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Nutraceutical Merchant Services

What you need to know about nutraceutical payment processing.

Few industries impact as large a percentage of the US population as the nutraceutical industry does.  Nutraceutical businesses, however, still have trouble with merchant accounts to accept credit cards.  This, despite the fact that over 75% of adult Americans take some kind of nutritional supplement. And projections show the health and wellness supplement industry will enjoy continued, sustained growth.  So why are Nutraceutical companies placed into the high risk category for merchant services?


Why is the Nutraceutical industry considered high risk for merchant accounts to accept credit cards?

The nutraceutical industry is often considered as high risk by payment processors for many reasons.  There is a common thread through most of the problems that the nutraceutical industry faces.  They all lead to charge backs and or brand damage.  From lack of oversight to brand damage and liability, there are a number of reasons why nutraceutical merchant accounts are high risk.

Nutraceuticals had a lack of government oversight

Until recently there had been little to no governmental oversight or regulation.  This fact alone has caused the industry merchant services challenges.  Albeit, the vast majority of Nutraceutical businesses are truly interested in the health and well being of their clients, there have been bad seeds.  As with most good things there are always people looking to profit by taking the easy way.  In an industry that had next to a total lack of government oversight there were occasional questionable practices.  This increased the industry’s average charge back ratio.  The government has since recognized that the industry needs greater oversight to protect the public:

“We know that most players in this industry act responsibly. But there are opportunities for bad actors to exploit the halo created by quality work of legitimate manufacturers to instead distribute and sell dangerous products that put consumers at risk.” Stated Scott Gottleib, in his February 11th, 2019 statement.

The FDA now has better control over the manufacturing, advertising, and distribution practices.  Despite these significant changes in the amount of government regulation most banks still will not work with most dietary supplements.  This is because when approving a merchant account to accept credit cards, the bank has to take additional steps.  The acquiring bank can be held liable for supporting a business not meeting those guidelines.  All advertising must be reviewed to make sure that there are no false or misleading claims about what their products.  All the ingredients need to be cross-checked to make sure they are not prohibited. Finally, sales practices must meet the bank’s risk tolerance (such as trials).  Most merchant service providers that are not prepared to work with high risk nutraceutical merchant accounts.


Nutraceutical Ingredients and Products can cause them to be considered High Risk

Another factor that can lead to high charge back ratios, brand damage, or liability to the payment processor or bank are illegal, adulterated, or mislabeled ingredients.  Sometimes, supplements are found to contain less of a promised ingredient than advertised.  When customers do not see a benefit they often charge back their transaction rather than call the company.  

Illegal ingredients are often a problem in the industry.  These are ingredients that may be 100% legal in one country but not another.  It can be a surprise to many nutraceutical companies that their ingredients are either illegal or potentially illegal in the US.  Merchants must be able to show that they have knowledge and policies regarding the laws in the countries they wish to ship. When they do not have this knowledge shipments are often seized or returned which triggers charge backs.

Oftentimes, nutraceutical merchants unknowingly add illegal products.  Just a few examples of such products are Alzheimer's treatments, Covid-19 test kits and unapproved treatments, anabolic steroids, etc.  This can happen when their distributors or sales reps mis-represent the products to the merchant as legitimate. Because of this, nutraceutical and supplement merchants websites require persistent monitoring.  This helps to ensure that their product lines remain within the guidelines.  Once again, banks supporting nutraceutical merchant accounts who sell illegal ingredients or products can be held liable.  Many credit card processors are unwilling to dedicate resources to persistent monitoring of sites.

Free Trials led to high charge backs

For many years there were some very unscrupulous players using “Free Trial” programs to make huge profits.  These trials would have wholly insufficient trial periods mixed with purposeful slow shipping.  Consumers were roped into having to pay for multiple months of product.  Although automatic free trial with continuity programs have largely been discontinued they did give the industry a bad name when it comes to nutraceutical merchant services.  It created a flood of charge backs with losses to consumers, banks and credit card processors. Trial programs are now heavily vetted during merchant account underwriting.


Misleading Nutraceutical claims led to liability

All merchants are in business to sell their products or services.  Unfortunately, regardless of personal beliefs, making claims about what a supplement can provide is illegal.  That is, unless it is well documented and approved by the government.  The FDA is in charge of monitoring companies making false or misleading claims.  However, banks or payment processors can be held liable for supporting the merchant.  For this reason the risk department must thoroughly review nutraceutical merchant accounts for claims that could be exaggerated or false.  Once again many credit card processors do not have the expertise to analyze this risk appropriately.  So, most banks will choose to not work with a business in the nutraceutical industry.

How to apply for a high risk nutraceutical merchant account

Be Prepared

Applying for a nutraceutical merchant with Bankcard International Group is easy. We have 16 years of experience and established relationships with most domestic banks and many more internationally.  BIG will get you the best nutraceutical merchant account for your business model.  To get started simply CONTACT US and we will work with you to find the absolute best solution for your business.  Once we have reviewed your website, products, and business model we will send you the appropriate application.  One of our friendly consultants will work directly with you to help you through the whole process.

So, what can you expect from there?  Simple just complete the application and be prepared to return it along with the following documentation:

  • A valid, government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license
  • A bank letter or a pre-printed voided check
  • 3 months of the most recent bank statements
  • 3 months of the most recent processing statements, if applicable
  •  SS4 Letter (the letter the IRS sent you when you were awarded your EIN (Employer Identification Number)
  • Screenshot showing that you own your URL
  • Fulfillment agreement (if applicable)
  • Complete product list and all ingredients in each

Once the full package is submitted to the acquirer we generally can have your account approved within just a couple days.  

One of the most important things you can do when putting your application package together is following the checklists closely.  Making sure to completely fill out the application, sign all indicated spots, and return all requested documents in one package.  This will help in a speedy and smooth nutraceutical merchant account approval.  Of course, the BIG team will be there to work with you to complete the package prior to submitting to the bank.


Why B.I.G. for your nutraceutical merchant account?

Experience and Integrity

Experience and integrity.  Just because your nutraceutical business’ merchant account could be considered high risk, that does not mean you should be treated any differently. The BIG team will always treat you with the respect and honesty that you deserve.  We believe that with superior service and a mindset to help businesses succeed, we will earn your business for the life of your business.

We will put our decades of experience to work for you. Not only do we understand the unique needs of the nutraceutical industry but we have the close relationships to get it done.  And get it done at rates that are guaranteed to please!  No one does it better.

Get Your Application Today

Nutraceutical Categories and classifications

Nutraceuticals can be classified in a couple different ways. Supplements such as those listed below must be categorized in one of two ways.  SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) utilized by the US and many other countries to identify the core nature of a business.  Or, businesses can be classified into NAICS (Northern American Classification System).

  • Dietary supplements
  • Energy supplements
  • Medicines made from botanical ingredients
  • Multivitamins
  • Detox programs
  • Herbal supplements
  • Natural male enhancements
  • Nootropics, such as cognitive enhancers
  • Weight Loss supplements
  • Workout and sports performance supplements

Regardless of what your product is, nutraceutical merchant accounts are often assigned one of the following SIC codes:

  • 2833: Medicinal Chemicals and Botanical Products
  • 2834: Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • 2099: Coffee and Tea Manufacturing
  • 2837: Nutritional, Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Supplements.
  • 2048: Encapsulated Nutritional Supplements
  • 7299: Miscellaneous Personal Services, not elsewhere classified (weight-loss supplements)

You can go to the United States Department of Labor to view a comprehensive SIC list.

The Northern American Classification System (NAICS), is a list of six-digit codes.  NAICS is used by federal statistical agencies to classify business establishments.  The goal is to gather, analyze, and publish statistical information about business groups or similar types of businesses and their impacts on the U.S. economy.

Nutraceutical products and related items typically fall into one of these NAICS codes:

  • 325411: Medicinal and Botanical Manufacturing
  • 325411: Pharmaceutical Preparation Manufacturing
  • 311920: Coffee and Tea Manufacturing
  • 311119: Encapsulated Nutritional Supplements
  • 812191: Diet and Weight Reducing Centers (weight-loss supplements)
Visit the United States Census Bureau to view the complete NAICS code list.

Interested in a chargeback prevention program?

Bankcard International Group offers charge back prevention solutions

These programs are very effective at assisting high risk merchant account holders to manage and prevent charge backs before they happen.  Many of our nutraceutical industry merchants find these programs useful.  Online merchants tend to see more chargebacks than other merchant accounts.   Just ask us for the details.
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Allow us to show you the B.I.G. difference by joining the thousands of merchants who were tired of being treated like a number.  B.I.G. is putting the SERVICE back in high risk merchant services.