International merchant accounts & Canadian merchant accounts - traditionally, businesses located outside of the United States seeking credit card processing solutions have had a rather hard time of it.


But in the past decade things have eased considerably.In this section, we first offer a brief discussion of some of the issues facing Canadian and international merchants.


Then we set out our recommendations as to four leading providers of Canadian and international merchant account services.

International Merchant Accounts
Canadian Merchant Accounts

Special Requirements of International & Canadian Merchant Accounts

As mentioned, for many years it was quite difficult for non-U.S. businesses to find international merchant accounts or Canadian merchant accounts.


In particular, Canadian merchants suffered from the near-monopoly Canadian chartered banks have on merchant accounts. Merchants seeking a merchant account from their own bank usually find the rates and application fees excessive. Banks also require excessive paperwork and their process can be very time-consuming due to the bureaucracy involved.


Meanwhile, U.S. banks regard foreign merchants as involving significant risk – higher than average chargebacks are too often the case. In addition, U.S. banks recognize that they will have a substantial problem should they need to enforce their legal remedies against international merchants.


So, the few domestic banks who do sell to international merchants often require large security deposits or reserves and other continuing obligations – requirements that the majority of foreign businesses are unwilling or unable to assume.


In the last decade or so, however, the merchant account and credit card processing landscape has been transformed with the introduction of many independent sales organizations (ISO’s) – middlemen who assume much of the risk that banks have been unwilling to take. The result is that it is international businesses now find it significantly less arduous to qualify for a merchant account.


Of necessity, the fees charged to international merchants are higher than those paid by U.S. merchants, with discount rates in the 2.5% to 10% range. Fees are set based upon the country of origin, whether the merchant maintains a U.S. business checking account and U.S. mailing address, as well as the type of business being operated.


Up-front set-up fees are common, as are reserve or deposit requirements.


As regards Canadian merchants, here, courtesy of Moneris and The Transaction Group, are seven questions you should ask any company seeking to sell you a merchant account:

  1. Does the merchant account provider make available a wide array of software to meet the needs of your business?
  2. Will you be able to process both Canadian and US dollar transactions, for customers in either country?
  3. If you plan on switching from your current credit card processing company to a new one, will you be able to make the switch to the latter but still keep your current equipment?
  4. Does the provider offer a wide enough selection of point-of-sale equipment to satisfy your business’ particular requirements?
  5. Does the provider offer a wide selection of ecommerce capabilities that will function well with the hardware/software they offer?
  6. Will it provide the personalized customer support you require?
  7. Is it capable of offering all of the above at prices that are competitive?

Recommended International & Canadian Merchant Account Providers


ICE Merchant Services

  • Ideal for Canadian or other international businesses in need of a processor.
  • Sell online to the world in any of 120 currencies.
  • Recurring billing solutions. International fraud protection. Easy access to reporting.
  • Most of the shopping cart software applications available today are compatible with the payment gateway offered by EMS – eliminating the need for work by your website programmer.
  • Only $249.00 one time set-up fee.


HighRiskCC Merchant Systems

  • Offers Canadian merchant accounts with low startup costs.
  • Process all major card types including VISA, MasterCard, American Express, INTERAC Direct Payment, Diners, JCB, private label and loyalty transactions.
  • Services up to 99.9% of international customers with fast set-up, training and support.
  • Visa/MC Discount Rate: 2.49%: Gateway Fee: $19.95; Transaction Fee: $0.30; Bank Fee: $9.95; Application Fee: none; Monthly Minimum: $15.00; Cancellation Fees: none; AuthorizeNet fee: $99.95 (waived for merchants with processing history).


Global Payments Inc

  • Transfer funds weekly from your merchant account to your business checking account
  • Offers merchant accounts to all international business types, including investments, collections, payday loans, credit repair, e-pharmacies, tobacco, adult, aggregators, timeshares, e-tailers, travel, sports forecasting, MLM, etc.
  • Fraud minimization includes verification by type of email address used, validity of credit card, IP address country with billing address country, type of mailing address, credit card issuing bank, country and billing address, country status as type of risk, IP address, proxy server source, validity of telephone and zip code


Zymico Merchant Financing

  • Specializes in U.S., Canadian & International merchant financing
  • Financing for Small Business solutions
  • Working Capital and Quick Cash for Business Expansion
  • Demand draft and ACH processing also offered
  • Echeck processing also available
  • Excellent fraud protection services



If you continue to have difficulty locating a merchant account for your Canadian or international business, please check out our Offshore Merchant Accounts and Third Party Processing section.


For information on the credit card processing costs you may incur with your offshore merchant account, see our Fees Discussion.