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Offshore Merchant Accounts
& Restricted Businesses

Five top providers of offshore merchant accounts for normally restricted businesses are discussed below.


Why the need for offshore merchant accounts?

For what businesses are they feasible? How can you locate a reputable provider? 

international offshore merchant accounts

Banks and most independent providers will not offer merchant accounts and credit card processing services to what they consider to be "high risk" industries. To determine whether an industry is high risk, providers look at its chargeback history as well as the industry's history in having companies go out of business.

Information on offshore Merchant Accounts

Sidenote: Chargebacks were discussed in The Nine Minute Tutorial. Before exploring offshore merchant accounts, be sure to take The Nine Minute Tutorial. It will provide you with a basic understanding of what is involved in credit card processing, the costs you can expect to incur, the equipment or software you may need to acquire and how to select the best offshore merchant accounts provider for your particular business.


Most providers publish a list of restricted businesses - which are not welcome to apply. Typically these can include gambling, travel, phone card sales, MLM's, credit counseling, adult entertainment, collection agencies, hair loss products, used car dealers, timeshare rentals, outbound telemarketing and others.

For businesses in these restricted industries, the answer is often to approach providers of offshore merchant accounts. Offshore merchant accounts are merchant accounts located in banks outside of the U.S. Professional advice should be sought when determining in what country to locate your offshore merchant account, for the decision can impact your tax situation.

With offshore merchant accounts, a company can process credit card transactions from around the world. Sometimes it is necessary or at least advisable to accompany offshore merchant accounts with an international business corporation (IBC) from the jurisdiction where the account is situated. Again, professional advice should be sought.

For our purposes here, we will assume you are not interested in having offices and staff in the offshore jurisdiction.

Generally speaking, for offshore merchant accounts with no actual physical presence offshore:

all types of businesses can qualify

no background checks are performed

set-up times are quick, usually a week or so

real-time credit card processing is provided

sales proceeds are wired to your bank

The downside in most cases is that:

set-up costs may be high

discount rates, transaction fees and monthly fees can range from reasonable to excessive, depending upon the provider, and often upon the security you provide 

a cash deposit, being a percentage of estimated monthly processed volume, may be required

a reserve, usually between 10% to 20% of monthly volume, is often held back from you for a period of time.


offshore merchant account information

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Below are 5 top providers of offshore merchant accounts or accounts for normally restricted businesses. It may be necessary to contact the provider to obtain a quote for fees and charges for your particular business. Please keep in mind the issues discussed in The Nine Minute Tutorial concerning how to select the right merchant account provider for your particular needs. 

Any fees quoted below are as of April 05, 2005. As fees are revised from time to time, be sure to check their websites and to speak with their representatives to ensure the fees mentioned here are still up-to-date. Discount fees quoted are for VISA and MasterCard. Contact the merchant accounts providers for rates for other card issuers.


Offers merchant accounts to all offshore and high risk businesses, including travel, payday loans, adult, MLM, collections, aggregators, tobacco, e-pharmacies, investments, credit repair, timeshares, etc.

RiskRemedies fraud minimization techniques include verifying country and billing address, type of mailing address, credit card issuing bank, country with billing address country, validity of telephone and zip code, country status as type of risk, proxy server source, verification by type of email address used, validity of credit card, IP address

Receive funds weekly from your merchant account directly into your designated checking account

To check out their website:



Metacharge's worldwide standard account is a comprehensive solution for internet/mail/telephone order businesses and includes everything you need to start accepting card payments:

Internet merchant account + secure payment gateway

Very low account setup fees starting at just $95US/£50)/€75

Low rates, fast professional friendly service

Acceptance criteria are as follows:

a. You must have a European Union corporation (Metacharge can assist non-EU merchants with this easy two-day process for as little as $125US)

b. Minimum sales volume of $5,000 per month (90 day grace period for startups)

c. No adult, travel or legally dubious merchants

Application requires prepayment of the small setup fee, which will be promptly refunded if the application is not accepted.

To check out their website:


The Transaction Group

If you operate a high-volume or high-risk business, and cannot find the right merchant service for your needs, The Transaction Group can offer the perfect offshore solution. Their offshore department specializes in merchant accounts for businesses like yours. They are able to offer the same high quality service to all of their offshore customers, without regard to the type of business - and no matter what country you operate from.

They also offer the best rates, so you might consider switching your current high risk merchant account to them.

With their extensive industry experience and solid banking relationships, they can service up to 99.9% of offshore customers with fast set-up time, training and support.

They will find the right solution for your particular business. You can begin by completing the simple no-obligation application on their website - it's an easy way to let The Transaction Group get to know more about both you and your business.

To check out their website:

The Transaction Group


ECS World can facilitate merchant services for most online businesses through one of its merchant acquiring bank partners - based on your business category, country, estimated monthly turnover and average sale/ticket price.

Through its extensive network of acquiring banks, it is able to provide high-risk merchants with their own merchant accounts or to process your sales under a third-party account.

ECS World can be an ideal partner for online gaming sites (sportsbooks, internet casinos); adult sites of all kinds (subscriptions, video on demand, live 1:1 chats, etc.); as well as travel and other high-ticket item merchants.

To check out their website:



WorldPay pioneered multi-currency processing in association with NatWest Bank in 1996. The WorldPay multi-currency processing system enables you to offer your products and services in over 120 different currencies, and to receive payment for them from a range of 14 remittance currencies. WorldPay manage the uncertainty of foreign exchange rates for you, allowing your shoppers the unique choice of purchasing goods and services from you in a currency that they recognise and understand. No currency conversion charges for you or your shopper.

With an acceptance rate of over 90%, you could start using your internet payment facilities in as little as 7-10 days.

All customers are protected by the WorldAlert sophisticated fraud-dectection system.

To check out their website:


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