How long does an ACH transfer take?

Gabriela Peratello

ACH payments are governed by an organization called Nacha¹. They’re a super popular method for making and receiving electronic payments — in fact, nearly 73 trillion dollars moved through the ACH network in 2021 alone. But how long does an ACH transfer take?

This guide covers all you need to know about ACH payment processing times — and we’ll also introduce Wise as a low cost, fast and safe solution if you need to make a payment to someone based overseas.

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How long does an ACH transfer take?

ACH transfers can be made on the same day, next day, or 2 day payments². The person initiating the transfer will be able to decide which ACH transfer time they select, and Nacha will process the transfer for depositing at the next opportunity during the Federal Reserve’s settlement system’s operating hours.

The Federal Reserve’s settlement system operates from 7:30 AM ET on a Monday morning, closing at 6.30 PM ET every evening until Friday. That means that you can’t receive an ACH on a weekend or federal holiday.

ACH payments are popular because they tend to be cheap or even free to arrange. You’ll usually be able to set up a one off or regular ACH transfer via your online banking system.

All you’ll need is the recipient’s account information, including their full name, account number and routing number.

Expecting an ACH payment? Find your routing number with this handy tool

ACH credit transfer

In an ACH credit transfer, the payment is initiated by the sender of the money. This sort of payment may also be called a direct deposit payment. It’s commonly used when you receive your salary from your employer for example — Nacha states that around 93% of Americans get paid this way.

ACH debit transfer

An ACH debit transfer is initiated by the person receiving the payment. Bill payments for things like your mortgage or utilities can often be set up as an ACH debit transfer.

In this case you’ll give your bank permission to pay the bill when it arrives, so you can set it and forget it, rather than needing to actively schedule a new payment every time.

Common questions about ACH payment processing time

Does the day of the week affect how long your transfer will take?

Nacha doesn’t settle ACH payments when the Federal Reserve’s settlement system is closed. That means you won’t receive an ACH after 6:30 PM ET, over a weekend or during a federal holiday.

That said, the chances are that you get paid by your employer using an ACH transfer. If your payday falls on a weekend or public holiday it’s customary for the payment initiator (your employer) to schedule the transfer so it arrives on the Friday before the due date, so you’re not out of pocket.

What's the cutoff time?

Nacha offers 3 different same day payment windows. That means that if you get your ACH transfer set up prior to the window closing (the cut off time), your money will be processed on the same day.

Why aren't ACH transfers instant?

Nacha processes ACH transfers within certain payment windows. That means they’re not instant, but the person initiating the transfer can pick whether they want a same day payment, next day payment, or 2 day payment, and the transfer will be processed within this window provided the Federal Reserve’s settlement system is open.

Do ACH payments really take 3 days to process?

ACH payments can take up to 3 days to process, but they can also be arranged faster, depending on the way the sender sets the transfer up, and the operating hours of the Federal Reserve’s settlement system.

Is it possible to speed up an ACH transfer?

If you’re sending an ACH transfer you may have the option of making it a same day payment, depending on the time of day, and the operating hours of the Federal Reserve’s settlement system. Check your own bank’s policy to see if it’s possible to get your money where it needs to be, faster.

Send money abroad in just a few clicks with Wise

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Global ACH transfers are technically possible these days, but only select US banks have a system in place that’s able to provide international ACH services.

If your bank can’t facilitate an overseas ACH, you can save when you send your money overseas, by choosing a specialist like Wise.

Wise processes international payments through its own payment network. That means you can fund your transfer with a local USD ACH transfer, and Wise will pay out from their account in the country and currency you need, with the mid-market exchange rate, and a low, transparent fee³. Because no money actually has to cross any borders, it’s also super fast — 45%+ of Wise payments are instant⁴.

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Sources:

  1. Nacha
  2. Nacha - Payment myths
  3. Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing: only pay for what you use for the most up to date pricing and fee information
  4. The speed of transaction claim depends on funds availability, approval by Wise's proprietary verification system and systems availability of our partners' banking system, and may not be available for all transactions

Sources checked on 10.12.2022


Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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