How to Get the Best High-Risk Merchant Agreement

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If you have found that your business or transactions are forcing you to investigate high-risk merchant accounts, then you may be outside of your comfort zone. There are many reasons a business will be relegated to this classification, but regardless of how you got here, there are some things to keep in mind. High-risk classification is likely going to reduce your options and push towards less favorable rates, but you can still get a quality account that will help your business flourish. Here are the things to keep in mind while you shop around.


There are a good number of reputable sources who offer high-risk merchant accounts. There are even more providers who are not so scrupulous. Specializing in high-risk business does not make a business speculative by default, so you want to keep a few traps in mind. Read through the rates and agreements thoroughly to avoid bait and switch promises. If someone is offering you substantially better rates than anyone else, the offer is probably too good to be true.

Terms and Conditions

Evenreputable businesses can have unclear policies and procedures. Take a good look for unclear fees or hidden costs. Also review any restrictions on the rates. Many providers will have time dependant policies that could cause your rates or fees to go up after a set period. Also make sure to check for contract lengths and cancellation stipulations. You want to leave yourself the freedom to leave for a better deal if and when you find one. Of course, there are positive reasons to review the terms as well. If your business is not a high-risk industry, look for avenues that could let you change your risk status after a probationary period.

Volume Commitments

This is a common source of confusion. While volume commitments seem simple on the surface, they can quickly get murky. High-risk merchant accounts often come pared with these conditions to help justify the liability they are facing. The idea of meeting sales quotas is fine, but you want to make sure the terms suit your business. Never commit to an expectation that you are not completely confident you can meet. This is an easy way to accrue unnecessary fees. Additionally, make sure the volume terms are straightforward. Good account providers will work with you to accommodate fluctuating market expectations, but disreputable agents will use convoluted conditions to sneak in extra costs.

Review the Contract

Terms and conditions are an easy place to hide views and convoluted conditions, but there is a more common way to lose money. Advertisements and initial estimates rarely reflect a final agreement. Usually a sales representative will make offers based on best case scenarios. In reality, your financial situation will be reviewed thoroughly and the rates and terms offered to you in the contract will be customized to that review. Read through the final agreement to make sure it matches your expectations. If you see something you don't like, talk to the provider before signing. Sometimes this can be a simple miscommunication.

High-risk merchant accounts require extra scrutiny, but they are not a death sentence for your business. Many of the most profitable industries in the world work with these accounts. Read the contract carefully and shop around, and you will be sure to find a provider that can help your business succeed.

John Trinh has been writing for 10+ years. He first delved into the world of writing when he wrote his first article for his university's paper. Since then, John has enjoyed writing about technology, business, marketing, and anything that he thinks he should write about.


David G Ford