WooCommerce high-risk payment gateways: A guide

A Guide to WooCommerce High-Risk Payment Gateways

Whether you manage a high-traffic WooCommerce shop or develop WooCommerce websites for clients who do, understanding the nuances of high-risk payment gateways is crucial. 

WooCommerce does not provide its own payment processing service, allowing users to choose their preferred payment processors and gateways instead. While this model allows for more choice and flexibility, choosing a trustworthy payment processing tool is an important decision, as it will be responsible for the secure transmission of customer data that authorizes and settles payments to your store.

In this guide, we’ll dive into the best payment gateways for WooCommerce, focusing on those tailored to merchants in high-risk industries. The following sections will equip you with the necessary knowledge for choosing the perfect high-risk payment processing solution for your WooCommerce store.

What are WooCommerce high-risk payment gateways?

High-risk payment gateways are specialized services designed to process transactions for businesses that operate within sectors considered high-risk by financial institutions. 

A high-risk industry is one that financial institutions believe may introduce more operational, regulatory, or reputational risk than the average business. These high-risk sectors may include, but are not limited to:

  • Adult content
  • Alcohol
  • Bail bonds
  • E-cigarettes and vapes
  • Online gaming and betting
  • Cannabis
  • Firearms and weapons
  • Loans and money services
  • Travel, airlines, and ticketing agencies
  • Supplements and nutraceuticals
  • Any industry that sees high rates of fraud or chargebacks

For WooCommerce store owners in these verticals, it’s important to find a payment gateway that not only accepts your business model, but also offers competitive rates, robust security, and excellent customer support.

A suitable gateway helps high-risk institutions ensure smooth transaction processing, minimize the risk of chargebacks and fraud, and enhance the end user’s checkout experience, which may influence their likelihood of completing a purchase.

WooCommerce high-risk payment gateways: understanding your options

WooCommerce high-risk payment gateways: Understanding your options

WooCommerce provides a plethora of options for accepting customer payments out of the box, including popular services like PayPal and Stripe. However, not all payment methods are viable for or available to high-risk industries. 

Fortunately, there are WooCommerce payment solutions tailored to high-risk businesses. The primary categories of payment options available for WooCommerce stores are dedicated high-risk payment gateways, aggregators, and cryptocurrency options. 

Dedicated payment gateways, like Payment Cloud and Zen Payments, offer the most tailored services with explicit support for high-risk sectors, albeit often at higher costs. 

Payment aggregators, like PayPal, are often appealing due to their ease of integration and use. However, they frequently pose a greater risk of account freezes for high-risk businesses if they fall in violation of the company’s Acceptable Use Policy. These account freezes will interrupt your ability to provide quality service to your customers. 

Cryptocurrency payment gateways are also emerging as a viable alternatives, offering anonymity and lower fees, although they come with their own set of challenges, such as security concerns and limitations in terms of widespread customer adoption.

Integrating high-risk payment gateways into WooCommerce

Integrating high-risk payment gateways into WooCommerce

If you’ve identified a need for a high-risk payment gateway integration for your eCommerce store, the potential setup processes can range from simple plugin installations to more complex coding requirements or API integrations. 

Most high-risk payment gateways provide detailed documentation or support services to assist with this process and ensure a smooth implementation. 

For high-risk merchants on WordPress, make sure to choose a WooCommerce payment gateway plugin that offers seamless integration coupled with strong security measures. Try to find a gateway that explicitly states its support for your business sector and review its fees, transaction rates, and chargeback policies. 

The testing phase is critical to the integration process, because it ensures that your chosen solution integrates well with your site’s design and user flow. Poorly integrated payment solutions can lead to a disjointed user experience, negatively impacting conversion rates.

Rigorous testing in a staging or local environment can help identify issues that could affect transactions, security, or user experience. It’s also a good opportunity to verify that the solution complies with all relevant regulations and standards, protecting you from potential legal issues.

High-risk WooCommerce payment gateway comparison

With numerous high-risk payment gateways available,( including a host of processors and gateways in WooCommerce’s directory of extensions), making an informed decision when choosing the right payment gateway for your business requires a detailed comparison. 

Factors such as transaction fees, chargeback protection, customer support, and ease of integration ease play a significant role in selecting the right tool for your needs. 

You should also consider its geographical coverage and currency support, as these factors can greatly impact your store’s ability to operate in the regions where you sell your products. 

Additionally, review the gateway’s security features and compliance with payment industry standards, such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), to ensure your customers’ data is protected. User reviews can offer valuable insights into the reliability and customer service quality of the gateways you’re considering. 

Below, we’ve listed a few payment gateways that have been successful for WooCommerce stores in high-risk verticals.


authorize.net logo

Backed by National Processing, one of Nerd Wallet’s picks for top high-risk payment processors, Authorize.net has a plugin in the WordPress directory. For those with some technical expertise, you can use a simple API integration to install it as well. It supports most global currencies and comes with built-in tools to mitigate fraud risks.


CCBill logo

The CCBill plugin includes a host of tools to automate and expand your WooCommerce store, including a payment gateway. According to one 3-star review in the WordPress plugin repository, however, this option may be less suitable for those selling subscription services. 

Payment Cloud

PaymentCloud logo

This dedicated payment gateway utilizes the functionality of other top-level payment gateways, like Authorize.net, NMI, USAePay, and more, making it a great choice for most eCommerce sites. This solution should be viable for most high-risk industries, and you can check to make sure your business will be supported on PaymentCloud here.

Zen Payments

Zen Payments logo

Zen Payments has more than 15 years of experience exclusively processing credit cards for high-risk merchants, making it a great option for most WooCommerce stores. The company makes it easy to set up merchant accounts and provides gateway solutions, ACH processing, and chargeback tools all in one place.

Advanced features and security measures

High-risk merchants should prioritize advanced security measures to protect against fraud and chargebacks. Merchants may need to look for WooCommerce payment solutions that offer features like tokenization, 3D Secure authentication, and comprehensive PCI DSS compliance. 

These features both safeguard your transactions and build trust with your customers. Additionally, advanced analytics and reporting tools can offer insights into purchasing patterns, helping you make informed decisions about your eCommerce strategy.

Gateways that offer these specialized security services, as well as more ubiquitous features like chargeback prevention, can benefit high-risk businesses, in particular.

Maintaining and optimizing your payment gateway

After successful integration, continuous monitoring and optimization of your WooCommerce payment system are vital. 

Keeping your payment gateway updated ensures compatibility with the latest WooCommerce versions and protection against new security threats. Regularly reviewing your transaction data can also provide insights into customer behavior, allowing you to make adjustments to the checkout process that might increase conversion rates.

Moreover, staying informed about regulatory updates and processing laws can help you adapt your payment strategy accordingly. Engaging with a community of WooCommerce store owners and developers can be invaluable, offering a platform to share experiences, solutions, and best practices for managing high-risk payment gateways.

Choose the right payment gateway for your WooCommerce needs

Choosing and integrating the right high-risk payment gateway for your WooCommerce store is a critical decision that impacts every aspect of your business, from customer experience to financial security.

By understanding your options, considering advanced features and security measures, and carefully implementing and maintaining your solution, you can create a robust WooCommerce payment system that supports your high-risk business now and in the future. 

Remember, the best payment gateway is one that not only meets your current needs but also supports your growth and adapts to the evolving eCommerce landscape. 

With the right approach, your high-risk WooCommerce store can thrive, providing a seamless shopping experience for your customers while safeguarding your transactions against fraud and chargebacks.

Visit WP Engine to find out more about our WooCommerce hosting solutions, including our platform’s seamless integration with Stripe.

Get started.

Build faster, protect your brand, and grow your business with a WordPress platform built to power remarkable online experiences.