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Why Vape and E-Cig Businesses Need Special Payment Processing Solutions

As smoking bans become increasingly common, more and more people are putting down their traditional tobacco cigarettes and picking up electronic cigarettes or vape pens. Between 2011 and 2018, the number of people who vaped worldwide grew from seven million to 41 million. In 2019, the e-cigarette and vaping industry was worth $19.3 billion. 

For many former smokers, part of the appeal of vaping is the reduced risk. Ironically, many payment processors consider vape businesses as high-risk. It can be tricky to get a merchant account with a traditional processing company. 

If you own a company in the e-cigarette industry, you need to know what payment processing options are out there and how you can go about getting an e-cig merchant account. 

Why Vape Merchant Accounts Are High Risk

Vaping and e-cigarettes aren’t illegal, but they are highly regulated. For example, you can’t sell e-cigarettes or vaping liquid to minors, which as of 2019, is anyone under the age of 21

Generally speaking, payment processors view highly regulated industries, such as the tobacco industry and its cousin, the e-cigarette industry, as high-risk. If minors purchase your products or there’s another violation of regulations, you can end up in hot water, and so can the payment processor that allowed the transaction to occur. That means potentially higher costs for the payment processor and an overall increased risk when working with businesses in the e-cigarette industry.  

Although vaping liquids and e-cigarettes that replace tobacco products are legal for adult consumption, vaping itself can be seen as a gray area. For example, some people vape marijuana, which isn’t legal across all 50 states. Because of the connection to potentially illegal drugs, many payment processors classify vape shops as high risk.

Why Popular Payment Processors Don't Work With High-Risk Merchants

It can be tricky for an e-cig business to get a merchant account from a traditional payment processor for a few reasons:

  • Higher costs for the processor: Companies that fall into the high-risk category typically cost more for the payment processor. High-risk companies often have a high chargeback rate. Customers might purchase an e-cigarette, decide they don’t like its taste or don’t think it’s effective and dispute the charge with their credit card. When a customer disputes a charge, the issuing bank takes the money back. The merchant may or may not be able to cover it, in which case, the payment processor is responsible. 
  • Potential for legal action: Vaping is legal but regulated. A merchant that sells its products to people under age 21 or that doesn’t verify age can get in legal trouble. There’s a chance that trouble could extend to the payment processor, which allowed the transaction to go through.
  • Potential for reputational harm: The public’s opinion matters for payment processors. Many processors don’t want to be associated with high-risk industries, including vape shops. Even if an e-cigarette company does everything by the book, some traditional payment processors might hesitate to partner with it. 

Some of the more popular payment processors are up-front in their refusal to work with vape businesses or others in the e-cigarette industry. If your company tries to apply for an account with them, it’s likely to get denied immediately.

What Can a High-Risk Vape Merchant Account Offer You?

Fortunately, high-risk merchant accounts aren’t impossible to get. The trick is finding a payment processing company that specializes in working with high-risk businesses. High-risk payment processors know the ins and outs of operating a high-risk business. They are also familiar with the industry’s regulations and with the e-cigarette industry itself. 

Some of the features a high-risk merchant account can provide that a traditional account can’t include:

 

  • Industry knowledge: Ideally, you want to work with a company that understands the vaping and e-cig business. A payment processor that understands the rules and regulations will be a better match for your business than one unsure about the industry.
  • Network of banks: High-risk payment processors typically have a network of banks they work with to provide their merchants with funds. The more extensive the processor’s network, the better your chances of finding a bank that’s a good fit for your company.
  • Flexible solutions: A high-risk payment processor should have payment options that work for your business. For example, if you operate a brick-and-mortar vape shop, signing up for an account with a processor that only offers e-commerce solutions won’t work for you. If you currently have a brick-and-mortar store but want to expand to e-commerce, the more options the payment processor has, the better the fit they’ll be.

What Is Zen Payments' Vape Merchant Account Approval Process?

Zen Payments specializes in working with high-risk merchants, including vape shops. We make it easy to get approved for a merchant account and accept card payments. Our approval rating for high-risk applicants is currently 98%.

To apply for a merchant account with us, you’ll need to provide the following information:

 

  • Business information: Gather the basic information about your company, including your business start date and ownership type, as well as your address and contact information.
  • Personal information: You also need to provide your contact information, Social Security number and relationship to the company.
  • Processing information: If your company currently accepts card payments, you need to provide accurate information about how you accept payments, if you accept refunds and if you use recurring billing.
  • Bank account information: When you apply, you should also include your bank account details so the payment processor can issue payments to you.
  • Other documents: Your application should include three months of your company’s bank statements, a copy of your driver’s license, a voided check and three months of payment processing statements. If you’re applying for a merchant account for the first time, you can leave out the payment processing statements.

Contact Zen Payments to Set up Your Merchant Account Today

Accepting card payments allows you to grow your e-cig or vape shop, whether you want to reach more customers online or make it more convenient for your in-person customers to pay. Don’t take the risk of getting turned down or having your account closed by a traditional payment processor. Work with a company that understands the unique needs of your business.

Get started on your Zen Payments account application today, or get in touch with us to learn more. 

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