High-risk merchant services are payment processing services that allow businesses considered to be high risk by banks and standard payment processors to accept credit cards from customers. The best high-risk merchant accounts for small businesses service a variety of industries and products for an affordable rate.
Top 6 High-Risk Merchant Services
High-Risk Merchant Account
(Best Overall) Small businesses needing fast approval and affordable rates - including topical CBD vendors
Online and/or offshore businesses needing chargeback monitoring
Small business owners with bad credit needing mobile payment processing
High-risk merchant account with QuickBooks integration
CBD, hemp, and cannabis oil vendors
Interchange-plus pricing for high-risk brick and mortar businesses
What Are High-Risk Merchants?
A high-risk merchant is any business that may be considered high-risk to banks or other financial institutions due to the types of products or services sold, credit history, or industry. Any business that is prone to chargebacks, operating in an industry that makes it susceptible to financial failure, or other potentially questionable circumstances (such as CBD vendors or offshore businesses) can be classified as high risk, because financial institutions are taking on a higher-level of risk working with you.
Examples* of high-risk industries include:
Your business may be considered high risk if you:
*This is just a small sample of industries that could be considered high risk. Classification is determined differently by every bank and financial institution.
What Is a High-Risk Merchant Account?
A merchant account is a type of bank account. Just like there are certain factors that can impact your business’ ability to get insurance coverage or financing, having a high-risk business also makes it harder to open a merchant account.
If your business does not fall under the credit policies of a tier-one, traditional bank, your application for a merchant account may be rejected. In this case, you will need to find a merchant account provider that specializes in working with high-risk customers.
The main difference between a traditional merchant account and a high-risk merchant account is that they come with much higher fees and processing volume restrictions. So, it’s important to apply for traditional merchant services before opting for a high-risk provider. Many high-risk merchant providers partner with many different underwriting banks, and will help you fill out an application to shop around for the best rates. Rates will vary for each business, so there is typically no publicly disclosed pricing for high-risk businesses.
PaymentCloud: Best Overall High-Risk Merchant Account
PaymentCloud is a credit card processor that specializes in high-risk merchant services. It works with many backend processors to service a wide variety of online, ecommerce, and retail businesses. PaymentCloud offers fast approvals, competitive pricing, and next-day funding, which is rare for high-risk merchant accounts.
Comparatively low rates and fees
No publicly disclosed pricing
Excellent dedicated customer support
Does not support ingestible CBD products (does support topical CBD)
Fast application and setup
Positive user reviews (rare for processing companies)
Like most high-risk payment processors, PaymentCloud does not have any publicly disclosed pricing. This is common because pricing usually varies based on your individual business and its associated risks. However, PaymentCloud offers competitive interchange-plus pricing to many high-risk businesses. There are no application fees, setup fees, or annual fees. Monthly fees or monthly minimums will be determined when you open the account.
PaymentCloud also offers merchant services for retail and ecommerce businesses but is best known for high-risk payment processing. PaymentCloud can be used to process all major credit cards, debit cards, and automated clearing house (ACH) payments. It also has tools to accept online payments via gateways, virtual terminal payments, and online shopping cart integrations.
Businesses can process in-person payments with credit card terminals, POS systems, and mobile payments. PaymentCloud offers next-day funding for all credit and debit card payment types, which is rare for high-risk businesses.
PaymentCloud Dedicated Support
PaymentCloud also provides each business with a dedicated account manager. This is good for high-risk businesses, which tend to have more chargebacks and other issues. PaymentCloud also has phone support hours from 4 a.m. to 7 p.m. Pacific time. There is also a frequently asked questions (FAQs) section on PaymentCloud’s website.
PaymentCloud Approved and Prohibited Industries
PaymentCloud has one of the most extensive lists of approved industries out of all the high-risk merchant service providers on our list. PaymentCloud works with tobacco products, vape products, topical cannabidiol (CBD) products, hemp products, electronics, firearms, nutraceuticals, and other products. For high-risk services, PaymentCloud works with debt consolidators, diet and nutrition coaches, educational and online seminar providers, moving services, software and e-book providers, tech support, and more.
If you’re ready to get started, visit PaymentCloud.
SMB Global: Best Ecommerce High-Risk Merchant Services
SMB Global is a merchant service provider partner of Payline Data. SMB Global exclusively deals with high-risk and international businesses. It is great for online businesses because SMB Global has chargeback prevention features and two popular payment gateway options which each integrate with more than 175 online shopping carts.
SMB Global Pros
SMB Global Cons
Supports wide range of industries
Not ideal for mobile or storefront businesses
Excellent chargeback support
Does not work with CBD vendors
Supports offshore accounts
No publicly disclosed pricing
175+ online shopping cart integrations
SMB Global Pricing
Like most high-risk merchant service providers, SMB Global does not disclose specific pricing information. The rates you receive will depend on your individual business. The contract terms and any other fees will also depend on your business. Factors such as how long you have been in business, your processing history, proven cash flow or business model, and type of high-risk business can all impact your rates and contract terms.
Similar to PaymentCloud, SMB Global partners with more than 20 other banks and backend processors to increase the chances of your high-risk merchant account being approved.
SMB Global Features
SMB Global has a short application process. Like most other high-risk merchant accounts, SMB Global sends your application out to their many processing partners to find the best rates and contract terms. SMB Global can be used to accept all major credit and debit cards online and in person.
It also offers automated clearing house (ACH) or e-check processing and has tools to monitor and handle chargebacks automatically. SMB doesn’t provide details on what POS or countertop terminals it works with, but SMB does integrate with Authorize.net and Network Merchants Inc. to integrate with more than 175 online shopping carts.
SMB Global Chargeback Prevention
One of the unique features of SMB is the chargeback prevention platform. Chargebacks are a hassle for any business but are significantly more common for high-risk businesses. Having too many chargebacks can also impact your processing rates and merchant account approval odds. SMB has an analytics platform to display your chargeback counts and ratios in real time and forecast your month-end results in advance.
The platform also has a feature that responds to chargebacks automatically so that they can be fought quickly and accurately. If you are using a customer relationship management (CRM) or POS system, SMB’s chargeback platform can sync with that system to tie the chargeback with the original purchase.
SMB Global Approved and Prohibited Industries
Like PaymentCloud, SMB Global has a long list of products, industries, and services that they work with. It is worth noting that SMB works with many types of unconventional product sales, including auto parts, weight loss programs, electronics, firearms, supplements, and collectibles.
SMB also works with a variety of online services such as online gambling, fantasy sports, online furniture, and travel sites. Although SMB works with electronic cigarettes, vape, and tobacco products, there is no specific mention of CBD or hemp products.
Founded in 2016, SMB Global is a fairly new payment services provider. However, it’s sibling company, Payline Data, is a well-established processor with very positive user reviews. If you’re ready to get started, visit SMB Global.
Durango: High-Risk Merchant Services for Bad Credit
Durango is a merchant service provider that specializes in high-risk accounts. Durango is one of the more lenient high-risk merchant account providers, especially when it comes to helping small businesses with bad credit secure payment processing services.
Specializes in hard-to-place businesses
No publicly disclosed pricing
Dedicated customer support
Limited Mountain time support hours
Fast onboarding with high approval rates
Does not support age-restricted products or companies offering remote computer support
Free fraud reduction tools and consultation
Durango does not publicly disclose pricing on its website. Like most high risk accounts, the rates, fees, and contract terms will depend on your individual business and financials. However, Durango does typically offer interchange-plus pricing, which can be hard to find for high risk merchants. Durango also usually has a monthly fee ranging from $30 to $50.
Keep in mind that monthly fees are not typical for traditional merchant accounts but are usually unavoidable for high-risk accounts. Durango also does not have an application fee and typically does not charge early termination fees.
Durango can be used to accept credit and debit card payments as well as ACH and e-check payments online, in-store, and over mobile. Durango stands out from PaymentCloud and SMB Global because it specifically works with business owners that have poor credit. Durango also has a proprietary payment gateway for online sales and works with iProcess iOS and Android mobile apps for processing mobile payments.
Durango Mobile and Online Payments
Durango is one of the few merchant accounts on our list that offers a proprietary online payment gateway or a mobile payment processing app. The online payment gateway, called Durango Pay supports online sales, connects with third-party shopping carts, has an open application programming interface (API), offers dashboard analytics, and can be used to process recurring and subscription payments.
Durango also offers mobile credit card processing through a third-party app called iProcess, which is available on iOS and Android, and a Bluetooth mobile reader. It is one of the only high-risk merchant service providers to advertise mobile card processing and a free shopping cart.
Durango can also be used to add “Buy Now” buttons onto your website to make it shoppable.
Durango Approved and Prohibited Industries
All of the merchant account providers on our list accept a wide range of companies and Durango is no exception. The company works with membership businesses, horoscopes and fortune-telling, mail or telephone order businesses, multilevel marketing, online auctions, telemarketing or telecommunications, timeshare advertising, high-ticket businesses, pawnshops, and more. However, unlike most of the other merchant account providers on our guide, Durango does not explicitly list all of the businesses they do (or don’t) work with.
Soar Payments: Best High-Risk Merchant Account With QuickBooks Integration
Soar Payments is a high-risk merchant service provider that specializes in working with businesses that have trouble getting approved for a merchant account. Soar works with a variety of industries and types of businesses and offers the most direct integrations with accounting, CRM, and ecommerce platforms out of all the solutions on our list.
Soar Payments Pros
Soar Payments Cons
Long initial contract term
QuickBooks and other software integrations
Steep early termination fees
Does not work with CBD vendors
Only works with US businesses
Soar Payments Pricing
Like all of the other solutions on our list, Soar does not disclose pricing, however, they offer transaction fees as low as 2.49% for high-risk merchants. Specific rates will vary for each business. However, Soar typically offers tiered pricing for high-risk accounts, which we typically recommend small businesses avoid because the fees can be unpredictably high depending on what payment methods your customers use. Soar works with about a dozen backend processors to set up high-risk accounts. There are no application or setup fees.
However, Soar does charge a monthly fee of around $15 for online businesses that need a payment gateway to connect to their online shopping cart. There is also an additional fee for online transactions. The specifics will vary for each business, but high-risk businesses should expect around an initial two-year contract with Soar Payments and an early termination fee up to $495.
Soar Payments Features
Soar Payments is one of the few high-risk merchant account providers that offer instant online quotes. Once approved, businesses can use Soar Payments to accept credit and debit card payments online, in-person, and over mobile. Soar also offers ACH processing. Soar also works with Chargeback.com to provide businesses with chargeback management features, including alert emails and automatic response and document preparation for chargebacks.
Instant approval can be convenient to get up and running quickly, however, be cautious as it can lead to account freezes and suspensions down the road because the underwriting process is not as thorough.
Soar Payments Integrations
Soar directly integrates with accounting and CRM software, including QuickBooks, Salesforce, Zoho, and ecommerce platforms like WordPress, BigCommerce, and Shopify. Most high-risk processors do not directly offer these kinds of integrations.
Soar Payments Approved and Prohibited Industries
Soar Payments works with more than 70 types of high-risk businesses, including businesses selling collectibles and precious metals, firearms, antiques, vape products, magazine subscriptions, and more. Soar also works with businesses offering services that are deemed high risk, including SEO and advertising services, credit repair, document preparation, moving services, seminars and coaching, web design traveling, and more. Soar does not work with CBD vendors at this time.
eMerchantBroker: Best High-Risk Merchant Services for CBD
eMerchantBroker is a high-risk credit card processing company that offers high approval odds. eMerchantBroker is also one of the few credit card processing companies that actively advertise working with CBD vendors, hemp products, and medical marijuana dispensaries. eMerchantBroker does not offer the lowest pricing, even among other high-risk merchant accounts.
However, eMerchantBroker specializes in working with CBD businesses, when many other high-risk merchant accounts will not. If you sell CBD oil, vapes, extract, or edibles, and are having trouble getting approved for a merchant account, eMerchantBroker is a great choice.
Specializes in CBD (even edibles and vape)
Pricey (even for a high-risk account)
Chargeback prevention system
No publicly disclosed pricing
Like the other solutions on our list, eMerchantBroker does not disclose pricing information. Specific processing fees and contract terms will be determined on a case-by-case basis. eMerchantBroker works with a variety of banks and backend processors to get the best approval odds and processing rates for each business.
However, eMerchantBroker does have lengthier contracts and hefty early cancellation fees. The company also uses a tiered payment processing pricing model, which is typically more expensive and unpredictable than the interchange-plus models available through PaymentCloud, Durango, and SMB Global.
eMerchantBroker offers in-person and online credit and debit card processing as well as check processing. eMerchantBroker has several payment gateway solutions including 1st Pay, Authorize.net, eProcessing Network, Network Merchants Inc., and a proprietary gateway. Similar to SMB Global, eMerchantBroker also has chargeback prevention tools.
eMerchantBroker CBD Merchant Accounts
CBD retailers have a notoriously hard time getting approved for a merchant account due to varying and ambiguous laws around CBD. However, eMerchantBroker says “we are willing to take the risk that banks won’t” when it comes to CBD accounts. They work with businesses selling CBD supplements and vitamins, beauty products, CBD oil, pet products, hemp oil, vaping oil and pens, CBD edibles, creams and topical treatments, pain-relief sprays, extracts and more.
To apply for a CBD merchant account with eMerchantBroker you will need a valid, government-issued ID, avoided check, three months of the most recent bank statements, three months of the most recent processing statements (if applicable), and your Social Security or EIN number. Additionally, you must have a secure and fully-functional website and a history of chargebacks under 2%. There are no approval guarantees.
eMerchantBroker Approved and Prohibited Industries
According to its website, eMerchantBroker has a 95% account approval rating, which is very high, especially for high-risk merchant services. The company also works with CBD, hemp, cannabis oil, and medical marijuana businesses, which is uncommon, even for high risk credit card processors.
Host Merchant Services: Best Interchange-Plus Account for High-Risk Brick and Mortar Businesses
Host Merchant Services is a traditional merchant account provider that also offers high-risk credit card processing. Host Merchant Services is more selective than some of the other merchant account providers on our list but offers competitive interchange-plus pricing for businesses that qualify, making Host Merchant Services a good fit for brick and mortar businesses.
Host Merchant Services Pros
Host Merchant Services Cons
Selective approval process
No setup or early termination fees
Host Merchant Services Pricing
Host Merchant Services offers competitive interchange-plus pricing. Most high-risk merchant service providers’ default offer is tiered pricing. However, Host Merchant Services exclusively offers interchange-plus. Like the other solutions on our list, specific pricing details are not disclosed and may vary for each business.
Host Merchant Services Features
Most of the high-risk merchant service providers on our list partner with many banks and backend processors to provide credit card processing services. Host Merchant Services operates a little differently. It is a registered independent sales organization (ISO) of Wells Fargo Bank and uses TSYS as the primary backend processor. Having one primary processor means that it can provide more specific pricing information. However, it also means that Host Merchant Services may be less likely to approve your account.
Host Merchant Services Approved and Prohibited Industries
Host Merchant Services provides high-risk accounts for debt collection businesses, adult toy businesses and websites, coaching and consulting businesses, travel businesses, gambling and casinos, search engine optimization (SEO) services, and more. Host Merchant Services also works with e-cigarette and e-liquid sellers.
Navigating the process of choosing a credit card processor as a high-risk business is tricky because there are few options for high-risk merchant services. Choosing a provider that is easy to work with and that you can trust to charge fair rates is paramount.
PaymentCloud is a reliable credit card processor that specializes in high-risk merchant accounts and works with many backend processors to service a wide variety of online, ecommerce, and retail businesses. PaymentCloud is also one of the only solutions on our list that works with CBD vendors. PaymentCloud also offers fast approvals, competitive pricing, and next-day funding. Visit PaymentCloud for a free quote.