High Risk

High-Risk MCC Codes: A Helpful List

Read Time: 5 min

A person climbing a latter with blocks that say 'risk' to represent high-risk mcc codes.

Among the long list of MCC codes used within payment processing to categorize industry types, a high-risk MCC code indicates a business operates in a high-risk industry. Typically, merchants in high-risk sectors have a harder time obtaining credit card processing services than other businesses—but with credit cards being the most popular form of payment in North America, it’s especially important for merchants to offer them as a payment method.[1]BlueSnap. “20 Payment Method Statistics For Merchants To Keep In Mind“. Accessed on May 4, 2023.

While it can be challenging for businesses within some industries to obtain payment processing services, there are many merchant service providers that cater to high-risk businesses. If you choose the right provider, you will not only obtain credit card processing, but you’ll also gain the tools and resources you need to protect your business from financial threats. This guide lists high-risk MCC codes, outlines their uses, and explains how they can impact your business’s ability to process payments.

What Is a High-Risk MCC Code?

When a business applies for a merchant account, a four-digit merchant category code (MCC) is attached to the account accompanied by a merchant identification number (MID). While the MID identifies an individual merchant, the MCC code refers to a merchant’s industry type.

High-risk merchant category codes correspond to industries carrying an elevated risk of payment processing liability. As such, some merchant account providers avoid businesses with high-risk merchant category codes because they carry higher exposure to chargebacks, fraud, disputes, and other payment issues.

While an MCC code serves a variety of purposes, it’s primarily used by card networks to determine interchange fees, define rules, and offer incentives to merchants within specific industries. Card networks like Visa and Mastercard have specific rules and regulations in place for businesses with high-risk MCC codes. These rules help to mitigate the potential financial risks that cause significant losses to both card issuers and acquiring banks.

For example, some card networks require additional registration for businesses with high-risk MCC codes accepting card-not-present transactions (CNP) because these types of high-risk transactions carry additional liability. By imposing stricter guidelines, card networks aim to protect the entire payment ecosystem while providing merchants with access to secure payment processing.

What Are They Used For?

High-risk MCC codes help communicate a business’s overall risk level to stakeholders within the payment industry. Particularly, merchant account providers use these codes to determine if a business is too risky for its services. Since chargebacks and fraud account for more than $17 billion in losses for merchants each year, naturally, merchant account providers are exposed to this risk too.[2]Citcon. “7 Chargeback Statistics Merchants Need to Know“. Accessed on May 4, 2023.

While conventional banks usually avoid servicing riskier merchants in an effort to decrease their liability, providers that have more risk tolerance may still require certain stipulations for high-risk merchants, such as mandatory reserve accounts. These practices may seem harsh, but they can significantly lower the impact of financial loss for business owners.

List of High-Risk MCC Codes

Below is an inexhaustive list of each high-risk industry and its correlating merchant category code:

High-Risk Industry (A-F)MCC
Account funding, stored-value card purchases, and prepaid loans (non-financial institution)6540
Adult entertainment7841
Affiliate marketing7399
Agricultural and farming products763
Aircraft and aviation4582
Airlines, not elsewhere classified4511
Alcohol and tobacco products5921
Alcoholic beverage wholesalers5715
Arms and ammunition3489
Auto sales and repair services753
Babysitting services7295
Bail bonds and legal services7392
Bankruptcy attorneys and services8111
Bitcoin and cryptocurrency6051
Bus lines4131
Cannabis and marijuana products8398
Collection agencies and debt recovery7321
Computer network services, internet access, cyberlocker, file sharing, and cloud storage4816
Construction and contracting services1520
Credit repair and debt relief7276
Cruise lines4411
Dating and matchmaking services7273
Debt collection and consolidation7320
Debt, marriage, and personal counseling services7277
Digital goods – games5816
Direct marketing – other, not elsewhere classified5969
Direct marketing – outbound telemarketing5966
Direct marketing – subscription, continuity/subscription merchants5968
Document preparation and filing services7399
E-cigarettes and vaping products5993
Education and tutoring services8299
Electronics and computer hardware5732
Energy and utilities4900
Escort services7273
Event planning and ticket sales7991
Fantasy sports and online gaming7995
Financial investments and securities6211
Firearms and accessories4214
Foreign exchange and currency exchange6050
Furniture stores5712
High-Risk Industry (G-Z)MCC
Gambling and online casinos7995
Guns and firearms3489
Healthcare and medical services8099
Home-based businesses7399
Horoscopes and fortune telling7999
Hospitality and travel industry4722
Industrial and manufacturing products5085
Insurance and health benefits6300
Insurance premiums6381
Intellectual property and trademark services7399
Jewelry and luxury goods5094
Jet charter5192
Lawyers and legal services8111
Loan and financing services6012
Medical marijuana and dispensaries8099
Multilevel marketing and pyramid schemes7399
Nutritional supplements and vitamins5499
Online dating and social networking7277
Online gaming and virtual reality7995
Online pharmacies and supplements5912
Payday loans and cash advances6051
Personal finance and investment advice6282
Pharmaceuticals and prescription drugs5122
Professional and business services7399
Quasi-cash, money orders, and traveler’s checks6051
Real estate and property management6513
SaaS and cloud computing5734
SEO and online marketing services7392
Software and technology industry7372
Sports and recreation industry7941
Stamp and coin stores5972
Tax preparation and accounting services7278
Taxis and limousines4121
Telecommunications and wireless4814
Ticket sales and event planning7991
Timeshares and vacation ownership7012
Tobacco products5993
Travel agencies and services4722
Vehicle sales and financing5511
Virtual and digital goods5735
Web design companies7375
Web hosting and internet services7375
Weight loss and diet products5499
Wine and spirits5921
Work-from-home opportunities7399

Do You Need a High-Risk Merchant Account?

A business owner with question marks as they question if they need a high-risk merchant account with high-risk mcc codes.

Businesses with high-risk MCC codes often have trouble accessing merchant services from traditional financial institutions. Fortunately, high-risk merchant account providers offer payment services to merchants with high-risk MCC codes. In doing so, these providers enable businesses in risk-prone industries to access credit card processing, payment gateways, virtual terminal, and other essential payment infrastructure. Additionally, these organizations have first-hand knowledge and expertise of the challenges faced by businesses operating in risky sectors. As such, they offer higher chargeback thresholds, industry-specific support, and other resources specifically tailored to the needs of high-risk businesses.

If your business is assigned a high-risk MCC code, it’s time to explore your merchant account options. When you partner with a reliable high-risk merchant services provider that possesses a deep understanding of your industry, you’ll unlock the level of payment support and account security your business needs.

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Article Sources

  1. BlueSnap. “20 Payment Method Statistics For Merchants To Keep In Mind“. Accessed on May 4, 2023.
  2. Citcon. “7 Chargeback Statistics Merchants Need to Know“. Accessed on May 4, 2023.

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