Subscription Box Merchant Accounts

high risk merchant account

If you are in the subscription-based business, you already know it: Your business has likely been considered high risk by merchant account services, meaning that you may have trouble accessing the financial services you need. This can create major problems for business owners managing any eCommerce platform, as it may make it difficult – if not outright unaffordable – for you to be able to conduct business using the financial services that other industries are able to access. As a result of these difficulties, you have to identify a merchant service vendor that can help your business grow. Ideally, the vendor that you find should have years of experience in helping other high-risk merchant services prosper. They should also have experience working with numerous other subscription box companies and other startups. 

We know that processing subscription and recurring payments comes with unique needs. We’ll work with you to find merchant services to help you grow, no matter which kind of subscription-based model you fall into.

  • Subscription boxes
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Lifestyle and product discovery boxes
  • Software
  • Video and music streaming platforms
Bankcard was referred to me by my developer. From the jump, they were impressive. They were super responsive, they asked great questions and their solution was really robust. Also, working with Katherine and Hanna is a dream!
High risk merchant account
Emily Wallace
CEO

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Why Your Subscription Box Service is Classified as High Risk

It may seem difficult to understand from the outside, but many subscription-based businesses are classified as high risk because of the series of factors that can make using ACH services more expensive for them. These include:

  • High levels of “card-not-present” transactions. This means that the credit charge is charged despite the owner and the physical card not being present for the transaction. These can cause issues for processors on multiple levels. First, it creates a higher risk of fraud for the processor, meaning that they may ultimately have to reverse the charge and get hit with chargeback fees. Second, it increases the possibility that the card will have already been canceled, resulting in additional time, hassle, and fees for all parties involved.
  • High levels of chargebacks. A chargeback is what happens when a payment is returned to the original owner. This is high in the subscription universe because individuals will often cancel their subscriptions, forget that they want to cancel their subscription and seek to have their fees refunded, or forget that they made a subscription purchase in the first place. Other marketing factors within the subscription box business – like marketing plans that give a certain amount of subscription for free before the charges kick in – also lead to higher-than-average levels of chargebacks.
  • Subscription boxes are often given to or for others, leading to a subscription model having less control than other businesses over their product. As a result, individuals may seek to have their subscription canceled, leading to chargebacks. 

This is a large challenge today, considering the sheer amount of subscription box services that are available. Previously, subscription-based services had been largely limited to media consumption, including things like newspapers and magazines. These days, that has changed: Subscription services now include many types of products, grooming services, software development, a slew of entertainment and electronic products, and more. The rise in all of these companies has meant that they need more access to financial services than ever before, but these services are not always easy to come by. Thankfully, there are some things that you can do on your end that can reduce these risks and help make accessing financial transactions more affordable. These include:

  • Ensuring that you are providing excellent customer service. Doing so can keep your customers happy with the product and services you provide. This, in turn, can help to ensure that they never cancel a payment and force a chargeback.
  • Make sure that you are clear with your customers about what they will be charged when they will be charged, and when they can cancel and still expect to get a refund on something that they purchase. Setting terms of service and coming to an agreement on account terms can help to ensure that your customers are happy, that your business operations are transparent, and that you can minimize the overall level of chargebacks. 
  • Make your business name as clear as possible on all bank and credit card statements. This prevents confusion when it comes it credit card processing. It also minimizes the risk of a customer canceling a payment because they believe it is fraudulent. 
  • Take advantage of anti-fraud and security tools that can prevent fraudulent charges and result in a chargeback.
  • Work with your merchant account service provider to ensure that you are taking advantage of their tools to prevent chargebacks. Every vendor will have a different suite of products available that can limit chargebacks, and you should make sure that you speak with your merchant account vendor to ensure that you are taking advantage of whatever services they offer in this regard.
Having Trouble Getting Approved for a Merchant Account? Get Approved for a High Risk Merchant Account with BankCard Services

Subscription Box Merchant Accounts Overview

How Can an Experienced Merchant Service Provider Help?

Simply put, all of the preparation in the world cannot totally mitigate the risks that are inherent in the subscription-based model. As such, you need to work with a vendor who knows this industry and understands your need. This means that you have to find a vendor who has years of experience in helping businesses obtain their subscription box merchant account. Ideally, you should find a vendor who also works with businesses that take advantage of subscriptions and help to process payments, thus providing services unique to your needs, including:

  • Confirm customer authorizations for current and future charges at any payment gateway or checkout. This also includes online payment options, including apps Stripe or PayPal. A payment processor should have the appropriate tools in place to ensure that the credit card charges that are made through your business are legitimate ones. They should also work to confirm that future charges – charges that will always occur with a subscription box business model – are authorized. This may mean that they deploy their own tools in order to prevent potential inaccurate charges, or that they work directly with the customer and business, on an as-needed basis, in order to confirm the veracity of charges.
  • Confirming customer identity. A common source of fraud – and the resulting chargebacks – is that the owner of the credit card did not authorize the charge. These are fairly common with high-risk merchant accounts and the apps that support them. A good payment processor can help to confirm the identity of the cardholder, confirming that the owner is, in fact, the person making the charge. This can enhance the ability of your business to provide excellent customer service while also limiting chargebacks. 
  • Chargeback protection. Chargeback protection is an added service – one managed by certain vendors or payment plans – that can ensure that you are protected against paying added fees for chargebacks. Obviously, the specifics of each plan will vary, and depend on both the vendor, service, and nature of the chargeback. However, an experienced merchant service provider can help you manage an array of plans and ensure that you pay the lowest amount possible in your chargeback fees. 
  • Scalable services and pricing. At the end of the day, the last thing your business can afford is purchasing services that you don’t need or paying more than you can afford. A good vendor should ensure that you are paying as low as possible in fees. Furthermore, they should offer packages that are customized for your unique business needs, not their profit margin. This means that you should be able to mix and match products and services in a manner that can help protect your business interests. 

Integrations

Bankcard Connect plays nice with others

Bankcard Connect integrates seamlessly with ISV software to simplify payment processing for merchants: any payment type, on any device, anywhere. 

Bankcard integrates with over 99% of the tools you are already using, including popular accounting software and e-commerce apps, regardless of your industry. Our payment services were designed to be adaptable to provide seamless integrations for our customers.

merchant account integrations c

BigCommerce
Formsite
Infusionsoft
Keap
Magento
Microsoft Dynamics
Network Solutions
SalesForce
Shopify
Volusion
Web.com
Weebly
WIX
WooCommerce
WordPress
Yola

Cart66
Checkfront
EASYCART
eShop
Event Espresso
events manager
GetShopped.org
GRAVITY
Jigoshop
Paid Memberships Pro
Shopp
SHOPPERPRESS
templatic
TheCartPress
WishList MEMBER
WooCommerce
WORDPRESS eSTORE
WP GATEWAYS
WpInvoice
wpmudev

Drupal Commerce
Ubercart

HikaShop
Miwisoft
VirtueMart

911 Software, Inc.
ACR Systems
Activant
Aldelo Systems, Inc.
Applied Micro Technology
Advanced Retail Management Solutions (ARMs)
Auto star
Cantaloupe Systems
Data Business Systems
Datacap Systems, Inc.
DataTech Corp
DataVantage
Edgil Associates
Elavon*
Epicor (CRS, NSB)
Freedom Pay
Gateway Ticketing Systems
Idalica Corp
IJN Systems
IT Retail
KWI
Main Street Softworks
MBS Textbook Exchange
Medasyst, Inc.
Microsoft
/n Software, Inc.
PC America
POSiFlex
RATEX Business Solutions
Retail Data Systems
RTL Payment Systems
ScanSource, Inc.
Sicom Systems, Inc.
Slim CD
Tempus Technologies
Tender Retail Systems
The Software Mills
Tomax Corporation
Total Computing Solutions
TouchNet Information Systems
XProtean, Inc. (C-Payment Software)
XPient Solutions
Vista Entertainment Systems

911 Software, Inc.
Data Business Systems
Dinerware
Datacap Systems, Inc.
Main Street Softworks
Menusoft Systems Corp.
Micros Systems
Midnite Express, Inc.
/n Software Inc.
NCR
onePOS.com
Ordyx
Radiant Systems
Revel Systems
Sicom Systems, Inc.
Squirrel Systems
Tempus Technologies
XPient Solutions
XProtean, Inc. (C-Payment Software)
Elavon (previously Southern DataComm and Global Card Services)

Dresser Wayne
Excentus
Fuel Links
Fiscal Systems, Inc.
Gilbarco
LOC Software
Main Street Softworks
Petro RX
PetroVend
Radiant Systems
Retalix
VeriFone Ruby System

Datacap Systems
JPMA
LOC Software
Logivision
MTX/EPS
RORC
StoreNext
Torex

911 Software, Inc.
Hotel Software Systems
Slim CD
Elavon
Tempus Technologies

Government organizations face a growing need for secure payment processing services while managing highly specific needs for content management and security. 

We can work with popular technology products government agencies prefer, like Ciber and Cubic, to create an integrated solution that meets all your needs for processing payments, managing information, and more.

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A Full-Service Company

When your subscription-based business is finding a vendor, you have to find one that does more than just fraud and chargeback prevention. this means that you have to find a business that offers a comprehensive array of services designed to help your business grow and thrive. You need merchant services that can deliver in many other areas, including:

Payment Processing

Payment processing, of course, is the crux of any merchant provider program. There is no way that you can ever work with a vendor who is not able to run support for collecting payments, and one that does so at a reasonable fee. However, all payment merchants are not created equal, and you have to be sure that any vendor you use is able to process your payment and deposit them with your financial institution in a timely manner. You also have to make sure that the payments you receive are accurate, that the security around the processing is robust, and that your financial services provider is able to help you create accurate records for these payments

However, you need a vendor that can do more than just collect payments: You need a vendor who can collect payments regardless of the method in which they are collected, meaning they have to be able to process subscription payments that are either online, in a physical location, or via a mobile device. They must be able to handle credit card processing solutions and help you process things like eChecks. Furthermore, the payments should arrive quickly, have low fees, and have a fee structure that best suits your needs. 

In instances where you are collecting payments over multiple services and in multiple locations, an additional issue arises: What sort of security protections is your merchant services vendor taking? This becomes important in the event that there is a data breach, or someone is able to access your customer’s payment information. It should go without saying that you want to work with a vendor that takes the most possible caution with this invaluable information.

Products

The amount of products offered by a merchant services vendor is also deeply important, as you are looking for a company that is full service and can handle a variety of your business needs. These include:

  • Equipment. Do they provide you with the POS device? How would that POS device integrate with your existing accounting and inventory software? Is customer support available for the equipment if you have questions about how to use it? How about how it will work when it breaks? Can they give you a free quote on equipment purchase or repair? 
  • Integration of processing. If you manage a subscription-based service, chances are good that you are going to be using multiple different systems to track your sales, inventory processing, accounting, and more. This means that you need a processor who can integrate your merchant services into various systems. As such, before making any final commitment on financial services, you need to check with your processor and make sure that they are capable of managing this integration. 
  • Discount processing. In some cases, you may have discounts to offer. This may be the case for new customers, loyal customers, customers who have coupons, customers who find your business via a certain website or sale, or more. This huge array of possible discounts means that your merchant account services provider has to be nimble enough to process all of these potential discounts, they reintegrate them with your system. 
  • Gift cards. Gift cards are very common for subscription-based services, as your business may go out of its way to use them in order to attract new customers and encourage your customers to essentially be your salespeople. This means that your accounting services have to be able to process these gift cards and provide you with analytics on what cards are being used in order to better determine how you can concentrate and improve your marketing efforts.
  • Loyalty programs. Subscription services are all about building customer loyalty, and that means that loyalty programs that reward customers with discounts or additional products can be a huge way of creating a financial incentive that encourages customer retention. Again, your merchant account processing service must be capable of managing this data, processing loyalty discounts, and providing you with information in a meaningful way. 

Services

When it comes to subscription box processing, other services are also critical in addition to managing the actual processing of your payment. For example:

  • Can your merchant services processor help you gain access to other financial markets? Do they assist with underwriting?  Can they be of help if you are looking for capital expansion, or if you are looking to grow your business?
  • Can they provide you with discounted access to ATMs if you need them? If you have a physical location that has a subscription-based model, can they physically provide you with ATMs, and help you manage those services? What about if you need to make cash withdrawals – does your merchant service processor give you preferred or discounted access to a line of ATMs?

At BankCard, we’re here to help. If you want to learn more about the services we offer, or how we can work with your business to help you grow and thrive, visit our website and learn more about how we can assist your business.

FAQs: Table of Contents

Accepted Industries and Countries​

The industries we accept for high risk merchant accounts include, but are not limited to the below industries.

  • Adult merchant account
  • Bad credit
  • CBD
  • Credit Repair
  • MLM
  • Nutraceuticals
  • Payday loans
  • Private airlines
  • Subscriptions
  • Travel
  • Vape & eCig
  • Illegal business activity
  • Businesses without the proper license
  • Illegal drugs (CBD with less than 0.30% THC is acceptable)

Bankcard can provide merchant accounts to customers in the below countries. Kindly note that many payment solutions are regulated based on location.

  • Andorra
  • Austria
  • Bear Island 
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • Channel Island
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Faroe Islands
  • Finland
  • France
  • Gibraltar
  • Greece
  • Greenland
  • Hungry
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Isle of Man
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • Germany
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • San Marino
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Vatican City

Being a start-up business will not hinder a business from getting approved for a merchant account. While having a processing history helps your likelihood of getting approved,  the lack of processing will not necessarily stop you from getting an approval. Consult an experienced Account Executive today to learn more. 

There are never guarantees when it comes to the approval of a merchant account. However, we do work with merchants that have low credit scores. Reach out to an Account Executive today for a consultation. 

If you’re a United States citizen applying for a merchant account for a United States registered business, a social security number is required. 

A merchant account can be labeled high risk for many reasons. You can be labeled as such due to high average tickets, being in an industry that historically has high chargebacks, or an industry that tier one banks do not support.

Applying for a merchant account

To apply for a high-risk merchant account, you need to complete our pre-qualification form and upload all required documentation. Once the pre-qualification is complete your Account Executive will locate the best placement for your account, and send you a final agreement. Once that final agreement is signed, underwriting will complete a full package review for approval. 

There is no fee to apply for a merchant services account with Bankcard. However, If you get approved with us there may be a small setup fee for your gateway account.

Square, Stripe, and Paypal are all payment facilitators and do not accept high-risk merchant accounts. Signing up with Bankcard gives you a direct merchant relationship with a sponsor bank. The approval process requires more documentation, but you’re at a significantly lower risk of getting terminated.

This depends upon how quickly you, the merchant, completes our pre-qualification form. Once we have all of your documentation, we get to work. We can typically locate placement for your merchant services account in 48 hours.  

Once you get an approval, you’ll be able to accept credit card payments within 24 business hours. 

Depending upon the program, you will receive your funds anywhere from 24 to 72 hours after the batch is settled. 

The industry type is a major determining factor when it comes to risk levels of merchant services. But, other factors such as credit, card-present vs not present, and chargeback ratios can also push an account into the high-risk category as well. 

Completing the Application

Your legal business name should match the business name on the state business registration or licensure. However, if you are a sole proprietor, your name would be the legal business name. 

If you’re not sure how much processing you’ll do, we recommend applying for $5,000 to $10,000 monthly. You don’t need to hit that number each month, but if you’re close to going over, reach out to your Account Executive for assistance. 

Your average transaction amount should be the average of all transactions you would accept with your merchant account. Your maximum transaction should be the anticipated maximum amount accepted in one transaction. If you attempt to process a transaction that is higher than the maximum amount provided, additional proof of purchase may be requested. 

You may provide personal bank statements in lieu of bank statements if your business bank account is new or does not have any activity. 

If you’re applying for a merchant account for ecommerce processing you will need a fully functional website with products or services listed with associated pricing. 

Yes, a credit check is required in order to obtain a high-risk merchant account. Once a final agreement is signed, a hard credit pull is done.  Credit scores are taken into consideration when underwriting reviews a full application for merchant services. 

If you’re a United States citizen applying for a merchant account for a business registered in the United States, your social security number will be required to apply. 

Documents

The first step to applying for a high-risk merchant account is completing the pre-qualification form. Three months bank statements, three months processing statements (if applicable), a voided check or bank letter, and driver’s license or passport will be required to apply. 

If your business does not utilize checks, we can accept a bank letter that includes your full account and routing number as well as the business or account holder’s name. The letter should be on bank letterhead, be dated within the last 30 days, and be signed by a bank representative. 

If you don’t have three months of business bank statements, don’t fret. We can accept three months’ personal bank statements from a business owner, or director. 

Bank statements show a lot about a prospective merchant, namely, processing activity, and the average monthly ending balance. If a merchant is currently processing, we want to know why they’re switching, if we know a merchant’s pain points we can find better solutions for their needs. The average monthly ending balance is also relevant to show financial stability within the business as well as validating the monthly volume requested.

If a merchant is currently processing credit card payments and successfully managing a merchant account this can increase the likelihood of getting approved. Some payment facilitators such as Paypal, Stripe, and Square might not supply monthly processing statements. Underwriting may request login credentials so they can get an overview of the processing activities. 

Equipment and Gateways

For in-person retail card acceptance, Bankcard can provide equipment that will arrive programmed and ready to accept payments. Discuss your equipment options with your experienced Account Executive.

Here at Bankcard, we do offer our own gateway solution that’s exclusive to merchants that sign up with us. Of course, if there’s a gateway you prefer we are willing to work with you as long as integration is possible. Please reach out to your dedicated Account Executive for details. 

Bankcard integrates with NMI, Authorize.net, and more. For specific gateway integration questions reach out to an experienced Account Executive. 

Your merchant account will be set up to accept Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, and ATM cards. 

Load balancing is the strategy of spreading transactions over more than one MID. It’s not necessary for all high-risk accounts, but can be considered as a way to manage chargeback ratios with high-risk merchants. 

Existing Merchant Accounts

Not to worry, this number can be increased as needed. However, the bank underwriting your merchant account needs to be aware of the expected monthly volume to ensure they have capacity available for all merchants processing with that bank. 

If you go over by a small amount you might be asked for a copy of the invoice or receipt. However, if you go over the monthly limit by a large amount there is a chance your excess funds might be held temporarily. 

When it comes to high-risk accounts, banks ideally want chargeback ratios below the 3% threshold. If you can provide long term processing history the bank may take this into consideration. Lower chargeback ratios are ideal. Consult your knowledgeable Account Executive for assistance in lowering your chargeback ratio. 

Rolling reserves are a way to financially protect the processing bank from potential losses from chargebacks or refunds. Not all high-risk merchant accounts require a rolling reserve. The risk department will determine if and when a rolling reserve is required. 

Interchange fees refer to the issuing credit card brand fees such as Mastercard, Visa, Discover, and American express. These fees vary depending on the card type, American Express tends to be the most expensive card to process. Interchange rates can range from 1% to 2.5%. 

Of course! Once you’ve established a healthy processing history, you may reach out to your Account Executive for a rate review. We recommend only doing this if your processing history shows low chargeback ratios and relatively low refund activity. 

You may request an increase in your monthly volume at any time. However, it’s recommended to wait until your merchant account reflects healthy processing history as well as financial stability from your bank statements. 

Reach out to our support team, or your dedicated Account Executive for any account-related updates you may need. 

Depending on the program your merchant account fees are either taken at the beginning of each month. Some programs require daily discounts. Program details will be notated on your final agreement and if you have further questions you can always consult your Account Executive. 

ACH payments

Bankcard can assist with ACH or eCheck services. An application and approval process still applies to this service, or it can be an added service with your processing account. Reach out to your Account Executive for details. 

The approval process requires less documentation than applying for a merchant services account. And if you’re already processing with Bankcard an approval can be expedited. 

Every account is different, however, most programs allow next-day settlements for ACH transactions. 

ACH payment acceptance can be integrated into most website platforms. Reach out to a dedicated Account Executive for more information. 

Pricing and Approval

High-risk merchant accounts are priced higher than low-risk accounts because fewer banks are willing to work with businesses labeled “high risk”. Banks also need additional financial protections from loss on these accounts.  

Bankcard will always provide fair pricing based on the risk level of every merchant. And if a current processing statement is provided we’ll do everything in our power to beat the merchant’s current rates. 

While we love working with merchants that are considered high risk. There are limitations put in place by bank and card brand rules. If a merchant does not abide by the specific program rules described by the Account Executive assisting them we cannot ensure an approval.

Think of merchant accounts as a loan or a line of credit. And processing banks take on the risk of transactions getting charged back. Banks can end up liable for the actions of merchants, a problematic merchant can damage the reputation of the bank funding and processing the transactions. 

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