Best High-Risk Merchant Accounts

It’s tricky finding a processor when your business is considered high risk. We take the guesswork out of the equation with our top high-risk processors.
Best overall
Dharma
Dharma Merchant Services
20.00/mo.
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Works with 8 high-risk industries
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Interchange + 1.5% + $0.20 processing fee
Best POS integrations
Payline
Payline Data
Must request quote
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Works with 18+ high-risk industries
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Processing fee starting at interchange + 1.5%
Best for businesses with poor credit
Payment Cloud Logo
Payment Cloud
Must request quote
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Works with 24 high-risk industries
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Processing fee determined after risk assessment
Best for international businesses
EMB Logo
EMB
Must request quote
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Works with 32+ high-risk industries
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Processing fee determined after risk assessment
Most industry variety
Soar Payments Logo
Soar Payments
Must request quote
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Works with 30 high-risk industries
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Processing fee determined after risk assessment

You’re likely here because you’ve been trying to set up a merchant account for processing and been denied over and over again for being too high risk. There are a lot of reasons why your business may have been labeled risky, but you still may be able to start processing.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of processors out there who want to take advantage of desperate businesses that have been labeled “high risk.” Luckily, we’ve combed through the riffraff and put together a list of solid recommendations.

And at the top of that list is Dharma Merchant Services, a processing provider that’s so good, we even recommend it to low-risk businesses. That’s exactly the kind of quality we’re looking for in our top picks.

Pricing and plans

Brand
Basic monthly fee
Processing fee
Learn more
Dharma

Dharma Merchant Services

$20.00Interchange + 1.5% + $0.20
Payline

Payline Data

Must request quoteStarting at interchange + 1.5%
Payment Cloud Logo

Payment Cloud

Must request quoteMust request quote
EMB Logo

EMB

Must request quoteMust request quote
Soar Payments Logo

Soar Payments

Must request quoteMust request quote

Data effective 6/8/21. At publishing time, pricing and features are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

Only two of the high-risk processors we recommend actually list their prices. This is par for the course with high-risk merchant processors. Most high-risk merchants will decide what your monthly fees and transaction rates are after learning about your business.

Dharma and Payline Data are outliers because of their business models. They don't try to cater to all high-risk businesses. Instead, they only cater to a few select businesses and offer those businesses competitive and transparent high-risk rates.

The other brands on our list are trying to work with a broad range of clients and thus must have a more tailored pricing system. This means you’ll probably end up paying a little more in processing fees with these companies than you would with Dharma or Payline Data, but you’re also a lot less likely to be rejected.

Dharma Merchant Services: Best overall

Dharma
Dharma Merchant Services

$20.00 per month

  • Works with 8 high-risk industries
  • Interchange + 1.5% + $0.20 processing fee

Dharma is a processing provider that we love and that customers love. Not only is Dharma a fantastic solution for low-risk processing, it also accepts a limited spectrum of medium- to high-risk businesses. Dharma’s site lists some of the business types it accepts:

  • Adult tangible products. Your website will not be supported if it contains any nudity. It also does not support DVD, movie, video streaming, or cam-to-cam websites.
  • Firsthand collection agencies. These agencies have to be registered with Visa and are required to own the debt.
  • E-cigarettes. Dharma withholds a 5% rolling reserve of sales on these products.
  • Remote tech support. Your business must be operating for at least two years with six months of previous credit card processing. Call centers must be in the US and cannot perform any outbound calling or telemarketing.
  • Nutraceuticals. An additional processing fee of 1% will be charged because of traditionally high chargeback rates.
  • Some financial or sports advice. Not all financial or sports advice businesses will be accepted.
  • Online furniture sales. Services will only be offered depending on the average transaction size and delivery practices.
  • Travel merchants. Sale of airline tickets is not allowed. Merchants may be rejected based on the nature of bookings.

If your business fits into any of these categories, you’re primed to start working with Dharma. Dharma’s processing rate for high-risk businesses is interchange rate + 1.50% + $0.20. Dharma’s monthly fee is $20 per month.

This pricing is very good in the high-risk processing world. Most high-risk processing providers don’t disclose a standard rate for their clients, as they tend to tailor the price to the particular business. Because Dharma limits the kinds of companies it’ll work with more harshly, it can provide transparent and relatively cheap processing rates.

If you’re still wondering whether Dharma will work with your business, here’s all the business types Dharma won’t work with:

  • Adult DVD sales or video streaming
  • Online tobacco sales
  • Online betting platforms
  • Escort services
  • Telemarketing
  • Strip clubs
  • Online or over-the-phone prescription drug sales
  • Third-party collection agencies
  • Marijuana, cannabis, and CBD oil
  • PayDay lenders
  • Replica sales
  • Online gun sales
  • Any merchants on the MATCH list

So, if you’re still not sure whether Dharma will accept you, it may be worth giving it a call to see if it would be willing to work with your business.

Payline Data: Best POS integrations

Payline

Must request quote

  • Works with over 18 high-risk industries
  • Processing fee starting at interchange + 1.5%

We praised Payline Data in our review of its processing services. It has great chargeback protection, lots of POS options, and tons of ways to integrate your processor with shopping carts, POS systems, and other third-party software like Quickbooks.

These integrations mean that if you’ve already been using an online shopping cart service or a POS system in your business, Payline may be able to plug right into your ecosystem. This is especially useful if a processor you were recently using discontinued its services after deeming your businesses too risky.

Payline works with businesses in a lot of different high-risk fields:

  • Adult
  • Auto parts
  • E-cigarettes, vaping, and tobacco
  • Fantasy sports
  • Firearms
  • Online furniture sales
  • Multi-level marketing firms (MLMs)
  • Online gaming and casinos
  • Vacation and travel services
  • And more

Payline does not specify the kinds of businesses they won’t work for, so even if you don’t quite fit into one of these categories, it may be worth giving Payline a call.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Payline’s high-risk pricing starts at interchange + 1.5%. That means your pricing may be more expensive depending on the processing risk assessed to your business. Unlike Dharma, where you are guaranteed a certain rate unless otherwise specified, with Payline your rate is likely to be higher.

That said, the fact that Payline uses interchange-plus pricing is a good sign, as that pricing model tends to be a savings-focused pricing model overall. So if Payline is your processor, you may still save a lot of money.

Payment Cloud: Best for businesses with poor credit

Payment Cloud Logo
Payment Cloud

Must request quote

  • Works with 24 high-risk industries
  • Processing fee determined after risk assessment

Payment Cloud advertises itself as a brand willing to work with high-risk businesses, even if that risk comes from a poor credit score. While Payment Cloud does inevitably reject certain businesses, you may just be able to snag it as your processor.

One of the things that makes Payment Cloud desirable as a processing provider is all the features it offers to high-risk clients:

  • Chargeback and risk-management tools
  • PCI compliant digital payment gateway
  • EMV terminals
  • Point-of-sale systems
  • Mobile terminals

While many high-risk providers choose to offer a stripped-down service, Payment Cloud offers a complete package of modern tools and services.

Even businesses with poor credit scores can access Payment Cloud’s processing suite because of its exclusive banking relationships. Payment Cloud personally works with banks that have agreed to work with merchants with poor credit data.

But Payment Depot doesn’t just want to work with businesses that are considered high risk because of a poor credit score, they are willing to look at businesses from a slew of industries:

  • Accounting
  • Cigarette and tobacco sales
  • Credit repair
  • Gun sales
  • Nutraceuticals
  • Hunting equipment
  • Electronics
  • Vape and e-cigarettes
  • Taser and stun gun sales
  • And more

If you want one of the best high-risk systems in the business, you should definitely give Payment Cloud a call.

EMB: Best for international businesses

EMB Logo
Payment Cloud

Must request quote

  • Works with over 32 high-risk industries
  • Processing fee determined after risk assessment

It’s difficult enough for most processors to offer high-risk merchant services on US soil, let alone across the globe. But that’s just what EMB does. Whether your high-risk business is just getting ready to expand out of the US or you’re looking for one processor to consolidate your current local and international sales, EMB can help.

EMB is willing to work with many types of high-risk business:

  • Adult entertainers
  • Online dating sites
  • Auction services
  • Telemarketers
  • Web-hosting services
  • Airlines
  • E-books
  • Warranties
  • And more

EMB also offers point-of-sale solutions for businesses running brick-and-mortar operations. And, if you’re still running a mail-order business in 2021, EMB can get those sales processed.

If your sales are prone to chargebacks, you’ll be glad to know that EMB offers 24-hour support and chargeback dispute resolution. These services are crucial for any business that operates overseas. It may be past midnight in the US but at peak business hours in your international markets.

So, if you’re looking for a processor that can handle your international business, you may want to give EMB a call.

Soar Payments: Most industry variety

Soar Payments Logo
Payment Cloud

Must request quote

  • Works with 30 high-risk industries
  • Processing fee determined after risk assessment

Soar divides its website into low, medium, and high risk. Each of these levels comes packaged with a huge list of serviced industries. While we can’t list them all here, we can give you a few honorable mentions of the medium- and high-risk industries Soar supports:

  • Antiques dealers
  • Cannabis providers
  • Country clubs
  • Tobacco and cigars
  • Fantasy sports
  • Gyms
  • Subscription boxes
  • MLM companies
  • Pawnbrokers
  • E-cigarettes and vape
  • Coaching seminars
  • Timeshare and travel
  • And more

Despite the sheer number of business types Soar will work with, there are a few glaring omissions in its services. Soar lists a number of industries it won’t work with:

  • Adult
  • Bitcoin
  • Debt collection, consolidation, or relief services
  • Forex
  • Gambling
  • Kratom
  • Offshore businesses
  • Payday loans
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • MATCH listed businesses
  • Tech support

Soar doesn’t have a ton of bells and whistles in its services, but it’s certainly not a slouch. Whether you need processing for retail, mobile, virtual, or ecommerce sales, Soar has hardware and software solutions to cater to your needs.

It’s a simpler solution, but, at the very least, it may be the key your high-risk business needs to unlock its processing potential.

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Honorable mention

Honorable mention pricing

Brand
Basic monthly fee
Processing fee
Learn more
Bankcard Logo

Bankcard Services

Not listedNot listed

Data effective 6/9/21. At publishing time, pricing and features are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

Bankcard: Great online reviews

Bankcard Logo
Bankcard

Must request quote

  • Works with 46 high-risk industries
  • Processing fee determined after risk assessment

Bankcard is an established processing company, and its clients are all pretty happy with the service. We read online reviews from a variety of sources and found that most customers were satisfied with Bankcard’s services.

This may seem like nothing special for a recommendable brand, but bear in mind that we’re talking about high-risk merchant services here. Ethics often go out the window when a business is just desperate to find any processor that will take them. With Bankcard, clients tend to agree on its reputability.

In addition to being a solid business, Bankcard also services a number of industries that would rival Soar Payments:

  • Adult entertainment
  • Bail bonds
  • Dating sites
  • Fantasy sports
  • Gentlemen’s clubs
  • Male enhancement
  • Gambling and sports betting
  • MATCH listed businesses
  • And more

The number of industries Bankcard works with is substantial. It’s a perfect place to land if you think nobody will accept you. Also, Bankcard can set you up to accept EBD and SNAP payments, giving you more ways to make money.

More ways to earn means more money in your wallet. That’s what makes Bankcard one of our top brands.

High-risk merchant account FAQ

What are high-risk merchant accounts?

They are payment processing accounts for businesses that are considered risky. There are many factors that may make a business more risky for processing, but excessive chargebacks or high chargeback potential is a big reason.

What makes a business risky for processing?

There are a lot of factors that may contribute to a business being deemed as risky:

  • High potential for chargebacks
  • High average transaction cost
  • Industry with a problematic reputation (adult or firearm)
  • Poor credit score
  • MATCH list spot
  • And more

The factors listed above are some of the bigger things that can make a business risky for a processor, but sometimes a processor may reject a business for a number of small reasons as well.

Whatever the case, if you’ve been turned down by a lot of processing providers, you may want to start looking for a high-risk processing company.

The takeaway

High-risk businesses are in a tricky situation. When nobody seems to want to work with your business, it's easy to take anything that comes your way. With the recommendations on our list, you can eliminate a lot of the guesswork and avoid toxic high-risk payment providers.

You can go with Dharma Merchant services, a brand that services the fewest industries total but offers transparency and great features. Or you can go for one of our recommendations that services your particular industry. Or you can choose something like EMB that processes cards for over 32 different high-risk industries.

Pick the solution that best fits your business, and you won’t go wrong.

If you think your business may not be as risky as those mentioned in this article, you may want to try out a more traditional payment processor. Take a look at our top payment processor recommendations.

Related content

Methodology

We compared 16 different processing providers that offer high-risk processing. Each of these brands was evaluated for trustability by diving into user reviews from multiple sites and sources online. We also evaluated whether the business was offering a modern processing solution with up-to-date hardware and software on offer.

Disclaimer

At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.

Andrew Mosteller
Written by
Andrew Mosteller
For four years, Andrew has been writing copy to help business owners expand, manage, and advertise their unique brands. His upbringing in an entrepreneurial family nurtured a passion for small business at a young age. Andrew’s father, an equity fund manager, taught him the ins and outs of investment financing and owning and operating a successful business. Now he brings his expertise and experience to entrepreneurs as a regular contributor on Business.org.
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