Are You a High-Risk Merchant?

Some businesses need a high risk merchant account

In the processing world, some business types and industries are considered “risky.” Are you one of them? Have you already been turned down by a few credit card processors? Did they tell you that you’re deemed a “high-risk merchant?” Well, all is not lost.

Luckily there are plenty of high risk merchant account providers that specialize in exactly what you need. I’ve only reviewed a handful of them on my site, but they do exist (i.e. Durango or PaylineData), and they’ll definitely be able to help you out.

About High Risk Credit Card Processing

The first thing that you need to understand is that while one provider might consider you high risk…another may not. It all depends on their risk department (underwriting) guidelines. If the guidelines are strict, then you won’t get approved. If the guidelines are relaxed, then you’ll have yourself a merchant account. It’s that simple.

Furthermore, if the provider you apply to specializes in high risk merchant services, then you’ve already won the battle. Congratulations, they’ll probably approve you. BUT, keep in mind that there are some providers that don’t specialize in high risk, but still have relaxed guidelines (i.e. Cayan).

What Rates Can You Expect as a High Risk Merchant?

Outlook not so good. 🙁

High risk merchants have to make do with crappier terms and higher rates. That’s just a fact. When you’re caught between a rock and a hard place, you don’t have much room to negotiate.

A word of caution…

Don’t skimp on reviewing the details of your contract. For every 1 ethical and reliable high risk processor, there are about 325 unethical ones that are just waiting to take advantage of you. And, since you are in fact stuck between that rock and that hard place, your judgement might be a bit cloudy. Make sure you read your contract.

Make sure you check for termination fees and other incidentals as well. Do they want you to give them a rolling reserve? If so, how much and for how long? Most high risk processors want some sort of reserve so they can cover their own behind should you close up shop, get a crazy amount of chargebacks or commit some sort of fraud. Keep that in mind.

Why Are You Considered High Risk?

That depends. There are a number of reasons why a provider would consider your business as high risk. Maybe your industry is known for having a high instance of chargebacks or fraud. Maybe you have bad credit.

Are you an offshore business? If so, that places you in the high risk category with some guys.

Does what you’re selling border on the illegal? You’re probably a risk issue.

Are your sales and marketing tactics questionable? I wouldn’t approve you.

As I mentioned above, some providers are more risk averse than others. They don’t want to deal with any business that may pose a bigger threat of losing them money, so they avoid those business types altogether.

What you need to do is find a provider that is willing to work with your business type, that is willing to give you fair rates and that doesn’t forget about you as soon as you sign up. So far, Durango has been pretty damn good in that department, so you might want to check them out.

High Risk Business Types

Here’s a list of some “high risk” business types that might require a high risk merchant account. It is by no means representative of ALL industries, but it definitely covers a large number of them.

  • 1-800 type chat sites
  • Airlines
  • Airplane charters
  • ALL sexual oriented or pornographic merchants: (i.e. companion or escort services, adult telephone conversations, adult book stores, dating services, online adult membership or matchmaker services, adult paraphernalia or toys.)
  • Amazon, Yahoo or Google Stores
  • Annual contracts
  • Antiques
  • Auctions
  • Automotive brokers
  • Bankruptcy attorneys
  • Brokering
  • “Business opportunities”
  • Calling cards
  • Casino, gambling or gaming
  • Check cashing services
  • Cigarette or electronic-cigarette sales or nicotine cartridges
  • Coins, collectible currency or autographed collectibles
  • Collection agencies
  • Coupons or rewards-points program
  • Credit or debt repair
  • Credit counseling
  • Credit protection
  • Debt collection
  • Direct selling
  • Discount health – medical care programs
  • Debt consolidation
  • Drug paraphernalia
  • eBay Store
  • E-Books (copywrited material)
  • Electronics
  • Event ticket brokers (unlicensed – non registered (i.e. Stub Hub type merchants))
  • Exporting services (non US based)
  • Fantasy sports websites
  • Federal Firearms License (FFL) dealers
  • Finance broker, financial consulting or loan modification services
  • Indirect financial consulting (i.e. How to Save Money by Lowering Your Electric Bill.)
  • Financial planning, strategy or advising
  • “Get rich quick” – books, programs, etc…
  • High average tickets
  • “How-To” type websites (i.e. “Learn How-To Make Money on The Internet”)
  • Horoscopes, astrology or psychic services (i.e. fortune tellers)
  • “Hype” products or services
  • Hypnotists or self-hypnosis
  • International merchants (non US based)
  • International shipping, cargo or import/export
  • Investment firms
  • Investment strategy
  • Investment books
  • Lawyer referral services
  • Life coaching
  • Lingerie sales
  • Lotteries
  • Magazine sales and subscriptions
  • Mail order
  • Membership organizations (over 12 months)
  • Merchants on the terminated merchant file (TMF list)
  • Modeling agencies
  • Multi-currencies
  • Multi-level marketing (MLM)
  • Music, movie, software downloads or uploads (ie. copywrited music, movies or software (i.e. Microsoft office))
  • Non US citizens
  • Off-shore corp. establishment services
  • Pawn shops
  • Poor credit
  • Prepaid debit cards
  • In-bound or outbound telemarketing services
  • Real estate
  • Replica handbags, watches, wallets, sunglasses etc… (knock-offs)
  • Self defense, pepper spray, mace, etc.
  • Seo services
  • Social networking sites – Facebook, Twitter, MySpace etc…
  • Sports forecasting or odds making/betting
  • Talent agencies
  • Telecommunications
  • Telephone companies
  • Telephone order
  • Third-party processing, factoring merchants (i.e. payment processors, vacation rental brokers)
  • Time-shares or time-shares advertising
  • Tour operators
  • Travel services
  • Travel agencies
  • Travel clubs
  • Vacation planners
  • Vacation rentals (unless property is owned by merchant)
  • Vitamin and supplement sales – diet pills, prescription pills, health supplements, pharmacy
  • Voip services
  • Extended warranty companies
  • Weapons of any kind – guns, knives, stun guns, or ammo. Includes any parts of weapons (i.e. butts, triggers, magazines, etc.)
Amad Ebrahimi
Amad has worked in the eCommerce and online marketing world since 2002. He started as an eBay seller, then slowly graduated to building & marketing his own websites and consulting others to do the same. He founded Merchant Maverick out of frustration with all the misinformation and shady tactics that he encountered when trying to find a merchant account for his and his client's businesses. He's the man behind most of the merchant account reviews, and articles posted on Have any questions related to credit card processing? Talk to him.
Amad Ebrahimi
Leave a comment


    Noor Chowdhury


    I am selling Satellite TV Software . After a simple Installation user can watch Satellite TV channels online . Which Payment gateway should i apply for this ?

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Noor,

    Instabill is going to be your best option.

    Amir Brohi

    Hi, I am looking for a merchant account payment gateway for my new e-liquid business.

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Amir,

    Thank you for your inquiry, I am happy to help you with this. Based on the information provided, Instabill is going to be your best option.


    I have a BigCommerce store selling Apparel. My online store is Canadian based but also sells to US customers. I am looking for a high risk gateway merchant that uses NMI or Authorize. Net so I can integrate it. Any recommendations?

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Liz,

    Thank you for your inquiry, I am happy to help you with this. Based on the information provided, I would recommend Durango Merchant Services and Instabill. I would encourage you to use the green “visit site” button within our reviews if you would like to support our work. I hope this helps and if you have further questions please let me know.


    Hi i am looking for a merchant account payment gateway for my new business Remote technical location in India.

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Akash,

    I would recommend Instabill.


    Hi, am catching this article 6 years late but wish i can still get an answer for my question, am looking for processor for my pharma non controlled business, very low chargeback or none but i need to process my call center orders for both Visa and mastercard and not get scammed, any idea who to go to or what to do?

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Ali,

    Based on the information provided, I would take a look at Durango Merchant Services, Payline Data, and Instabill. I would encourage you to use the green “visit site” button within the reviews if you would like to support our work. I hope this helps and if you have further questions please let me know.



    I am about to launch a skill base competition website base out of Canada, where my user compete against each other with competitive video games they own. I have been turn turn by all a lot of payment processors.

    Can anyone help refer me to a payment processor that will take on skill gaming business model here in Canada.


    Chloe Bahal

    Hi John,

    Thank you for your inquiry, I am happy to help you with this. Based on the information provided, I would recommend Payline Data, Durango Merchant Services, and Instabill. I would encourage you to use the green “visit site” button within our reviews if you would like to support our work. I hope this helps and if you have further questions please let me know.

    Drake T

    Who would you recommend for a new dating site?

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Drake,

    I would recommend Durango Merchant Services, Payline Data, and Instabill. I would encourage you to use the green “visit site” button within the reviews if you would like to support our work. I hope this helps and if you have further questions please let me know.


    Once a charge back has been filed by a customer, what is the best way to handle it? It seems to me if you have grounds then fight every one. Would that be what you recommend? Any other tips of beating charge backs?

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Todd,

    Great question, please check out this article for more information.

    San Sahota

    Hi marc,

    Can you recommend any merchant providers for my new offshore steroid site?

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi San,

    It is going to be difficult to find a processor, but your best bet is Instabill.


    Can you suggest any reputable companies that handle gaming?
    we are also a payments provider and are seeking new clients – can you suggest any reputable forums to register our site on? unless of course that is competition to your site.


    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Marc,

    I would recommend Durango Merchant Services, Payline Data, and Instabill. Unfortunately I don’t have any forums you can register on, but if you have any further questions please let me know.

    Sat ramphal

    My organization sells web services and proprietary custom software (ex. CRM, POS)

    Im looking for a secondary merchant account ( I currently process with a high risk merchant)

    My credit is poor

    My chargeback percentage is between %1-2

    But i am unable to get approved

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Sat,

    I would try Durango Merchant Services, Payline Data, and Instabill. I hope this helps and if you have further questions please let me know.


    Hi Amad !
    Reaching out to you for some expertise and transparency.
    We sell dietary supplements catering to bodybuilders (not steroids, all legal lol).
    In any event, after 6 years we got shut down. Our charge back rate was less than 1%. We never had any issues. The processor was ipayment, but when we opened the account years ago it was leader’s merchant services. Somehow they transitioned. The only reason they gave (verbally) was that they did a random audit, they consider the products to be high risk, and it’s up to their discretion etc. My question is 1) Does it make sense that even with a great history, this would happen ? 2) We can still use correct ? We just need to find another processor ? 3) If I wanted an aggressive processor and gateway combination, who do you recommend ? Who are the companies that cater to weight loss pills and male enhancement pills. For us fees are NOT a concern due to sales margins. Also they are a tax deduction obviously. Thanks In Advance !

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Rich,

    These are great questions. Yes, supplements are considered high-risk, so it isn’t surprising that iPayment closed your account since they aren’t a high-risk processor. Yes, you can still use the gateway. I would recommend Durango Merchant Services and Instabill. I hope this helps and if you have further questions please let me know.

    Kenny T

    Great content! Thank you for educating us. I really appreciate it!

    I am going to be selling pipes and bongs in a 420 themed store. According to the comments it seems I should use instabill. I was wondering if this will put my current business credit card and bank account at risk also, however – I use it for other businesses that I run.

    Thank you!

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Kenny,

    The other accounts won’t be at risk of being terminated as they won’t be connected in that way. You might want to maintain separate credit and bank accounts just because it makes accounting easier and more reliable. Since the bank account will be linked to the merchant account, any funding holds or penalties or fees will be taken from that account. So in that way it is open to more risk. By signing up for the merchant account, the business authorizes the merchant account provider to access the bank account. The credit card account is unrelated. I hope this helps and if you have further questions please let me know.


    My business is selling a biometric trigger lock for gun safety. Not sure if this is considered high risk?

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Jennifer,

    Yes, this will be considered high risk. I would recommend Durango Merchant Services, Payline Data, and Instabill. I hope this helps and if you have further questions please let me know.


    I have called Durango – NO they do not support online tobacco glass, i have confirmed. Payline i don’t know.. they recently worked with evo, but that has changed. I was with evo and they just dropped me mid day. sad! i don’t have anything as of right now except for Green.Money, but that is a direct bank transfer payment. which most people don’t use as much. but if you are interested in getting referred, let me know. i can put you in contact with the person that helped us through the process. my sites are and, i am still looking for cc merchant account..please help!

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Dev,

    I would try Instabill, they are going to be your best bet.


    Hi and thank you for valuable information. This explanation helped to understand how high risk merchants work.

    We are a brand of hair care products and are looking to create a trial offer where the customer would receive first shipment free (excluding shipping costs), followed by an automatic charge 30 days later for a certain amount. Many merchants would look at this business model as high risk, which merchant would you suggest we approach and what does the approval process look like in general?

    Thank you for your response and for excellent content

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Val,

    Thank you for your inquiry, I am happy to help you with this. I would recommend Durango Merchant Services, Payline Data, and Instabill. The approval process is going to vary between each processor so your best bet would be to contact them directly. I hope this helps and if you have further questions please let me know.


    I own a monthly subscription box business that sells smoking supplies like glass pipes and other smoking essentials, Stripe recently dropped me because of this. They recommended Payment cloud but after only minutes on the phone they told me “no bank would support this”. I am bringing in around $8,000+ monthly and minimal charge backs. I’m also using a subscription box builder website so I have to use one of only a handful of gateways. I was just approved for and account, given this information is there a merchant that you believe is best?

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Clarissa,

    Your best bet is going to be Instabill. I hope this helps and if you have further questions please let me know.

    Von Parchman

    Thanks! My business is considered high-risk because I sell bongs, water pipes, and more. I decided to go with Shopify for ecommerce and POS, but cannot use their gateway , so they referred me to and they told me that they can provide a gateway for my business, but not a merchant account (Denied by Evo Payments International). And now I’m potentially looking everyday for the best option available . I have plenty of inventory and am ready to sell. Do you know a better and more reputable recommendation for merchant accounts that may work with a shop like mine?

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Von,

    Thank you for your inquiry, I am happy to help you with this. I would recommend Durango Merchant Services and Instabill. I hope this helps and if you have further questions please let me know.

    Bryan Heron

    Thanks so much for tour feedback here. One other question – what can I typically expect to pay as a discount rate to process as a high risk merchant. Expecting it will vary depending on who I contact, but is there a general market range?

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Bryan,

    That’s a great question. There isn’t really a general market range because there are many factors that affect the rate, such as type of business, the industry, how long your business has been open for, etc. Your best bet would be to get quotes from the different processors and compare. I hope this helps but if you have further questions please let me know.

    Bryan Heron

    Thanks Chloe, totally makes sense. I’m sure it varies widely. I’m just wondering if there’s some sort of rough range, even if its a wide one, that a high risk merchant can expect? ie – 3.5-8.5% Or maybe a high end? ie – is there a high number you’ve heard of a merchant paying in the past? Trying to guage if its even worth it before I really start sinking time into sales calls and applications/underwriting.

    Chloe Bahal

    Some high risk merchants can qualify for basically the same rates as any other merchant. (maybe 2% to 3%). The biggest obstacle for high-risk is usually that there can be substantial reserves where maybe 10% or more of the volume processed each month will be held until six months later, give or take.

    The other thing to be aware of is that there may be application fees for high-risk accounts, often over $100. But that’s a one-time fee.

    The average range really is very wide, but I’d say it’s usually fair to expect 3% to 6%, if wholesale, markup, and all other monthly fees are included and the business is processing a reasonable volume (say $10K+). But it really, really depends. Businesses with lower volume and businesses with higher risk can end up paying a higher effective rate.

    Bryan Heron

    Hi Chloe, forgot to post bank and thank you for this. Such a big help!


    Do you have a few recommendations for merchant providers to the event registration arena, offering fair rates based on processing volume, and does not lock a growing account into a monthly processing limit?

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Patrick,

    I would try Durango Merchant Services and Payline Data. If you have further questions please let me know.


    We are starting an online pharmacy to provide low cost prescription drugs. We are not US based. What would your suggestion be for a merchant account and payment gateway. We dont have any processing history as we are just starting.

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Andy,

    Instabill is going to be your best bet.


    Thanks for your reply. I have already checked with Instabill and they need a processing history of atleast $50,000 a month.


    Hi, great article. Who are the most recommended processors for selling “merchandise” that have a “high risk of fraud”. Only calling that out since it sounds like “high risk” can mean both the product being sold and also the merchant selling them. Merchant is sound but the people buying the products are more fraudulent than normal.

    Love the article.

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Bryan,

    Thank you for your inquiry, I am happy to help you with this. I would recommend Durango Merchant Services, Payline Data, and Instabill.


    I need a 2d payment gateway account

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Sanjeeb,

    We have a great filtering tool that you can try here. I hope this helps and if you have further questions please let us know.


    We sell used auto parts online and unfortunately I have been added to the TMF list, can you please let me know if I can find a Merchant processor?

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Sam,

    You can find more information about the TMF list here. If you have further questions please let us know.

    Betsy LaBass

    HELP! I have an online store and sell a few CBD products. I am having trouble finding a credit card processing service.

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Betsy,

    Thank you for your inquiry, I am happy to help you with this. Instabill is going to be your best bet.

    Chris G

    I found this helpful but maybe you can help?
    We are a offshore start up company based in Costa Rica.
    We are a gambling APP and require a merchant / payment gateway to be able to trade.
    We do not have processing history as we have not traded yet, as I mentioned, we are a start up company.

    What is more important to us is this:

    Do you have a solution for us that can easily be integrated into our APP including the following guideline.

    * Will process payments (deposits/withdrawls) without the need of manual processing. As an example, we do not want to spend our time manually paying out our customers, we want a solution where that is facilitated by our merchant.

    A merchant with a super API or application development facility preferred.


    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Chris,

    Your best bet is going to be Instabill.

    Vinit Patidar

    Hi, I am looking for gateway but got rejected from all major providers because of chargebacks. I run ecommerce business. Please help to get approval.

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Vinit,

    Having a high amount of chargebacks will make you a high risk merchant. Your best bet is going to be Instabill.


    Hi, which payment gateway you would recommend for a non US citizen wanting to start a sex toy drop shipping website ?

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Jess,

    Instabill is going to be your best bet.


    Please call me. I have bag credit 500 score .can I get a Merchant account For Rare Coins. Gold. And Silver

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi John,

    Based on the information provided, I would recommend taking a look at Durango Merchant Services, Payline Data, and Instabill


    I am not new to the online business world but am new to a new product that is considered to be high risk to some merchants. I am in the supplement industry and stuff that deals with nutraceuticals , vitamins and health supplements. Thank you!

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Nate,

    I would recommend Durango Merchant Services, Payline Data, and Instabill.

    Joseph Fiorella

    Great reviews. I agree with everything that I have read on your site so far. Glad to see another person trying to help merchants. I have seen a lot of bad situations.


    Hi i looking for a payment gateway for my membership site which sells tips to increase credit score to Australian people and my company registered in india

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Niran,

    Thank you for your inquiry, I am happy to help you with this. I would try Instabill.


    Hey, I had a couple of questions. I run a tech company based here in the U.S. We provide SEO, web development, ad campaigns, and basic tech solutions. I was recently approved by EMS but was given a 10% reserve. I didn’t end up processing anything for the first month because it didn’t fit in my budget with the 10% reserve because of a few extra expenses that came up and ended up getting charged $115 in min monthly fees. I ended up closing the account because I couldn’t afford to pay the extra fees and holding the reserve. I wanted to know a couple things since I closed the account with EMS do you think this will have a negative impact if ever reapplying in a few months or so? Also, i was planning of opening up an office soon could this help us in finding a traditional merchant that might except us? I also had a plenty of other questions. I would love to go over them if you can over email ?

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Kash,

    Great questions, no, it shouldn’t have a negative impact if you reapply in a few months. I would also recommend taking a look at Durango Merchant Services, Payline Data, and Instabill. For your further questions, please feel free to email us at


    Has anyone ever heard of CyoGate Merchant Services? I can’t find a BBB approval, or any reviews. Not sure if it is a legitimate company; website looks good, but nothing more to go on.

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Jen,

    I don’t have much information on CyoGate so I can’t speak confidently on them. I would recommend taking a look at this article before proceeding with them and I would recommend taking a look at our top processors as well.


    I am opening a small winery. I will sell wine out of the winery’s tasting room and also at farmers markets and wine tasting festivals so I need a platform that can be mobile.
    I would expect most purchases to be $12-$75 with some up to $300-400 occasionally.
    What would you recommend?

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Audrey,

    I would recommend taking a look at ShopKeep.

    stacey Hollinger

    Do you know of any merchant accounts that will take student loan consolidation business?

    Chloe Bahal
    Crystal Rassi

    As a visual artist, I as tend few art fairs every year with no POS system. I rarely sell from my own website but I do sell through third party galleries and other merchant stores. So they are really doing the transaction process and paying me as my work sells. Since few people carry cash with them these days for larger purchases at fairs, what options do I have other than e-transfers and forcing them to go to my website in the spot to complete a paypal transaction?

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Crystal,

    Any one of our top rated mobile processors would be good options to take a look at.

    Joseph Beaton

    I have a question. I’m trying to figure out if I would fall into the high or medium risk level. As I want to invest in the square but I don’t want problems as I am a sole proprietor. I own a Home Inspection franchise. I seen on the list that high ticket items and real estate are on the list. Home Inspections cost $350 and up per ticket and obviously is part of a real estate transaction. Would you consider this a high risk business? I’m brand new company too. Just trying to find the lowest cost merchant options for me.

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Joseph,

    Home Inspections are most likely going to be considered “high risk”. I would recommend taking a look at Payline Data and Durango Merchant Services. I hope this helps and if you have further questions, just let me know.


    We are a business that simplifies the process of buying credits (they only accept bitcoin). We sell credits (we buy the bitcoin and add it to the customer’s account). What merchant would accept us for credit/debit card payments?

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Bill,

    Instabill is probably going to be your best bet.


    Would PayPal or Square be better for a small non-profit that wants to offer the ability to donors to gift money on our website and at events?

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Barb,

    Either Square or PayPal Here are great options for non-profits and are pretty similar so I’d suggest taking a look at our comparison chart and this article.

    B C

    Which merchant would you suggest for high ticket transactions using Clover Station + Clover Mobile for Import/Export/Wholesale/Retail of average ticket items of $3,500 up to $11,000?
    We have ran into one very scammy company so far (IPayment Inc), who has first approved us, and after our first transaction, held our $6,500 (still holding after 2 months), now classifying us as a high-risk merchant, although we have laid out EVERYTHING from the beginning.
    Can our purchased Clover equipment ($1,.600) even be used by another merchant? Please advice and thank you

    Chloe Bahal


    The Clover systems will work with any reseller of First Data. I would recommend Dharma Merchant Services.



    i need to know which processing company will take tech support business that fix virus, fix computer. we are US based company but customer service is done by India.

    is there any company other then power pay and APPS had EMS? we are looking for company based in USA. is there any company that take high risk IT business?


    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Pradeep,

    I would try Instabill.

    Brad Saunders

    Can you recommend a company that will process for an interest rate reduction campaign by phone?




    Hello, I applied to Durango and was rejected right off the bat. I am not sure why as I am a US citizen (born and raised) with an LLC based in the US, have good credit, and am selling products for tobacco use (like pipes) yet not tobacco itself. They list e-cigs as an industry they cater too, so I am not understanding how a pipe is more risky than an e-cig (when the later contains nicotine and is in health regulation limbo). Can you please recommend a merchant services company that can serve my type of business? I am quite disappointed, with the responses from the merchant services companies I have contacted – especially when I am operating a legitimate California LLC that complies with every single state and federal regulation, with a good credit background and an even better market reputation. I need to find a merchant services company that will work with me very soon, so I’d really appreciate any kind of guidance. Thank you.

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Niki,

    I would try Payline Data and Instabill.

    Chris Brown

    nice article – thanks
    Global Companion/ Escort / Courtesan website
    – require online payment solution and merch facility with
    – the funds to be remitted to an Australian Business account

    Is this possible
    Many thanks in advance

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Chris,

    Your best bet is going to be Instabill.


    I’m opening a book rental company through Volusion, and just found out I’m high risk. They want a $5000 reserve built at 50% of my sales. My business has no history, but my personal credit is excellent. Suggestion???

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Jennifer,

    I would suggest Payline Data, Durango Merchant Services, or Instabill.


    Hi Amad,
    I am hoping you can help me.
    I have a business in the UK online & a physical shop. We are a headshop, and sell cannabis seeds.
    We recently lost our online merchant services and after some time managed to secure an account with a danish bank. This is going well, except we are not allowed to take payments from the US.
    We have now lost card services in the shop and are having difficulty finding a high risk account with a card machine. We have tried Instabill, but our turnover is just a little bit low for us to be accepted.
    Any ideas? Help!!
    Kind Regards


    I am new to the ‘business’ and have a lot of questions, so should I be talking to my “underwriter” or is there a spot for people to chat? I have questions like, how did I get a merchant account set up when I’m not even sure what it is exactly, and why do I need such a complex account with a cool name just to sell some junk on ebay? And if I have a merchant account, does that mean I need to go to a bank and open an account, and if so what kind? I have never taken a business class although I have worked at a thousand businesses, but what does the other side have in store for me? And if I am able to become a merchant, does that mean that I have good credit, or that my credit was even ran? And where does the “insurance” come into play, because there is a such thing as shrink and what do I do if a chargeback is sent to me, and the list of questions keeps on going….

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Jennifer,

    I am going to send you an email right now so we can get all of your questions answered!


    Any suggestions on which provider to use to sell media streamers?

    Amazon Fire TV etc. Paypal closed me down. & so did one merchant because i went over the monthly limit.

    Chloe Bahal

    We are a new Financial Consulting Company based in Portugal. We are financial advisers and we provide credit counseling services for a fee. All our clients are US citizens. We re interested about getting setup with a merchant account and start processing credit card payments. Any recommendations? We have no processing history yet.


    Thank you for he great advice. I do run a small business as a psychic medium as well as a teacher. I have been in business for over 10 years, never having any chargebacks, I have clients across the country. I see clients in person, over the phone or skype, have a repeat in many of my clients I also invoice alot of my clients. Make a descent living and stripe is closing my account of course they found out I am a psychic my range in charges is from $25 to $3000 depending on what they are purchasing . Any suggestions on who to use or what to do.

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Debra,

    I would recommend checking out Payline Data, Durango Merchant Services, and Instabill.

    Amanda Linette Meder

    Hi Debra,

    I run a website that helps psychics and I want to let you know you aren’t alone in this Stripe issue.

    Many of the other psychic mediums I work with have also had their accounts cancelled by Stripe despite posing NO risk at all – never having a chargeback or a payment dispute of any kind – simply due to the label given to them by the industry. I’ve had to deal with this same issue myself and have found that signing up for a high-risk credit card processing company (mentioned here and suggested elsewhere on the internet) can mean seeing your credit processing fees go from $200-300 a month up to $700-800 a month, which is a huge, unfair jump.

    Durango and a few others suggested here offer these exact outrageous rates I speak of – again – even for psychics who have NEVER posed a risk.

    I use PayPal and currently they are my trusted provider, offering the lowest rates and the friendliest customer service.


    Extremely difficult finding a merchant account for vacant land/real estate… any ideas?

    Chloe Bahal
    C. Reid

    I am selling hoverboards. Paypal wants to hold my money for 90 days! Elavon does not want to work with hoverboard sellers. We have excellent suppliers and no problem fulfilling. Can you recommend a processor for us?

    Chloe Bahal
    Desiree Dorwart

    I own a catering company and we are looking for a reliable P.O.S for cash bar transactions. They would be relatively small transactions $5.00-$50.00 at a time. Just looking for our best option. Any recommendations?


    I am in the precious metals business and I am looking to start taking cards. I am having a difficult time finding a merchant company that will deal with coins and precious metals. Any suggestions?



    My industry typically has high chargeback ratios. It’s a SaaS business with a free trial that rolls into monthly payments. I’ve heard WePay is a good option. But what are the others? Looking for a processor that acts as the merchant and underwrites the transactions to minimize risk.

    Chloe Bahal

    I sell inspired ha dbags and am having a really hard tjme finding a processor…can you please help??

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Missy,

    Since replicas are considered “high-risk”, your best bet is going to be Instabill.

    Marion Zhu

    Looking for a high risk merchant account processor for research chemicals / peptide company. Do you recommend any?

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Marion,

    Thank you for your inquiry, I am happy to help you with this. Please take a look at Durango Merchant Service, Payline Data, and Instabill.

    Dr. Hunter

    Great info on this site! I have some more questions about my specific business, however. I am starting a local mobile chiropractic business with myself as SP. I am a strictly cash practice with fees ranging from $80 – $300 per session and online supplement sales to be added to my website later. Would this be considered high risk? Any processors you could recommend?
    Thanks for the help!!

    Dr. Hunter

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Dr. Hunter,

    Yes, this is generally considered high risk. I would recommend Payline Data or Durango Merchant Services.

    gia ibrahima

    ‘m an independent escort and I was wondering which high risk merchant account company I should use for my business.
    Thank You

    Sameer jhalani

    I am registered as an sole proprietor in india running my tech support business. Previously i was using paypal to make transactions from usa to india but currently paypal is holding my funds for 21 days so for the same i am looking for merchant accounts and payment gateways from a longer time. I checked out instabill after your recommendation but i found out they took $499 as a setup fees which is too much for my new startup. So please help me in getting a better solution as a startup in tech support.

    Doug Oliver

    I have a good friend that thru his magazine, he knows many of the medical cannibis dispensaries in the U.S.
    Please give 2 more recommendations of a bank that would take them!

    Doug Oliver

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Doug,

    Please take a look at Instabill.

    norma betancourt

    i have been selling on ebay for the past 4 years. all of a sudden ebay is putting a 21 day hold on all monies in my paypal account which creates a lot of problems for me with buyers not willing to wait. now i am looking to accept credit cards instead of paypal. which credit card processing companies can you recommend for me? i do not do volume business but that might change if i can accept credit cards. i also plan to sell on other websites to increase my sales.

    please advise,

    Terrie Allen

    Norma, I sell on eBay and had to go through the “21” day waiting trial period. Just thought I would give you this little bit of info.
    1. eBay allows you to “charge” the shipping fee of the sold item…there is a box on the shipping page that allows the shipping fee to be deducted once your funds are available.
    2. Once the buyer leaves feedback your funds are released that night.
    3. If a buyer does not leave feedback the funds are released on the 3rd night after delivery.
    I know how frustrating the hold can be, but we all have to go through it to be able to sell on eBay. Good luck…the probation period will be over before you know it.

    dale amos

    Looking for a merchant processor for a payday/title loan company.

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Dale,

    I would recommend taking a look at Instabill
    I hope this helps!

    Chris Hober

    Still trying to get info on several other offerings for merchant and payment services, including; First Data GGE4; Link Points; Skipjack Premium Financial Services; and NETbilling. Any ideas? Thanks!

    Though we only sell and rent MJ-related equipment and products, we still have some difficulty finding a remote payment service, as PayPal and NMI both have underwriters who won’t accept even associated businesses.

    Kave Kid

    My parents have what is considered a “high risk” online business since they sell vape juice and supplies. (For those that aren’t sure, read fancy electronic cigs. There is a huge difference in the two however) The store since it opened has had as their processor. We can’t use Paypal yet either! They were pretty great to deal with too. Good Luck!


    I’m organizing a family benefit event which will include a live/silent auction. We’d like to offer a CC payment option with minimal fees but it might generate large transaction amounts ($1-3,000) due to the auction items. Will this put us at High-risk for holding funds, etc?

    Thanks for your insight,

    Tom DeSimone

    Hi Heather,

    Not necessarily, but the mix of large transactions and not having a processing history will make your account at least slightly riskier in the eyes of a processor. You probably won’t have to get a special high-risk account, however. Collecting contact information and carefully verifying that the buyers are the actual cardholders will help you to defend yourself if something goes wrong.


    Hello, I love your site, very informative. I need some advice. I sell mushroom spores, including psilocybe mushroom spores, which are legal in all the world except 3 US states. My merchant processor dropped me after 12 years and now I’m having hard time finding a new one. Well, not a merchant processor, its the banks above them denying me. They are scared of legal spores for some reason. Maybe the processor I have chosen is working with some uptight banks? Any suggestions of who I should go through?
    Thanks for all the great information on this site.


    Tom DeSimone

    Hi Rich,

    Your best bet is to try a provider that specializes in high-risk merchant accounts. I’d bet Payline Data or Durango Merchant Services could get you set up. If not, come back and we’ll try to find another option.

    Good luck!


    Does the shopping cart/ecommerce platform matter if you have a high risk model? Can something like Shopify be used?

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi John,
    Yes, the shopping cart/ecommerce platform matters because some accept only a handful of “high risk” categories while others may not. So it is always best to check if your particular product is supported by the merchant account provider and the shopping cart/ecommerce platform.

    Brandon C

    I am trying to find a merchant! We are a online head shop, we sell water pipes and vaporizers. Problem is I believe either our Brand Name or our Website content may be preventing us from getting approved. We keep trying and getting denied. Any help or opinions would be greatly appreciated!


    Thanks for this great site! Although I have a very tasteful woman-friendly boutique, by business is considered “high-risk” by many people’s standards because I sell lingerie, lubes, books, and sex toys. I decided to go with Shopify for ecommerce and POS, but cannot use their gateway (because I’m an adult business), so they referred me to told me that they can provide a gateway for my business, but not a merchant account (because I’m an adult business). And now I’m potentially looking into Paynet (but it seems that have terrible reviews). I am a one-woman show that boot-strapped my business and am not dealing with large amounts of money (yet). Do you have a better and more reputable recommendation for merchant accounts that may work with a shop like mine, but won’t charge me large specialty amounts? (PS I currently use PayPal Here at my brick and mortar shop, but that won’t work as well with Shopify’s POS). Thanks!

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Rachel,

    I would recommend Durango Merchant Services and Payline Data. I hope this helps and if you have further questions, please contact us.


    I have a Pre-employment background screening company—is this considered high risk?

    Amad Ebrahimi


    Yes. Pre-employment screening is generally considered high-risk.

    Jonathan Bee

    I am a distributor for a weight loss dietary supplement company. Any tips on who I could use that would make me open a 10% rollover escrow account? Its all natural supplements.

    Amad Ebrahimi

    Weight loss supplements are difficult to approve because the business model is generally considered high-risk, but give Durango or Payline a try. They may be able to accept your account.

    The Prudent Ninja

    Some of these make no sense. Lingerie for example. how is that a high risk? I can sort of see a lot of the others. Maybe “lingerie” means used? Yea there is a market for used (and dirty) “lingerie”. I also don’t really see how selling sexual toys would be high risk. Maybe some mans wife notices a purchase from some sexual toy shop and he makes up the excuse he didn’t purchase anything from them (probably butt plugs) and such. I can totally see the 1-800 and psychics ones. Total ripoffs.


    Problem with the “psychics” one is that they tend to lump anything metaphysical or new age in there. I have a tarot reading business. I am very clear that I do not do predictions and I am not a medium. Some in the tarot community are, but the majority are not. I also sell decks, both retail and ones I have designed myself and ended up having to separate that from the rest of my business just so that I could process those sales. A few bad apples have ruined it for those of us who are NOT scammers.

    Amanda Linette Meder

    Hey Eva,

    Agree. The problem is all psychics get lumped – respectable, independent business owners get lumped with hotlines – where they have a lot more callers, higher volume turn around and a less personal relationship is developed with clients.

    For independent business owners – doing anything psychic, tarot, metaphysical – the risk is very low. Most of the psychics I train, work with and know – have either never had a chargeback or it comes around only once in a blue moon. Very low risk, so quite the contrary.

    High-risk merchant classification I believe should be based on each individual merchant, not as an overall class titled “fortune teller,” which is such an outdated term anyway. No one calls themselves that anymore. But as the article states, the classification given means they can triple your fees – so there’s no real reason to change unless more people spread light on the issue.

    Mike Maddox

    We are a marketing company who offers website development / SEO analytics / Press Release/ online digital biographies/ a yerly Whos Who registry / image inhancers such as marketing You-tube videos to our 200k followers on Twitter looking for a merchant who is willing to accept 100% key in entries of CCs , and a 2.5 % chargeback ratio / were we win over 90% . We are doinmf 100k a month through 3 terminals would like to deal with 1 , good 1
    Any recommendations….

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Mike,

    Your best bet is going to be Instabill.


    We are a new company. The merchant has an open case with the federal government therefore they went from 2% charge back to 1% chargeback and they shut us down and it has been HELL trying to find a merchant to approve us for processing. What are we doing wrong?

    Tom DeSimone

    Hi LeTrice,

    Have you tried Durango Merchant Services or Payline Data? They can usually get the job done and give fair rates as well, even if you are on the MATCH list.


    see the above company

    Jamie Stewart

    Firearms Dealers, especially online or Card Not Present (CNP) Firearms Dealers are considered high risk due to the age restrictions and requirements when making purchases. This is also a highly regulated industry with state by state laws. Hope that helps.

    Dr. Dennis Bowers

    We need a MP for $200K/mo volume of what you term in your list “discount medical care provider”.

    Tom DeSimone

    First thought would be to try Payline Data. If they can’t set it up, try Durango Merchant Services. If they can’t do it either, come back and we’ll try to find a different processor that can get you up and running with good contract terms and service.

    Paul Nute


    I am a merchant selling trial/autoship subsciptions to health and beauty products. I am looking for someone who can help me line up some credit card processing options. Is there anyone you suggest that I reach out to?



    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Paul,

    I would recommend Durango Merchant Services, Payline Data, and Instabill.


    Lingerie is considered high risk? Why?


    Personally, I’d like to see some justification for the claim that firearms is a “high risk” market segment. I suspect it was put on this “no fly” list for politically correct reasons, not solid financial reasons.


    I would guess that firearm sales require special arrangements because you can’t sell them to just anyone. Whoever is the payment processor doesn’t want to be on the hook if the merchant sells to criminals or something.

    If everyone who bought a gun was a law abiding citizen who could clear a background and credit check with no criminal history, I doubt this would be an issue.


    I’ve been in the industry for 10 years. The reason for firearms being high risk is a number of factors including the political aspect, the legal issues, attempted chargebacks, buyers putting non-refundable deposits on future delivery then trying to get that back when they find a better deal elsewhere, and the criminal element trying to get guns. As we know, online sales must be shipped FFL to FFL, but a lot of it is political.



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