Tips for Getting Approval and Setting Up a High-Risk Merchant Account


Are you a new business owner? Or someone who is planning to switch to a High-risk merchant account. Before diving into this, it is important to understand what it is and how it is done. If you are looking for tips to getting approval and setting up a high-risk merchant account then you’re at the right place.

In this article, you will get all the information you’re looking for. Finding a payment processor who will give you a merchant account is quite hard. As it is associated with high risk. But that doesn’t mean that it is impossible. Simple tips will help you in improving your chances of getting accepted. Out of all the things, you must find a payment processing company that specializes in high-risk merchants. 

What is the merchant account & high-risk merchant account?

It is an agreement between the bank and the owner of the business. This account helps the owner (business) to accept and process online payments. It is mainly designed for businesses such as receiving payments from sales, refunds, or any other disputes are settled from these funds only. 

All the funds of this account will be simply transferred to the acquiring bank account. You can manage your money as usual i.e, like your regular bank accounts. Simply put, getting it is important for a business if they want to accept online payments. All you have to do is sign an agreement and agree to the regulations of the Mastercard, Visa, etc. It is the first step to take your business to new heights. It is important for businesses to evolve with time. Thanks to the advancing technology online payments have gained momentum and more people prefer to carry cards (credit cards) rather than cash because of security and other reasons. You will lose a lot of money and customers if you don’t accept online payments. 

This brings us to a high-risk merchant account. It is usually given to businesses that are considered to be highly risky according to the assessment of financial institutions or banks. The financial institutions usually determine whether your business is risky or not during the underwriting process. The important factors they consider are the industry of the business, the location of the business, and the previous personal history. 

It is now quite impossible to find a business that doesn’t accept online payments. So, all the businesses have to create it, but based on the risk of their business some must set up the high-risk account. 

Most people wonder, what makes my business high risk

Which businesses are considered high-risk?

A business is considered of high-risk if

  • It is a new business with zero to no experience in processing online payments
  • The nature of your industry is considered risky
  • You mainly deal with high-value transactions
  • Your credit rating is bad
  • Your business deals mostly with international transactions
  • Yours is a multi-currency business
  • You have previously terminated your merchant account due to high chargebacks

High-risk industries

  • Travel, tourism, and airline
  • Forex
  • Non-profit and charities
  • Online auctions
  • Events
  • Subscription services
  • Gambling, adult entertainment
  • Pharmaceuticals (prescriptions and drug products)
  • Alcohol, tobacco, and vape 
  • Timeshares and pyramid selling

Finding a payment processor who is willing to provide you with this account is hard, but not impossible. Here are a few tips for getting approval and setting it up.

Find a service that specializes in high- risk merchant account

The first thing one must do is research for providers that specialize in the high-merchant accounts. Once you start your research you will find that although there are many providers that are providing low rates these providers don’t cater to the high-risk businesses. On the surface all card payment processing companies look the same, but there are some providers that only cater to the low-risk business. And one must also remember that all the cheap credit processing companies are not reliable. 

The providers avoid high-risk businesses to keep their overheads as low as possible. So even if they provide you with high-risk merchant accounts they will charge you high-rates. If you want to set-up that account, then it is better to search for providers who will provide you with better conditions and most importantly low-rates. The providers who carter for highly risky businesses have a clear understanding of your business and industry, so they have the ability to set-up an account that is tailored just for you.

Understand your processing needs 

Before anything else, you must first understand your processing needs. If you don’t understand your needs you may end up paying for something that is not even necessary for you. As you are paying a high rate, you must think about the exact equipment and services that your business needs to avoid additional costs. The trickiest part is differentiating between what you need and what you don’t. Even though some of the costs are high, the benefits they bring into your business are also high. These are a few things that you must check whether to include or not.

POS System 

One could say that it is a modern-day staple for any business. It seamlessly integrates your in-store business with the payment process, tracking tools, ordering, and other online management programs. 

E-commerce Payment Gateway

If you’re planning to take your business online then you need an e-commerce payment solution that is easy to use. However, if you’re not planning to open an e-commerce store then there is no point in opting for these services. 

Credit Card Terminal 

This is a must for any business, irrespective of its type and size. Not many people nowadays are interested in carrying cash, they prefer making payments through the card. But you must see if you need an NFC capable terminal or not. If you want to enable contactless payments then you must have it, if you don’t you can go with a regular terminal. 


If you want to process payments from anywhere at any time then mobile payments are perfect for you. However, if your business is not on the run (mobile) then a credit card terminal will do for you. No point in investing in mobile payment solutions. 

Buy instead of leasing 

It may cost you a lot of money to buy the credit card processing equipment, especially if you’re starting a new business. But this will prove to be a profitable option in the future. You will save a lot of money. Not to mention these lease contracts usually stay for a long period of time and in case of cancellation due to any reason you will end paying a lot of money in penalties. Some providers will give you credit card payment processing for free and you just need to pay the renewal fee for the equipment every year. 

Consider the costs 

You will be paying a huge sum compared to regular business. Even if you approach a provider that specializes in it. You will be paying around 2-5% for each transaction and not to mention the account fees will also vary based on the services you’re opting for. It is important for you to know the fees of all the providers beforehand to pick the one that is favorable for you. Not only that it is also for you to not reject a great provider based on the cost. 

Take care of your credit rating

No provider will be willing enough to trust a business with a bad credit rating. So before anything else make sure your credit report and record or clean. If they are not then pay special attention to improve your rating. Clean up your late payments, bank records, liens, etc. It is even better to request a report of your credit report from all major credit bureaus. 

Don’t settle for anything 

Don’t settle for any processor. Take your time, research, understand all the processors in the market, and most importantly accept quotations from all the providers. Ask all the questions plaguing your head. You can’t go back once you sign the agreement. So check if the terms are all in alignment with you. Ask all the details from startup fees to the termination fees. It is better to be clear before you take a dive.


Getting this account is not a small deal. It will grow your business and take it to new heights. But you must be careful before you get the approval. Be truthful to the provider if there are any mishaps in your financials, if they find it out it will even reduce your chances of getting the approval. Prepare all the necessary documents beforehand so that you will not end up rushing at the last minute. Keep these tips in your mind, follow them, and before choosing a provider weigh all the pros and cons of them and check out other options and then pick the one that matches your requirements.