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ACH Payments

The basics of ACH and how you could benefit

June 18, 2024

ACH payments operate behind the scenes daily, ensuring your mortgage and utility payments are seamlessly processed through direct payment. At the same time, your salary and tax refunds smoothly arrive via direct deposit. Have you ever wondered how or what makes these transactions possible? Let’s explore the ins and outs of ACH and how it can benefit you. 

What is ACH? 

ACH, which stands for Automated Clearing House, is an electronic network for financial transactions in the United States. This system enables the secure and efficient transfer of funds between banks and other financial institutions. ACH payments offer a seamless alternative to traditional paper-based transactions, streamlining the payment process.

What are ACH payments?

ACH payments refer to the electronic transfer of funds between different bank accounts through the ACH network. These transactions can include various types of payments, such as direct deposits, bill payments, and business-to-business transactions. ACH payments provide a reliable and cost-effective means for businesses and individuals to manage their financial transactions without the hassle of physical checks.

What is NACHA?

NACHA, or the National Automated Clearing House Association, governs the ACH network. As the governing body, NACHA establishes and enforces rules and regulations to ensure the smooth operation and security of ACH transactions. All participants in the ACH network must follow the NACHA rules and regulations. 

How does ACH work? 

ACH transactions involve the electronic exchange of information between banks, facilitated by the ACH network. The process typically begins with an originator, such as an individual or a business, initiating a payment through their financial institution. The information is then transmitted through the ACH network to the receiver’s bank, where the funds are deposited into the designated account.

How long does it take to process a payment via ACH? 

One of the advantages of ACH payments is the speed and efficiency they offer. While traditional check payments may take days to clear, ACH transactions usually settle within a few business days. However, the exact time can vary depending on factors such as the time of initiation, the participating banks, and the type of ACH transaction. For example, debits typically comprise just over 50% of ACH payments and are settled either the same day or the next banking day. However, ACH credits comprise just under 50% of ACH payments and can settle the same day, the next banking day, or in two banking days. But the substantial majority of ACH credits also settle in one banking day.

Common terms to know 

Some common terms regarding ACH you should know are: 

  • Originator: The originator initiates payment instructions. 
  • ODFI (Originating Depository Financial Institution): The originating financial institution sends ACH payment files to ACH operators. 
  • RDFI (Receiving Depository Financial Institution): The receiving financial institution receives ACH payment files from ACH operators. 

Pros and cons of ACH 

As with any financial system, ACH payments come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages:


  • ACH transactions are quick, easy, and efficient 
  • ACH provides same-day banking transactions
  • ACH transactions are internationally available


  • Banks may limit ACH transactions amounts 
  • ACH transactions come with fees

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The information in this blog post is for educational purposes only. It is not legal or tax advice. For legal or tax advice, you should consult your own legal counsel, tax and investment advisers. 

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