In a move that has sent shockwaves through the merchant community, Mastercard and Visa from April 1, 2024 announced a significant increase in high-risk fees. The fees, previously set at $450, have now skyrocketed to $950 per merchant, marking a substantial leap that has left many businesses scrambling to reassess their financial strategies. This unprecedented surge in fees has prompted widespread concern and has sparked discussions about its implications for merchants across various industries.

Understanding High-Risk Fees

High-risk fees, also known as high-risk assessment fees, are charges imposed by payment processors, such as Mastercard and Visa, on transactions deemed to carry elevated risk factors. These fees are intended to cover the additional costs associated with managing risk in certain industries, such as those prone to chargebacks, fraud, or regulatory scrutiny. Historically, sectors such as adult entertainment, gambling, and travel have been classified as high-risk due to the nature of their transactions.

The Surge in Fees

The decision by Mastercard and Visa to increase high-risk fees from $450 to $950 represents a significant financial burden for merchants operating in affected industries. This hike has lead to concerns about its potential impact on profitability and viability on the businesses this decision impacts

Implications for Merchants

The surge in high-risk fees has far-reaching implications for merchants, particularly those operating in industries already facing financial pressures. Some of the key implications include:

  • Increased Operational Costs – The higher fees imposed by Mastercard and Visa translate into increased operational costs for merchants, which can erode profit margins and hinder business growth.

  • Financial Strain on Small Businesses – Small and medium-sized businesses, in particular, may struggle to absorb the additional costs associated with the surge in high-risk fees. This could lead to financial strain and potentially jeopardize the viability of these enterprises.

  • Potential Price Increases for Consumers – In an effort to offset the impact of higher fees, merchants may be forced to raise prices for consumers, leading to increased costs of goods and services.

  • Limited Access to Payment Processing Services – The classification of certain industries as high-risk may result in restricted access to payment processing services for merchants operating in these sectors. This could pose challenges for businesses seeking to secure merchant accounts or obtain favorable processing terms.

Navigating the Challenges

Despite the challenges posed by the surge in high-risk fees, there are steps that merchants can take to navigate this new landscape effectively:

  • Evaluate Risk Management Strategies – Merchants should assess their risk management strategies to identify areas for improvement and implement measures to mitigate the risk of chargebacks and fraudulent transactions. Our advisors are here to help.

  • Explore Alternative Payment Options  – Diversifying payment options beyond credit cards, such as incorporating e-wallets or cryptocurrency payments, can help reduce reliance on traditional payment methods subject to high-risk fees. TickleCharge works with multiple partners and can guide you into picking the best there is.

  • Negotiate with Payment Processors – Merchants should explore opportunities to negotiate terms with payment processors to mitigate the impact of high-risk fees. This may involve demonstrating a strong track record of compliance and implementing additional risk mitigation measures.

  • Stay Informed and Adapt  – Keeping abreast of regulatory changes, industry trends, and updates from payment processors is essential for merchants to adapt their strategies and mitigate risks effectively


The surge in high-risk fees by Mastercard and Visa from $450 to $950 per merchant has sparked concerns and uncertainties within the merchant community. As businesses grapple with the financial implications of these increased fees, proactive risk management, negotiation, and diversification strategies will be crucial for navigating this challenging terrain. By staying informed and taking proactive steps to mitigate risks, merchants can weather the storm and continue to thrive in an evolving payment landscape. We at TickleCharge are there for any need that you might have. Send us an email at and we will be happy to help.

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