardless of your provider, you should expect your gateway to come with solid security features, including credit card tokenization and SSL encryption. High-risk providers also tend to emphasize chargeback prevention features that attempt to prevent — or at least flag — potential chargebacks before they occur. Services such as Chargeback Armor help detect potential chargebacks. Consider adding them to your account if your provider offers them.

Over the past several years, payment gateways have evolved into cloud-based integrated payments platforms that consolidate payment transaction data from online and in-person sales, allowing you to run your business from any internet-connected device. While they offer tremendous power and convenience, these platforms are proprietary and can create compatibility issues if you switch to a different merchant services provider.

Why You Shouldn’t Choose A Payment Service Provider For High-Risk Merchant Services

Payment service providers (PSPs) allow you to accept credit cards without a dedicated merchant account. PSPs usually come with simple, flat-rate pricing for credit card processing, no monthly fees, and no long-term commitment. Popular PSPs include:

However, all PSPs have strict policies against servicing most high-risk businesses. To evade these policies, some merchants fudge the truth about their business’s nature. Don’t do this! Lying to your processor about your business will get your account shut down immediately. You’ll also probably be placed on the MATCH list, making it far more difficult to get approved by any merchant account provider.

One notable exception is Square’s program for CBD merchants. While the processing rates are higher than those for low-risk merchants, they’re still reasonable compared to what other high-risk providers typically charge. If you’re running a CBD business, consider this option.

Which High-Risk Credit Card Processor Is Right For My Business?

While we confidently recommend all seven high-risk merchant account providers profiled in this article to businesses needing high-risk credit card processing, determining which one is best for your particular business will depend on several factors. These include, among other things, your personal and business credit history, your existing credit card processing history (if any), and which high-risk business category you fall under.

In narrowing down your search for the best provider for your business, be sure to follow these best practices, which should help you make an informed decision — and avoid any costly mistakes:


  • Check out our payment processing guide if you’re unfamiliar with credit card processing basics.
  • Research the companies you’re considering before contacting sales reps from the best candidates to learn what they can offer.
  • Get quotes from at least three providers before choosing one.
  • Review your proposed contract thoroughly before signing up.


  • Don’t provide false or misleading information about the nature of your business or any other aspect of your business history.
  • Don’t simply choose the provider that offers you the lowest rates without considering contract terms and customer support.
  • Don’t enter into an equipment leasing contract.

By following these guidelines and carefully negotiating with your chosen provider’s sales team, you should be able to secure an affordable high-risk merchant account that will pay for itself over time with increased sales and enhanced analytical capabilities. Good luck!

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Frank Kehl

Frank Kehl

Expert Contributor at Merchant Maverick
Frank has been writing about payment processing and business services since 2015. He is a retired Air Force officer and a former practicing attorney. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from The Pennsylvania State University and a Juris Doctorate degree from the Ventura College of Law, and currently resides in Paso Robles, California.
Frank Kehl
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