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How to Find High Risk Merchant Services for Ecommerce Stores

How to Find High Risk Merchant Services for Ecommerce Stores

20 years ago, it was amazing to have a book come right to your door from a little online store called Amazon.

Today, what’s even more amazing is that you can run your own little online store and send your own crafts and other products to your customers’ doors. Online services like Shopify and Miva have made it easy to open stores, bringing in side-hustle level money or even creating full-time gigs.

Collecting money is a critical aspect in online business success. Luckily, the ecommerce platforms make it easy to connect with merchant processors to make accepting credit, debit, PayPal and more payments simple. You will need both a merchant service provider and a payment gateway. It may be a few steps, but accepting a wide variety of payments only takes filling in fields online. You the ecommerce platform about the merchant service and payment gateway you want and follow the instructions to connect both to your bank account and website.

The good news is that technology has progressed to the point where vendors can have a store without a website. Google Shopping, Facebook Stores and Instagram shops sidestep the need for a website. Merchants simply list their inventory on their ecommerce platform and feed it out through a line of code.

Even better, most ecommerce platforms accommodate any merchant service provider you choose. To pick the right one, consider your business’s potential expansion and make sure your plan will accommodate that growth. Also, ask the merchant account service what specific features they offer for ecommerce shops.

Test All Software and Hardware

Quality software and hardware require a trial run before unleashing your business upon a market. It also gives you a chance to check out the customer service that comes with your ecommerce platform and your merchant account. Run through some experimental purchases. Get this done because when a glitch occurs in real-time with a real customer, you want to be able to get it taken care of quickly and with little thought or research. You risk not only alienating customers but ending up with chargebacks and returns.

Understand Fees Involved

Merchant account service charge a percentage for all transactions plus a flat rate for each transaction and a fee for each month. If the merchant service is asking for application, setup, programming, annual or termination fees, be wary. These fees are often considered unethical, and the competent providers do not require them.

Depending on the type of ecommerce business you run, you may be better off paying more up front but allows you to have a greater number of transactions each month. You have to look at your business and crunch the numbers to see what works best for you.

Finally, look in the fine print for “transaction volume caps,” or other charges. These can eat into your profits. Set daily or monthly transaction caps could prompt your provider to shut your account down. That’s the last thing you want if a surge in sales arises during a promotional or holiday offer.

Merchant Services Help You Increase Your Sales – Call 1 (800) 950-0212

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4 Ways to Reduce Your Merchant Credit Card Processing Fees

4 Ways to Reduce Your Merchant Credit Card Processing Fees

Credit card processing fees just come with the territory. That customers spend 20 t0 50 percent more when using credit cards should reassure you that accepting them feeds your profits. Use these tips to keep even more of your profits when you reduce your merchant credit card processing fees.

Find the Processor that Wants You

Just as lenders can specialize in certain types of borrowers, processors like to stock their portfolios with merchants that meet carefully selected criteria. They marshal the software and hardware that caters to different transaction amounts and volumes. They may also design their offers by a merchant’s average ticket price (ATP) or lifetime value (LTV). That’s why you should evaluate several merchant processors to see which wants to work hardest for your business.

This said, make sure that processors offering low rates also provide sufficient services and aren’t hiding fees. When you find a possible processor, check its Better Business Bureau rating. Create a spreadsheet and get answers to the following questions:

·        What is the total interest rate when including all fees?

·        What are the application, cancellation, statement and service fees? Can these be waived?

·        Do you require contracts? What are the terms?

·        How can I get a lower fee per transaction?

Those not willing to work with you do not deserve your business. Review the answers other merchant account services. Always read the fine print.

Hardware Considerations

Leasing credit card terminal means you’ll end up paying up to 20 times the machine’s cost. Typically, leases run for three to five years. While the terminals cost $200 to $400 up front, leasing can run from $40 to $70 each month. Keep in mind that you can also consider mobile credit card readers that plug into smartphones. These include Paypal Here, SparkPay, Intuit GoPayment and more.

There are also a handful of new mobile credit card readers merchants can consider. These inexpensive devices plug into a smartphone or tablet and allow credit cards to be accepted from anywhere. Examples include Square, Etsy, Intuit GoPayment, Paypal Here, Spark Pay and Amazon Local Register. Evaluate them to determine which fit your sales type and volume.

Remember to Swipe Rather than Entering Manually

When the merchant enters the cardholder’s information manually, they’ll pay more in fees per transaction than if swiping the card. Accounting software Intuit tells us that this is because processors know that manually entered transactions can be more easily hacked by thieves. A credit card’s magnetic strip or EMV chip has the most state-of-the-art security features. When a merchant enters numbers manually, those security features are not engaged. With risk of fraud high with manual entry, processors balance their risk by charging more. If you have to retrain cashiers, do it.

Use Minimum Sales Amounts to Maximize Profits

Convenience stores and restaurants have credit card use minimums for good reason. Small transactions with thin margins can make the sale a money loser. Some merchants worry that a minimum could cut sales. If customers push back on this policy, explaining the costs involved usually helps them understand.

All it takes is putting up a note that says you accept credit cards, but require a minimum sale of $10 or $20. If a customer doesn’t understand, simply explain that the cost of processing plastic can be burdensome.

Today, all businesses must accept credit and debit cards. With all of the additional payment methods requiring a processor, no business can go without a merchant account. The fees involved should not scare you away from providing your customers a wide variety of ways to pay.

Merchant Services Help You Increase Your Sales – Call 1 (800) 950-0212

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How Will You Make Your Vape Shop Unique?

high end vape shop owner

Will your shop be swanky or gritty?

 E-cigarettes and vape pens are spreading to every corner of the world.

High demand has spawned the emergence of over 200 electronic cigarette brands in just 10 years since the industry began. Today, 12% of middle school and high school students in every state vape or use e-cigs at least once every month.

Are you planning on opening a vape shop? Consider carefully what kind of clientele you want to draw. Over the past 5 years, the vape and e-cig shops cropping up have been as varied as grungy biker/hipster joints to sophisticated, urban lounges.

Use these ideas to put your own imprint on your new vape shop.

  1. The Urban Salon

Ron and Deana Marshall of Bozeman, Montana decided to open a vape shop in the middle of a college town with a population of approximately 65,000. Young adults usually buy e-cigs online, perhaps afraid to be seen in public areas. However, Ron and Deana wished to leverage the added value of personal service. They had a young designer help them choose colors arrange comfortable couches and chairs into cozy enclaves. Given the social nature of the age group, it wasn’t long before students were taking study breaks in the Marshall’s off-beat abode. While there, the Marshall’s offered to let the students sample various flavors and pens. They hope one day choosing these devices and the liquid smoke that goes in them will be as personal and revealing as choosing a car.

  1. The Joy of Eating & Smoking

Any smoker will tell you of the ideal relaxation experienced in smoking after a delicious meal. Texan Kyle Harris decided to go with this already established practice when he opened The Ramble Creek Vape Company and Grill, which offers unique burgers and other comfort food along with the e-liquids they sell.

What began as just offering the e-liquids quickly expanded to actually pairing the dishes with the smoke flavors. Just as a sommelier pairs a vintage cabernet with the right cheese and beef, Harris began suggesting several after-dinner choices that complement the meal. The idea took off and Harris, like the Marshalls, opened up a new store with the same concept in another Texas town.

vape shop with motorcycle

  1. The Niche Appeal

Andrew Poirier felt he was stagnating in his job pouring concrete, but assumed he could never make the same money anywhere else. Further, since it was his father’s company, he hated to admit he wasn’t happy.

On a trip to Arizona, a friend introduced him to vaping. Inspired, he began selling vape pens and e-cigarettes from his car to construction and concrete workers.

Poirier explains, “I was pouring concrete and climbing girders to get vaping products to the steel workers many stories overhead. It was almost comical.” With years’ experience in the industry, his credibility in his target audience was solid. He knew his way around a site and could talk to the managers easily.

As he built his contacts, he began considering opening an actual shop. He rented a space close to where he knew many construction workers lived, and his grand opening was well attended. He continued to appeal to construction workers by putting on events he knew they would enjoy and creating frequent user programs and even competitions that made interacting with his store familiar and fun.

Today, Poirer enjoys a six-figure MONTHLY income. With his own capital, he is considering creating his own e-liquid flavors.

Clearly, involvement in another field doesn’t preclude anyone from opening a vape shop. In fact, your former career can act as a springboard into your life as an e-cig entrepreneur!

Our blog post “E-Cigarette Trends to Expect After FDA’s Recent Ruling” covers how even with something of a backlash against e-cigarettes, the trend is rising. The Research Foundation predicts vaping could eliminate traditional cigarettes all together over the next 20 years. In India today, 10% of smokers have already switched to vaping. Doctors there predict that the smoke-related illnesses and diseases will decrease significantly over the next 5 years.

Use this article to come up with your own fresh version of a vape and e-cigarette shop. Implementing guerilla marketing strategies always give you an edge among competitors.

Before you start, have a clear idea of a well-defined target audiences, as well as their needs, motivations and pain points. Since vapers tend to buy regularly, accepting credit cards is critical. Not only does using this payment method ensure consistent payment, it makes re-ordering convenient for your customers. First Financial specializes in providing the best merchant services for vape shop owners and others in high-risk industries. Apply today!

Successful Marketing Tactics for the Web Design Company

web design presentation

Web designers with a niche can command higher fees. 

 While the growing demand for web design is something to celebrate, it also brings new designers to the market, making competition fierce. The freelance web designer needs to be an able marketer, coder and creative artist to earn a living.

Conquer the marketing aspect of running your own web design company by reading these tried-and-true tactics. 

  1. Get a Niche

Today, the business website is critical not only to bring in new customers, but to establish credibility.

Capturing the true size of the market only starts with every business having a mobile-friendly website. Anymore, businesses are putting up separate websites for events they put on, books they write and communities they establish. Further, every entrepreneur starts one business only to spin off two or three others. As we discussed in our post, Web Design Outlook for 2016 and Beyond, demand for the average American job will increase by 7% until the year 2024, but the American economy will call for 27% more web developers and designers.

Long story short: there’s enough business to go around. Designers with niches (restaurants, finance, healthcare, retail, etc.) can begin to build deep expertise. They learn characteristics not only of their clients, but their client’s target audiences and referral partners. Further, they learn the legal limitations and opportunities for everything they can say on the website. When a web designer can convince a prospect they learned from the successes and failures of past attempts, they gain credibility . . . and more money. Most businesses would prefer to pay a little more to get the job done right the first time.


  1. Network in the Niche

Everybody knows how to network through their Chambers of Commerce where they meet people in all industries. Finding niche networks helps the web designer hear all of the participants’ pain points, complaints, opportunities and successes. This information eventually becomes very valuable, as the informed web designer can explain the prospect’s issues before he or she even has a chance. Networking events also gives you opportunity to meet new talented people, create connections with them and eventually find potential customers.

Putting on a presentation or attending a meet-up in your niche also gives you the opportunity to connect on a personal, face-to-face basis. Even volunteering your skills for an organization showcases your talents to your selected niche.

web designer with client


  1. Set up a Good Looking Portfolio

This is the best way to show off all your skills and experience on web designing. This lures customers and make them interested in your capabilities. You can attached this to your own website or any owned social media accounts.

You can go general in your portfolio. Do not just limit your portfolio to skills and experience related to web designing. You can go general and make people see your other talents. They might serve as an additional asset so keep your portfolio versatile.

  1. Make Valuable Partnerships

You can collaborate with field related businesses like web hosting companies or web developers. In this way, you are actually operationally putting your skills to the test. You can also offer more to your clients with the additional features and services from your partner companies, an advantage in keeping up over other competing web designers.

  1. Making it Personal

If you want to make your customers happy, you need to make them feel that you genuinely care for them and can provide them quality service and output with personal intentions even after you are done making your work and have been already paid. There are customers that need to be wooed and need to be given nice gestures, compliments to win them. Gifts and like chocolates and cupcakes, as well as holiday greetings or anything that reflect you as devoted and friendly can win them over. This also includes your way of advertising your service. Try to be a bit provoking and trendy that can catch someone’s attention.


These are the 5 most helpful tips in marketing planning for web designers like you to be successful in the industry. Remember that you have to be versatile to new strategies and techniques so that you keep up with the new trends and demands. Attract customers, make them happy, and you will be successful. When you go to collect credit card payments, remember to apply at A+ Rated First Financial, where high-risk businesses like web designers get the best merchant accounts.


3 Profitable Firearm and Ammunitions Businesses to Start in 2017

gun shop owner with guns and ammo

Some gun shop owners make six figures each year! 

 Despite potential legislation limiting gun availability, America’s gun enthusiasts will never let legislators overturn the Second Amendment.

In fact, in 2013 American companies alone produced 11 million guns and sold all but 440,000 right here in the 50 states. Americans and U.S. companies imported an additional 5.5 million.[1]

Gun ownership’s bright strand in the fabric of American identity promises a stable future for firearms and ammunitions companies.

The following are the three most related businesses you can actually start as being in the firearms and ammunitions industry:

  1. Firearm Training Instructor

Start Up Costs:            $2,000 – $5,000

Typical Salary:                         $50, 000


Gun lovers with excellent shooting skills, patience and an affinity for social interaction can consider training others on the proper use of guns. The numbers of gun owners are only growing and these new clients need someone to help guide them in their new hobby. With many Americans now taking self-defense with firearms classes, demands for firearm training instructors have tripled in just the last few years. What a good way to start being paid for something you love!

Those interested in becoming firearm instructors need to explore state regulations. Having a Department of Justice certification will go far in credibility for your career. Some states only require a reasonable apprenticeship and passing of the Firearms Safety Test.

Once licensed, market yourself and your services is by networking at shooting ranges and gun clubs and seminars. You should have a full roster of clients in no time.

  1. Gunsmithing

 Start Up Costs: $1,000

Typical Salary:  $60,000  (full-time)

Gun hobbyists who like to work with their hands and would enjoy exposure to many styles of firearms can put out a shingle as a gunsmith. Many take gunsmithing up as a “side hustle,” a way to supplement a regular income.

Anyone close to the gun community knows that people treat their weapons gingerly and almost with beloved-pet-level care. In other words, gun owners spend on their guns!

While a hobbyist can begin charging at any time, having some training establishes credibility. Still, getting a credential from the American Gunsmithing Institute will add to your skills. Similarly, the Modern Gun School in Wilmington, Delaware has trained thousands of gunsmiths already. Still, many schools exist around the country, many of which have courses you can take online.

As you start your business, keep in mind that many gunsmiths fail because they don’t charge enough to cover expenses. Tally up your operating costs before beginning, and create prices that ensure a profit.

Also, just like other business, you need to market your service. Having a table at a gun show, networking at firearms conferences and getting to know your local gun clubs and shooting ranges all help you get your name into the community. Stimulate word-of-mouth marketing by asking your clients for testimonials, preferably posted on Google or Yelp.

  1. Gun Shop Owner

Start-Up Costs: $10, 000 – $50, 000

Typical Income: $10,000 to $1,000,000

If you have the money and some business experience or savvy, opening a gun shop is the best way on getting paid for working in the firearms and ammunition industry. Starting a gun shop can costly and time consuming, however. Your first year show a loss of income rather than a profit. It doesn’t start with finding your location. There are many arrangements to make before ordering your first case of shells.

Get ready to:

  • Incorporate your business: Gun shop owners must be incorporated. Get guidance from your local Senior Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) or your City
  • Get a license and permit: Apply and get a Federal Firearms Licensee license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) before starting your shop. Brace yourself: this can be a long process.
  • Locate your shop: After confirming that you’re clear to open and run a gun shop, you can find a location. Bear in mind that federal agents will inspect the location before giving you the federal firearms license.

firearms instructor demonstrating skills at firing range

Firearms trainers can earn $50,000 per year. 

Americans cling fiercely to their guns. With the surge of terrorism both domestic and international, most want effective ways to protect their families. The firearm and ammunition industry will continue to grow over the coming decade. Your full-time or side gun business can be both enjoyable and profitable!  When you go to accept credit cards, don’t forget that First Financial is the national leader in providing merchant accounts for businesses in high-risk industries like firearms and ammunition.



9 Elements of the Tech Support Business Plan Lenders Love

technology services business plan

 In Heart, Smarts, Guts and Luck, released by Harvard Review Press, author Anthony Tjan explains the commonalities among the hundreds of successful entrepreneurs he and his team interviewed over a two year period.

Surprisingly, 70 percent of this fortunate cohort did not start with a business plan. Instead, they dove in feet first, working hard doing the business rather than writing about it.

Did they need one when they got to the point of expansion?

You bet. Lenders don’t even look at a borrower without a business plan. A robustly written document chronicling the business’s history to this point indicates how seriously entrepreneurs take the whole borrowing experience. It also indicates the respect a business affords those willing to lend them money.

Careful attention to each of the ten elements of the technical support business plan increases the odds that you’ll win money from those looking to earn a healthy return.

  1. Business Description

Keep your description concise and straightforward, but include exactly what your company does and where it earns profits. It should also answer:


  • why your business was formed? Feel free to include your passion as many lenders will be looking for it. The most successful entrepreneurs have an abundance of heart and drive. They work around the clock because honestly, working their business is their hobby, their fun, their stimulation and achievement. Don’t be afraid to let that show.


  • the business’ mission and model: how does your business seek to solve problems of consumers, other businesses or government entities? Be clear on why you started the business: what gaps did you see in the market that desperately needed to be filled.


  • products (software) or services (technical or computer support: describe exactly what you sell and the price point of each item, package or service. Remember to cover both features and benefits.
  • people involved: lenders will want to know what each key player brings to the table. They will consider themselves owners of the business to some extent, and as owners want to be able to depend on talented, hard-working people.
  • relationships to be leveraged. When a company principle knows a key player in their market, lenders know they have a shortcut to profits. List all relationships your business can leverage to get to the end user as soon as possible.
  1. When the company was formed and the major hurdles it’s crossed.

This is a follow-up of the previous section, where you discuss more about the history of the company and its achievement so far. It is important not to skip this part because you can trace the business’ development by tracking what it has done since the beginning. Emphasizing that your started small and conservative and then scaled quickly will win points. Jot down when the company reached each of these milestones and the result

  • Initial capital contributions
  • Product/service launch
  • First client
  • First business loan
  • Additional product/service launches
  • Marketing plan roll out
  • Month company made a profit
  • Quarter company made a profit
  • Legal filing (S-Corp, partnership, LLC, etc.)
  • Internet launch
  • Overseas launch
  1. Target Market and Market Analysis

Describe the ideal consumer of your products (software) or services (tech support). The size of the market and how it will grow should also be couched to entice lenders.  That consumer can be other businesses, individuals, non-profits or government entities. Explain their needs and pain points and how your company solves them. Include target demographics like income, gender, family situation, social status, buying habits and more. Include trends and research to indicate your target market will only demand more of your products or services in the years to come.

  1. Competitors and Unique Selling Proposition

No company is without competition. It’s the carefully chosen niche or unique selling proposition that ensures the easiest profits won.

First, list your top competitors, their target markets and unique selling propositions (a.k.a. differentiators). Then discuss what products and services they’ve missed supplying in the market. You can also discuss a niche market they’ve failed to target effectively.

Finally, go back to your milestones and fill in how your unique selling propositions played a part in the achievements the company has won. This step will help deliver a complete picture to the lenders you approach.


  1. Business Model

How you make money exactly can be more important than endless Excel spreadsheets depicting every revenue stream and expense. Early estimations don’t carry much weight with lenders as these can be just too hard to predict.

Instead, carefully explain whether your business makes money via subscriptions, transactions or advertising.  Each model has a very different way of bringing in sales. Principles must start from the beginning monetizing the business in the most appropriate and effective way. Have your business model down cold. 


business plan checklist

  1. Marketing Strategy

After you have done a market analysis, lenders want to see how you plan to reach out to your ideal audience. After all, “A business with no marketing is just a hobby. A business without a solid product is just snake oil.”

Here, you can either explain your most effective marketing tactics and the agencies or consultants you’ve used so far. If your business is a start-up, explain how you plan to reach your ideal audience via both digital and traditional channels. Demonstrate that you’ve researched just where your ideal audience hangs out these days and whether they respond best to email, television commercials or search engine optimization. This section could require an outside marketing agency or at least a marketing consultant. 

  1. Sales Strategy

Your sales strategy should be as robust as your marketing strategy. More, each element should reference the other. How do you plan to divide your technical support services? Do you have packages in mind for different sized businesses? In this section, you should also include pricing policy. What costs of labor and overhead goes into your pricing policy? Finally, don’t forget to include the sales promotions you plan to include, especially those designed to win new customers.

  1. Funding Sources/Requirements/Projections

In this section, detail the funds your business requires. After writing the fund requirements, describe fund projections. These are forward-looking projections like cash flow statements, balance sheet and profit-loss-statements.

Business plans are indeed very essential in your business. Those who start with a plan can roll out their businesses in an informed way. Also, the business plan helps you keep track of whether you’re meeting your goals or not. Those looking for business loans, merchant services or merchant advances can trust A+ rated First Financial to review their applications and provide an answer with 48 hours.  Operating 100% online, First Financial’s automation and lower marketing costs keep interest rates affordable for all small businesses. Apply today!


E-Cigarette Trends to Expect after the FDA’s Recent Tobacco Ruling

Every vape shop owner probably knows by now that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finalized a ruling bringing e-cigarettes under its supervision.

 With vaping pens and e-cigarettes now categorized as tobacco, manufacturers will have to submit  products for an extensive pre-approval process. Where the FDA estimates this cost to be under $500,000 per product, manufacturers put the price at more like $2 million. Just six years old, the vaping industry is reeling from this decision. Vape shop owners should know how this ruling impacts e-cigarette trends.

Behind the E-Cigarette Legislation

Once touted as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, vape pens and e-cigarettes have gained in popularity since first coming onto the market in 2007. Now a $1.5 billion-dollar industry, its appeal to teenage smokers has ironically brought about this blow

In 2011, just 1.5% of high school students smoked e-cigarettes. By 2015, that number had risen to 16%. According to Centers for Disease and Prevention, today approximately 3 million high school and middle school students use the devices. The CDC and other powerful lobby groups like the American Lung Association aim to prevent young adults from picking up any smoking habit at all. They pushed the FDA to inspect these devices for premarket approval. This new regulation will cost the companies millions of dollars, pushing perhaps some smaller shops and manufacturers out of business.

E-Cigarettes Prices to Rise

With much higher costs, E-cigarettes, liquid smoke and accessories will get more expensive, particularly those made by boutique manufacturers. Tobacco giant RJ Reynolds (which owns VUSE) will be better able to absorb the approval costs, but smaller manufacturers will struggle. Still, vape shop owners carry both lines: both the esoteric, finely crafted brands for the real connoisseurs and the less expensive for the masses. Shop owners can experiment with which products keep them profits at a maximum.

E-Cigarette Variety to Decline as Some Manufacturers Close

If high quality, boutique manufacturers can’t cut costs in other areas, the FDA’s approval costs could close them down, leaving shop owners with fewer varieties to offer. Consider how Anheuser Busch and Miller make lower quality beer at a low for a large audience. Craft brewers, on the other hand, create high quality, higher-priced drafts for the true beer connoisseurs. The vaping industry has a similar division. This is how the very best products often become discontinued.

Currently, Altria and R.J. Reynolds are the only companies with the best chances of complying with the regulation because they have the budget to fund the testing. These two huge entities just pull budget from the traditional cigarettes. According to the president of American Vaping Association Gregory Conly, the regulation will cut into costs, but not threaten their existence.

Recent Research and Demand Supporting a Healthy E-Cigarette Future

 Despite the challenges outlined above, exciting recent studies have shown that vaping will continue to grow. Current research reveals some exciting health benefits e-cigarettes offer over traditional cigarettes.

First, a study from US-based non-profit organization Research Foundation predicts that after 20 years, vaping might have the chance to eliminate traditional cigarettes all together. Currently, in India, 10% of smokers have already switched to vaping. Doctors there predict that the smoke-related illnesses and diseases will decrease significantly over the next 5 years.

Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center’s extensive study revealed out that using e-cigarettes will lead to a drop of 21% smoking related problems and death a 20% life gain.

While some toxic chemicals do exist in these new products, a Harvard Medical School study found they’re present in far lower levels in e-cigarettes than in traditional ones. Further, study authors predict that the devices will improve in quality and, most importantly, safety over the next ten years. As they do, consumers will be more and more willing to drop their tobacco cigarettes for healthier vaping options.


A+ Rated First Financial Helps E-Cigarette Shops STAY in Business

New and established vape shops and e-cigarette vendors trust First Financial to get them the high-risk merchant accounts that enable customers to pay easily. Apply online for e-cig merchant accounts and start accepting credit cards in days. You’ll know within 48 hours whether you’ve been approved.

Multi-Level Marketing Enjoying Upswing

graphic of multilevel marketing account

 Next time anyone hints that multi-level marketing is a “fringe” business, let them know that in 2015 it brought in $40 billion, a level on par with the pet and cosmetics industries.

Recently, a Forbes article even positioned multi-level marketing as a solution to America’s current retirement savings crisis. After conducting his own research on the multi-level marketing industry, the once-skeptical Forbes author and self-proclaimed retirement activist Robert Laura states, “I no longer perceive these types of opportunities as money-making pyramid schemes. Instead, I now see it as a way to enhance many of the personal aspects of retirement.”

Laura isn’t alone. Some of the nation’s strictest number crunchers concur.

IBIS World, the renowned resource for industry trends, reported that direct selling companies (aka the multi-level marketing industry) has shown annual growth each year over the past five. IBIS World predicts that, “the industry is expected to continue to grow, driven by improved consumer confidence.”

The Direct Selling Association Growth & Outlook Survey also forecasts a robust future for multi-level marketing. Not only has the industry grown every year since 2009, the 5.5% increase in revenues from 2013 to 2014 entices anyone looking to make a living selling unique products through community connections.

Springboard Your MLM Business on 2016 Trends

As much as industry pundits’ perspectives support multilevel marketing’s potential, staying current on the prevailing trends in the industry maximizes sales. Consider:

• Tie-ins Boost Sales: Tailor your product to your clientele, regionally. Tie in your product with a popular local festival, or any other popular seasonal event. Whether it’s a tie-in to a new Star Wars movie, or maybe a “back-to-school” sale bonanza, incorporating a fun theme keeps customers upbeat, and certain you’re looking out for them.

• Technology/Mobile Boosts Sales. Hit up your home base for any and every mobile solution they have. Leverage their sales and marketing apps, presentations and the screens that help you sign-up new recruits and customers via smartphones. Make sure ease of online payment is evident on these apps.

• Social Media and Email Keep You Connected. The Facebook group you create gets your messages to your team on a platform they most likely check daily anyway. Email (no more than weekly!) to both team members and customers keeps your business top of mind.

• Videos Familiarize. Don’t forget to post videos of yourself using new products, and then feel free to email/post on Facebook and YouTube. When your potential customers can see the product in action, they get more excited about experiencing it firsthand.

multilevel pyramid of people
A+ Rated First Financial Offers High Risk Merchant Accounts for Multi-Level Marketing Companies

Multi-level marketing revenue has gained ground since the economic downturn. Many Americans who lost their jobs in the wake of the recession established direct selling businesses as a means of income due to the relatively low start-up costs. As we approach 2020, the industry is expected to continue to grow, driven by improved consumer confidence, improving employment figures and disposable income. To get the multi-level marketing merchant account customers trust and appreciate, apply today!

Student Loan Consolidation Services Industry Outlook for 2016

Students learning about loan consolidation business

 If you are in the business of providing student loan consolidation services, you may be concerned about the negative news coverage. Recent findings tell us concern over reliability is nonsense. In 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau declared the student lending crisis overblown.

The truth remains that banks consider student loan consolidations less risky than school-issued loans. Original loans go to students in the midst of their studies. Some haven’t even declared a major yet. Consolidation loans, on the other hand, require that the student has graduated, is employed, and has a track record of repayments on outstanding consumer debts. These three criteria reflect an individual in a far less risky situation.

Another benefit of student loan consolidations over government loans is that the enrollment application process is easier to navigate and less complex than enrolling for a Federal student loan.

Industry growth

The whole student loan consolidation service industry has grown. In the United States, the outstanding student loan debt currently stands at more than $1 trillion dollars. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s did an analysis that indicated 1.58 million student borrowers were enrolled in a repayment plan that was income-driven.

Changing Trends

The student loan consolidation industry is starting to change. The latest trend indicates that rather than focusing solely on a student’s FICO score, loan consolidators are looking more towards a student’s earning potential based on the college diploma earned. Even with a low FICO score, a student can still be considered creditworthy with a degree in a high-salary subject (engineering, e.g.).
Another trend bodes well for the industry. Graduates are still able to refinance a federal student loan through a private consolidation service without losing the protections from a federal student loan.

Federal Student Loans Are Not Necessarily Secure

Once you convince your clients that private student debt consolidation works as well for recent graduates as public version, success in the student debt consolidation industry follows.

Explain to clients that the government itself in in currently debt by more than 19 trillion dollars. If a student gets a federal loan, it is basically backed by that national debt. Federal funding for a student’s education runs the risk of becoming null and void. A private firm student loan, however, is backed by private lenders, and potentially more reliable.

silhouetted students against city backdrop

The Merchant Account Connects the New Grad and the Loan Provider

You may have already learned that your student loan consolidation business falls into the high risk category. Don’t panic about obtaining a merchant account. First Financial specializes in high risk industries and will make sure you can process the payments coming in. Read about our student loan services merchant accounts here!

Tech Support Industry Outlook for 2016 and Beyond

tech support is open because of merchant accounts


 Those in the tech space have been watching the “Internet of Things” approaching for a while now. This development alone ensures that plenty of consumers will be needing tech support in the coming decades.

Evolving technology drives the products software and hardware companies continually release. For any business to remain competitive, maintaining up-to-date computer technology is a must.

New in the 1960s, computers flew off the shelves at the rate of 264 million in 2015 alone! This figure doesn’t even factor in laptops, cell phones, ipads, or any of the other myriad of gadgets that make our world run smoothly today. In fact, the huge proliferation of cell phone/tablet/ipads, etc., means that users are demanding efficient WiFi connections to perform work functions effectively wherever they are. This means the tech support industry will always be in demand.

In God We Trust . . . All Others Must Bring Data

Need some good research to give you confidence?

According to, THE premiere business industry research website, the tech support industry will continue growing steadily over the next ten years. The report further explains that computer and IT occupations will grow “faster than the average for all occupations.”

In addition, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that computer/tech support specialist jobs are expected to increase 17% from through the year 2022. This should come as no surprise, considering the constantly changing technical landscape, requiring a constant source of mobile phone assistance, cloud computing expertise, and large data storage.
The U.S. Department of Labor also mentioned that the computer systems services industry is one of the economy’s “largest and fastest sources of employment growth.” The same source added that companies have accepted that the complexity of computer interfacing and connectivity demands means that the business owners “choose to hire an outside IT company rather than hire specialists in-house.”

Endless Possibilities for the Tech Support Industry

This is all excellent news for those in the tech support industry! The services offered in this arena are seemingly endless: network support, IT assistance, custom software design, repair and maintenance, computer programming, hardware and software management, designing integrated systems and even customizing software.

The business world will always need tech support experts, because the average business owner doesn’t have the time or the know-how to keep up with today’s complicated phone/computer updates and troubleshooting. These areas have just become too complex. They must depend on the reliable tech support workers to keep a company afloat.

Another fact that supports the tech support business is how prevalent obtaining low-cost labor can be. An estimated 43% of companies in the US use an overseas outsourcing for a portion of their IT needs. This workforce is fluid and inexpensive, ensuring you can quote by the job.

tech support employee discussing merchant account

The Merchant Account Joins Tech Support and the User

Today’s economy has separated the tech support professional from the user, often by thousands of miles. Sending checks is not longer feasible. Anyone starting a technical support service must be able to process credit and debit cards via the Internet. You may have already learned that your tech support business falls into the high risk category, making it tougher to get a merchant account. First Financial specializes in high risk industries and will make sure you can process the payments coming in. Read about our tech support services merchant accounts here.

7 Smart Ways to Manage Your High Risk Merchant Account for Long Term Consistency


How to Apply

 You don’t have to tell us how tough it is to win a high-risk merchant account, we hear about it every day from our callers. Luckily, because First Financial specializes in high-risk merchant accounts, every day, we ease minds and get scores of businesses on the path to accepting credit cards. Adult related services, golf club manufacturers, travel agencies and airlines all have one thing in common: relegation to the high-risk merchant account category. Despite a few extra steps, businesses in these industries and 30 or so more niches run profitably. Here at First Financial, we urge applicants to rid the term “high-risk” of its typical, negative meaning and instead consider it just another category that requires a few more steps before credit card money payments start pouring in.

Once a business has proven its reliability and business potential to a merchant services provider, it doesn’t relish the idea of going through the whole process all over again. That’s why it’s key to skillfully manage the high-risk account you win to avoid charge backs and other issues that the processor could see as a red flag. We find that lots of these red flags simply amount to oversights typical of the hard-working, thinly stretched entrepreneur. Still, knowing exactly how to run your merchant account can save you hassle, time and money and hopefully win you a dedicated merchant service provider that stays with you for decades.

Avoid Chargebacks by Providing Helpful, Available Customer Service
We tackle the biggest issue first. A high rate of chargebacks (returns) is the number one reason so many large banks refuse to even speak to the businesses in the 30+ high-risk industries. Airlines and travel agencies get chargebacks when travelers decide last minute that Las Vegas is too just crowded and Yosemite calls to them instead. Golf club manufacturers get chargebacks when their clubs DON’T turn buyers into LGPA tour competitors (imagine that!).

While many put chargebacks in “the price of doing business” category, conscientious customer service reduces them significantly. Giving your ideal clients easy ways to contact you—rather than the merchant service provider—reduces your chargeback rate significantly. Make your business transparent and easy to contact by making the following adjustments to your website and other customer contact points.

• Clearly post email addresses and phone numbers on your website.

• Create Facebook, Twitter and even YouTube channels where customers are free to post their opinions, complaints and even praise. Recognize that every business now has customers posting criticism and praise every day. Most readers can differentiate the crackpots from the reasonable people.

• Consider setting up an email newsletter that keeps your customers in contact with you. Make it clear that the newsletter’s purpose is to support the customer’s optimal use of your products and services.

While this level of transparency can intimidate some business owners, rest assured that research consistently confirms that customer service representatives and others easily turn complaining customers into brand evangelists simply by listening to customer complaints, sympathizing and rectifying any errors.

One of the most respected ways to indicate a business’ transparency is to make sure to include complete descriptor information on the consumer’s monthly credit card statement. Make sure the consumer can read the full company name and complete customer service number. High-risk merchant accounts get cancelled when incomplete phone numbers or business names appear. Ensure your contact information is correct by running a test transaction.

Other ways to limit chargebacks include:
• Manually review transactions where the customer’s authentication request was declined. Consider calling the buyer.
• Create and disclose all return, privacy, refund, return and cancellation policies.
• Review and batch transactions on a daily basis.
• Insist on proof of identification upon delivery for high priced items.
• Cancel orders immediately upon client request.
• Consumers change credit cards frequently. Work with your merchant account provider to set up automatic credit card updates.

Demonstrate Client Service
In the era of digital marketing when businesses have to provide all kinds of value before winning a sale, businesses must go the extra mile to forge lasting relationships with each and every customer. Merchant service providers appreciate signals that a business works to benefit its clients. Express client services take the form of emails to customers to report when an order is shipped that also provides the tracking code. Emails that explain an order is on backorder also indicates to merchant service providers that the high-risk business operates for the benefit of their customer base. Finally, satisfying customers demanding refunds may feel like short-term pain, but long-term reliability and respectability. Even if a business wins a chargeback dispute, that chargeback still remains on their record. Is it worth it?

Fast Response to Merchant Services Inquiries
When the merchant services agency contacts the business to discuss a dispute, a fast response reassures the agency that the business operates in a responsible, efficient manner. Business occurs between people. A merchant services representative that gets a satisfying, friendly answer from a customer service representative or business owner will of course view that case more favorably than the business without this courtesy.

Take the Time to Monitor Accounts and Use Fraud Protection
Increasingly sophisticated Internet criminals attempt fraudulent purchases in hopes for a return that results in cash. Always manually review your monthly statements and consider calling buyers that seem suspicious. Do not ship until you’ve established the buyer’s sincerity.

Most merchant services offer fraud protection that block transactions from countries notorious for high levels of fraud. It also compares each credit card transaction against reliable standards to reduce instances of fraud.

First Financial Merchant Services Welcomes Businesses In High Risk Industries
First Financial has found the merchant service providers who are hungry to get businesses in high-risk industries accepting credit cards. With the majority of American consumers using credit cards more than other payments at a rate of three to one, any business that wants to reach optimal cash flow must accept credit cards. Apply for a high-risk merchant account here. Follow us on Facebook to get smart budgeting and saving tips!

Get Cash Advance and PayDay Loan Merchant Accounts in a Tough Environment

payday loan service merchant account

Organize for Approval! 

 PayDay lenders have been getting quite a bit of attention recently, and not much of the good kind.

In August of 2013, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman charged Western Sky Financial with requiring interest rates of 300%, many times the state’s cap of 25%. More, several large e-check processors cut ties with all payday clients, making it impossible for check cashing, cash advance and payday businesses to serve customers.

The recent crackdowns have sent payday lenders scrambling for ways to keep their doors open. A+ rated First Financial has the reliable cash advance and payday loan merchant account services that keep you in business. We’re proud to help both brick and mortar and online cash advance and payday loan providers service their customers efficiently. Our fast approvals at competitive rates are the best in the industry.

 Fast Approval:  Just a Matter of Document Organization

Here is everything you need to get in business (or BACK in business if you’ve been dumped by another processor) as a payday loan or cash advance service:

  • last six months of processing statement from your current processor if you have one.
  • 3 months of business bank statements
  • business’ articles of incorporation, corporate resolution for officers and bylaws
  • Fictitious Name Statement or copy of Proof of Publication
  • Customer loan agreement
  • Business marketing materials
  • Owner drivers’ license of passport
  • Recent utility bill displaying owner address
  • List of states in which your business operates
  • Business most recent BSA/AML review

As you can see, it’s just a matter of pulling up some files. Possibly you have them all in one place anyway.Once these documents are reviewed, we may request the business’ tax returns, statement of information and fee schedules for finalization.

A+ Rated First Financial Gets your PayDay Loan Service Going Again

Whether you’re just getting started, looking for a new merchant account to replace an existing one or scrambling madly after being dumped by your current processor, First Financial has the solution to stabilize your business. Apply online in minutes. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter for the frequent tips that will help your business thrive!


5 Tips for Getting Smokers’ Accessories or E-Cigarette Shop Merchant Accounts

High Risk Doesn’t Mean Out of Reach

Being part of a new trend is exciting. Smokers’ accessories and e-cigarette shop owners get to interact with a client base energized by the latest products. Being ahead of the curve, however, brings some challenges, too.


 Have you tried to get a smokers’ accessories or e-cigarette shop merchant account only to be turned down? You’ve probably learned that your completely legitimate business lands in the “high risk” category. Where adult related merchant services applications get turned down because of controversy over what they offer, smokers’ accessories and e-cigarette businesses are turned down simply because these stores haven’t been in business long enough for processors to gauge their reliability. Processors also need more time and data to understand how, when and in what quantities money comes in. Smokers’ accessories and e-cigarette shops get penalized for being brand new.

 The Good News about High Risk Accounts

Processors exist who specialize in not only high risk and low volume accounts, but even high risk and high volume merchant accounts for smokers’ accessories and e-cig shops. First Financial has found them AND screened them AND made sure they focus on your needs. We also make it convenient and fast for you to get set up by providing online high risk merchant account application just for smokers’ accessories and e-cig stores. So, when wading into the high risk waters, make sure you:

  1. Don’t go it alone. First Financial has done the legwork to find the best processors for reliable smokers’ accessories and e-cigarette merchant accounts.
  2. Organize the rationale behind your product selection.  Some e-cig or vape stores offer a wide range of products form portable and digital to herbal grinders. Others focus on a wide variety of just a few products. Whatever you settle on, having an explanation will reflect the thought you’ve put into your business.
  3. Prepare for less room for negotiation. Banks limit their risk in the industry by charging higher fees and less flexible terms. Still, experts agree that offering the convenience of credit card payments increases sales and revenue.
  4. Get your credit rating into good shape. Do the best you can to pay all late payments. Once completed, call one of the three major reporting agencies (Trans Union, Equifax, and Experian) and explain that these payments have been made.
  5. Consider getting a cash “reserve account” together for the processor. Many providers require that you put a certain percentage of your sales into a separate account accessible to the processor in the instance of as insurance against future losses. That you’re ready to provide this kind of security indicates you’re taking the businesses seriously.

Flexible Payment Options Spur Higher Sales

Whether you’re just starting up or bringing new payment convenience to your established business, First Financial has the high risk merchant services you need to capture impulse buys and provide convenience to customers. Apply online for smokers’ accessories and e-cig merchant accounts. You’ll know within 48 hours whether you’ve been approved.  Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter for the frequent tips that will help your business thrive!

5 Insider Tips to Get an Adult Related Services Merchant Account

H1 5 Insider Tips to Get an Adult Related Services Merchant Account

High Risk Doesn’t Mean Out of Reach

Reliable Merchant Account Services for Adult and Adult Membership Businesses

 While the adult services industry may be controversial, it is fully legal. Businesses in this niche have the same rights to accept and process credit cards as those in the auto, gift or any other industry. Still, many starting an adult related services business face roadblocks. First, lenders who fear repercussions from shareholders and customers stay away from adult related services merchant accounts all together. Since adult businesses can be quite lucrative, we at First Financial look upon this reluctance as a loss on their end. You should as well.

 A+ Rated First Financial Helps You Through the Hoops

If you’re starting a new adult business or looking to expand, you have considerable planning ahead, as well as a mountain of daily tasks to complete. First Financial has taken the legwork out of finding your ideal adult merchant services account. We’ve explored the field and narrowed our lenders down to those ready to work with you at competitive rates. This said, applying for an adult related services merchant account does take a little more fortitude. To increase your odds for acceptance, follow these tips:

  1. Take some time to clean up your credit rating. Remove what you can from your current credit report. Pay all late payments and liens and then call one of the three major reporting agencies (Equifax, Trans Union and Experian) and explain that these payments have been made.
  2. Be ready with an explanation about previous merchant accounts that have been closed, bankruptcies or judgments. These don’t automatically disqualify you. If you pay a higher rate at first because of them, the merchant account provider will most likely be willing to drop your fees and rates once you’ve proven you’re a good risk.
  3. Prepare to pay higher fees and meet certain requirements others do not. While other business owners get better rates than you do, providing easy, non cash payment options will boost your revenue stream and encourage impulse buys. Paying higher is simply “the price of doing business” in the high risk merchant services sphere.
  4. Get enough cash together to set up a “reserve account.” Many providers require that you put a certain percentage of your sales into a separate account accessible to the processor in the instance of future losses. That you’re ready to provide this kind of security indicates you’re taking the businesses seriously.
  5. Get the following documents organized and ready to deliver up front:
    • Application
    • Articles of incorporation
    • Business license
    • Valid government photo ID (driver’s license)
    • Business utility bill
    • Resume for business owner
    • Six latest processing statements with your latest merchant services account provider
    • Three most recent bank statements for your business
    • Voided check for your business bank account

Getting approved quickly sets you up to bring in more revenues, make on-time payments and establish your business as a good risk. The more credit-worthy you become, the quicker your fees and interest rates will drop.

Flexibility & Personal Service Saves You Money & Hassle

While fewer processors serve adult related services merchant accounts, enough exist for you to still be picky. Do not take the first offer. Does your business model turn on ongoing or monthly credit card charges? Many adult services memberships work this way. Others encourage single purchases or one-time, yearly payments. Whichever way you’ve set up your business, A+ rated First Financial’s pre-screened processors can provide you with an adult merchant account for your company’s specific needs.

Ready to Get Your Revenue Flowing?

Call First Financial at 800-950-0212. Apply online for merchant accounts, too. You’ll know within 48 hours whether you’ve been approved.  Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter for frequent tips about personal and business money management.

First Financial

First Financial ® Corporate Headquarters 2850 Womble Road Suite 100-604 San Diego, CA 92106

Client Service Center: Main: 1-800-315-7791 Fax: 1-800-215-0217 (Monday–Friday 5:00am–6:00pm Pacific or 8:00am–9:00pm Eastern)

Merchant Services / High Risk Merchant Accounts: 1-800-950-0212 Fax: 1-800-215-0217


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