- Automated Clearing House (ACH) merchant services are digital solutions that allow businesses to accept payments via electronic drafts or eChecks directly to their merchant bank account from a customer’s or vendor’s checking account.
- Taking direct deposit payments from customers or vendors is faster than other payment options like paper checks or credit card payments, and can help a business with cash flow.
- As with other electronic payments, ACH services require a payment gateway and a processing account connected to the gateway, which can be handled by an ACH merchant service.
- Bundling ACH services with credit card and debit card payment processing through a merchant services provider can save your business money on fees.
- Learn how to find the right ACH merchant services provider for your business needs in this article from Nav’s experts.
Types of ACH Merchant Services
There are several ways that merchants can accept direct electronic payments over the ACH Network. The most common ACH processing solutions are are:
- Standalone ACH processor — These providers are for businesses that don’t accept credit card payments (such as cannabis companies) and only need ACH or eCheck processing services.
- Merchant services provider (MSP) — If you use a company to manage your debit and credit card processing, the MSP will probably offer an ACH processing service, either included in your plan or as an add-on.
- Payment service provider (PSP) — A PSP works by making a merchant account on behalf of many merchants as an aggregator. This way, your business doesn’t need to be underwritten separately for a dedicated merchant account in order to process ACH or credit card payments.
- High-risk processor — There are several industries that have high chargeback rates, which makes them high risk for payment processing services. A high-risk processor is made specifically for these industries and will provide added protection for ACH transactions in terms of fraud prevention and anti-chargeback features.
What to Look For in ACH Merchant Services
Before you sign up with an ACH merchant services provider, there are a few things you want to consider. The best ACH payment processing service will meet your business’s needs while being cost-effective and easy to use.
Cost of ACH processing
Pricing is something that all business owners want to take into account when finding the right ACH payment solution. ACH processors can charge a number of processing fees, from a monthly fee of $15-$30 to a percentage or flat fee per transaction. Some may also charge a set-up fee, plus fees for declined ACH transfers or disputed transactions. It’s a good idea to check for processing rates. If you already have a credit card processing company that handles other electronic payment methods for you, it may include ACH processing at no additional cost. Be aware that your ACH transaction fee should generally be lower than your credit card transaction fee.
Ease of use
As with other payment processing methods, ideally you’ll be able to set it and forget it. You want to make sure that the solution you choose has all the functionality you need, like the ability to accept both one-time ACH payments and recurring payments and bank transfers. Access to payment gateways and virtual terminals so that you can manually input ACH transfers are both important. And if you’re an ecommerce business, you’ll probably want features like an integrated shopping cart or website services. Customer service is particularly important in case you have an issue with recurring billing or chargebacks. The right tool for your business will also give you reporting features so you can analyze your revenue.
Integrations with business software
The best ACH merchant services solutions will work with your other business software, especially your point of sale (POS) system, so you can accept payments directly. In fact, many ACH processing services are included in POS systems. You’ll also want a system with a good application programming interface (API), which will allow you to work with other computer systems, such as those at the financial institutions involved in the transactions. Ideally your system will integrate with your accounting software, such as QuickBooks, so you sync up your accounting and bookkeeping with your sales and payments.
Data security and safety
As with any type of payment that takes personal information, whether it’s online payments or in-person, you need to make sure that your ACH transfer management solution keeps your customers’ data (and yours!) safe and secure. The best ACH processors will be compliant with standards like the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and guidelines set forth by the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA).
How to Set Up ACH Billing and Payment Processing
Setting up payment processing solutions can be simple with the right payment processing service. There are a few basic steps you’ll need to follow:
- Set up your merchant bank account, which will be your ACH account (find out more about business checking accounts here).
- Select your ACH payment processor (this can also be your credit card processor).
- Apply and fill out any necessary paperwork.
- Determine what types of ACH payments you’ll be using (eCheck, paper check conversion, web, telephone) and their entry classes.
- Carefully review all ACH terms and conditions.
Your bank or financial institution may provide ACH payment processing services as part of your business bank account, so you may be able to receive direct deposits without having to do much set up.
Best ACH Payment Processing Services
The top ACH payment processing services will meet your business needs. Check out a few of these for ideas.
Nav’s Verdict: Best ACH Payment Processing Services
Every small business will have its own business needs when it comes to ACH processing. If you already have a POS system or payment processor that can facilitate ACH payments for you, that may be the simplest and easiest way to start accepting ACH payments. You can learn more in our Ultimate Guide to ACH Payment Processing.
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