Electronic check vs ACH payment: all you need to know

electronic check vs ach

Last modified on March 26th, 2024

ACH payment volume since 2014 has grown from 18.3 billion to 31.45 billion in 2023. On the other hand, the electronic check is being used more and more, but what are the differences between electronic checks vs ACH payments? Read on to find out what Echecks and ACH payments are, the main differences between the two, which one your business should use, and the answers to some frequently asked questions…

Trustpair secures ACH payments to vendors by continuously auditing supplier data and controlling payments before execution. Request a demo to learn more!

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Echecks, a definition

Echecks are electronic versions of paper checks. They are usually one-off payments that use the Automated Clearing House (ACH) to go from a checking account to the recipient’s bank account.

They do process a lot faster than paper checks though. This is because of the manual processing that is involved with an in-person check.

Here are some of the dangers of Echeck:

  • Fraud
  • May bounceback
  • Processing delays
  • Chargeback fees

Echeck vs wire transfer

An Echeck is a digital or online version of a paper check as it functions the same. A wire transfer is a digital payment method that is focused on moving money between accounts in one transaction.

They are both electronic fund transfers (EFTs). Echecks can take 1-3 working days. In comparison, cross-country wire transfers can take as long as five. However, wire transfers can be under 24 hours if it’s between the same financial organization.

Echecks vs direct debit

If you were looking to compare Echecks vs direct debit, be mindful that the Echeck is a type of direct debit.

The difference is that a direct debit involves an organization taking funds from the customer’s bank account. It is an automated payment process that can be used for things like customers’ household bills. Whereas, an Echeck is created by the payer to the payee.

Echecks vs debit card

Echecks are slower than debit card transactions as the bank must accept and authorize the payment. With a debit card, you can simply make the payment on your card and it is approved, provided that you have sufficient funds in the account.

However, Echecks tend to be more secure as they require approval and authentication.

 

ACH payments, a definition

ACH (Automated Clearing House) payments are a digital way for a merchant to send and receive money. The payments online take place using the ACH Network.

They are electronic fund transfers that involve a bank account number and a routing number.

ACH payments to vendors can be secured by using software like Trustpair. The platform stops ACH fraud by auditing supplier data in real-time and controls payments before execution.

There are two main types of ACH payments:

  • ACH debit transaction – takes funds from an account (a subscription payment that recurs)
  • ACH credit transaction – sends funds from an account (pay salaries of staff)

ACH vs wire transfer

Both ACH and wire transfer payment methods involve the movement of money from one place to another. ACH online payments can take 1-2 days, but usually at no cost. Whereas, wire transfers can be under 24 hours at times but they come at a fee.

 

What are the main differences and similarities between Electronic checks vs ACH credit?

For businesses exploring electronic checks vs ACH payments, it is worth being aware of the differences and similarities…

Purpose

Echecks are usually for one-off payments, in some cases, they can recur. On the other hand, ACH payments tend to recur more often and could be used for subscriptions, to pay for household bills, or other routine payments to suppliers.

Banking information

Echecks banking information typically isn’t stored whereas, for ACH payments, the difference is that the banking information is usually held to enable debits in the future.

Processing time

This can vary. But for the most part, digital checks take between 1 and 5 days to process for a customer. This can be on the longer side for the authorization of one-off payments.

ACH payments usually take between one and three business days.

If you need to transfer money quickly for one-off payments, for example, you can make use of immediate ACH transfers. This can be processed by some financial organizations. The instant payment can be costly though (approximately $25 per transfer).

Cost

This varies but for Echecks it can cost between $0.20 and $1.50 for every transaction.

For ACH payments, you can be paying between 0.5% and 3.5% of the transaction. In 2022, a survey found that the median cost of initiating and receiving an ACH payment was between 26 and 50 cents. However, sometimes there can be no fee.

Network

Both payment processing methods use the ACH Network. This was set up around the 1960s to process digital transactions.

The network enables banks to work with one another for payments.

Echecks ACH
Purpose Usually one-off payments One-time or could recur (households bill payments, payroll, or paying suppliers)
Banking information Not stored Can be stored
Processing time 1-5 working days Usually 1-3 working days
Cost/fees Usually $0.20 – $1.50 per transaction Sometimes no fee but usually around $0.26 – $0.50
Network ACH network ACH network
Electronic fund transfers? Yes Yes

Electronic check vs ACH: Which one should you choose for your business?

This depends on what your purpose is. If you are sending a one-off payment, we would recommend Echecks. However, ACH payments are better suited for recurring B2B payments and a business’s payroll and paying US-based suppliers.

Additionally, given that ACH payment transactions can be recurring, this frees up time in the business to spend on more high-priority tasks.

Recap

Now you know all about the differences between electronic checks vs ACH payments. Echecks are usually one-time payments that are digital versions of paper checks. ACH payments can be one-off or recurring for bills or payroll. Remember, Trustpair’s software provides security for ACH payments to vendors thanks to automated account validation. This blocks ACH fraud.

FAQ

An electronic check is a digital kind of paper check. The Echecks are one-time payments that involve money moving from a checking account to the receiver’s bank account.

It is better to pay via ACH payment than with a paper check. This is because a paper check is more time-consuming to process. Also, ACH payments are also more secure.

Our fraud prevention platform blocks online financial fraud – including ACH payment fraud. We constantly monitor third-party data (bank account number, company ID, etc) to ensure there isn’t any suspicious change or fraudulent transaction. This way you can be sure each ACH transfer is made to the right beneficiary and not a fraudster.

Manage the risks related to corporate treasury.

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