Finding the Best ACH Payment Processing for Small Businesses

Feeling overwhelmed by the variety of options when trying to find the best ACH payment processing for your small business? You’re not alone. With many companies offering ACH payments online, knowing which one is right for your business can be challenging.

This article compiles the most suitable ACH payment processing solutions for small businesses.

Key Takeaways

  • ACH payments are electronic transfers of funds between bank accounts.
  • Examples include direct deposits, bill payments, and online purchases.
  • Processing typically takes 2-3 business days.
  • ACH payments differ from wire transfers in speed, cost, and security.
  • Payment limits vary by bank, ranging from a few thousand dollars to millions.
  • Many online businesses and retailers accept ACH payments from customers.

When choosing an ACH payment processor, consider factors like customer service, ease of setup, success rates, cost, target market, and unique features. Let's delve into the essentials of ACH payments and what to look for in the best ACH payment processing for small businesses.

What Is an ACH Payment?

An ACH (Automated Clearing House) payment is an electronic transaction transferring funds between banks within the United States. It’s similar to a wire transfer but typically takes fewer days and is less expensive. ACH payments are secure and reliable due to multiple layers of security.

Examples of ACH Payments

  • Payroll direct deposits: Employers transfer salaries directly to employees' bank accounts.
  • Bill payments: Utility and credit card companies use ACH for regular payments.
  • Online purchases: Customers can make purchases without entering a credit card number.
  • Government payments: The U.S. government distributes benefits and tax refunds via ACH.
  • Donations: Nonprofits use ACH for receiving donations.

How Long Does an ACH Payment Take to Process?

ACH payments typically take 2-3 business days, although some banks may take longer. The timing depends on the payment's initiation time, size, and involved banks. ACH payments are generally faster than paper checks and wire transfers.

What Is the Difference Between ACH and Wire Transfer?


ACH Transfer

Wire Transfer


1-2 business days

Same-day or within hours


Low-cost or free

$15 to $50 per transfer


Possible under certain cases


Transaction Type

Domestic and limited international

Domestic and international

Transfer Limit

Generally lower limits

Higher limits, often no limit


Secure with verification steps

Highly secure with encryption


High volume transactions

Lower volume transactions


Less reliable than wire

More reliable

Use Case

High volume transactions

Individual transactions


Batch processed

Processed individually

Recurring Payments

Easily set up

Not designed for recurring

Bank Network

Local ACH, NACHA in the U.S.



Limited tracking

Detailed tracking

What Is an ACH Payment Limit?

ACH payment limits vary based on financial institutions and account types. Factors include:

  • Financial Institution: Different banks have different policies.
  • Account Type: Business accounts typically have higher limits.
  • Transaction Type: Limits can differ for incoming and outgoing transactions.
  • User History and Relationship: Long-standing customers may have higher limits.

Typical limits:

  • Personal Accounts: $1,000 to $10,000 per transaction.
  • Business Accounts: $10,000 to $100,000 per transaction.

Who Accepts ACH Payments Online?

Many entities accept ACH payments, including:

  • E-commerce stores
  • Utility companies
  • Financial institutions
  • Subscription services
  • Government agencies
  • Educational institutions
  • Nonprofits
  • Insurance companies

Factors Small Businesses Should Consider When Choosing an ACH Payment Processor

  • Customer Service: Efficient and responsive support is crucial.
  • Ease of Setup: Integration should be straightforward.
  • Success Rates: High transaction success rates ensure smooth processing.
  • Cost: Compare fees and pricing structures.
  • Target Market: Choose a processor that meets your market's needs.
  • Unique Features: Evaluate additional features like fraud detection and reporting tools.

What to Look for in the Best ACH Payment Processing for Small Businesses

We've analyzed the market and identified key categories to help you find the best ACH payment processor:

  1. Best for Affordable and Transparent Pricing: Liftoff Solutions
    • Monthly fees: $49
    • Transaction fee: 0.5% + $0.30
    • Pros: Fast approval, no hidden fees, 24/7 support, strong fraud protection
    • Cons: No international payments
  2. Best for New Small Businesses: Square Invoices
    • Monthly fees: $0 to $20
    • Transaction fee: 1% with a $1 minimum
    • Pros: Low fees, easy setup, developer tools
    • Cons: Limited support, no cap on ACH fee
  3. Best for ACH Payments Only: GoCardless
    • Monthly fees: $0 to $75
    • Transaction fee: 1% + $0.25
    • Pros: Easy integration, transparent pricing, fast processing
    • Cons: No card payments, extra fee for high transactions
  4. Best for Easy Merchant Approval: BlueSnap
    • Monthly fees: Contact for a quote
    • Transaction fee: From 2.9% + $0.30
    • Pros: Easy approval, supports 100+ currencies
    • Cons: Complex pricing, basic tools
  5. Best for Customizing Checkouts: Stripe
    • Transaction fee: 0.8% with a $5 cap
    • Pros: Customization, automation, low fees
    • Cons: Charges for failed payments, tech skills needed
  6. Best for High-Risk Businesses: PaymentCloud
    • Pros: Robust security, suitable for high-risk, API tools
    • Cons: Long-term contracts, secret pricing
  7. Best for Lowest ACH Payment Rates: Helcim
    • Transaction fee: 0.5% + $0.25
    • Pros: Competitive rates, customizable checkout, detailed reports
    • Cons: Charges for failed transactions, no capped rate
  8. Best for Negotiating Rates: Flagship Merchant Services
    • Pros: Negotiable rates, detailed reports, good support
    • Cons: No public pricing, no advanced features
  9. Best for Established Businesses: Stax by Fattmerchant
    • Monthly fees: From $99
    • Pros: No markups, detailed reports, API integrations
    • Cons: No international payments, not fully transparent on costs

FAQ on ACH Payment Processing for Small Businesses

  • Why should a small business consider ACH payment processing? Lower fees, recurring payments, improved cash flow.
  • Which ACH payment processors are best? Options include Liftoff Solutions, Stripe, Square, Authorize.Net, PayPal, QuickBooks Payments, and Dwolla.
  • How can a small business set up ACH processing? Choose a processor, create an account, integrate the gateway, test the setup, and start accepting payments.
  • Are there risks with ACH processing? Risks include transaction reversals. Mitigate with fraud detection and security features.
  • Can a small business accept international ACH payments? Some processors support international transactions; check for fees and limitations.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the best ACH payment processing for small businesses requires careful consideration of your needs and goals. Each provider offers different features and pricing structures, so comparing options is crucial. With careful research, you can find the best ACH payment processing solution for your small business.

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