Evaluation Criteria for High Risk Processing

The independent authority on credit card processors, topcreditcardprocessors.com, is a research firm dedicated to identifying and ranking the best credit card processors in the United States. Through an in-depth vendor analysis, client evaluation, and the use of our proprietary evaluation criteria, we have put together a list of the top high risk payment processors. Our analysis delves into a vendor’s business practices and compares them against industry standards to ensure that the service is quality. Often times we connect directly to the clients of a vendor and ask about their overall experience.

There are five key areas which we have identified as significant for high risk payment processors:

Merchants must understand that high-risk processing companies typically charge more than the average processing company. The extra services and liability of processing high-risk transactions justifies the added expense. However, the merchant still needs to know the average market rate so they can determine whether they are being charged too much for their high-risk processing service. Having several options for payment and differing tiers depending on the level of service needed help to provide the merchant with greater value as well.

The reliability of the high-risk processing service gets evaluated based on the overall reliability of the system. Slightly slower transaction times should be expected, but the delay must be minimized to prevent losing customer business due to slow processing times. In general, a high level of uptime should be on a par with a regular processing company. While the speed of manual approvals may take additional time, the average transaction should be close to the speed of other automated processing systems. Low risk transactions may receive a pass, especially if the customer has ordered from the company before without issue. Delays should be expected for customers that have issued chargebacks or had payments returned for insufficient funds.

Communications must be encrypted and customer information absolutely has to be protected. Merchants expect secure systems that protect themselves and their clients from fraud and compromised systems. When evaluating the security of a system, look for companies that have undergone extensive evaluations by third-party security verification companies. Ask for information on any security breaches the company has experienced and what was done to manage, control and then prevent future breaches.

When a questionable transaction comes through, the high-risk processing service must have a system in place to notify the merchant and prevent shipment of goods or services. This helps prevent unauthorized transactions and puts the merchant in a position where they may lose money. Systems must have a solid infrastructure, security and an appropriate level of checks throughout the process to ensure a secure and efficient system.

Customer support provides an essential criterion for high-risk processing systems. Giving merchants the ability to contact support via email, online chat, telephone, fax or even an office they can walk in to adds an increased level of service and convenience for the merchant. Without adequate ways of contacting support for varying levels of transactions, the high-risk processing company risks receiving a poor evaluation. Email and ticket systems provide a way for merchants to quickly ask non-priority questions, while online chat and telephone conversations make it possible to get immediate support. Fax services also make it possible for the merchant to provide needed documentation.

General Questions:

  • How did you find your current payment processor?
  • What other payment processors, if any, have you used?
  • How many transactions do you process per month?
  • What would be three things you would change about your experience?
  • Rate your overall experience (1-10; 10 being the highest).

Specific Questions:

  • What steps does the processor take to protect you against fraud?
  • How often do you run into potential issues?
  • What types of payments does the processor accept?
  • How long did it take for you to get accepted by the processor?
  • Has the service provider been able to reduce chargebacks? Other types of fraud or complications?
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