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BreadcrumbResourcesACH: A guide to Direct Debit in the US

ACH payment processing time (how long do ACH debit payments take?)

ACH debit is not an instant payment method. Payments may take more than 3 working days to clear on your bank account. Let’s take a brief look at the typical timeline of processing an ACH debit.

Day 0

  • ACH file submitted to your bank

  • Bank processes file and sends to the ACH network

Day 1

  • File is available to your customer’s bank

  • Customer’s bank receives file and debits their account

  • Funds credited to ODFI

Day 2

  • Customer’s bank notifies ACH network of any failures

Day 3

  • Your bank receives notification from ACH network and communicates with you

The time of day you initially submit the ACH file to your bank is important, as ACH debit payments only get processed at three times throughout the business day. Different banks may have different cut off times for receiving ACH files - if you submit after the cut off time, your request is not likely to be processed until the next day. Check with your bank for their specific cut off times.

For various reasons, the process to collect an ACH debit may fail (and thus potentially take longer). Common reasons for failure include:

  • The ACH file being submitted in an incorrect format

  • The customer having insufficient funds in their account

  • The customer’s payment details are incorrect

What about same day processing?

Previously only applicable to ACH credit payments, Nacha has now enabled same-day processing capabilities (under the name Same Day ACH) for “virtually all types” of ACH payments - including ACH debits as well as credits.

Same Day ACH has four notable limitations compared to ordinary ACH payments:

  • A $25,000 per-transaction limit

  • Additional fees

  • Not all banks in the US participate

  • No support for international transactions (IATs)

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