The 8 Best Offshore Merchant Account Providers
Ordinary payment processing is complicated enough, so you can imagine how challenging it can be to find a good offshore, international, or high-risk payment solution. If you fall into one of these categories, you’ve likely had your merchant account application denied at least a few times. Perhaps you’ve even had your processing service terminated and your money withheld from you.
We understand your struggle. We’ve seen hundreds of businesses go through the exact same thing, and we’re here to help you find the perfect offshore merchant account for your high-risk business.
If you’re just looking for a run-of-the-mill high-risk merchant account for your business, read our article The Best High-Risk Merchant Account Providers. The high-risk category can include business types (like airlines and online furniture shops) that you wouldn’t normally associate with the term “high-risk.” These businesses can usually get approved for a domestic merchant account by working with a high-risk specialist.
In this article, we’ll discuss the factors to evaluate when considering an offshore merchant account and several special features that you’ll want to include in your service. We’ll also profile four offshore merchant processing providers that we feel offer superior service and overall value in comparison to their competitors.
Other Featured Options:
- Instabill: Best for marijuana dispensaries.
- eMerchantBroker: Best acceptance rate for applicants.
- SMB Global: Best for reasonable pricing and contract terms.
Read more below to learn why we chose these options.
Table of Contents
- Why Do Merchants Need Offshore Credit Card Procesing?
- The 8 Best Offshore Merchant Account Providers For Small Businesses
- 7 Noteworthy Features In An Offshore Merchant Account
- How To Choose The Best Offshore Merchant Processing Company
- Tips To Help Get Your Offshore Merchant Account A Quick Approval
- Which Offshore Merchant Processor Is Right For My Business?
- In Summary: The 8 Best Offshore Merchant Account Providers For Small Businesses
Why Do Merchants Need Offshore Credit Card Procesing?
The most common reasons for needing an offshore account include the following:
- You do a significant amount of business in a foreign country and need to accept payments in the local currency.
- Your business has offices in multiple countries, and you need separate merchant accounts for each location.
- Your business is considered to be so risky that you cannot obtain a regular high-risk merchant account in your own country.
Let’s discuss the advantages and disadvantages of offshore merchant accounts.
5 Advantages Of Offshore Merchant Accounts
- If you’re an international merchant, it can be beneficial to have an offshore merchant account with an acquiring bank in the market you intend to emphasize. While it will help you to be able to accept payments in the currency a large portion of your customer base uses, it can also be advantageous from a tax perspective.
- International banks tend to allow higher processing volumes than their US counterparts.
- Different regions of the world have different cultural standards as to what products are appropriate to sell, so diversification of merchant accounts can ensure that you’re not reliant on one merchant account in one country to process all your transactions.
- Offshore merchant accounts can provide a means of processing payments to merchants who cannot get a domestic merchant account due to the nature of their business.
- Banking regulations are more relaxed in certain other countries, and the willingness on the part of banks and processors to work with high-risk businesses is also more favorable.
3 Disadvantages Of Offshore Merchant Accounts
While offshore merchant processing can confer certain benefits to your business (and can be necessary to do any business under certain circumstances), be aware that using offshore merchant processing carries significant risks as well.
- Your ability to pursue a legal remedy against a foreign bank or processor might be severely limited – or even nonexistent. At a minimum, you should consider legally registering your business in the country where your account will be located. Even with legal standing in the country, however, be aware that it might be extremely inconvenient and expensive to pursue a legal action outside of your own country.
- There’s an increased risk that you could become the victim of fraud or identity theft. Banks in other countries collect the same personal data about you and your business that US-based banks do, but they don’t always do as good a job of protecting it. You’ll want to keep an especially close eye on your merchant account, your business account, and any personal accounts about which you’ve released information to get approved for an offshore merchant account.
- High-risk merchant accounts are notorious for charging higher processing rates and account fees, and offshore accounts can be even worse. Providers know you’re particularly desperate and some, but not all, will take advantage of your situation by charging you as much as they think they can get away with. We recommend that you shop around and compare multiple quotes when looking for an offshore account. Don’t accept the first offer from a bank or processor just because they’re the first one that hasn’t rejected your application due to the nature of your business.
Merchant account providers who market offshore accounts often downplay or fail to mention these risk factors, so it’s up to you to look out for yourself. Do your own independent research, compare multiple offers, and thoroughly review all contract documents before you sign up for an account.
The 8 Best Offshore Merchant Account Providers For Small Businesses
For the most part, you’ll want the same features for an offshore merchant account that you’d expect from a traditional merchant account. The following offshore payment processing providers give you the advantages of offshore processing along with the tools you need to build your business.
PaymentCloud is one of our favorite high-risk merchant services providers. Its stellar customer support and excellent reputation make it one of the most reliable operators in the high-risk scene. In fact, processing behemoth Stripe now refers many of its declined clients directly to PaymentCloud. This should give you an idea of PaymentCloud’s stature. Like most high-risk specialists, however, PaymentCloud is not a direct processor. On the company website, PaymentCloud states that it has “10+ banking relationships.”
PaymentCloud offers a full slate of eCommerce features, including payment gateways Authorize.Net and USAePay, a virtual terminal, integrations with numerous shopping carts, eCheck & ACH processing, and more. For brick-and-mortar retailers, you’ll get a free credit card terminal, several different POS systems, and mobile card readers.
PaymentCloud doesn’t advertise pricing on its website, but the company offers both interchange-plus and tiered pricing. As always, try your darndest to get interchange-plus pricing, but depending on your business situation, you may have to settle for tiered pricing. With PaymentCloud, rates and fees are negotiable, but we’ve been able to gather some sample pricing offered by the company, which we’ve detailed in our PaymentCloud review.
- Reasonable rates and fees
- Excellent customer support
- Few public complaints
- No publicly disclosed pricing
- High-risk merchants may have to accept tiered pricing, monthly minimums, and a reserve account
2. Host Merchant Services
Host Merchant Services
While Host Merchant Services primarily caters to traditional, low-risk businesses, they can accommodate several categories of high-risk businesses and also offer offshore accounts. The company’s interchange-plus-only pricing and full range of products and services make it an excellent choice – if you can get approved. A former web hosting company, HMS is ideally suited for eCommerce merchants. It uses TSYS as its primary backend processor, but can also work with several international banks and processors to get you an account.
For retail merchants, HMS offers a variety of Verifone and Equinox (formerly Hypercom) terminals and a variety of POS systems that utilize either tablets or touchscreen displays. And if you need a mobile processing capability for your business, HMS has you covered. But as a tech-focused company, eCommerce is HMS’s specialty. The company offers its proprietary Transaction Express payment gateway, which includes a free virtual terminal. HMS also supports several third-party gateways, including Authorize.Net.
HMS uses interchange-plus pricing exclusively for its low-risk merchants, but you might have to pay tiered rates if you have an offshore account. While they don’t disclose their rates on their website, they’re based primarily on monthly processing volume and are very competitive. High-risk and offshore merchants should expect to pay higher fees than low-risk merchants, and possibly additional fees. Be prepared to have to deal with a rolling reserve as well.
- Full range of products and services for retail and eCommerce businesses
- Exclusive interchange-plus pricing plans (for low-risk businesses)
- Excellent customer service and support
- Rates and fees not disclosed on the website
- Can only accommodate a small number of high-risk business categories
- Mobile card reader is not EMV-compliant
3. Easy Pay Direct
Easy Pay Direct
Easy Pay Direct provides full-service merchant accounts for international, high-risk, and traditional non-high-risk merchants. High-risk merchants will have to pay a premium in terms of processing rates and account fees, whether they’re partnered with a domestic or offshore bank or processor. However, the additional expense is entirely reasonable under the circumstances. The company also offers its proprietary EPD payment gateway, which has quite a robust feature set.
Like most offshore high risk merchant account specialists, Easy Pay Direct works with a variety of banks and processors, both domestic and international, to find one that fits your needs. Unfortunately, processing rates will be under a tiered pricing plan. One plus is that Easy Pay Direct’s contracts don’t have an early termination fee, even for high-risk businesses. While this isn’t true month-to-month billing, it makes it much easier to close your account without penalty.
Another helpful feature offered by Easy Pay Direct is load balancing, where a business can divide its incoming funds among multiple merchant accounts. This is particularly helpful for high-risk businesses that often exceed the monthly processing volume limits imposed by the processor underwriting their account. 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 (and you may not need this feature at all).
- Load balancing feature for high-risk merchants
- No equipment leases
- No early termination fee
- Nontransparent tiered pricing
Overseas merchant account specialist PayKings isn’t shy about its target audience, naming CBD vendors, adult businesses, vape stores, and pawnshops as high-risk business types serviced by the company on its homepage. In fact, the PayKings site has a page devoted to detailing its offshore merchant account services.
PayKings doesn’t have any pricing information publicly available, so don’t be surprised if three-year contracts, monthly minimums, and rolling reserves are the order of the day. However, PayKings gets a largely (though not entirely) favorable reception from merchants. Combine this with a large selection of terminals and card readers, eCommerce support, ACH processing, recurring billing, and surcharging/cash discount programs, and you have a high-risk processor with a lot to offer the right kind of merchant.
- Accepts a wide range of high-risk businesses
- eCommerce and brick-and-mortar features
- Terminals are sold, not leased
- No pricing info disclosed
- Some public complaints
PaynetSecure specializes in providing domestic and overseas merchant accounts for high-risk businesses. Along with its offshore payment processing, PaynetSecure provides more than 80 different alternative payment methods used around the world. The company highlights its ability to accept UnionPay cards. With UnionPay now the largest card brand in the world (it is very popular in the Asia-Pacific region), PaynetSecure can position you well for international sales even if you’re not a high-risk merchant.
Unlike the vast majority of merchant account providers in this space, PaynetSecure actually publishes sample pricing rates on its website. While the rates you ultimately face will depend on the usual factors, it’s unusual to see this level of transparency from a high-risk/offshore merchant account specialist, which is why you should take PaynetSecure into consideration if your business could stand to benefit from an offshore/international merchant account.
- 80 alternative global payment methods available
- Accepts payments in 154 currencies
- Company actually publishes sample rates on its website
- Little merchant feedback available
Instabill isn’t one of the better-known providers on our list, but its services jibe nicely with the needs of high-risk businesses. Instabill advertises its ability to accept and process credit card payments in 160+ currencies with its international merchant account offerings. The company partners with a wide variety of overseas acquiring banks, making it easier to match your businesses with the bank that makes the most sense for you.
While many high-risk/offshore merchant processing providers are publicly silent on the issue of cost, Instabill has a page explaining why your rates will depend on the size & nature of your business. Instabill also details the fees that eCommerce merchants can expect to face:
- Merchant Account Fee
- Transaction Fee
- Discount Rate
- Merchant Account Registration Fee
- Monthly Statement Fee
- Chargeback Fee
- Refund Fee
Unlike many high-risk merchant account providers, Instabill offers its services to cannabis merchants (not just CBD but actual cannabis) with both a debit card-like system and a crypto payment system, so if you operate a marijuana dispensary in a legal-weed state, Instabill may enable you to accept more than just cash.
- Partners with numerous offshore acquiring banks
- Offers two unique payment processing solutions for cannabis merchants
- A free hosted payments page is offered
- Rolling reserve fund required for offshore high-risk merchant accounts
- Some public complaints
eMerchantBroker is a high-risk and offshore merchant account specialist with one particular compelling draw: it accepts nearly everybody who applies for an account. The company boasts an astonishing 95% acceptance rate, so unless you’re involved in some super dubious/illegal stuff, you shouldn’t have a problem getting approved for an account!
Of course, this broad merchant acceptance won’t come cheap. If you’re a particularly risky merchant, expect a tiered pricing scheme and rates that exceed even those of other high-risk processors. Some merchants may be able to get an interchange-plus deal, however.
eMerchantBroker is one of the few entities out there marketing itself as a provider of cannabis banking services, so marijuana businesses struggling with the restraints of being cash-only should definitely see what the company has to offer. What’s more, the company is accredited by the BBB with an A+ rating and a host of positive customer reviews, so this isn’t some shady fly-by-night operation.
- 95% merchant acceptance rate
- Cannabis banking services offered
- Accredited by the BBB with an A+ rating
- Little pricing information disclosed
8. SMB Global
SMB Global specializes in providing merchant accounts to high-risk and offshore businesses. Using a variety of backend processors, they’re able to approve a merchant account for almost any high-risk business, including adult entertainment and CBD products. The company has an excellent reputation for fair prices and top-notch customer service.
SMB Global offers a full range of services for eCommerce merchants, including a choice between the NMI payment gateway and Authorize.Net. The company has recently started offering a countertop terminal as well. And while SMB Global requires a minimum processing volume of $50,000 per month for an offshore merchant account, they may waive this requirement if your business has a very strong financial history. Offshore accounts support multi-currency processing, allowing you to avoid cross-border fees. They also feature dynamic currency conversion, letting your customers pay in either their local currency or the currency in which you bill them.
Because they work with so many banks and processors to get you approved for an account, the company doesn’t offer any pricing information. Processing rates, account fees, and contract terms will all vary widely depending on which backend processor is handling your account. While you should request an interchange-plus pricing plan, be prepared to have to accept a tiered plan instead, particularly if you haven’t been in business for very long. Likewise, expect to deal with a standard three-year contract with an automatic renewal clause, an early termination fee, and a rolling reserve.
- Offers international merchant accounts to a wide variety of industries
- Reasonable pricing and contract terms
- Excellent customer service
- No proprietary mobile app
- Very little feedback from merchants on the company
7 Noteworthy Features In An Offshore Merchant Account
For the most part, you’ll want the same services and features for an offshore high risk merchant account that you would want for a traditional merchant account:
- Processing hardware (credit card terminals and POS systems) for retail merchants
- A robust payment gateway and an online account dashboard for eCommerce merchants
- A virtual terminal for mail-order and telephone-order (MOTO) businesses
- A smartphone- or tablet-based mobile processing system (depending on your business needs)
In addition to these basic merchant account features, there are several special features that your offshore credit card processor might (or might not) include.
If you’re going to do business in a foreign country, you’ll want your customers to be able to pay in their local currency. Multi-currency accounts allow you to maintain balances in multiple currencies and can save you a ton of money in currency conversion costs.
Currency Conversion Services
Having offshore credit card processing will require you to convert funds into your own local currency at some point. Most overseas account providers include built-in currency conversion services when it comes time to transfer funds to your business account. While these services often offer much lower conversion fees than what a bank would charge you, it still pays to shop around for the best deal. You may save money by using an international transfer service such as TransferWise or OFX.
Expanded Anti-Fraud Features
Offshore merchant accounts involve a higher degree of fraud risk than their traditional counterparts, so you’ll need extra anti-fraud protection. With most offshore payment processing providers, enhanced anti-fraud features come standard. These features automatically detect suspicious activity, hopefully stopping any fraudulent activity before it can affect your business. Providers are increasingly turning to AI features to improve their ability to detect potential fraud beyond what’s possible with a traditional algorithm.
How To Choose The Best Offshore Merchant Processing Company
While many offshore merchant account providers also specialize in high-risk accounts more generally, not all high-risk processors work with international merchants or provide offshore credit card processing for domestic merchants. Many high-risk specialists only work with US-based businesses and only provide accounts through US-based banks and processors.
Before you apply for an offshore account, confirm that the company you’re considering works with businesses located in your country. If the info isn’t on the company website, talk to the sales staff to get a confirmation.
Providers that specialize in setting up offshore payment processing can usually get you an account in just about any country around the world, though obviously, there are exceptions (Afghanistan, North Korea, etc). But with the exception of countries limited by political considerations or severe instability, the possibilities are wide open.
In most cases, get an account in a country where you expect to do a significant amount of business. On the other hand, if your business is going to operate exclusively in the US, an offshore account serves mainly as a last resort for getting a merchant account when you simply can’t get approved for a domestic high-risk account. Banking regulations are relatively relaxed in many countries, and the willingness on the part of banks and processors to work with high-risk businesses is also more favorable.
All the while, bear in mind the disadvantages of offshore credit card processors that we listed near the beginning of this article. As always, special advantages come with particular downsides.
Tips To Help Get Your Offshore Merchant Account A Quick Approval
When applying for an offshore merchant account, it obviously helps to have your required documents in order (and the necessary amount of business & processing history) first. While requirements will vary depending on the processor, country, and acquiring bank, let’s look at what PaynetSecure recommends you have ready when applying.
- Color copy of driver’s license or passport for the signer on the account
- Voided check from the bank to which processing funds will settle
- 3 months of business bank statements
- 6 months of payment processing statements
- Business formation documents such as Articles of Incorporation
PaynetSecure also states the following in the referenced article:
Most jurisdictions require companies to establish a corporation and bank account in the region where the acquiring bank is located (. . .) Some acquiring banks let you wait until the offshore merchant account is approved prior to you completing this step.
Which Offshore Merchant Processor Is Right For My Business?
Having a hard-to-place business doesn’t mean you have to run your company through Bitcoin. You can accept credit card payments just like any other business by finding a payment processor that will set you up with the right acquiring banks. At the same time, be fully aware that, for a US-based business, signing up for an offshore merchant account is a risky endeavor. Be cautious and carefully research any provider you consider, even the ones we’ve recommended above.
To that end, here are some final tips regarding your search for offshore credit card processing:
- Be sure your account includes additional fraud prevention features to protect your sensitive financial data
- Consider registering your business in the country where your merchant account is located
- Compare multiple offers and choose the provider offering you the best terms & prices
- Review all contract documents very carefully before signing up
For more information on high-risk and international merchant services, check out the following helpful resources!
- Which Businesses & Industries Are Considered High-Risk?
- What Are High-Risk Business Loans & Where Do I Get One?
- Take Your Business Global With The Best International Payment Processing Options
- Instant Approval Merchant Account Guide: How To Get A High-Risk Merchant Account Quickly
In Summary: The 8 Best Offshore Merchant Account Providers For Small Businesses
- PaymentCloud: Best for businesses that want to work with a reputable, tried-and-tested company.
- Host Merchant Services: Best for businesses that want a wide variety of terminals and POS systems.
- Easy Pay Direct: Best for merchants with high processing volumes.
- PayKings: Best for businesses that want recurring billing and access to surcharging and cash discount programs.
- PaynetSecure: Best for companies that need to support a large number of international payment methods.
- Instabill: Best for marijuana dispensaries.
- eMerchantBroker: Best acceptance rate for applicants.
- SMB Global: Best for reasonable pricing and contract terms.