High-Risk Merchant Services & Merchant Accounts
for Small Businesses – a Summary

Merchant accounts for small businesses are pertinent to their growth. By being able to accept credit cards, you can open up more avenues to generate revenues and increase your earnings. This is especially true in today’s context when a lot of customers prefer to swipe or tap and pay using their credit cards rather than counting cash or writing checks for buying the goods/services they need.

To be able to accept credit card payments, you must have a merchant account. However, finding a trusted and reputable merchant account provider for accepting and processing these card transactions is quite a challenging task. It is even harder if you are looking for high risk merchant services.

Are you a high-risk merchant looking for merchant account services and payment gateways in the USA?

Businesses that present a greater risk of fraud to the payment processors fall in the category of “high-risk” merchants. While this has a lot to do with the nature of a business itself, a business may be considered high-risk if the merchant has bad credit or the customers themselves present a greater risk of fraud to the business. Every credit card payment processing company has its own criteria for classifying a business as “high-risk”. Therefore, one processor may consider the same business as “high risk” whereas another may not.

Some examples of businesses that fall under the high-risk category include e-commerce, e-cigarette, vapor shops, online gambling websites/apps, and adult entertainment products/industry. Other categories that sometimes come under this category are furniture stores (due to large ticket items), and bankruptcy attorneys (due to clients that have bad credit).  

Having bad credit personally as a merchant can also put you in this category as it can negatively affect your ability to a merchant account, a startup or small business loan, equipment leases, etc. Once you are put in this category, how would you find a high risk merchant services provider? Thankfully, there are some reputed providers, such as Payment USA, that can help you get your high-risk merchant account quickly and at most reasonable fees.  

Remember, high-risk merchants accounts are quite different than low-risk, traditional merchant accounts. Before we discuss the high-risk merchant accounts and payment gateways in USA, let us understand what makes high-risk accounts different from traditional merchant accounts. If a payment processor has declined your application for credit card processing because you supposedly fall in the “high-risk” category, do not worry. You can still accept credit card payments from your merchants. True that you may not get the best payment processing rates and most processors may say a big NO to you.


The truth is that irrespective of the intense competition out there in the industry, getting a merchant account is not easy. Credit card payment processors have to weigh the risks that a merchant applying for a merchant account may present against the profits they stand to gain if the account is approved. Most of the time, payment processors are wary of providing their services to the “high risk” merchants.

What to consider when looking for high risk merchant services providers?

There are a few things you must bear in mind when you look for high risk processors to help you set up and integrate your merchant account with one of the trusted payment gateways in USA. These include:

#1 Specialization in dealing with high-risk merchants:

A high risk merchant account specialist must have a capable, trained, and experienced sales staff to efficiently handle such accounts. Similarly, their support staff must be trained to manage high risk accounts well.

#2 Sales & marketing:

A lot of misleading marketing gimmicks and unreliable sales agents aren’t uncommon in this industry, just like any other industry. So, make sure you ask your shortlisted payment processors to explain their contract terms, account fees, and processing rates before proceeding further with your application.

#3 Fees:

The fees associated with setting up and maintaining a high-risk merchant account includes the account fees as well as the processing rates. While processing rates are based on each transaction, account fees are calculated monthly or annually. Most processors recommend an interchange-plus plan for payment processing rates than the tiered-pricing plan. Getting interchange-plus pricing approval may not be easy for high-risk merchants. You may still ask for it during the discussion and negotiation process. You may also have to pay slightly/significantly higher fees compared to a low-risk merchant.

To shorten and simplify the process of high risk merchant account application and approval, make sure you hire only the best and reputed processor like Payment USA.

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