Skip to content

How to accept ACH payments - Guide for small businesses

Chris Hooper
Written by
Reviewed by

Last editedApr 20233 min read

ACH processing for small businesses is a fast, straightforward, and cost-effective method of accepting online payments. ACH-enabled bank transfers are direct account-to-account transfers that take 2 - 5 days to process.

A user-friendly payment process is one of the top ways to boost sales revenue. Is your website set up for ACH payments yet? We’ll discuss how to accept ACH payments from customers below and why these electronic payments are so convenient.

How does ACH processing for small business work?

ACH payments are a simple form of EFT, or electronic funds transfer. When a customer wishes to make a payment for goods or services, they can transfer the funds directly from their bank account to your business bank account. The funds are delivered via the ACH (Automated Clearing House) network for a quick and easy transfer process. While this might sound similar to a debit card payment, the transaction is processed differently.

How to collect ACH Debit payments with GoCardless


Create your free GoCardless account, access your user-friendly payments dashboard & connect your accounting software (if you use one).


Easily set up & schedule ACH Debit payments via payment pages on your website checkout or secure payment links.


From now on you'll get paid on time, every time, as GoCardless automatically collects payment on the scheduled date. Simple.

Get started in minutesLearn more

How to accept ACH payments

If the benefits outlined above address some of your payment collection issues and you would like to learn how to accept ACH payments from customers, here’s a step-by-step rundown:

Step 1: Create an ACH merchant account

The first order of business is to set up your own ACH merchant account. This gives your business access to the ACH network, enabling direct withdrawals from customer bank accounts. You’ll need to provide basic details, including:

  • Estimated processing volumes

  • Certification of incorporation

  • Proof of company address

  • Valid ID for company owners

  • Federal tax ID

Step 2: Request customer authorization

Once you’re set up with a merchant account, the next step is to request authorization from your business customers. This can be compared to the signature on a paper check. Some examples of authorization include things like:

  • Verbal agreement over a recorded phone message

  • Signature on a written order form

  • Online payment form submission

GoCardless has simplified customer authorization by making it an online-only process. This keeps things simple and straightforward for both merchants and customers.

Merchants simply need to create and send the authorization form to the customer with just a few clicks inside the merchant dashboard.

Click to learn more about automating payment collection and eliminating late payments with GoCardless and ACH Debit.

Step 3: Set up the payment

Whatever the method of authorization, it should also include relevant payment details, including the bank name, account type, account number, routing number, and customer name. You’ll only need to take these once for recurring payments. Account information can be verified using tools like microdeposits, ensuring the account details are correct before taking a larger payment.

Are you wondering how to accept ACH payments on your website? Speak to your account provider about setting up a payment gateway that includes a specialty webform for ACH transactions. Read more about payment processing for non-profits.

Step 4: Submit your payment details

With authorization complete and payment details taken, the final step is to input them into the ACH system. You’ll do this either through a website payment gateway, processing software, or other third-party method.

The full process typically takes between three to five business days, including transaction verification and funds clearance.

What are the benefits of accepting online payments through ACH?

What are some reasons to accept ACH payments? Here are a few of the key benefits to consider:

1. They’re cost-effective.

Credit and debit card processing might be convenient, but it often comes with high flat fees per transaction. ACH payments are processed in batches, which lowers the flat rate per transfer.

2. They’re convenient.

Electronic payment processing typically takes about three days for the funds to clear to your account. Although it’s not the speediest method, it’s faster than paper check processing. And when credit card transactions go wrong, the funds can get tied up for weeks on end. This makes ACH payments more reliable and convenient.

3. They’re secure.

The ACH network is tightly regulated, connecting US financial institutions with many layers of security. There are clearly defined reasons for disputing ACH charges compared to credit card charges, which can be disputed for any reason.

4. They enable recurring payments.

If your business provides regular or subscription services, ACH payments allow your customers to authorize a billing schedule for simple recurring payments, eliminating late payments.

5. They reduce manual admin

GoCardless integrates with over 200 accounting software packages allowing businesses accepting ACH payments to automate tedious financial admin saving their finance team valuable time.

The best ACH payment processing for small businesses

The best ACH payment processing for small businesses will depend on the company’s individual needs. Here are a few factors to help steer you in the right direction:

  • Compare fees carefully, including insufficient funds and chargebacks

  • Look for easy website integration with a payment gateway

  • Ensure the set-up process is easy both for your business and its customers

Setting up ACH Debit payments with GoCardless is quick, easy, and secure.

With no contract or upfront fee required to get started, your business can start accepting ACH payments as soon as it's verified.

Got a great accounting system in place? Let GoCardless fit in with your current system via one of our integrations with 200+ partners.

Get started on your journey to cheaper, easier, and stress-free payment collection with GoCardless.

We can help

GoCardless helps you automate payment collection via ACH Debit, cutting down on the amount of admin your team needs to deal with when chasing invoices. Find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc payments or recurring payments.

Case study: how PremierePC saves over $14k annually with GoCardless

PremierePC used to collect over 85% of their payments via credit cards, which meant hefty processing fees.

Switching to collecting payments through ACH Debit via GoCardless was simple and allowed the company to reduce payment collection fees by 85% and save around $1200 every month.

Automate payment collection with ACH Debit to lower costs, reduce failed payments and save time on financial admin.

Get StartedLearn More

Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help
Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

Contact sales

Try a better way to collect payments, with GoCardless. It's free to get started.

Try a better way to collect payments

Learn moreSign up