With so many different online payment methods out there, it can be tough to choose the right options for your business. You need to give customers the best possible buying experience without creating too much of a headache on your end. ACH payments might seem like a good solution, but are they actually worth accepting?
Below we’ll explain exactly what ACH payments are, how they work, and some of their main benefits. We’ll also tell you how to accept online payments with minimal hassle – through not only ACH, but also a variety of other methods.
What Is an ACH Payment?
ACH stands for Automated Clearing House, which is a system used to electronically transfer funds between bank accounts.
An ACH transaction allows the customer to move money from one account to another without using a card or check. This makes it more secure and straightforward than credit card payments. It also involves lower merchant fees, making it an especially affordable way to accept payments online.
This type of payment is most common in the US, where the ACH network is based. It’s overseen by Nacha (the National Automated Clearing House Association). However, many other countries also have systems in place for international ACH transactions.
How Do Online ACH Payments Work?
Each ACH transaction has an “originator” who starts the transaction and a “receiver” who accepts it. Depending on the type of transaction, the originator might be the one sending the funds or the one receiving them. The term “receiver” refers to the reception of the transaction itself, but not necessarily the actual funds.
To initiate transactions, a financial institution has to be certified by Nacha as an Originating Depository Financial Institution (ODFI). To accept transactions, it has to be certified as a Receiving Depository Financial Institution (RDFI). Most banks in the US have both certifications and can perform both functions.
This might sound complicated, but you don’t really have to understand the technicalities. When a customer pays you by ACH transfer, they’ll authorize the payment and then the funds will be moved from their account to yours. As a merchant, that’s usually all you need to know.
Types of ACH Payments
There are two kinds of ACH transfers: debit (also called “pull” transactions) and credit (also called “push” transactions). In both cases, the customer authorizes the payment – but there are some important differences between them.
Debit (Pull Transactions)
An ACH debit payment means the seller pulls the funds out of the customer’s account and into their own. The customer has to authorize the seller to take a certain amount of money, either once or as a recurring payment.
ACH pull transactions are commonly used for recurring transactions, like subscription fees. For example, when someone subscribes to a monthly magazine, they authorize the magazine seller to pull a subscription fee from their account every month.
Credit (Push Transactions)
An ACH credit payment means the customer pushes funds from their account to the seller’s account.
This often applies to one-time transactions, like buying a product. For example, when someone purchases a pair of shoes online, they push the relevant amount of money into the merchant’s bank account to pay for it. But push transactions can also be recurring, like when a company pays its employees’ salaries every month.
An eCheck is one type of ACH push transaction. It essentially works the same way as a traditional paper check, except the whole process of issuing, exchanging, and cashing the check takes place online.
How ACH Payments Can Benefit Your Business
ACH payments might not be the most common online payment method, but they can be very useful in certain situations. Here are a few ways your business can use ACH to both make and accept payments:
- Receiving customer payments: Giving customers the option to pay by ACH transfer can benefit everyone. It’s convenient, especially when it comes to recurring payments like subscriptions.
- Paying suppliers: You can use ACH payments to pay suppliers electronically. This makes it much easier to keep accurate records, since you don’t have to deal with paper invoices or checks.
- Paying taxes: You can simplify tax payments by allowing the IRS to withdraw funds directly from your business bank account when appropriate.
- Paying employees: ACH payments allow you to easily set up recurring payments for salaries, so your employees will get paid every month without any extra steps required.
Why Should Your Business Accept ACH Payments?
There are plenty of good reasons to accept ACH payments. Here are a few of the main benefits for merchants:
- Wider reach: Not every customer will want to pay by credit or debit card. Accepting ACH transfers can help you cater to a broader audience, and ensure that each customer has options when it comes to completing their purchase.
- Greater control: If your customers authorize ACH debits, you’ll be able to set the date and frequency of payments. This leaves you in a more stable financial position, since you won’t ever have to chase down late payments.
- Low payment failure rate: Cards and checks might expire or get lost, but bank accounts last indefinitely. Since ACH transfers go directly between banks, these potential problems are eliminated and payments are less likely to fail.
- Lower cancellation rate: It’s relatively easy for a customer to reverse a credit card payment, but canceling an ACH transfer takes more effort. This reduces the risk of fraud and ensures that funds will get to you – and stay with you.
- Electronic record: ACH payments eliminate the need to manually log or track transactions. Everything is automatically recorded and can easily be synced with other systems.
The Benefits of Working with Pay.com as Your Payment Service Provider
No matter how big or small your business, it’s always a good idea to give your customers as many different payment options as possible – including ACH transfers. Accepting various payment methods might sound like a hassle, but if you use a payment service provider, it doesn’t have to be.
Pay.com makes it easy to offer a wide variety of payment methods, from common choices like credit cards and digital wallets to convenient alternatives like ACH. You can easily add or remove payment options from your checkout page whenever you want.
It’s fast and simple to get started with Pay.com, so you can start accepting ACH payments in no time. Once you’re all set up, your easy-to-use Pay Dashboard lets you monitor fees, analyze trends, and deal with any issues as soon as they arise.
The Bottom Line: The Best Way to Accept Online Payments
Whether you want to accept ACH transfers, credit cards, or any other payment method, the simplest solution is to use a payment service provider. Pay.com is a user-friendly provider that makes it easy to offer a wide variety of payment options.
You can use Pay.com to receive payments via ACH, credit and debit cards, digital wallets, and more, so each customer can pay with their preferred method. It’s also highly secure, guaranteeing that you and your customers’ payment details will always stay private.