High Risk Merchant Account & Credit Card Processing

Open a High Risk Merchant Account

Any successful business in our increasingly digital and cashless economic world will need to accept credit and debit card payment transactions. A high risk merchant account allow your business to do this! However, applying and getting approved for a merchant account isn’t always a simple matter, especially for businesses that – for any of several reasons – are considered “high risk” by financial institutions.

Consider this post a sort of primer on high risk merchant accounts. We hope to provide the basics of how merchant accounts work, what you need to do in order to be approved for an account. We’ll also touch on how to present information on your website to maximize customer satisfaction. Plus! Protect your business from unnecessary chargebacks and other fraud risks.

Do you need a high risk merchant account? We’ve got you covered! You’ve contacted the experts.

High Risk Merchant Accounts Can Accelerate Your Business & Get You Back to Stability

Durango Merchant Services has been in the business of placing high risk and other hard to place merchant accounts for over twenty years! We’ve found that many applicants seeking a high risk merchant account have a good business model with bright prospects. Unfortionately, they may still fall into the high risk merchant category and never get a fair shot at success.

We believe in peoples’ desire to live their dreams and improve their lives. Our expert merchant account specialists help you navigate the entire high risk merchant account application process. Once approved you will have a dedicated account manager for the life of your account so if you have any questions, you can get in touch directly!  You can rest assured that we will utilize our considerable experience to make sure we’ve explored every option and have found a unique solution that works for you.

Hard to Place Merchant Services: Unique Challenges for High-Risk Merchants

The payments processing industry has taken advantage of busy business owners and entrepreneurs. They’ve complicated digital payments to the point of no return. 

Processors nickel, dime, up-charge, and fee the HECK out of you when all you want is to launch and run the business of your dreams successfully. 

After 23 years in the payment processing business, we’re making a change to get the best deal for hard to place merchant accounts. On behalf of our industry, WE’RE SORRY! 

The confusing language, pricey markups, and complicated application process end with us. 

Processors label all types of merchants “high risk”. If your merchant account has been terminated or rejected, Durango Merchant Services can help you get it reinstated with a new processor. Our diverse network of processors allows us to find the BEST solution for you and your business. Not only do we work for fast approval for all our merchants, but we also provide an account manager that will work with you over the lifetime of your account. Our goal is to help you restore or achieve a trustworthy merchant processing relationship.

Is a low credit score making it difficult for your business to obtain a credit card processing merchant account? Our rates are competitive regardless of the method of payment. We provide solutions for card machines, mobile pay options, ecommerce gateways, telephone or mail order.

Industries such as annual memberships, bail bonds, online electronics, Nutraceuticals, mlms, credit repair, fortune telling, European based merchants, tele-medicine, travel, online pharmacies and MORE, you may have trouble placing your merchant account. This “high risk” merchant status is applied despite your customer history or long standing reputation. A few of our solutions include high speed ACH & Echeck processing, European based merchants or shared hosting accounts. However, whenever possible we aim to get your hard-to-place account approved for operation within the U.S.

The 21st century and the expansion of the web have allowed global potential for businesses looking to expand their services. Durango Merchant Services specializes in helping high risk merchants in North America and the EU/UK open multi-currency merchant accounts that permit varying currencies. Our one-on-one consultations allow us to review all aspects of the application process and ensure the best chance of approval. Durango can help you find the best Multi-Currency Processing Solution for your business. Allowing your business to accept currency’s globally. 

Our years of networking and our experience with a diverse portfolio of merchants means we help mitigate the higher rates many processors attempt to place on high risk merchant accounts. We can help you find lower rates and also make sure the appropriate risk management tactics are put in place to ensure your low rates stay low. If your processor requires a cash reserve, we help to analyze how much money you need in reserve and develop a plan to reduce that reserve to zero over time.

Typical Hurdles of High Risk Merchant Accounts

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Higher processing fees

Durango Merchant Services always try to get you the lowest rate possible. To offset risk of loss due to higher chargebacks and potential fraud, high risk merchant accounts generally come with higher interchange rates. This varies based on the finances and risk assessment of each individual business.


In-depth application process

The banks that underwrite your merchant account want a clear view into your businesses so they can properly assess risk. This means you need to be prepared to provide detailed information on business history, personal finances and industry specific requirments such as making sure your website contains all the required information and including age restrictions for regulated industries.

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Higher chargeback fees

To provide incentive for merchants to put a premium on service and reliability, banks will often require that when a chargeback occurs the merchant will pay a fee of between $20 to $100 plus requiring the original purchase amount is refunded. We help to keep these costs low.

Cash reserve requirements

Some merchants will be required to place cash in reserve to cover possible losses due to chargebacks and fraud. There are three types of reserves: Capped reserve. Rolling reserve. Upfront reserve. Click to find out more about each type of reserve.


Volume caps

Sometimes to limit the risk of large numbers of chargebacks merchants will be temporarily limited by the number of transactions they can process in a given month. This is generally for high volume businesses that have high risk for fraudulent transactions and chargebacks.


Industry specific requirements

Each industry has it's own sets of regulations and standards. Unique requirements can include things such as adhering to website privacy policy, terms and conditions and a clearly stated return and refund policy. Another Example would be age restricted content walls. certain industries are required to register with Visa or MasterCard for $500 on an annual basis, while other industries are required to provide state specific licenses. We help you navigate these nuances.

What Specifically Makes Your Business Need High Risk Payment Processing?

There isn’t a single framework or central authority in the payments industry that determines which factors are risky. Instead, each payment processor, bank and payment service provider compiles its own standards.

Some companies state upfront that they don’t work with certain industries, while others welcome all applicants. Generally, payment service providers are more stringent than merchant account providers about which types of businesses they accept. In either case, you’ll be asked to submit an application with specifics about your business.

Ultimately, the company will make a decision about each application based on internal criteria. Some of the risk factors a company might consider include:

Industries That Commonly Require A High Risk Merchant Account?

How to Open a High Risk Merchant Account?

By their very nature, high risk merchant accounts are not one size fits all contracts. There are a lot of factors that lead businesses to require one and the specifics of you situation determine the path to secure high risk credit card processing. Durango Merchant Services experts will help to guide you through the requirements and options with the primary goal of providing options for approval. We have created this high level how-to-guide to help you understand the process and requirements of the application process.

Average Approval Time: 3 days
Application Cost: 0 USD

Required Documents

1. Business Financials
2. Photo Identification
3. Bank Details
4. Credit Card Usage History

Things Needed?

1. An Address
2. A Website

How to get started with a high risk merchant account

Step 1: Request a Free No Obligation Quote
Fill out the form or call Durango Merchant Services to speak with one of our consultants.
Step 2 : Speak to a Merchant Account Expert and submit required documents and application
Having a experienced account manager can make all of the difference when trying to secure a merchant account for high risk businesses. All of our account managers have developed expertise and relationships for a decade or more.
Step 3: Get Approved by a Processing Bank in Our Network
After understanding your business needs thoroughly, your account manager will negotiate on your behalf with banks who will underwrite your merchant account. High risk merchant account providers should work with clients to understand your unique needs and have all your ducks in a row, so that they can negotiate the best possible deal for you and your business.
Step 4 : Gateway Setup and System Integrations
Your account manager will help you setup and understand how to use your gateway and integrate business data from your old system into the Durango Pay Gateway.
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We can’t promise you free processing, but here’s what we CAN promise

  • Small town, small business ethics
  • An account manager for the LIFE of the account
  • The most up-to-date and relevant software/hardware and solutions
  • Transparent pricing
  • Expertise securing payment processing for hard to place merchants

Transparency really is the name of the game… so are you wondering how we make money on all of this?

The only way we make money is if our customers stick around. That means excellent customer service is our top priority. We’re in it for the long haul.


Durango Merchant Services is a world-leading consulting group dedicated to helping your business get set up to take credit cards! Even if you’ve been declined somewhere else, DMS will help you get approved for an account. Our hope is for you to start accepting credit cards and eCheck payments as soon as possible.

Founded in 1997, we have been an industry leader in hard-to-acquire and high-risk credit card processing. Today, with accounts in states across the country, we pride ourselves on having a high level of customer service, small-town friendliness, and out-of-the-box creative money-saving strategies. This is all thanks to our dedicated, individually assigned sales managers.

Frequently Asked Questions

A special type of bank account that you open with a payment card processor. This account first clears transactions from your customers’ card issuing banks, and then settles the funds into your business checking account. Whether you have a brick-and-mortar shop with point-of-sale terminals, mobile terminals for accepting transactions on the road, an e-commerce store on your website, or any combination of these, the transactions are all processed by your merchant account provider.

You may have heard of aggregate payment providers like, STRIPE, PAYPAL, and other similar services. These don’t require you to apply for your own account. Essentially, these companies aggregate the credit transactions of hundreds of individual, unrelated businesses and process them all through their own merchant account.

As you can see, aggregate payment providers can be convenient. However, if any irregularities arise, these providers often just cut their losses and terminate your account. This is because they would rather be rid of your business than try to work with you to figure out what’s going on.

Applying for your own direct merchant account ensures that you will not experience unexpected processing interruptions due to a lack of proper underwriting.

  1. Your customer enters their card information on your website.
  2. Data travels through your payment gateway – a secure and direct connection to the payment processor. The cardholder’s information is used to determine if he or she has the available funds to cover the transaction.
  3. The payment processor transmits information to the customer’s bank or credit card company. This network of communication arranges for the funds to be deducted from the customer’s balance and deposited into your checking account.
  4. If something goes wrong at any point in this process (for instance, if the customer later disputes the card transaction), the payment processor is ultimately accountable for the funds involved. ** THIS is why  proper underwriting is required UPFRONT before you start processing payments, instead of AFTER the payment processor is holding your money.

Payment processors take on a certain amount of risk with every transaction they process. For this reason, processors want to protect themselves as much as possible in order to minimize their losses to bad transactions. As part of this effort to insulate themselves from risk, they classify certain businesses as “high risk.” A high risk business is more likely to have a higher number of chargebacks, fraudulent transactions, or other problems. These problems create a huge financial liability to the processing company.

Here are a few of the traits that can get a business labeled as high risk:

  • An individual’s financial history
  • The business’s financial history
  • The type of industry a business is in
  • The reputation of a similar business
  • The products or services a business offers


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