Getting a merchant account is often the first step to setting up your business. Not all payment processing partners are created equal, however.

Dietary supplement merchant accounts, in particular, are specifically trained to meet the needs of those who sell vitamins and dietary supplements – which can present their own set of challenges to businesses.

The good news is that this type of business is growing every year. Natural Products Insider magazine shares that people are more aware than ever of the availability of products designed to provide nutritional health benefits, such as disease prevention. These can include food and drink, but also supplements. As people look to become their own health advocates, making purchasing decisions to take control of health issues, we can expect the growth of the businesses that serve them to follow.

Chargeback Fraud Risk is Real

Despite the good news for the possibility of sales, there is still the issue of processing payments. A recent FTC report blames 13% of fraud claims on weight loss supplements, a popular product often sold in the natural products industry. Since these same products aren’t regulated by the FDA, it’s easy for a few bad players to cause a negative ripple in the industry, making it easy for legitimate shoppers to try costly methods to get their issues resolved.

Every customer who decides to push the “buy” button represents a host of behind-the-scenes processes that occur to take that payment from completed to credited to the merchant account. This industry is especially prone to not seeing that transaction end with a clear resolution, as chargebacks and fraud claims are higher for this group.

Dietary supplement merchant accounts are typically labeled as “high-risk”. With many free trial and subscription dietary supplement businesses, customers do not read the fine print or realize they have signed up for recurring payments. After checking their monthly statement, they may see a charge they don’t recognize (unclear billing descriptors are also partly to blame here), and they call their issuing bank to dispute the charge. Dietary supplement merchants with excellent customer service tactics may experience this less, but confused customers are often looking for fast relief and this typically results in initiating a chargeback. Higher chargeback ratios make merchant banks nervous, and in turn, they are less willing to offer dietary supplement merchant accounts. In the worst case, a dietary supplement merchant is able to get a merchant account, only to have it terminated in short order because of too many chargebacks.

Partnering With a Specialized High Risk Payment Processor

Being labeled “high risk” isn’t a death sentence, however. Many credit card processors cater to this group and offer consulting, tailored fraud prevention tools, and excellent customer service to address the unique challenges in the high risk sector. It’s in a merchant’s best interest to seek out reputable dietary supplement merchant accounts above those that have no experience in the industry.

In addition to providing access to high risk merchant accounts, these specialized solution providers offer advocacy and guidance in the rocky terrain of high risk payment processing. These providers often have special reporting designed to help you identify chargeback issues before they get out of hand. Some can show you the best language to use in your sales, returns, and customer resolution pages to avoid unnecessary and expensive chargebacks from ever happening in the first place. In short, the right high risk payment processor can partner with you to anticipate the most common issues for your business type and will have processes in place to dispute and recover chargebacks quickly and without disruption to your business. The cost savings in time, resource, and knowledge is immeasurable.


Dietary supplements will continue to be an essential part of the daily lives of today’s consumer. As new products hit the market, the need for sellers to provide them safely — and at a reasonable cost – will grow. By partnering with a merchant account provider that is familiar with your needs, you can stay competitive and avoid expensive losses due to higher fees and unnecessary chargebacks. Ask MerchACT how they can help you realize your full brick and mortar and e-commerce store potential, including best practices that have proven successful for other stores in the dietary supplement industry.