In the high-risk credit card processing world, while searching for the correct solution for your type of industry, you might come across websites that promise “instant approvals”. Is this something that can really happen? Are they just trying to lure you into submitting an application with them? Most of the time, the answer is yes.
The process for applying for a high risk merchant account does not happen instantly, and it does not happen overnight. There are lists of documents that the underwriter needs, which may include a valid drivers license, voided business check, articles of incorporation, and 3 months of bank statements. If you have had processing in the past, they will also ask for three months of statements for that as well. Once these documents have been acquired and the application is filled out completely, only then does it go into the underwriter’s hands. The underwriting department is where real approval comes from. Even after an underwriter approves your business, it may still need to go to their risk analysis supervisor for the final “okay”. Even retail accounts that are not high risk sometimes might take 24 hours to be approved.
This process does not sound “instant” to me, nor should it sound that way to you, so be wary of the “too good to be true” solution. Those will often waste your valuable time when you could be at a trustworthy processor. The most important thing is to find the RIGHT processor.
Another term you might hear is that you are “pre-approved”, which in this industry, as in many others, means nothing. It is just a promise that they will look at your high-risk merchant account and send it to their underwriters. It is yet another ploy to get you to fill out an application that merchant account sales people will use to lure you in, while you have no idea of the outcome.
So how long does it take to get approved for a high-risk merchant account? The answer is between 3 to 5 business days for domestic accounts and 2 weeks or longer for an offshore account. There are always exceptions but those are the real averages. In a lot of instances, what takes the longest amount of time is collecting all the information needed from a merchant who has never applied for a high-risk merchant account before.
My advice for all high risk merchants out there is to do your own research on what documents you will need, and keep them saved in a PDF file for future use. Learn as much as you can about instant merchant accounts. This will always speed up the approval process. Typing up your application is another way to speed up the process. Hand written applications are sometimes difficult for high risk merchant processors to read and can hold up the process. If you are going to hand-write an application, make sure it is neat and legible to ensure no delays.
So “instant approvals” do not exist in the high-risk merchant account world. I always recommend going with someone who is honest, upfront, and knows the facts. Make sure they understand your business type and have experience in dealing with high risk.
Here at Limitless we aim to do just that. Our mission at is to make sure we have many options and solutions available for every high-risk merchant out there, so we can offer our merchants honest, quick approvals that will have them processing for years to come.