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7 Things You Should Know About Having a High Risk Merchant Account

7 Things You Should Know About Having a High Risk Merchant Account

Conceptual business illustration with the words merchant account
Having a high risk merchant account is a necessity for some businesses. Learn more about this type of account with these seven facts.

If you have an online business, accepting credit cards as a form of payment is absolutely critical to your success and your bottom line.

But if your business is considered high risk, finding the right match can be a daunting task.

So, what do you need to know about having a high risk merchant account before you begin looking for the right company to serve your needs? Here are nine things you should be aware of before you make a commitment.

1. Determine if Your Business is Considered High Risk

Before you select a merchant processor, you need to know if your business is even considered to be high risk. The criteria can vary widely between providers, but one of the first things they look at is if your industry typically has a high rate of fraud or chargebacks.

If you’re not operating from the United States, this is another potential indicator of high risk. Certain categories like firearms, drug paraphernalia, or even auction sites may also be considered high risk. Find out if you fall into this category first so you can be prepared for the next steps.

2. Prepare for Higher Fees and Longer Contract Terms

If you have a high risk merchant account, you can expect to pay more in processing charges and billed account fees. The reason is that your processor is taking you on as a risk, so they’re passing the cost of that risk on to you.

You’ll also likely have to keep your contract with the processor longer than you would if you were not a high-risk client. On average, high-risk accounts must stay with the same processor for three years or even longer.

An auto renewal clause is usually included which can force you to remain an ongoing customer for periods of a one-year minimum after each renewal. If you want to cancel, you’ll likely get hit with an early termination fee.

3. Check Available Plans for Your High Risk Merchant Account

Merchant processing plans can vary, so shop around until you find one that offers terms you can live with. Traditionally, these fees are charged on something called an interchange-plus pricing plan, although your rates will be higher than a low or no-risk account.

Find out if you can get a flat-rate pricing plan which will make billing a lot easier. If you discover that a merchant processor is charging extremely high per-transaction charges, you may want to steer clear. Compare rates and plans until you find one that’s within a reasonable amount.

4. Be Aware of Rolling Reserves

The term rolling reserves refers to money that is set aside from the proceeds of your sales in order to cover certain expenses. These reserves will help pay for things like chargebacks, and they’re put in place to protect the merchant processor.

Since many high-risk accounts tend to go out business, these reserves are there to cover any unexpected costs to the merchant processing company. If you’re new in business, you can almost guarantee that this is a requirement. However, as time goes on, the rolling reserves should decrease as long as your account remains in good standing.

5. Read the Fine Print

Any reputable merchant processor will give you a contract that spells out all of your fees and terms. Make sure you read this thoroughly before you make a commitment.

Look closely for different clauses that could cause you to pay even more than you expected. Some companies claim to specialize in high-risk accounts so they feel that they can charge their merchant accounts exorbitant fees. Do your homework and never sign anything until you’re completely comfortable with the terms and the cost.

If you’re ever in doubt about a potential merchant processor, ask your fellow business owners who they recommend. You can also read reviews online to find out which ones most high-risk customers are happy with, and which ones to avoid.

6. Security Measures will be Added

A quality payment processor will add some layers of additional security to your account. This can actually benefit you since it will help prevent fraudulent transactions and dishonest chargeback claims.

Requiring things like CVV2 verification is a good thing since it protects you and your processor from fraud. Ask your provider about what kinds of security measures they take to protect themselves and your business from unscrupulous transactions.

7. Develop a Good Track Record

If you really want to lower the costs associated with a high risk merchant account, work diligently to prove your salt. This could mean anything from reducing or completely eliminating chargebacks to consistently showing a profit for a long period of time.

The longer your business does well and maintains its reputation, the better off you’ll be in the eyes of the merchant processor. Some providers may even reward their high-risk accounts with lower rolling reserves over time or even reducing fees as time goes on.

Ask several potential merchant processors what kind of benefits they offer high-risk accounts if they do well. You might be surprised at the progress and positive benefits you can reap once the business is more established.

Success is Possible

Even if you operate a high-risk business, there’s no need to despair. With a few helpful bits of information and a little research, you can find a quality high risk merchant account that will serve your needs well.

Visit our website for more information about: High Risk Merchant Services.

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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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.

[1] https://www.wired.com/2016/10/americas-got-gun-addiction-numbers-prove/

 

4 Ways High-Risk Merchants Can Cut EMV Chargebacks

Don’t let chargebacks sink your profits!

 Data breaches at Target, Facebook prompted the major U.S. credit issuers to insist on the EMV chip in October 2015. The move has made it much more difficult for fraudsters to create counterfeit cards, saving both companies and consumers money and headaches. According to Stephanie Erickson, vice president of risk products at Visa, the shift working: merchants are reporting less counterfeit fraud.

We applaud anything that reduces expenses to both businesses and their customers, but EMV has created another, although less costly, issue: chargebacks. Chargebacks occur when the card issuer holds the merchant liable for a payment transacted by a thief using a stolen or counterfeit card. Where once the banks absorbed much of these charges, today they are not so amenable. One payment network reported 250,000 merchants had experienced an 50% increase in chargebacks on card transactions. In effect, the banks, card processors and issuers are putting the burden of vetting for fraud on the merchants.

A few merchants aren’t accepting this responsibility. Claiming a lack of preparation time, they are now suing issuers. Networks counter that five years was plenty of time for even the smallest business to prepare for the increase in chargebacks they warned could follow the shift from magnetic stripe to EMV.

Merchants must know that if they have not yet switched to EMV terminals, they are liable for most of the chargebacks the banks had been absorbing. The top merchants affected have been gas stations, restaurants and quick service merchants like vending operations. It seems that large cities, college towns and border areas are the most likely to be the most tempting targets for thieves looking to take advantage of those who haven’t switched to EMV equipment yet. Smart criminals are avoiding the EMV terminals, another reason to get them into your stores. When a criminal successfully uses a magnetic stripe card at your business, you will get a chargeback and be liable for the purchase.

What can you do?

As mentioned above, Visa, Mastercard, and others have been adamant that merchants pay these charges. However, there are solutions that can limit the damage the EMV shift has brought to your high-risk business.

  • If you are not fighting chargebacks, start now. Won chargebacks do not count against your chargeback ratio. So, it means that a 75 percent win rate lowers your chargeback ratio by 300 percent. A better chargeback rate also helps you to keep your merchant account in good standing.
  • Fighting chargebacks can be a somewhat technical process. Consider getting an expert or service to fight these charges for you.
  • Lock down your eCommerce site or bricks-and-mortar business with front-end fraud prevention measures. These help identify the IP address of the customer by requiring them CVV and AVS. In this way, you filter most frauds and increase your chances in winning fraud disputes in chargebacks.
  • Use a chargeback alerts when you operate a service business. A chargeback alert is a type of alert that notifies you every time a customer initiates a chargeback. You have 24-72 hours to respond to it. If you are a service business such as technical support, you can always cut your losses by stopping your services whenever you get chargeback alerts.

 

Getting your merchant services streamlines is a great relief.

Most of All: Make the Shift to EMV Technology Today!

Magnetic strips on credit cards are just too easy for thieves to copy. Beyond this fact, credit card issuers now levy fees—often in the form of chargebacks—on merchants who do not use EMV technology. They want their customers to feel protected by offering the best, most secure, products. But this system doesn’t work if the merchants refuse to hold up their end.

When considering your options for taking credit cards, know that you’ll need a merchant services processor or merchant service account to safely process your transactions. A+ rated First Financial specializes in high-risk merchant accounts. Simply click here to apply and you’ll be able to start taking credit cards within 48 hours!

 

 


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: Main 1-800-950-0212  Fax: 1-800-215-0217

 

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