ACH payments and eChecks are fast, secure, and paper-free
Get paid by ACH transfers or eCheck
Money moves electronically
After your customer enters their bank information, QuickBooks prepares ACH and eCheck information for the ACH (or “Automated Clearing House”) Network.
Safe, secure payments
QuickBooks delivers ACH payments and eChecks electronically over a secure connection to your bank.
Skip the paper
Because they’re electronic, ACH payments and eChecks are faster and more reliable than checks. And there’s no paper to track.
For existing QuickBooks customers
QuickBooks automatically reconciles your books for every payment you accept.
Let them pay with ACH or eCheck
Reduce processing costs
ACH payments and eChecks require a lot less effort to process than paper checks, and they’re less expensive than credit card transactions.
Even if you don’t accept paper checks, accepting eChecks will provide more payment options for your customers.
ACH and eCheck payments are quickly transferred electronically through the ACH network.
Merchant service providers (your ACH and eCheck payment processor) maintain and monitor files to help protect you from fraud.
Frequently asked questions
What is ACH, how does it work, and does your business need it?
By Brendan Gage February 1, 2020
There are some things we know, but don’t know we know. For example, if you were asked, “Have you moved money from one bank to another?,” you’d likely say, “Yes.” If you were asked, “What is ACH?,” you’d likely say, “Come again?
What is ACH?
ACH, or “Automated Clearing House,” is the name of the network that moves money and information from one bank account to another. Bill pay and direct deposit are examples of an ACH transaction. ACH is a valuable resource. It saves time, conserves resources, minimizes errors, and expedites payment.
In short, ACH is a fancy term for a money transfer from one financial institution to another.
How does ACH work?
You wouldn’t make fifty trips to your house with one grocery item at a time, would you? Instead, you gather up as many as you can and make one big trip. An ACH network follows a similar line of thinking. ACH is an electronic network that processes payments in batches. The ACH network accumulates numerous transactions throughout the day, then makes all of the transfers at once.
This model makes transferring funds between banks fast and easy. As things are transferred electronically, it’s also inexpensive and faster than dealing with paper checks. But what exactly is ACH used for beyond moving your money around? Well, a lot.
Uses of ACH
The ACH network is used for quite a few things, beyond bank account transfers. In fact, ACH can be a huge boon to your business. How? So glad you asked. First, let’s look at the general uses of ACH.
Have you ever had the option to skip using a paper check and instead pay with a digital check or direct bank transfer? This form of electronic payment is known as ACH debit. With an ACH debit payment, funds are taken from your account, held by the ACH for a processing time and then released to the other party. This form of ACH payment generally requires your bank account and routing number, but no further action on your part.
ACH debit is commonly used for online bill payments, direct payment for vendors, or various other types of transactions. ACH debit payments can usually be set up as recurring payments, making them especially great for those monthly bills and services. Once a recurring payment is set up, you no longer have to provide any input, which is great if you’re forgetful.
ACH debit transactions can also be a one-time deal instead of a recurring payment. These require manual input on your end to send the payment. Once you send the payment, the funds enter ACH processing and then go to the other party.
If ACH debit payments sound convenient, that’s because they are. Beyond convenience, there are even more perks, including:
- Convenience: Set up recurring payments or do a one-time payment, either way you’re skipping the hassle of mailing a paper check.
- Paper reduction: Not only do you skip the paper check, with ACH you forgo any kind of paperwork that might come with a payment.
- Easier tracking in account systems: Losing something in the mail isn’t unheard of. Losing something that’s digital and closely tracked is difficult and unlikely.
- Automated bookkeeping: All of those digital transactions can be synced up with accounting software, making ACH payment services great for accounting reasons.
As great as ACH debit can be, there are some downsides as well, including:
- Potential security risk: Nothing is ever totally safe, but with ACH you are trusting online parties with your account information. This leaves you more vulnerable to a security breach.
- Processing fees: ACH transfers, while convenient, aren’t always free for either party. Oftentimes an ACH payment comes with a percentage-based fee or flat rate for each transaction.
- Accidental overcharge: This is rare, but it’s possible for the payment processor or service provider to accidentally charge you more than you owe.
- Accidental overdraft: If you have a recurring payment, you might forget about it. This can lead to insufficient funds in your account and result in an overdraft.
Unlike ACH debit, ACH credit is simply the transferring of funds from one account to another, rather than a payment processing. This can be another financial institution, or a social security account, retirement fund, etc. In rare cases, ACH credit can also be used business-to-business, like in the event that there’s some kind of transfer of funds as in a merger or purchase.
The perks of ACH credit include:
- No checks: Just like ACH debit, there are no checks involved with ACH credit transactions.
- Speed: Once again, like debit, ACH credit happens in near real-time with a slight processing time in most cases.
- Automated tracking: Not to be a broken record, but ACH credit also maintains a digital trail, making it easy to keep track.
If you didn’t notice, ACH credit shares a lot of the perks of ACH debit. The downsides? They don’t even warrant a list: ACH credit can occasionally face a holding period if the sum is large enough, and in rare cases, there may be a fee. That’s it.
How is ACH different from a wire transfer?ACH might sound a lot like a personal bank transfer or wire transfer. Well, it is in some ways. But as is the case with so many things, looks can be deceiving.
ACH payment processing enables efficient cash flow management by giving parties a consistent, predictable, and transparent way to send and receive money. Personal bank transfers and wire transfers, while a form of funds transfer, are quite different. Let’s take a look at some popular bank transfer types.
Internal personal bank transfer
These are transfers between two accounts belonging to the same person and at the same bank. For example, if you move funds from your checking account to your savings account, and the two accounts are at the same bank, that’s an internal personal bank transfer. This happens same day most of the time, unlike an ACH debit or credit that typically requires a day.
External personal bank transfer
These transactions are between two accounts that belong to the same person but at different banks. If you move money from a checking account at one bank to a checking account at another bank, the bank transfer is an external personal bank transfer, not an ACH.
A wire transfer is used to send money from one person’s bank account to another person’s bank account. There is no intermediary (e.g. no ACH) in a wire transfer, so wire transfers are one of the quickest but costliest bank transfer methods. Unlike an ACH transfer, the payer, or customer, initiates the wire transfer for deposit into the merchant’s account. Due to the lack of middleman in a wire transfer, it’s possible to accidentally send your money to the wrong party. This makes wire transfers riskier than ACH debit or credit transactions.
Why accept ACH payments?
It might go without saying, but ACH payments are really convenient. Beyond this, are there additional reasons to use ACH payments at your business? You bet.
ACH payments are accurate
You can use ACH payment processing to handle automatic payments. This can prevent delays and boost your cash flow. ACH integrates with most accounting software, eliminates human error, paper invoices, paper checks, and collection calls. Having more accurate payments can help your company’s reputation, prevent any kind of funding fiasco, and make your business more appealing in general.
Customers like ACH payments
Many billing errors are just plain old mistakes. Automation prevents that. ACH transfers are secure, regulated, and trackable. Your customers can skip going to the bank or mailing checks. Plus, they can set up auto-pay to make things even easier. That convenience alone can be the deciding factor for some customers who are torn between your company and a competitor that doesn’t offer automated billing or payments.
Payment processing is faster with ACH
ACH payments should be in your account within 1-5 business days. You don’t need to worry about updating your updating your accounting software, taking your check to the bank, and waiting for the deposit to clear. The ACH provides a government-instituted, regulated structure, ensuring security and standardization. Plus, ACH transfers are often less expensive than wires, checks, and credit card payments. Basically, ACH payments are faster and better for your customers.
ACH is safer than a traditional payment
While ACH systems leave your account information more vulnerable to cyber threats, they’re still safer than sending a check. In fact, 71% of companies report that check fraud has been attempted or successfully committed at their business. Checks can be intercepted when they’re mailed or even when they’re in the hands of your business. A digital transaction requires more technical know-how, and even then, can often be prevented or mitigated once a breach is detected.
ACH payments: Better for you, better for everyone
Move funds faster, keep your — and your customers’ — information secure, and go paperless. That sounds pretty great, right? ACH is modern, efficient, and useful for you and your customer base. If you’re ready to get set up with ACH payments, there are a number of resources you can check out. If you’re a QuickBooks Payments customer, simply go to your settings to enable your ACH payments option. ACH is pretty simple and straightforward. And so are we.
A helpful guide to eChecks
By Brendan Gage March 21, 2019
Unlike payments that arrive in the mail, eChecks will automate your financial management and record keeping. That means more time to devote to building your business. Here’s what you need to know about accepting electronic checks.
They allow your customers to send direct payment from their bank account to yours. eChecks manages invoices and automates and track payments. If you’re a QuickBooks customer, you can enable eChecks with just a few clicks in the settings menu.
Keep better records
With eChecks, you’ll have a digital transaction log that feeds data to your accounting software, your customers can make direct payments to your bank account, monitor the status of your invoices, and track customer activity.
Avoid human errors
In an eCheck transaction, automated systems (including the ACH) facilitate the verification, transmission, and clearing of funds, as well as the settlement of accounts. eCheck transactions are protected by highly secure government systems.
How are EFTs, eChecks, and ACH payments different?
The terms “ACH payment” and “eCheck” are often used interchangeably. But they are actually two types of payment belonging to a bigger category, an electronic funds transfer (EFT). An EFT transaction is the digital counterpart to the traditional physical money transaction (e.g., paper check, cash, etc.). An ACH is a network that facilitates electronic payments. An eCheck is the payment instrument itself. Many eCheck payments use ACH to complete the transaction.
It’s all about fast, secure payments
Electronic checks can eliminate almost every accounting hurdle that comes with getting paid. If you use accounting software like QuickBooks, you can monitor invoice status, access transaction records, watch payment arrive in real time, issue refunds, and record customer activity.
Some more eCheck advice
If you’re ready to get started with electronic payments, here are some tips:
- Choose a well-established processing company. Good pricing is important, but working with a reliable processor is essential.
- Notify your customers that your business will begin using electronic check conversion. Federal laws require you post notification about this change, give a copy to your customers, and provide them with a phone number to request more information.
- Look for a processor that makes it easy export customer data, align your current business processes with your new electronic processing system, as well as seamlessly integrate with your business management software.
QuickBooks Payments offers a complete payment processing solution, so your business can take payments from customers in a variety of ways.
How to Save Time and Money with eChecks
By Christopher Null March 21, 2019
Electronic check, or eChecks—also referred to as electronic check conversions, or back-office conversions (BOCs)—are secure digital versions of paper checks. Using eChecks in your small business saves time and money, as well as providing additional protection against fraud.
With eChecks, you can reduce your payment processing costs by up to 60% and receive payments faster—usually within a day. Best of all, eChecks have gained popularity with consumers, who pay $500 million in bills via the Federal Reserve Bank’s Automated Clearing House (ACH) Network, according to ElectronicPayments.org.
With eChecks, your customers pay you for goods and services in one of two ways:
- Entering their bank account information on your website.
- Writing a paper check, which you scan in to virtual terminal provided by your merchant service provider.
In both cases, the ACH Network transfers funds from the customer’s account and deposits them into yours. The ACH Network is a highly reliable and efficient nationwide electronic network governed by the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA) and the Federal Reserve.
When you scan a check, the system will verify the account has the necessary funds. The virtual terminal will print a receipt for the customer to sign and keep. You void the paper check and return it to the customer. You’ll be able to view and report on your merchant transactions online (features may vary depending on your merchant service provider or your payment processing solution provider).
In addition to eChecks helping merchants go paperless, the ACH Network also handles debit-card transactions, direct deposits of payroll, Social Security, direct debit payments, b2b payments, and other government benefits,
More eCheck benefits
Besides saving you time and money and combating fraud, accepting eChecks can help increase sales. You can take paper checks, convert them into eChecks, and start accepting international and out-of-state payments while using account validation and customer authentication processes to protect your business from fraud.
eChecks conversion is easy to set up. And they help reduce the more than 67.4 million gallons of fuel used and 3.6 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions created by transporting paper checks.
Payment peace of mind
Electronic check conversion is one of the most secure payment methods in the electronic payment processing industry because it uses the latest information protection features, including:
- Authentication via digital signatures and public key cryptography.
- Duplicate detection thanks to software and operational controls used by financial institutions to prevent and detect duplication of scanned electronic representations of customer checks.
- Encryption used by the ACH Network, which automatically encrypts messages using 128-bit encryption and secure sockets layer (SSL) protocol.
Get started with eChecks
QuickBooks Payments offers a complete payment processing solution. Your business can take payments from customers in a variety of ways—from ACH bank payments and eChecks, to credit cards including Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express. Plus, payments hit your account twice as fast as before.
If you’re a QuickBooks customer, simply go into QuickBooks settings and you can enable eChecks with just a few clicks.