3 Time-Proven Tips for Opening and Maintaining a High-Risk Merchant Account

Whether you’re looking to open a high-risk merchant account or trying to maintain one, you have your work cut out for you. High-risk accounts come with restrictive fees and obligations, and removing the high-risk tag isn’t easy. That’s particularly true if your credit score is poor or you receive too many chargebacks and fraud complaints from customers.

Still, having a high-risk merchant account is far from a death knell for your business. If you know how to compensate for the risk and make the most of what’s at your disposal, you can minimize the penalties to your business. Here are three tips that will help you achieve that.

1. Stay Off the MATCH List

MATCH stands for Mastercard’s Alert to Control High-Risk Merchants. This list allows acquirers to look up whether a merchant has been terminated by a different acquirer, as well as the reason behind the termination.

Basically, the MATCH list is a database of merchant accounts that acts as a blacklist for merchants. It helps acquirers make a decision if the merchant is trustworthy or not. Thanks to its global reach, ending up on the MATCH list can be very dangerous for merchants.

There are many reasons why a merchant might be added to the MATCH list. The most common ones include excessive fraud, excessive chargebacks, and violation of standards. In general, the easiest way to stay off the MATCH list is to do your due diligence.

2. Choose the Right Merchant Provider

Providers that support high-risk merchants aren’t doing it because they’re charitable or because they like the thrill of servicing risky accounts. They do it because supporting high-risk merchants can be very profitable, especially considering contractual fees and obligations.

When choosing your merchant provider, look for companies that offer solid customer service and have the right features for your business. These include eCommerce processing, gateways, integrations, alternative payment methods, and so on.

Before signing on the dotted line, make sure to read the fine print. Some payment processors charge excessive chargeback fees, which can vastly reduce the profitability of a high-risk business. Shop around to find the best rates available.

3. Do Your Best to Eliminate Chargebacks

Speaking of chargebacks, you should do your best to protect yourself from them. Having a high chargeback ratio harms your relationship with the acquiring bank, damages your reputation in the industry, and may eventually cause the termination of your account.

The best way to reduce your chargeback ratio is to secure your account. That involves implementing fraud detection tools and complying with PCI DSS regulations to protect your customers’ data. You should also be aware of the fraud landscape in your industry.

If you’re not already documenting everything associated with transactions, start doing it now. For example, if you’re running an eCommerce site, ask your customers to sign the package before release. Keep track of your products’ serial numbers for reference.

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