eChecks vs. ACH Payments: Key Differences

Discover the key differences between eChecks and ACH payments to learn which payment method is best suited for your online business.

As an online business owner, you understand the importance of reducing friction by providing your customers with a seamless payment experience. To do so, though, it's essential to understand the nuances that differentiate payment types. 

One of the biggest confusions in payment processing is the difference between ACH payments and eChecks. While the two may seem similar, there are some key differences that you need to be aware of before accepting either at your business. 


What Are ACH Payments?

ACH (Automated Clearing House) is a payment processing network used primarily in the US. People can use this network to send or receive bank-to-bank payments electronically. ACH payments is a blanket term for any transaction that is processed using the ACH network.

There are two main types of ACH payments – ACH debit and ACH credit. ACH debit is when the merchant withdraws the purchase amount from the customer’s account, like for a subscription service. On the other hand, ACH credit is when the payer deposits funds into another person’s account, like for paying out salaries. 

How Do ACH Payments Work?

To complete an ACH payment, the customer must provide their bank account information, including routing and account numbers, to the merchant’s payment processor. The payment processor can then initiate an ACH transaction through the ACH network. 

The ACH network processes payments in batches, usually only once a day. When the payment is processed, the money is transferred from the customer’s bank and deposited into the merchant’s bank account.

What Are eChecks?

An eCheck (electronic check) is a digital version of a paper check that is used for online transactions. It’s sometimes referred to as an online or internet check and is a type of ACH payment. EChecks are mainly used for one-off purchases and require verification before processing. 

How Do eChecks Work?

EChecks work the same way a paper check would, except that it is entirely done online. The customer chooses to pay with an eCheck and authorizes the money to be withdrawn from their checking account. 

They provide your payment processor with their banking details including routing and account numbers. This is then processed through the ACH network, just like any other ACH payment. 

ACH Payments vs. eChecks: The Key Differences

1. Processing Times

While both eChecks and ACH payments use the ACH network, they are sometimes processed at different rates. ACH payments typically take one to three business days to process. eChecks, on the other hand, can take up to five business days, due to the extra step of verification. 

2. Fees

ACH payments generally have lower fees than eChecks. That’s because eChecks often have an additional cost for the extra step of verification. Also, just like paper checks, if eChecks bounce, this can lead to an additional fee. However, the exact fee structure will depend on the payment processor.  

3. Usage

Even though eChecks are processed through the same network as other ACH payments, they often have a very specific use. EChecks generally are used for single purchases, while other types of ACH payments are set up for recurring payments like subscription services, utility payments or payroll. 

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The Bottom Line

Choosing the right payment option is critical for the success of your business. ACH payments and eChecks are both popular electronic methods, but it’s important to understand their differences. Before choosing to accept one over the other, consider your needs when it comes to processing times, fees, and usage. makes it easy to accept a wide range of payment methods. From credit and debit cards to digital wallets and ACH, you’ll be able to choose the methods best suited for your customer base. Plus, with our advanced security measures, you’ll help mitigate fraudulent payments, protecting your business from costly and time consuming chargebacks. 

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What’s the best way for a business to accept online payments?

Signing up with is the best way to accept payments online. With you can easily accept multiple payment methods including ACH, debit cards, digital wallets, and more. Make checkout a breeze either with a custom checkout page or by sending direct Pay Links straight to your customers.

Is an ACH payment an electronic check?

There are different types of ACH payments, but one type is an eCheck. All eCheck payments are ACH payments, but not all ACH payments are eChecks. For ACH payments, they can either be credit or debit payments and use the ACH network to transfer money between banks.

Are eChecks instant?

No, eChecks are processed using the ACH network. Because the ACH network only processes payments in batches, these payments can take between 1-3 days. However, eChecks may require additional verification, which can push the processing time up to five days.

What’s the difference between eChecks and EFT?

EFT (electronic funds transfer) is an umbrella term for any transfer of money from one bank account to another. An eCheck is a type of EFT, but it is not the only type of EFT. EFTs can also include wire transfers, direct deposit, ATM transfers, or instant payments through mobile apps like Venmo or Skrill.

Meet the author
Ashley Hague
Ashley Hague is a B2B writer based in New Zealand. Specializing in fintech, SaaS, and sustainability in business, she helps businesses achieve their goals. When not working, she can be found rock climbing or delving into a historical biography.
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