Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

It’s a widely accepted fact that more than 99% of online transactions require credit card processing. If you run a business, you have to find a way to accept credit cards. While there are hundreds of credit card processors and merchant services providers, not all the merchants are treated equal. Merchants selling certain products labeled as high risk find it challenging to open an account with various credit card processors.

CBD products fall in this category as anything related to marijuana is automatically classified as high risk. However, that’s not going to stop you from building a successful online business selling CBD oil and related products. There are certain credit card processors that specialize in providing services to high-risk businesses but this industry is also full of predatory processors who won’t shy away from taking advantage of desperate entrepreneurs like you looking to find a credit card processing solution for their CBD oil business. Therefore, you need to be extremely careful when choosing a CBD oil credit card processing company.

CBD, A High-Risk Business

Typically, any business with higher than average probability of chargebacks or credit card fraud is labeled as high-risk by credit card processors. Some of these products include telemarketing, online gaming, travel services, adult products, pharmaceuticals, timeshares and CBD products among others.

You should know that CBD products containing less than 0.3% of THC are legal to buy and sell in all the 50 states. However, laws are still evolving and not all the law enforcement authorities interpret laws in the same manner. This creates a risk for credit card processors and they are in the business of minimizing risk. This is one of the main reasons a business dealing with CBD products is labeled as a high-risk business.

Tips for Choosing a CBD Oil Credit Card Processing Company

Here’s a list of some of the important parameters you should consider in order to choose the right CBD payment processor for your business selling CBD oil and related products.

Specialization

Credit card processing for high-risk businesses has different requirements. Make sure they have a background in the high-risk processing space and understand the frustrations and concerns of their clients. They should have an experienced risk and technical team in order to process your application and set up your account in the right manner.

It’s not recommended to partner with a new payment processor who does not have any experience in the CBD processing industry as they are unlikely to deliver the services you need. High-risk businesses have certain regulatory demands that need to be met in order to make sure that their business keeps running without any issues. Therefore, experience in the industry is necessary.

Established Network

As mentioned in the beginning, laws regarding CBD are still evolving which means there are always going to be new challenges. You want to work with a processor who has a well-established network of partners in the financial services industry in order to provide you options in case things don’t work out with one of their partners. You do not want to partner with someone who suddenly decides to close your account or is unable to figure out a solution to continue to process credit cards when there is a problem.

Merchant ID

It is essential for a payment processor to provide you a merchant ID with the name of your business. It will ensure that the credit card statement of your customers will have the name of your business and not the name of some third party business. It is essential to lower the risk of chargebacks and refunds which will help you in negotiating lower fees and charges in the future.

Cost

When you are selling products labeled as high-risk, you should be prepared to pay higher fees and charges. However, it does not mean that you are required to exceptionally higher charges. You should do some research and find out the typical fees associated with processing of credit cards in your industry.

It is also recommended to shop around to lower your costs. However, reputation of your merchant services provider when it comes to providing support is much more important than just the cost. In simple terms, you want to maintain a balance between customer service and fees.

Reserves

There are many different types of reserves that are required by merchant account providers. These may include a rolling reserve, capped reserve as well as an upfront reserve among others. The type of reserve as well as the amount required to be held in these reserves will depend on the processing agreement. Every processor has different policies and criteria regarding the reserves and it typically depends on the business model, credit history of the merchant as well as industry norms.

For high-risk businesses, merchant providers typically have a rolling reserve wherein a certain percentage of each transaction (can be up to 10%) is held for a period of 90 days and this payment is released on the 91st day. This is in addition to the money held in other reserves.

The important thing is you should be aware of the amount going to be held in the reserve accounts in order to make sure that the cash flow is adequate to run your business without any issues.

Customer Service

Customer service is one of the most important yet often overlooked aspects when it comes to choosing a credit card processor. While high-risk merchants may not have a lot of choice in terms of credit card processors but it is important to sign up with a company that is known to provide exceptional customer service. You want to speak with a real person when you have a problem instead of waiting for several days to get your issues resolved.

Monthly Contracts

One of the biggest problems faced by business owners is that most merchant account providers force them to sign multi-year contracts. This limits the ability of the merchants to renegotiate fees and charges when they have an established history with the merchant services provider.

Ideally, you should try to find a merchant services provider who allows you to have a month to month contract. You should also check the early termination fee associated with closing your account in case you want to close the account before the end of your contract. Some merchant account providers also have a liquidated damages clause that raises the cost of terminating an account before the contract. Make sure you are aware of all the costs associated with closing an earlier than the contract term before you sign up.

Reputation

You need to make sure that the company you are planning to partner with has excellent reputation. Check various review sites to find reviews from other business owners. You should also check discussion forums related to the industry.

Overall, finding the right merchant services provider for a high-risk business selling CBD oil products is never going to be easy. While higher fees and processing rates are a given, it does not mean that you have to settle for below-average customer service. If you do some research, you will find that The Southern Institute has fair pricing and high quality customer service to merchants dealing in high-risk products. So, do some research and find a partner that has experience in working with CBD merchants and is known to offer high quality services at decent prices.