What is high risk credit card processing?

Don’t take it personal if a processor terms your business as “High risk”. Most merchants get it twisted thinking that high risk industries are bad or dangerous businesses and therefore, a no-go zone.

On the contrary, they can be business categories with age-restrictions like e-cig sales, those with high chargeback rates, for instance travel agencies, and other perfectly legal businesses. Also, note that individual businesses may as well be categorized as high risk even if they don’t fall in the overall high-risk industry.

What Industries are Considered High Risk?

It’s difficult to narrow down to the exact businesses considered high risk. However, there are a number of industries that most processors naturally view as high risk. They include:

  • Travel services
  • Tobacco shops
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Adult entertainment
  • Dating websites
  • Debt collection and credit repair
  • Firearms
  • Loan services
  • Bitcoin & digital currency exchange

Honestly, this list of high risk industries is endless. But this is not to say that traditional processors won’t work with your business. However, if you fall in any of the above industries, you can save yourself the hassle by searching for a processor that has a history of supporting your business type. Bear in mind that any processor can opt to work or not work with particular business models at their discretion.

Getting a High Risk Credit Card Processor

Luckily, all the processors who offer merchant account high risk services advertise themselves as such. And while searching, be patient as it may take you a little time to find a high-risk processor. Those that offer instant set up like PayPal and Square overtly rule out most high risk businesses. So don’t rejoice on a successful initial set up, only to get caught down the road and your account cancelled for violating the terms. Spend a little more time seeking for a processor who is dedicated to working with you.

Be honest

No matter how risky your business looks, always be upfront about the details. Don’t hide anything from your processor as they often cotton on and will instantly terminate your account when they do. Misrepresent a business is an illegality any processor won’t forgive.

Expect Some Restrictions

 Because of the high risk model of your business, the processor will subject you to a few restrictions like a rolling reserve (where a percentage of your sales are held by the processor) and monthly processing volume cap.


Since traditional processors like PayPal will easily accept you and let you down later, you will need a high risk processor for you risky business.

Author bio

Electronic payments expert, Blair Thomas, co-founded eMerchantBroker in 2010. His passions include writing/producing music, and travel. eMerchantBroker is America’s No.1 Merchant Account High Risk Company serving both traditional and high-risk merchants.