You are using an unsupported browser Please switch to a supported browser so you can get the best experience on this site
Need Help? Contact Us or Live Chat
An ACH transfer on a laptop

What Does ACH Mean on a Checking Statement?

As a consumer, you’re probably already familiar with ACH transactions, even though you might not be aware of its name. Every time you make electronic payments or receive money directly, the ACH network is likely at work. You might also have seen it printed on one of your bank statements.

ACH stands for "automated clearing house," a financial network in the United States that is used for electronic payments and automated money transfers. It is a way to move money between banks and other financial institutions without the use of cash, paper checks, credit card networks, or wire transfers.

So, the next time you see an ACH transaction on your bank statement, it simply means that funds were electronically transferred either to or from your bank account. 

Key Takeaways

  • ACH (Automated Clearing House) is a fundamental electronic funds transfer system in the United States, processing diverse transactions such as bill payments and direct deposits.
  • ACH transactions offer cost-effective, efficient solutions for both businesses and consumers, facilitating faster, automated payments, reducing reliance on paper checks, and enhancing convenience in financial transactions.

What Is ACH and How Does It Work?

Automated Clearing House is a national automated electronic funds transfer system. Different types of payments are made using ACH, including bill payments, tax payments, and direct deposits.

It traces its roots back to the late 1960s when a group of California bankers grew concerned about the increasing volume of paper checks, which led to the formation of SCOPE (Special Committee on Paperless Entries). At the same time, the American Bankers Association conducted a study about how to improve the payment system in the United States.

As a result, the first ACH association in California was established in 1972 to handle electronic payments. Two years later, NACHA was formed to administer the ACH Network.

The National Automated Clearinghouse Association (NACHA), the nonpartisan governmental entity that oversees and regulates the ACH Network, reported that ACH successfully processed 30 billion payments in 2022, which were valued at a whopping $76.7 trillion.

“The year 2022 marked the tenth consecutive year wherein the total value of ACH payments increased by at least $1 trillion,” said CEO and President of NACHA, Jane Larimer. “This just proves that the ACH Network is an industrial-strength, modern payment system that serves hundreds of millions of individuals, businesses, and organizations.”

To better understand ACH credit meaning, here's how the system works:

  1. An originator makes a direct payment transaction or direct payment through debit and credit using the ACH network.
  2. The originator’s bank, which is also referred to as the originating depository financial institution (ODFI), will take the transaction and include it in a batch of other ACH transactions that will be sent out at various times throughout the day.
  3. A clearinghouse or Federal Reserve ACH operator will receive and sort the batch that includes the originator’s transaction so that they are made available to the intended recipient’s bank, also known as the receiving depository financial institution (RDFI).
  4. The recipient’s bank account will then receive the transaction, which ends the process.

At present, Automated Clearing House transactions are not real-time. Financial institutions use “batch processing” once a day to process an entire day’s worth of requests. Because of this, transactions may take one to two business days for the funds to arrive.

What Makes It Automated?

Automated Clearing House transactions are automated mainly because of their electronic framework and standardized processes. 

The electronic nature of ACH eliminates the need for cash handling or paper checks, which allows for the fast movement of funds. These transactions also operate under standardized protocols that were established by NACHA to ensure consistency and uniformity across various financial institutions.

Lastly, ACH transactions involve automated settlement mechanisms that facilitate the movement of funds between different accounts, ensuring swift and accurate processing without the need for manual intervention.

Overall, the electronic framework, standardized protocols, and automated settlement collectively contribute to the automation of ACH transactions.

What Is a Clearing House?

A clearing house is a financial institution that facilitates the processing of payments, securities, and other financial transactions. It stands between two participants which are also referred to as clearing or member firms. 

The main responsibility of a clearing house is to ensure that either firm honors its trade settlement obligations.

What Are the Benefits of ACH?

Now that you know how Automated Clearing House is and how it works, let’s discover its general benefits, as well as what it can do for businesses and consumers alike. 

  • Cheaper than credit card payments. Funds move directly from one account to another with ACH - they are not routed through credit card networks which are often expensive, typically charging a base fee of 1.3 to 3.5 percent.
  • You decide when you get paid. As opposed to wire transfers, ACH Debit is a pull payment that allows you to control the amount, frequency, and transfer date of the transaction.
  • Low failure rate. Payment failure is significantly reduced with ACH payments compared with credit card transactions that have a failure rate of 10 to 15 percent. In case of a rare situation of ACH payment failure, the funds can be pulled from the bank automatically.
  • Fast and efficient: With ACH, you can create a mandate and send a link to someone in just a few clicks. All they have to do is complete the online form and you’ll be able to collect payments.

How ACH Helps Businesses

  • Low cost. ACH transfers are one of the cheapest ways for businesses to receive and transfer funds. Credit card payments have high processing fees, about 2 to 4 percent per transaction, exclusive of setup and operational fees. With ACH transfers, small savings pile up quickly, which is very useful especially when you receive recurring customer payments.
  • Ease and speed. Because of their electronic nature, ACH transfers are faster and more convenient compared to the traditional way of making payments by check. Unlike checks, ACH transfers don’t need to be manually entered, cannot be lost, and aren’t hindered by the length of time for a check to be mailed and processed.
  • Improved sales and customer relationships. ACH makes a business’s payment process easier, especially for potential customers which helps improve the chances of making sales. Payments using ACH can also be automatic, which eliminates the need for customers to constantly set up receiving and paying a bill.
  • Secure remote payments. While credit cards and other online payments offer remote transactions, ACH is an ideal alternative, especially for customers who don’t own a credit card or those who are not comfortable giving out their credit card information.

How ACH Helps Consumers

  • Simplicity. Automated Clearing House transactions are simple and straightforward, as the funds will come directly from your bank account. This reduces the risk of credit card debt and eliminates the burden of having to order, write, and mail checks and then wait for delivery.
  • Automatic payments. ACH enables consumers to automate or schedule payments wherein the funds will be debited automatically from their account every time a payment is due. This removes the risk of missed payments and late fees.
  • Easy online purchases: ACH payments make purchasing online convenient, help minimize paper records with sensitive banking information, and remove the need to use a check or credit card.

ACH Transfers on Bank Statements

Bank statements benefit from ACH transfers in various ways. The first one is providing clear transaction descriptions that help in budgeting and financial tracking, as the purpose of every transfer is detailed whether it is for bill payments, payroll, or other payments.

Another benefit is that ACH transfers provide real-time updates on account activity so that users can stay on top of their payments. Lastly, Automatic Clearing House transactions have generally lower fees that promote cost savings for everyone.

ACH Transfers on Your Bills

Apart from bank statements, ACH transfers also provide plenty of advantages when used for bill payments. They automate bill payments to avoid missed payments and late fees, help reduce the reliance on paper bills, and are known to reflect faster processing times compared to traditional methods.

A direct deposit is received

Types of ACH Transactions

There are two main types of ACH transactions, which are the following:

  • Direct deposits. These are direct payments made to a person’s checking account like wages or social security benefits.
  • Direct payments. These refer to requests to deduct funds from a checking account. One example would be when billers automatically deduct utility bills from an account.

Examples of ACH Transactions

Now that the two types of ACH transactions have been established, here are a few examples of ACH transactions so you can understand them better:

  • Direct deposit. One of the most common examples of a direct deposit is when an employer pays employees wages. The funds are typically scheduled to arrive in the employee’s account from the originating bank once a month or every two weeks.
  • Bill payments. Bills such as utility costs, rent, and other services can be paid through the Automated Clearing House Network and can be scheduled on a specific day every month.
  • Fund transfers. ACH handles transactions that use payment services like PayPal and Venmo to transfer funds to one’s bank account.
  • Customer payments. When a business makes a sale, payments made from the customer’s bank account to the business’s bank account are also handled by the ACH network.
  • Government payments. Tax payments made to government institutions go through the ACH network.

What Is the Difference Between ACH Credit vs. ACH Debit?

ACH Credit involves the electronic transfer of funds initiated by the payer. This can include actions like payroll direct deposits and vendor payments. The payer's bank (ODFI) sends the transaction to the ACH network, and it is then processed through a clearinghouse to reach the recipient's bank (RDFI). The recipient's account is credited with the funds.

ACH Debit, on the other hand, is initiated by the payee to collect funds directly from the payer's account. Common examples include bill payments and subscription charges. The payee's bank (ODFI) sends the transaction through the ACH network to the payer's bank (RDFI), and the funds are debited from the payer's account.

ACH vs. Wire Transfers

Wire transfers, another form of electronic payment, have similarities with ACH transfers but also have notable differences. For the longest time, the biggest difference between the two transactions was that wire transfers could be made internationally, as opposed to ACH transactions.

Today, funds can already be transferred abroad through the ACH network, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The remaining differences between the two is the fact that wire transfers are difficult to cancel or reverse and wiring money involves a transaction fee, while ACH transfers do not.

Pros and Cons of ACH Transactions

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of the ACH network:


  • Quicker transactions. You can send or receive funds faster with ACH payments, no waiting for a check to clear.
  • convenient. Bill and other recurring payments can be automated or scheduled so that transfers are timely.


  • Direct access. Companies get direct access to your bank account, so it’s important to practice caution with whom you share your banking information with.
  • Overdraft fees. Automated payments will deduct funds from your account whether it has money or not, which may lead to being charged with overdraft fees.

ACH is a fast and convenient method to send and receive funds and is significantly changing the money transfer landscape. It automates transactions, reduces reliance on paper bills and checks, and promotes convenience and cost-effectiveness for both individuals and businesses.

Related Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When readers looked for information on ACH payments, they also asked the following questions:

What Is the Difference Between ACH and Direct Deposit?

ACH encompasses direct deposits like payroll, tax refunds, and benefits. In short, all direct deposits are ACH payments. ACH is a direct deposit, but there are also other kinds of ACH transactions.

Do Banks Charge for ACH Payments?

No. ACH transactions such as direct deposits and bill payments are free.

Now that you have a better understanding of what Automated Clearing House (ACH) is, you won’t have to wonder the next time you see it on your checking statement. 

How Long Do ACH Payments Take to Process?

ACH payments are not processed in real-time, and their processing time typically takes one to two business days. Financial institutions use a batch processing system once a day, where multiple transactions are grouped and processed collectively. This means that ACH transactions may take a day or two to complete, depending on when they are initiated, and the funds become available in the recipient's account within this timeframe.

Can ACH Payments Be Reversed?

ACH payments are not as easily reversible as credit card transactions. While it is possible to request a reversal, known as an ACH reversal or ACH chargeback, it's crucial to note that such requests are subject to specific rules and limitations.

Generally, ACH reversals are more challenging to execute, and they are typically allowed only in cases of unauthorized transactions or errors. Timely communication with the bank is essential if there's a need for a reversal, but success is not guaranteed, and prevention of errors is emphasized in ACH transactions.

About this blog

Browse through the Blog to read articles and tips on managing debt, improving your credit and saving more money!