ACH paperwork beside a bank
The Helcim Blog / Merchant Guides

What Does ACH Mean in Banking?

Danny Randell | August 13, 2021

“ACH offers a convenient way to get paid by customers who would prefer not to use a credit card. Read what does it stand for.”

4 min read

What Does ACH Mean?

ACH stands for Automatic Clearing House and is the term used to describe the electronic transfer of funds in the United States.

ACH Bank Transfers

ACH Bank Transfers are a convenient way to move money from one bank account to another. For businesses, ACH offers a convenient way to get paid by customers who would prefer not to use a credit card. ACH can work in two ways: as a pre-authorized credit to a bank account, or a pre-authorized debit charged to an account.

Is ACH Different from Online Payments?

ACH payments let you use your bank account information to make a payment rather than your credit card number. Most online payment platforms offer credit cards as a means to pay, but ACH may soon become more common for online payments in the future.

ACH is also not instant like most online credit card transactions; ACH payments take longer to process, but as opposed to credit cards, chargeback risk is extremely low.

How Can I Get Paid With ACH?

Merchants can get paid via ACH when their customers set up a one-time or recurring payment to come from a personal bank account. ACH payments can be made as long as your customer has the necessary information about your business to set your business up as a payee on their account.

Are ACH Payments Safe?

ACH is considerably safer than carrying cash around for large payments, and even safer than sending a check. When it comes to ACH payments, a customer only needs to enter their banking information or your billing information once, so both customers and merchants know that money is going to the right place every time.

Because ACH payments do not work the same way as credit cards, they also do not have the same consumer protections or benefits credit cards do. For merchants, chargebacks are not something which happen regularly (if at all) as with credit cards. For consumers, ACH doesn’t offer any benefits such as cash back or travel rewards.

Why Use ACH?

Business owners should consider using ACH for a few reasons:

  1. Accepting ACH payments as a business owner can be a very cost effective way to get paid. ACH payments do not charge merchants the same kinds of fees as credit cards.
  2. ACH is convenient and safe for customers (especially those without credit cards).
  3. ACH reduces the need for invoices and paper cheques.

It's time to feel good about your payments

Top 5 ACH Providers in The US

Helcim Helcim’s ACH offering, known as Helcim Bank Payments, is free to use just like the rest of their tools. Helcim also offers credit card processing and even gives businesses the ability to create a fully-hosted online store. Further details:

  • $0/month for any amount of transactions
  • Great for businesses of all sizes
  • Offers low rates of just 0.5% + $0.25 cents per transaction
  • Integrates with their online invoicing and recurring (subscription) billing tools
  • Invoices are customizable to your business

Rotessa Rotessa offers recurring bank account payments (direct debit ACH) and invoicing for businesses. What you need to know:

  • $14/month for first 10 transactions, no processing fees
  • Over 250 transactions, pay $0.30 cents per transaction, no monthly fee
  • Only direct debit payments, not a credit card processor
  • Good for small businesses and professional services

Go Cardless Go Cardless is another dedicated bank payments company specializing in recurring payments and invoicing. Their pricing model is a little different than our top 2 picks. Here’s what you need to know:

  • No monthly fee with Standard Package, fee is 1% + $0.25 cents per transaction
  • Possible to get customizable service and stop paying per transaction (need to contact their sales team)
  • Can take international payments

Dwolla Dwolla is a developer focused company offering ACH payments for businesses of varying sizes and operating in all sorts of industries. The key information you’ll want on Dwolla is:

  • Lets you enter customer banking information or simply a debit card
  • Pay-as-you-go plan (0.5% per transaction up to a $5 max) or monthly pay plans starting at $250/month
  • Offers same-day funding (for an additional cost)
  • Can do payroll
  • Only available in the U.S.

QuickBooks QuickBooks is most famous as an accounting software for small to medium sized businesses. But QuickBooks does a lot more than just crunch numbers. They even do invoicing. Here’s what you need to know about their ACH offering:

  • Fees are 1% for existing QuickBooks customers to a max of $10
  • Also do swiped credit card transactions
  • Monthly fee for QuickBooks Payments in addition to QuickBooks Online account (starts at $25/month)
  • All QuickBooks products come with a 30 day free trial

Who Is Helcim ACH Good For?

Helcim ACH is available to all of our merchants, but will be especially beneficial for professional services, like lawyers, accountants, and chiropractors. These types of businesses are already using invoices, recurring payments, and the virtual terminal (over the phone) to process payments, which will now integrate with ACH to make it even more convenient for customers to choose how they want to pay.

Final Thoughts

Getting ACH services from banks is cumbersome and can take weeks to approve, and while there are ACH only providers out there for merchants to choose from, using one processor for ACH and another for credit cards is likely more hassle than it’s worth. ACH offers customers another convenient payment option, and is cheaper than accepting credit cards for merchants. ACH is secure, and works with a variety of payment tools. If you’re looking to accept ACH payments, give Helcim a call today!

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