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What Does It Mean To Be a High-Risk Merchant?

June 30th, 2019

Let’s start off by defining what it means to be a merchant account at all. When you start a business, you must get approval from a bank or other financial institution that allows you to accept debit and credit card transactions. Until this happens, you’re a cash-only business, and in this day and age, that means you are all but assured to fail.


High-risk merchant accounts are accounts that financial institutions deem to be less secure, transaction-wise, than a normal business such as a department store, bagel shop, or fast food joint.


Getting a high-risk merchant account can be more challenging, require more work on your end, and often result in higher processing charges and fees. But depending on the payment processing company you choose to do business with, this doesn’t always have to be as bad as some people make it out to be.


In today’s blog from Rocky Mountain Credit Card, we will explain exactly what it means to be a high-risk merchant and what you can do to successfully navigate the muddy waters of your circumstances. Visit us online at www.rmcreditcardprocessing.com to learn more.

What Kinds of Businesses Are Considered High Risk?

Lots of different business can be considered high-risk, and sometimes it has less to do with what kind of business you run and more to do with how you have run it — or have managed your other business ventures — in the past.


Below are some key factors that can lead to a bank or merchant processing company to determine you are a high-risk merchant.

  • You’re a loss risk. Processors feel that your personal credit or company audits don’t support the volume of sales you are shooting for and worry they will lose money on your account.
  • Longer than normal chargeback windows. If you sell a product or service that can be completed or used up within the chargeback window, companies may be wary of providing you with merchant processing.
  • High-risk industry. If you are in an industry that commonly experiences high chargebacks, lots of fraud, etc., then many institutions will deem you a high-risk merchant.
  • Reputational Risk. Adult novelty, CBD sales, and other socially provocative industries are typically considered to be high-risk.
  • You’re blacklisted. If you had a previous merchant account forcibly suspended in the last five years, chances are good that you will be on the TMF or MATCH (Merchant Alert To Control High-Risk) list created by MasterCard. This automatically makes you a high-risk account.


Being a high-risk account usually makes it quite a bit harder to find a merchant processor that won’t charge you an arm and a leg for their services, but Rocky Mountain Credit Card in Denver can help. We specialize in high-risk credit card processing, and as an independent broker, we have plenty of strong options from you to choose from.

I’m Not One of Those, But Payment Processors Say I’m High Risk…

At the end of the day, institutions are the ones who decide whether you are high-risk or not. There are other factors that can impact the way your products and services are viewed. These can include:

  • Poor personal credit.
  • Products that are prohibited by some, but not all, financial institutions.
  • Products or services that are future deliverables such as reservations, travel planning, and ticket sales.
  • High-cost products such as custom jewelry, handmade furniture, and other craft or luxury goods.
  • Membership programs with automated billing.
  • Poor record keeping for your business’s financials.
  • And more.


The good news is that there is a chance that not every credit card processor out there will deem you a high-risk account. When working with a broker like Rocky Mountain Credit Card Company, you stand the best chance of finding a service provider that can handle your business without deeming you high-risk.


If that turns out to be unavoidable, which it sometimes does, then you’re still best off working with an independent broker who can help connect you with the widest variety of options and encourage providers to compete for your business.

How Do I Find a Payment Processing Solution For My “High-Risk” Business?

If we told you it would be simple, we’d be lying, and that’s not our style. When you are a high-risk account, you have significant obstacles to overcome compared to a normal merchant account. However, there are services out there that will work with you. It’s more about finding the right one for your business and needs than it is about just plain finding one.


When you work with Rocky Mountain Credit Card, our Denver-based merchant processing brokerage, you’ll get a passionate partner who cares about helping small businesses in and around Colorado.


We provide options, education, and many different kinds of programs from just about every major provider, and many smaller, progressive credit card processing companies, as well.

Contact Rocky Mountain Credit Card Today

Get in touch with us today by calling or by filling out our online form so we can reach out to you and discuss what we can do to help. We love working with small and medium-sized businesses and we can’t wait to work with you. Get in touch today.