Online Pharmacy

High-Risk Merchant Account & Payment Processing

As the #1 high-risk online pharmacy payment processing solution, Zenti provides all the services your pharmacy or drug store may need to accept payments, including access to advanced capabilities and services to spark your company’s growth.

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High risk merchant account
Emily Wallace
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Online Pharmacy Payment Processing Overview

How To Set Up an Online Pharmacy Merchant Account

The rapid shift from brick-and-mortar to online commerce has created tremendous opportunities for business leaders across the world. More and more people have determined how to create online businesses in non-traditional areas, including pharmacies. These opportunities have also given individuals more and more consumer choice, helped drive down prices and led to greater convenience for anyone with access to the Internet.

When it comes to the creation of online pharmacies, things can get complicated for pharmacy owners, and cause many to wonder just what is an online pharmacy merchant account. Every business needs access to a variety of tools of the trade that will allow them to successfully compete. This can get tricky. Pharmacies and pseudo-pharmacies – meaning businesses that sell products that may have health implications – may often struggle to gain access to credit card services. This is because these businesses come with some inherent risks. One of the results of this risk is a business obtaining a “high-risk” classification. Being classified as a high-risk merchant isn’t fatal, but it does make the cost of doing business much more expensive. There are many things that online pharmacies can do to mitigate their risk, lower their fees, and gain access to other critical services. 

What Is a High-Risk Merchant?

As you may already know, a high-risk merchant is a business that has a greater risk for fraud or chargebacks. Merchant account vendors ultimately make this determination, and it can be costly for businesses affected.

chargeback is when a credit card company has to refund a charge incurred on it by a consumer. The reason for this refund can vary, but it may have to do with customer dissatisfaction with a product, confusion over the reason for the charge, or outright fraud.

Generally speaking, a business is a high-risk merchant if it meets multiple criteria. These criteria can include:

  • Higher-than-average risk of fraud.
  • Extensive use of foreign currency or offshore accounting.
  • Limited credit history, meaning that a business hasn’t been in business for a long enough time to have built a credit history.
  • Use or sale of products that have questionable legality. Alternatively, individuals can use or abuse these products in some way that goes beyond what they were originally intended for. The use of these products may result in serious harm to the user or others.
  • A business has an extensive amount of card-not-present transactions, meaning that the business will never physically see the card. This makes a business more likely to be a victim of fraud.

What is an Online Pharmacy or Pseudo-Pharmacy?

You should understand that the high-risk nature of your merchant account is very dependent upon the categories of medication or drugs that you sell. There are two types of online pharmacies: A regular online pharmacy and a pseudo-pharmacy.

Regular pharmacies are accredited online pharmacies that meet the legal definition of an online pharmacy. They’re accredited and licensed by all the necessary legal and medical bodies and have all the standard checks that you would expect in any other brick-and-mortar pharmacy. This means that they only give medicine a doctor provides them with. It also means that they have appropriate checks that prevent an unauthorized individual from receiving the medicine. 

Pseudo-pharmacies are different. They may sell drugs that have some sort of medical claim but do not actually give out prescription medication. These include CBD, weight-loss supplements, and more. These are products that have some sort of health impact but are not controlled substances in the same sense that a regular pharmacy may sell or fill prescriptions. They may also involve the sale of over-the-counter drugs, such as Tylenol or Advil. 

It’s important to realize that these definitions are not necessarily exclusive. A regular pharmacy may sell CBD products, and this may result in a high-risk tag.

Remember, the type of industry and products sold has a lot to do with a high-risk classification, but it’s not everything, and many other factors go into the categorization of high-risk. Some processors won’t consider a business to be high-risk if the amount of medication or over-the-counter drugs sold is limited or more ancillary to the business purpose. 

What is an Online Pharmacy Merchant Account?

An online pharmacy merchant account will allow pharmacy owners to set up merchant accounts for online pharmacies. This will give them access to credit card processing, eCommerce, and more. Like any other merchant account, an online pharmacy merchant account will have to pay fees associated with these accounts. An online pharmacy may find it more expensive to set up such an account because of a high-risk designation. 

As such, the answer to the question, “What is an online pharmacy merchant account?” is a relatively easy one to answer. However, creating merchant accounts for online pharmacies can be tricky.

What is an Online Pharmacy a High-Risk Merchant Account?

If you have ever wondered, “What is an online pharmacy merchant account?” you’re not the only one.

Merchant account vendor services will usually consider online pharmacies to be high-risk for reasons that are specific to this industry. This leads to higher fees, more financial requirements, and an increased cost of business for many business owners. This categorization occurs for many reasons, including:

  • Potential for abuseUnfortunately, prescription drug abuse remains a real challenge in the United States. While the vast majority of pharmacies do everything they can to limit this abuse, many individuals still find ways around the robust checks that these pharmacies put in place. 
  • Extensive government oversight: The pharmaceutical business is heavily regulated by the government. This adds to the cost of doing business and increases the risk for all parties involved. 
  • Use of pseudo-pharmaceuticals: This industry is generally classified as high-risk as a result of its quasi-medical claims and place within the United States regulatory scheme. Many of these drugs do not have a good reputation and have had FDA warnings issued against them. 
  • Card-not-present transactions: These transactions – which are common in online sales – often result in a higher risk of fraud or chargebacks. 

Can I Still Access Merchant Account Vendor Services?

Yes. You’ll still be able to create merchant accounts for online pharmacies and use all of the products and services that come with it. This won’t necessarily be inexpensive. If you’re a high-risk business, you’re going to have to pay more money in fees and set-up costs. This can get expensive and may cut into your profit margins. Unfortunately, this is just one of the many problems associated with merchant accounts for online pharmacies.

It’s important for any online pharmacy merchant account owner to understand that a high-risk tag isn’t fatal to your business. In fact, quite the opposite is true: Finding a high-quality merchant account vendor can provide you access to many services. These services can not online help you manage and reduce your risk, but give you access to a variety of other critical business tools.

How Can a Merchant Account Provider Work With This Industry?

As someone looking for an online pharmacy merchant account, you need account services that can handle a large number of transactions every day, one that can do so in a secure manner, and one that can keep your fees to a minimum. Thankfully, there are a wide variety of high-quality vendors available, and while it may take some research on your part, you should be able to find such a merchant account provider.

You must find a provider who can give you a high-risk payment gateway. This means that your vendor should be able to manage these transactions for you, helping you to set up a payment gateway either online or in and brick and mortar stores. This vendor should be able to handle the integration of multiple transactions, including checks, eChecks, and other credit card processing.

Depending on your specific needs, you may need additional services. For example, many businesses – including online pharmacies – are expanding well beyond the standard needs of commerce and credit cards. Acceptance with cryptocurrency has become much more common and depending on your business plans and the types of products that you sell, you may find yourself in a position where you need to learn how to accept crypto payments.  

One of the most critical things for any online pharmacy merchant account is the integration of and merchant account provider software with your already existing software tools. This integration is necessary on multiple levels:

  • If you run a business that has a retail component, you’ll need software to develop that integrates smoothly with your already existing retail software. For example, does your merchant account vendor process payments both online and in-person? What is the difference in fees for online transactions, in-person transactions, and card-not-present transactions? 
  • Depending on the drugs you sell, you may need to specifically track where your drugs go and how many units you move. You may also need to retain records for any prescriptions that you fulfill. As such, your merchant account vendor must figure out ways to help you maintain all of this information. You may also need to create your own API that helps you track all of this information, and this means that your merchant account vendor must have the necessary experience to help you do so.
  • How does your merchant account software integrate with your accounting software? Does it do so at all? The goal of any merchant account must be to make your life easier, so if a vendor requires extra work on your part when it comes to tracking income, expenses, and taxes, you need to find a new vendor. 

What Else Should I Look For?

Finding a high-risk merchant account vendor is obviously vitally important for the success of your business, but you should also find out what sort of industry-specific experience a vendor may have. Have they worked with online pharmaceutical businesses in the past? If you’re a high-risk business, are there things you can do to get you out of that category and into a less expensive one?

Integration of online and retail sales is complicated, particularly when your business considers the need to use physical equipment. When you’re selecting a merchant account vendor, do they also provide you with the appropriate point of sale equipment? If the answer is yes, what are the fees for purchase and set-up? If equipment breaks down or gets stolen, will they provide replacements? Will they upgrade the device? And how does all of this integrate with your overall accounting software?

What additional services can your merchant account vendor provide to you? Can they also help you manage gift cards or loyalty programs? If you sell other goods SNAP or EBT covers, can your merchant account vendor process those payments for you? 

It’s also worth asking whether or not your merchant account vendor can help you do more than just process credit cards. Do they offer you some sort of chargeback protection? Can they help you weed out fraud? Can they work with you to help you reduce your risk exposure? Do they have robust security measures that can help ensure you’re only shipping medication to individuals who have a valid prescription? If you’re looking to expand your business, do they have access to financing for credit tools that can help you get the resources you need to fund such an expansion? If you have a brick-and-mortar store, can they help you process checks? Can they help you purchase ATMs for your customers? If yes, what are the fees associated with those ATMs?

As you’re unquestionably aware, managing an online pharmacy isn’t easy. You have to manage a variety of regulations, promote your business, care for a heavily regulated inventory, and more. The last thing you need to worry about is making sure that your credit card company is giving you a fair deal. At Zenti, we believe our role is to empower you and your business to help you succeed. If you’re looking for high-quality merchant account services, we’re here to help. Contact us today, and learn more about how we can partner with you to help your business grow and thrive. 


Zenti Connect plays nice with others

Zenti Connect integrates seamlessly with ISV software to simplify payment processing for merchants: any payment type, on any device, anywhere. 

Zenti integrates with over 99% of the tools you are already using, including popular accounting software and e-commerce apps, regardless of your industry. Our payment services were designed to be adaptable to provide seamless integrations for our customers.

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Microsoft Dynamics
Network Solutions

Event Espresso
events manager
Paid Memberships Pro

Drupal Commerce


911 Software, Inc.
ACR Systems
Aldelo Systems, Inc.
Applied Micro Technology
Advanced Retail Management Solutions (ARMs)
Auto star
Cantaloupe Systems
Data Business Systems
Datacap Systems, Inc.
DataTech Corp
Edgil Associates
Epicor (CRS, NSB)
Freedom Pay
Gateway Ticketing Systems
Idalica Corp
IJN Systems
IT Retail
Main Street Softworks
MBS Textbook Exchange
Medasyst, Inc.
/n Software, Inc.
PC America
RATEX Business Solutions
Retail Data Systems
RTL Payment Systems
ScanSource, Inc.
Sicom Systems, Inc.
Slim CD
Tempus Technologies
Tender Retail Systems
The Software Mills
Tomax Corporation
Total Computing Solutions
TouchNet Information Systems
XProtean, Inc. (C-Payment Software)
XPient Solutions
Vista Entertainment Systems

911 Software, Inc.
Data Business Systems
Datacap Systems, Inc.
Main Street Softworks
Menusoft Systems Corp.
Micros Systems
Midnite Express, Inc.
/n Software Inc.
Radiant Systems
Revel Systems
Sicom Systems, Inc.
Squirrel Systems
Tempus Technologies
XPient Solutions
XProtean, Inc. (C-Payment Software)
Elavon (previously Southern DataComm and Global Card Services)

Dresser Wayne
Fuel Links
Fiscal Systems, Inc.
LOC Software
Main Street Softworks
Petro RX
Radiant Systems
VeriFone Ruby System

Datacap Systems
LOC Software

911 Software, Inc.
Hotel Software Systems
Slim CD
Tempus Technologies

Government organizations face a growing need for secure payment processing services while managing highly specific needs for content management and security. 

We can work with popular technology products government agencies prefer, like Ciber and Cubic, to create an integrated solution that meets all your needs for processing payments, managing information, and more.

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We partnered with Zenti in 2017 and they've been there for us every time. Everything is super fast and I love how well they communicate with our staff. They really know their stuff, and we work in a very complex industry! My account executive knows our business inside and out.

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FAQs: Table of Contents

Accepted Industries and Countries​

The industries we accept for high risk merchant accounts include, but are not limited to the below industries.

  • Adult merchant account
  • Bad credit
  • CBD
  • Credit Repair
  • MLM
  • Nutraceuticals
  • Payday loans
  • Private airlines
  • Subscriptions
  • Travel
  • Vape & eCig
  • Illegal business activity
  • Businesses without the proper license
  • Illegal drugs (CBD with less than 0.30% THC is acceptable)

Zenti can provide merchant accounts to customers in the below countries. Kindly note that many payment solutions are regulated based on location.

  • Andorra
  • Austria
  • Bear Island 
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • Channel Island
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Faroe Islands
  • Finland
  • France
  • Gibraltar
  • Greece
  • Greenland
  • Hungry
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Isle of Man
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • Germany
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • San Marino
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Vatican City

Being a start-up business will not hinder a business from getting approved for a merchant account. While having a processing history helps your likelihood of getting approved,  the lack of processing will not necessarily stop you from getting an approval. Consult an experienced Account Executive today to learn more. 

There are never guarantees when it comes to the approval of a merchant account. However, we do work with merchants that have low credit scores. Reach out to an Account Executive today for a consultation. 

If you’re a United States citizen applying for a merchant account for a United States registered business, a social security number is required. 

A merchant account can be labeled high risk for many reasons. You can be labeled as such due to high average tickets, being in an industry that historically has high chargebacks, or an industry that tier one banks do not support.

Applying for a merchant account

To apply for a high-risk merchant account, you need to complete our pre-qualification form and upload all required documentation. Once the pre-qualification is complete your Account Executive will locate the best placement for your account, and send you a final agreement. Once that final agreement is signed, underwriting will complete a full package review for approval. 

There is no fee to apply for a merchant services account with Zenti. However, If you get approved with us there may be a small setup fee for your gateway account.

Square, Stripe, and Paypal are all payment facilitators and do not accept high-risk merchant accounts. Signing up with Zenti gives you a direct merchant relationship with a sponsor bank. The approval process requires more documentation, but you’re at a significantly lower risk of getting terminated.

This depends upon how quickly you, the merchant, completes our pre-qualification form. Once we have all of your documentation, we get to work. We can typically locate placement for your merchant services account in 48 hours.  

Once you get an approval, you’ll be able to accept credit card payments within 24 business hours. 

Depending upon the program, you will receive your funds anywhere from 24 to 72 hours after the batch is settled. 

The industry type is a major determining factor when it comes to risk levels of merchant services. But, other factors such as credit, card-present vs not present, and chargeback ratios can also push an account into the high-risk category as well. 

Completing the Application

Your legal business name should match the business name on the state business registration or licensure. However, if you are a sole proprietor, your name would be the legal business name. 

If you’re not sure how much processing you’ll do, we recommend applying for $5,000 to $10,000 monthly. You don’t need to hit that number each month, but if you’re close to going over, reach out to your Account Executive for assistance. 

Your average transaction amount should be the average of all transactions you would accept with your merchant account. Your maximum transaction should be the anticipated maximum amount accepted in one transaction. If you attempt to process a transaction that is higher than the maximum amount provided, additional proof of purchase may be requested. 

You may provide personal bank statements in lieu of bank statements if your business bank account is new or does not have any activity. 

If you’re applying for a merchant account for ecommerce processing you will need a fully functional website with products or services listed with associated pricing. 

Yes, a credit check is required in order to obtain a high-risk merchant account. Once a final agreement is signed, a hard credit pull is done.  Credit scores are taken into consideration when underwriting reviews a full application for merchant services. 

If you’re a United States citizen applying for a merchant account for a business registered in the United States, your social security number will be required to apply. 


The first step to applying for a high-risk merchant account is completing the pre-qualification form. Three months bank statements, three months processing statements (if applicable), a voided check or bank letter, and driver’s license or passport will be required to apply. 

If your business does not utilize checks, we can accept a bank letter that includes your full account and routing number as well as the business or account holder’s name. The letter should be on bank letterhead, be dated within the last 30 days, and be signed by a bank representative. 

If you don’t have three months of business bank statements, don’t fret. We can accept three months’ personal bank statements from a business owner, or director. 

Bank statements show a lot about a prospective merchant, namely, processing activity, and the average monthly ending balance. If a merchant is currently processing, we want to know why they’re switching, if we know a merchant’s pain points we can find better solutions for their needs. The average monthly ending balance is also relevant to show financial stability within the business as well as validating the monthly volume requested.

If a merchant is currently processing credit card payments and successfully managing a merchant account this can increase the likelihood of getting approved. Some payment facilitators such as Paypal, Stripe, and Square might not supply monthly processing statements. Underwriting may request login credentials so they can get an overview of the processing activities. 

Equipment and Gateways

For in-person retail card acceptance, Zenti can provide equipment that will arrive programmed and ready to accept payments. Discuss your equipment options with your experienced Account Executive.

Here at Zenti, we do offer our own gateway solution that’s exclusive to merchants that sign up with us. Of course, if there’s a gateway you prefer we are willing to work with you as long as integration is possible. Please reach out to your dedicated Account Executive for details. 

Zenti integrates with NMI,, and more. For specific gateway integration questions reach out to an experienced Account Executive. 

Your merchant account will be set up to accept Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, and ATM cards. 

Load balancing is the strategy of spreading transactions over more than one MID. It’s not necessary for all high-risk accounts, but can be considered as a way to manage chargeback ratios with high-risk merchants. 

Existing Merchant Accounts

Not to worry, this number can be increased as needed. However, the bank underwriting your merchant account needs to be aware of the expected monthly volume to ensure they have capacity available for all merchants processing with that bank. 

If you go over by a small amount you might be asked for a copy of the invoice or receipt. However, if you go over the monthly limit by a large amount there is a chance your excess funds might be held temporarily. 

When it comes to high-risk accounts, banks ideally want chargeback ratios below the 3% threshold. If you can provide long term processing history the bank may take this into consideration. Lower chargeback ratios are ideal. Consult your knowledgeable Account Executive for assistance in lowering your chargeback ratio. 

Rolling reserves are a way to financially protect the processing bank from potential losses from chargebacks or refunds. Not all high-risk merchant accounts require a rolling reserve. The risk department will determine if and when a rolling reserve is required. 

Interchange fees refer to the issuing credit card brand fees such as Mastercard, Visa, Discover, and American express. These fees vary depending on the card type, American Express tends to be the most expensive card to process. Interchange rates can range from 1% to 2.5%. 

Of course! Once you’ve established a healthy processing history, you may reach out to your Account Executive for a rate review. We recommend only doing this if your processing history shows low chargeback ratios and relatively low refund activity. 

You may request an increase in your monthly volume at any time. However, it’s recommended to wait until your merchant account reflects healthy processing history as well as financial stability from your bank statements. 

Reach out to our support team, or your dedicated Account Executive for any account-related updates you may need. 

Depending on the program your merchant account fees are either taken at the beginning of each month. Some programs require daily discounts. Program details will be notated on your final agreement and if you have further questions you can always consult your Account Executive. 

ACH payments

Zenti can assist with ACH or eCheck services. An application and approval process still applies to this service, or it can be an added service with your processing account. Reach out to your Account Executive for details. 

The approval process requires less documentation than applying for a merchant services account. And if you’re already processing with Zenti an approval can be expedited. 

Every account is different, however, most programs allow next-day settlements for ACH transactions. 

ACH payment acceptance can be integrated into most website platforms. Reach out to a dedicated Account Executive for more information. 

Pricing and Approval

High-risk merchant accounts are priced higher than low-risk accounts because fewer banks are willing to work with businesses labeled “high risk”. Banks also need additional financial protections from loss on these accounts.  

Zenti will always provide fair pricing based on the risk level of every merchant. And if a current processing statement is provided we’ll do everything in our power to beat the merchant’s current rates. 

While we love working with merchants that are considered high risk. There are limitations put in place by bank and card brand rules. If a merchant does not abide by the specific program rules described by the Account Executive assisting them we cannot ensure an approval.

Think of merchant accounts as a loan or a line of credit. And processing banks take on the risk of transactions getting charged back. Banks can end up liable for the actions of merchants, a problematic merchant can damage the reputation of the bank funding and processing the transactions.