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Best High-Risk Merchant Account Providers of July 2024

Small businesses that are considered high-risk often have a difficult time finding payment processors that are willing to work with them, but there are options.
By Whitney Vandiver, Karrin Sehmbi
Last updated on July 12, 2024
Edited byChristine Aebischer
Fact checked and reviewed

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High-risk merchant account providers offer merchant accounts and payment processing services to businesses that operate in high-risk industries. Businesses in industries that are age-restricted, like gambling and tobacco, or have high rates of fraud or chargebacks, such as dropshipping, nonprofits and web design, often struggle to find payment processing companies that are willing to work with them.
The best high-risk merchant account providers have competitive pricing and popular integrations and accept a variety of payment methods; some even sell point-of-sale (POS) solutions or easily integrate with POS systems.
Here are our recommendations for high-risk merchant account providers.

Best High-Risk Merchant Account Providers

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Estimates assume an average interchange fee of 1.81% + $0.10, based on our latest available data. Estimates provided reflect online and in-person transactions, but exclude any keyed transactions. Estimates are based on the lowest monthly plan and processing fees for each provider.

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National Processing

Learn more

on National Processing's secure website

Get an estimated monthly cost for your business.
5.0/5

Best for Dedicated account manager

In-person: 2.5% + $0.10

Online: 2.9% + $0.30

$9.95

for Basic In-Person Package.

Get an estimated monthly cost for your business.
Learn more

on National Processing's secure website

PaymentCloud

4.5/5

Best for Software integrations

2.4% + $0.10

to 3.5% + $0.25 on average.

$0.00

to $50.

Payline

4.5/5

Best for Free trial

In-person: 0.4% + $0.10

Online: 0.75% + $0.20

Plus interchange

$10.00

in person; $20 online.

HighRiskPay.com

Best for High approval rates

2.95% + $0.25

May vary with credit or transaction type.

$9.95

Inovio

Best for High-risk online payment processing

N/A

Quote-based.

N/A

Quote-based.

Soar Payments

Best for Variety of high-risk industries

N/A

Quote-based.

N/A

Quote-based.

Our pick for

Dedicated account manager

National Processing supports low-risk and high-risk businesses alike, offers low in-person rates and provides new merchants with a dedicated account manager for more tailored support. Additionally, if your business processes at least $10,000 per month, the company guarantees it’ll beat your current processing rates or give $500.

National Processing

Learn more

on National Processing's secure website

Monthly fee
$9.95

for Basic In-Person Package.

Our pick for

Software integrations

PaymentCloud merchants can integrate with a variety of business software programs in the accounting, enterprise resource management, customer relationship management, analytics, e-commerce and shipping spaces. Supported high-risk industries include accounting, alcohol, CBD, dropshipping, hospitality, travel agencies and tech support.

PaymentCloud

Payment processing fees
2.4% + $0.10

to 3.5% + $0.25 on average.

Monthly fee
$0.00

to $50.

Our pick for

Free trial

Unlike some of its competitors, Payline extends one-month free trials to qualifying high-risk merchants so that you can try it out before committing. And if you commit but change your mind down the road, there are no termination fees.

Payline

Monthly fee
$10.00

in person; $20 online.

Our pick for

High approval rates

If you’ve struggled to find a high-risk processor for your business, HighRiskPay.com might be worth a try, considering its 99% approval rate. Make sure to compare quotes from multiple companies to ensure you’re getting the best rate. Supported industries include adult-themed businesses, CBD, dating apps, online pharmacies and dropshipping.

HighRiskPay.com

Payment processing fees
2.95% + $0.25

May vary with credit or transaction type.

Monthly fee
$9.95

Our pick for

High-risk online payment processing

In addition to offering a hosted checkout page and virtual terminal, Inovio lets online high-risk businesses price goods and services in 49 different currencies. It also has online subscription billing software for businesses in a variety of industries, including rentals, meal delivery and software.

Inovio

Payment processing fees
N/A

Quote-based.

Monthly fee
N/A

Quote-based.

Our pick for

Variety of high-risk industries

Some of the industries supported by Soar Payments include antiques, CBD, credit repair, medical billing, telemedicine and property management — plus dozens more. The company, however, does not support ultra-high-risk industries like adult businesses, bitcoin, gambling and debt collection.

Soar Payments

Payment processing fees
N/A

Quote-based.

Monthly fee
N/A

Quote-based.

Our picks for best high-risk merchant account providers

Payline: Best for free trial

Why we like it: Payline Data offers competitive pricing of interchange plus a low per-transaction rate. Depending on the types of credit cards you accept, such as Visa or American Express, its rates could save you money compared with competitors’ rates. Read our full Payline Data review.

PaymentCloud: Best for software integrations

Why we like it: PaymentCloud stands out from the competition with a large set of software integrations, a free terminal for qualifying merchants and tools dedicated to preventing fraud and managing chargebacks (although chargebacks come with a $25 fee). PaymentCloud claims to have a 98% approval rate for high-risk merchants. Read our full PaymentCloud review.

National Processing: Best for dedicated account manager

Why we like it: National Processing offers in-person and online payment processing plans, as well as an ACH one for businesses that get paid mostly via e-check. And if your business processes at least $10,000 per month, the company promises $500 if it can't beat your current rates. Read our full National Processing review.

HighRiskPay.com: Best for high approval rates

Why we like it: HighRiskPay.com clearly outlines its rates for all types of businesses, including those with bad credit. It also shows the rate for high-risk businesses as well as those offering adult-themed products. Although that industry has a higher rate, it’s only 25 cents more per transaction and gets the same percentage charged as other high-risk businesses.

Inovio: Best for high-risk online payment processing

Why we like it: Inovio stands out with its excellent online payment processing options. It offers secure checkout pages, customizable payment gateway APIs and the ability to manage multiple locations. And because the company will handle your gateway and processing along with the POS, you only have to contact one company for support.

Soar Payments: Best for variety of high-risk industries

Why we like it: Compared with competitors, Soar Payments' website includes the most extensive list of industries served, with over 50 industries listed. For businesses that are nontraditional or are having trouble finding a processor that serves their industries, it's a strong option.

What is a high-risk merchant account provider?

A high-risk merchant account provider sets up a dedicated merchant account that holds a high-risk business’s credit card funds until they’re transferred to the business’s bank account. In many cases, they also double as the business’s payment processor to facilitate electronic payments, like credit and debit cards. They may offer additional merchant services, like POS hardware and software, too.
Some high-risk merchant account providers work exclusively with high-risk businesses, while others also work with low- and medium-risk businesses.

Learn more about high-risk merchant accounts

Dig into why your high-risk business needs a merchant account on top of payment processing services, as well as tips on finding the right one for your business.

What businesses are considered high-risk?

The “high-risk” category encompasses a wide variety of business types and industries, and some of them may come as a surprise. Perhaps more obvious high-risk businesses include those that deal in firearms and ammunition, cannabis and CBD, pawn shops and tobacco and vaping products. However, the high-risk label can also apply to subscription-service businesses, nonprofits, advertising agencies, software as a service (SaaS) companies and others.
A primary factor that contributes to being considered “high-risk” is whether the business model lends itself to higher rates of chargebacks. For example, subscription-service businesses where users are billed on a recurring basis are more likely to receive dispute charges when a user signs up for the service not realizing it will auto-renew and charge their card each month. Other factors can include transaction type (online and over-the-phone, card-not-present transactions are more susceptible to credit card fraud), international sales and high sales volumes.

How to choose a high-risk merchant account provider

Here are several factors to consider while searching for the best high-risk merchant account provider for your business.
  • Payment processing costs: Per-transaction fees for high-risk businesses are typically more expensive than they are for low-risk ones. That being said, high-risk merchant account providers should still offer fair rates, which ideally fall under 4% for in-person transactions. If you go with an interchange-plus provider as opposed to a flat-rate option, don’t hesitate to try negotiating lower markups based on your specific industry and transaction history. 
  • Chargeback fees: What does the merchant account provider charge for each disputed transaction that results in a refund to a customer? Typically chargebacks cost $15 to $25 each, but some providers charge more or don’t charge for them at all.
  • Accepted transaction types: Consider the types of transactions your business processes and whether the high-risk payment processor will accept those. Some may accept only online transactions (such as Inovio), whereas others will accept credit card payments both in person and online.
  • Integrations: Most high-risk payment processors provide at least a few integrations with third-party applications and business software. It’s helpful to choose a solution that integrates directly with tax and accounting software, and if you sell online, you likely want a processor that integrates with popular e-commerce platforms and marketplaces.
Last updated on July 12, 2024

Methodology

NerdWallet’s ratings of payment processing providers reward companies whose products and services are priced well and work in a variety of payment scenarios, among other criteria. Ratings are based on weighted averages of scores in several categories, including overall cost, hardware and software options, system capabilities, customer service, contract requirements and integrations. Learn more about how we rate payment processing providers.
These ratings are a guide, but fees, hardware, software and contract requirements can vary widely from business to business and provider to provider. We encourage you to shop around and compare several providers.
NerdWallet does not receive compensation for any reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.
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