High Risk Merchant Accounts

Every bank has a specific set of guidelines used to determine if a potential merchant’s business is high risk. All these guidelines vary from bank to bank.

It’s all about the risk a bank is willing to accept on your business.

If the risk they face for accepting you as a client is greater than the risk they face when signing most low risk businesses, they will now label you as a high risk business.

This is a subjective process and every bank’s underwriting department follows a specific set of guidelines that bank has outlined.

After over 20 years’ experience providing high risk merchant accounts for businesses, we understand which businesses that banks consider less risky, which ultimately allows us to apply to the best banks for approval for your company with the best rates and terms.

Here are some of the most common reasons businesses are considered high risk:

  • You might be on a TMF/ MATCH list or your industry type is known for high chargeback ratios.
  • Perhaps you have a type of business that sells expensive items. Maybe its furniture, jet charters, seminars, or tax resolution services for instance.
  • Maybe the business guarantor has personal credit that isn’t the best, tax liens or other financial issues.
  • Membership and subscription businesses with automated recurring billing.

Allow First Card Payments to obtain the merchant accounts your business needs. We will handle all the messy work so you can put your energy towards the success of your business. 

We serve the following industries:

Now What?

What can you do after you’ve been classified as a high risk business by a bank?

It’s sort of being told by your gardener that you have weeds in your garden. You know they are there and the next step is to deal with them. This is not the end of your business- not at all.

There’s a simple and guaranteed solution- you have to find a high risk merchant account and get approved quickly so you can continue operating without all that downtime.

Your first real challenge is finding a high risk merchant account provider that won’t take advantage of the situation. Many merchant account providers understand the predicament you’re in and are going to charge you high fees. This is a point worth repeating.

Yes, 9 out of 10 companies you go to for your high risk processing will take unfair advantage of your situation, being classified as a high risk business, and they will charge you much higher than normal fees.

And you’ll think you have no other choice. But you do!

At First Card Payments we do no such thing. Yes, your transaction fees will be slightly higher than low risk businesses, but sometimes the rates are as good or even better than what you would be paying for a low risk account.

We have secured rates that average 25% lower than our competition for 99% of our clients. We have 20 years’ experience as a high risk merchant account provider and relationships with over 30 banks and ISOs. When you sign with First Card Payments, you are signing with a partner. We will use our knowledge, leverage, and our reputation to ensure you get the best possible transaction fee structure.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of A High Risk Merchant Classification


  • You may be forced to pay higher transaction fees
  • Processing takes longer
  • Your business account may be scrutinized more than low risk businesses


  • You are allowed a high chargeback ratio compared to low risks businesses
  • You can setup recurring billing with more peace of mind
  • You can have multiple backup merchant accounts (MIDs)
  • Your backup accounts provide an extra layer of security, ensuring that business operations are not interrupted for long
  • First Card Payments will put your clients on a chargeback protection service to ensure chargebacks remain at an acceptable level and your business accounts remain healthy

The silver lining of having a high risk merchant account may ensure your business remains healthy!

Reasons High Risk

These are some of the most common reasons a business may be classified as high risk

  • CNP – Card not present
  • Future sales – travel agencies, hotel reservations
  • High Ticket
  • Industry is not permitted in all 50 states
  • On a MATCH list (TMF)
  • Operating offshore
  • Owner/Business has a poor track record
  • Poor credit
  • Prohibited merchant type

Whatever the reason, no matter how difficult the situation may seem, we can help. We work with our clients as if they were our partners. We consult on all matters pertaining to the high risk merchant industry. We want to build a long lasting relationship with you because the more successful your business, the more successful is ours. Your bottom line, is our bottom line.

Allow First Card Payments to obtain the merchant accounts your business needs. We will handle all the messy work so you can put your energy towards the success of your business.