Need a Merchant Account for Tech Support? These 5 Great Providers Are The Solution
If you own a tech support business and wish to take credit card payments, you might be surprised to hear that there is such a thing as a “tech support merchant account.” But it’s true. IT services businesses receive unique treatment when it comes to taking credit card payments. In fact, there are merchant account providers who specialize in high-risk merchant accounts for tech support.
To banks that underwrite credit card processing, the tech support industry has a tarnished reputation. Everyone has heard of malware that hijacks your computer and “tech support businesses” that help you clean up the malware. As a result, tech support clients tend to be skittish and suspect fraud early and often, or they’re just hard to please and complain that you’ve taken too long to clean up the mess they created by installing every software under the sun.
Add that to the fact that your credit card sales tend to be online or over the phone, and your processing costs are likely quite high. You might not be able to find a processor willing to take you at all.
Fortunately, there are payment processors that specialize in the IT/tech support industry. We’ve compiled a list of the most reputable processors so you’ll have a good list to start your research.
Read more below to learn why we chose these options.
Table of Contents
- Why Do You Need A High-Risk Merchant Account For Tech Support?
- The 5 Best Tech Support Merchant Account Providers
- Looking For One Of These Merchant Accounts For Tech Support?
- Concerns When Shopping For A High Risk Payment Gateway For Tech Support
- How Do I Choose A Merchant Account For Tech Support?
- In Summary: The 5 Best Tech Support Merchant Account Providers
Why Do You Need A High-Risk Merchant Account For Tech Support?
IT and tech support businesses are categorized as high-risk businesses. It may seem counterintuitive to think of an industry full of mild-mannered, self-professed nerds as “dangerous,” but that’s not how banks who underwrite merchant accounts decide which business is high risk.
High-risk businesses tend to have the following characteristics:
- High chargeback or fraud rate
- Offshore business operating in the United States
- Products or services of questionable legality
- Questionable sales or marketing practices
- Bad personal credit score
- High average ticket sales
Of the factors above, the tech support industry tends to have a high chargeback or fraud rate due to skittish customers or real scammers, and some IT support providers operate remotely and are not based in the US. Also, because some services are charged per hour and bugs or malware can be difficult to fix, the tech support average ticket size can be high.
In addition, credit card sales online or over the phone are also considered to be risky because this is how stolen credit cards tend to be used. Because the IT services industry often takes payments this way, this is considered an additional layer of risk by the underwriter banks.
For these reasons, the tech support industry is often categorized as high-risk. Many regular payment processors won’t work with high-risk businesses, so you’re stuck working with a high-risk processor that will charge more to process payments.
The 5 Best Tech Support Merchant Account Providers
Below are five merchant account providers that we recommend if you run a tech support business and wish to take credit cards. We picked them for their specialization in the high-risk industry and their reputation for customer service, as high-risk businesses tend to require more individualized attention.
The processors below appear in no particular order of preference.
1. Payment Cloud
Payment Cloud is a high-risk credit card processor that often lands on our Best Of lists. They work with a lot of acquirers or larger processors at the backend to find the one that will work with your business at the best price. This involves a lot of negotiations at the start, but Payment Cloud still won’t charge you an application fee. The savings is nice, especially for a business that’s just starting out.
When you apply for a merchant account for technical support through Payment Cloud, Payment Cloud helps you scrub your supporting documents, your website and social media presence, and all other components of your application. They look for any red flags that could hinder your prospects of getting approved. The team will then guide you toward specific changes you can make and point out additional or alternative supporting documents you can supply to improve your situation in the eyes of your underwriters.
Once they do find you a backend processor, they assign you a dedicated account manager who acts as your advocate in dealing with your bank and processor for the lifetime of your account.
Lastly, along with giving advice on choosing a chargeback management service and setting up fraud mitigation services such as 3D Secure, PaymentCloud takes you step-by-step through customer support techniques and systems that will help keep your customers satisfied. Happy customers are less likely to initiate chargebacks in the first place.
- High-risk specialist
- No account setup fee
- Excellent customer support
- Few public complaints
- No publicly disclosed pricing
2. Durango Merchant Services
Durango Merchant Services
Durango Merchant Services tends to land on our various Best Of lists. Like other high-risk processors, they work with various larger processors or acquirers to find the processor that will work with your business.
In addition to domestic US high-risk businesses, Durango also works with international merchants looking to do business in the United States. It offers international merchant accounts that include currency conversion services, support for multi-currency accounts, and additional fraud prevention services. These accounts are available to merchants in Canada, Panama, the United Kingdom, and most countries in the European Union.
To reduce the risk of fraud, all Durango merchant accounts come with several anti-fraud services, including Verified by Visa, Mastercard SecureCode, Fraud Scrubbing, and EMV 3d Secure 2.0.
- Specialists in placing high-risk and other hard-to-place merchants
- Offers offshore merchant accounts for some international merchants
- Dedicated account manager for customer service
- No pricing disclosures on the website
Not Yet Rated
We reviewed Instabill several years ago and gave them a pretty good rating. We include them here because they seem to be targeting tech support businesses as clients. In an article on their website about the pain points of merchant account for tech support businesses, they brought up some good points, suggesting they have better knowledge than most on how to help tech support businesses.
Instabill works with both domestic US businesses taking international payments and also overseas businesses working with US customers and taking US payments. They are experienced in dealing with multiple currencies, so you can make sure you get paid in the right currency.
Instabill partners with a huge number of different banks, both internationally and in the US. Your fees and rates will depend on which bank they set you up with. Fees and rates will also vary widely depending on your business type, risk level, and overall processing volume. We’ve seen them be successful at getting merchant accounts for even the riskiest of businesses, including India-based tech support businesses and online gambling sites.
- Works with US and international businesses
- Multi-currency support
- Tech support merchant account specialists
- No disclosed pricing on website
4. Host Merchant Services
Host Merchant Services
High-risk processors typically do not disclose rates on their websites and do not promise any sort of pricing structure. They tend to try to get the best deal they can for you from various possible sources, and the pricing structure is left open for the eventual backend processor to decide.
Host Merchant Services does things differently, however. They only offer interchange-plus pricing, which is the pricing structure we at Merchant Maverick prefer.
Interchange-plus pricing isn’t always the best pricing structure for very low-volume businesses. So, if you process less than $10,000 per month, you might not be able to take advantage of Host Merchant Services’ pricing structure. Host Merchant Services does promise that they can customize a rate package for lower volume businesses, so it might still be worth your time to contact HMS just for a quick inquiry.
When we review merchant account providers, we pay special attention to customer service. Being able to talk to a live person for support helps greatly when dealing with a merchant account. HMS really stands out in this area, as they have almost no complaints at the BBB and other consumer review sites. This directly corroborates their “service first” story. That’s a huge deal.
- Transparent interchange-plus pricing
- No early termination fee
- No setup or application fees
- Good customer support
- Can be expensive for low-volume merchants
5. EMB (eMerchantBroker)
EMB is a high-risk specialist that specifically advertises a high-risk merchant account for tech support. EMB claims it can get merchants approved in as little as 24-48 hours. Based on our own experience, this is out of the ordinary, especially for high-risk merchants.
A closer reading of EMB’s tech support section on their website suggests that they might be quickly approving some of the merchants for a restricted account with a cap of as little as $40,000 per month. Traditionally, for high-risk merchants, this sort of account might not even be for credit card processing but is for eChecks and ACH transfers. It is fairly standard practice to start a high-risk business with only eChecks and ACH and help them build a clean financial record so that, in a few months, that business can apply for a traditional merchant account to process credit cards.
This, in fact, seems to be EMB’s approach. EMB’s web page states that, if the merchant’s charges remain stable and without a high chargeback ratio, they might be able to get an underwriter to write a higher monthly cap after three months. The claim is consistent with standard practices to make high-risk merchants more acceptable to a merchant account provider. During this three months period, EMB works with the merchant and coaches the client to better business practices that can eventually get them approved for full credit card processing.
Here are some of the types of tech support businesses EMB can help:
- Remote tech support services
- Mac or PC security services
- Hardware and router configuration
- Browser and email support
- PC optimization
We looked at EMB a few years ago and gave the company a fairly high rating. While we haven’t updated that review, we think our conclusion that the company is legitimate and reliable is still valid.
- High-risk specialist
- Provides coaching to merchants on how to reduce chargebacks
- International transactions
- Offshore accounts
- No publicly disclosed pricing
Looking For One Of These Merchant Accounts For Tech Support?
This is the section where we typically mention a few processors that are quite good but, for one reason or another, didn’t make the Best Of list. With high-risk processors, it’s tricky to compile a Best Of list at all, because most high-risk processors will take some but not all of the businesses operating in various high-risk industries.
For instance, Soar Payments offers a unique service called load balancing, where they open several accounts with several processors for you. You can then switch between these accounts to keep the average chargeback rate low. However, Soar specifically does not offer tech support merchant accounts, which is why they did not make the list.
If, after you’ve looked at our recommended five processors and still wish to do more research, please keep in mind that not all high-risk processors have high-risk merchant accounts for tech support businesses. So, be sure to ask right away before you waste too much time with a processor who can’t help you.
Concerns When Shopping For A High Risk Payment Gateway For Tech Support
If you’re an IT person, then you already know what a gateway is. However, in the payment processing industry, a gateway has some specific functionalities. Here’s a more detailed article about the payment processing gateway, if you wish to understand more.
You won’t need a gateway if you take in-person payments but will need one if you take online and telephone payments. With telephone payments, you’ll need a virtual terminal as well, but the virtual terminal often comes for free along with the gateway. Note that if you’re a business that operates remotely and is across town, across the country, or even across the globe from your customer, you’ll definitely need a payment gateway for your tech support business.
With some processors, you get a free gateway and virtual terminal with your account. These gateways tend to be built in-house, and their feature sets vary. You typically have an option of using a third-party gateway and integrating that gateway to the processor’s system. If you’re interested in these third party gateways, here’s a Best Of article and the list of all our gateway reviews.
Below are some of the popular features typically found in payment gateways. If you’re shopping around for a third-party gateway, you might want to make sure it has the features you need.
- Customer payment card storage
- Recurring billing
- Virtual terminal
- Simplification of PCI compliance
- Third-party software integration (e.g. QuickBooks)
Lastly, we notice that the term payment gateway is often confused with merchant account. They are very different things. A payment gateway is a type of software while a merchant account is a type of bank account. Credit card information is passed through a payment gateway so banks and credit card companies can process the card. The actual credit card payment is then deposited into a merchant account before it can be taken out by the merchant.
How Do I Choose A Merchant Account For Tech Support?
It might be surprising for some to learn that a tech support business is considered high-risk. However, if you think about all the internet scams related to virus and malware “cleanup,” you can see why banks wouldn’t want to do business with just anyone purporting to have a tech support business.
Just because there are bad actors in the industry doesn’t mean that everyone in the industry is a scam artist, though. There are many IT support businesses that are legitimate. Unfortunately, because of some rotten apples, these legitimate businesses must pay a higher rate to process credit card payments.
For this article, we featured a few highly rated high-risk processors, but there were others that we weren’t able to feature because they specifically do not provide tech support merchant accounts.
In addition to our list, we encourage you to look through our high-risk processor reviews, where you might find other processors who welcome IT support businesses. Because high-risk processors do not publish processing rates, it would be a good idea to at least get a few quotes before you decide the processor you’ll work with.
If you have questions or comments about these processors or obtaining credit card processing for your tech support business, please leave us a note below!
In Summary: The 5 Best Tech Support Merchant Account Providers
- PaymentCloud: A good overall high-risk processor that specializes in tech support merchant accounts.
- Durango Merchant Services: A good overall high-risk processor that works with international merchants.
- Instabill: A high-risk processor specializing in high-risk tech accounts both domestically and internationally.
- Host Merchant Services: A high-risk processor with interchange-plus pricing.
- eMerchantBroker: A high-risk processor that works with tech support businesses and gives fast approval.