Travel Industry Merchant Account

It’s rough being in the travel business. Being classified as a high-risk merchant and carrying so much baggage (pun intended) makes it hard to get your business off the ground and flying high (again with the puns)

But in all seriousness, travel is a robust industry that continues outpacing the average world economy by producing an ever-increasing number of travelers who want to see the world. Electronic payments have been a crucial part of this growth because they provide a smooth and efficient way travelers can pay, whether in-person or online.

To ensure your travel business can operate efficiently, accept multiple payment methods, and satisfy customers, you need a merchant account to facilitate payment acceptance. As stated above, however, the travel industry is considered a high-risk industry, meaning you’ll need to partner with a high-risk merchant account provider that specializes in your unique business needs at a price that works for you.

Having a merchant account with a reliable payment processor lets you provide credit card processing solutions, such as a high-risk payment gateway, and helps to provide travelers – your customers – with a smooth, easy means of credit card payments – and at competitive rates for you. Providing this service is crucial to your success in the travel e-commerce industry. But you can’t do any of this without a knowledgeable and reliable high-risk merchant account provider.

With a wide range of online and offline payment methods and payment processing solutions, your customers will be able to pay you smoother and faster than ever before.

Finding reliable, affordable merchant services providers can be difficult because of the high risk associated with this industry. If you have bad personal credit, it’s even tougher. Fortunately, some banks offer payment processing for travel merchants, such as tour operators, timeshares, cruise lines, charters, car rentals, travel clubs, and travel agents offering vacation packages in the United States and internationally. These are the banks you’ll get to work with if you open a high-risk merchant account with Bankcard. Bankcard works hard to provide the fairest rates in the industry for all high-risk businesses and industries.

 

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Reasons why banks consider travel merchants high risk

Chargebacks are a major concern in this industry. The fraud and chargeback rates for this industry are higher than most, with fraud and/or chargebacks costing around $25 billion each year. This is why fraud and chargeback management when accepting payments is important.

  • Industry: The travel industry has seen a number of bankruptcies and failures, and banks continue to shy away from those companies. Consumers often file chargebacks on non-refundable transactions, which can lead to losses for the company. 
  • Advance purchase: Airlines, hotels, and other travel-related expenses often require payment in advance of travel dates. Travel plans can change. This lengthy period of time between payment and actual use can lead to cancellation by the consumer due to changing plans or buyer’s remorse setting in.
  • Average ticket prices: Average ticket prices are high because all of the travel-related expenses that must be paid before departure add up quickly. Traveling is a high ticket expense! Plus, b, bankruptcies and other financial woes within the industry can affect banks’ decisions whether or not they want to work with a company that deals with high chargebacks rates or fluctuating rates for future sales.

Chargebacks happen, but there are tools you can use to prevent them. Our account gateway offers fraud-mitigating weapons you can use to meet the ever-changing landscape of the market. Travel merchants can enjoy other perks, too, such as chargeback prevention or dispute management. Chargeback prevention alerts you when a customer calls their bank disputing a transaction, which gives you the opportunity to issue the refund rather than risk the chargeback. Chargeback dispute control helps you fight those chargebacks you have the greatest chances of proving.

The travel industry is considered high risk and requires a high-risk merchant account for many reasons, the greatest being the length of time between transaction and the actual date of departure. It leaves a lot of room for:

  • Cancellations
  • Emergencies
  • Natural disasters
  • Businesses that are part of the transaction can go out of business in the interim

Avoiding fraud in the travel industry

Fraudsters are finding new ways to steal money from clients and travel agencies as technology improves. Although you might believe that a travel agency has more protection than a regular client, they can still be vulnerable if they don’t use the best protection possible. It is therefore important to be aware of the potential frauds in the travel industry. The lucrativeness of fraud increases as the industry develops. According to many reports, fraud costs the industry more than 21 billion dollars annually.

One way fraud can occur in the travel industry is by means of a price spike. This is more complicated because it involves collusion between fraudsters and hotels. The hotel will increase its room prices and then the fraudster books hotel accommodations through an online travel agency using stolen credit cards. This makes the travel agency responsible for the additional charges. Travel agencies and others working in the industry may request client information in order to determine how the hotel booked imaginary guests. The hotel has all the necessary documentation to avoid being labeled fraudulent, even though it is in bed with the thieves. It’s important to verify your suppliers and note any patterns between price increases or fraudster activity. This is an area where you should be vigilant.

Get over the obstacles and open a travel merchant account.

Now that you understand why merchant accounts in the travel industry are high-risk, what can you do to reduce it?

It is important to understand that you must accept the fact that if you are a new company and have a poor or non-existent track record, you need to agree to a managed relationship. You will need to show at least six months of financial records to prove that you have a track record of little to no chargebacks or fraud and that you’re on top of risk management and chargeback mitigation. This is the good news: if you are able to make it three years, proving that you have the ability to manage risk and avoid customer disputes and chargebacks, you will be able to gain more trust and negotiate better rates.

Businesses in the travel business are often tempted to look for big tent processing companies (they give you “something”) and then understate the aspect of operating in the industry. This is a mistake. This could lead to your merchant account being terminated if the processors are notified that you are high-risk. Customers won’t be able to make online payments in the near term and this can lead to revenue loss. It places an official “check” in the account termination column. This, along with credit scores, will be made public on future merchant applications.

Domestic or international – which travel merchant account do you need?

Your targeted markets will determine whether you establish an international or US travel merchant account. The card approval rates are higher when the acquiring bank’s location is in the same area as the traveler.

If your majority of customers are American citizens, a travel merchant bank based in the United States allows you the highest approval rates for US-based cards. It is a good idea to have a partnering bank that’s located in the same area as your target customers. This helps increase card acceptance rates.

International merchant accounts help you save money and gain an advantage through lower intraregional interchange rates and processing costs for cards you process in-region. Fees are less when processing an Australian credit card through an Australian bank when compared to a bank in the United States for the same transaction. This also helps you save on foreign currency exchange rates.

To simplify reporting and management, you can direct all your accounts through one payment gateway.

It is easy to increase sales by adding alternative payment methods. American citizens are most familiar with echecks and ACH as an alternative payment method. You can increase sales by adding alternate payment methods on your website’s cart or checkout page. This will depend on where you are located. International travelers will be more likely to place orders if they are able to use trusted payment methods like local bank transfers.

Tips on what you’ll need for a travel merchant account

Below, you find some of the questions typically asked of travel merchants. Having the answers to these questions can help speed up your travel merchant account approval.

What’s your plan for preventing fraud and/or chargebacks?

It’s great if your payment account statements show low chargebacks. Please provide details about how you control fraud and chargebacks. Simply explain why your chargebacks have increased. Proactively identifying and explaining how you intend to fix them will show that you can manage your payment processing accounts.

Tell us your strategies for preventing fraud and/or chargebacks.

For instance, maybe you require a small deposit, which you take at the time of purchase, perhaps months before the date of travel. You then charge the rest closer to the date of departure. Some travel merchants might send their customers a text message or email just before the charge to keep the transaction top of mind for the customer.

Do I need an insurance plan against financial failure?

Account approval is possible without this type of insurance. It is helpful to provide the details if you have one.

Do I need to be associated with any organization?

You don’t need to be a member of any organization to get account approval. However, it is a good idea to have supporting documentation if you belong.

How to apply for a travel merchant account

Businesses must have a payment processing history of at least $50K per month to be eligible for a travel agency merchant account or a travel merchant account with most providers. Startups are not typically accepted.

You will be assisted by a dedicated travel merchant account specialist throughout the entire application process. The application process will require you to provide information about your company and supporting documents. The information requested includes company history, processing, and bank statements, identification of the signer, and identification for that account.

Approval of a travel merchant account can take from 3 to 10 business days. From the moment the application file is received, approval of international travel merchant accounts takes 14 to 21 business days.

These are some common strategies to help you get a travel merchant account. You don’t have to do them all. We will help you choose the right one or a combination.

  • Create and implement a solid and tested fraud prevention plan. This could include an assessment of your fraud prevention tactics and an introduction of tools that can help you notice potential fraud. This will require you to be proactive in finding and fixing any weaknesses in your processing.
  • To increase financial security, buy a monetary loss insurance plan.
  • You can incorporate risk management in your pricing by charging a 30% deposit to reserve the spot for your customer, and the balance due 30 calendar days before the trip.

The above actions, whether taken individually or collectively, will help you secure a travel merchant account. Sometimes, an underwriter may reject your application because it raises red flags. If this happens, we may negotiate with the bank to accept a deposit or deferred payments. They may not be the best terms but they are possible if circumstances warrant it.

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