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Your guide to payment processing times in the USA

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Last editedMay 20233 min read

Small businesses have more options than ever when it comes to payment methods, each with its own pros and cons. In addition to customer convenience and processing fees, it’s important to compare payment processing times in the USA. In this guide, we’ll break down typical processing times to help you anticipate cash flow.

Understanding payment processing times

There are numerous factors that go into payment processing times in the US, starting with the method of payment used. Credit card payments go through multiple steps like authorisation and clearance. Domestic bank transfers may only pass from one account to another using the Automated Clearing House (ACH) system, while international payments must route through several third-party accounts. All these factors help determine the time it takes to settle funds into your merchant account.

What are card payment processing times?

When a customer makes a credit card payment, this transaction involves several steps that impact the processing time. Card details are entered at the point of sale and submitted to the merchant’s payment processor. The customer’s own card payment network verifies that the customer has sufficient funds and runs applicable safety checks to prevent fraud. Once approved, the bank provider sets the amount on hold. The merchant payment processor batches these transactions and sends payment requests to the customer’s bank for processing.

Credit card payment processing times can take anywhere between 24 hours and three days, during which time the funds pass from the customer’s bank to the card payment network and on to your merchant payment processor. Same day settlement services also exist to help expedite the process within the same day, though these involve higher fees.  

What are EFT payment processing times?

Many customers prefer to pay with their own bank accounts. Electronic fund transfers, or EFTs, describe any payment method that moves funds electronically between bank accounts. This includes ACH payments, wire transfers, electronic checks, and direct deposits. EFT payment processing times vary considerably by the specific method chosen.

1. ACH payment processing time

A typical ACH payment processing time is three working days. This starts with a payment request file sent to the customer’s bank, which directly debits the customer’s account accordingly. Funds are sent through to your business bank account, often within 24-48 hours. However, timings can vary depending on bank cut-off times for sending and receiving ACH files. Payments can also be delayed by holidays, weekends, or incorrect bank details.

Nacha now offers same-day payments for an additional fee, though not all US banks participate in the scheme just yet.

2. Wire transfer payment processing time

Another type of EFT is a wire transfer, which uses an interbank network to move funds between accounts. Domestic wire transfer payment processing times are 24 hours, on average. International wire transfers take longer to process, usually between one and five business days. As with other methods, this depends on several factors. The time of day and time zone will impact when payment is received, as will the location and exchange rate complexity. For international wire transfers, some countries can take as long as three weeks to process payment.

3. Echeck payment processing time

Paper cheques used to take days – if not weeks – to process due to the need to pass paper files back and forth between banks. Today’s checks are all scanned into an electronic system for faster processing. Echeck payment processing times are on par with other EFT methods at about three business days.

How to benefit from faster payment processing times

For faster payment processing times, many businesses now accept ACH transfer apps like Venmo and Zelle. Peer-to-peer apps transfer funds between bank accounts in a matter of minutes. One thing to keep in mind is that while the transfer is nearly instantaneous, it still must go through formal ACH processing.

Payment processing times with GoCardless

GoCardless makes payment processing simple with automated ACH debit collection. Business owners can set up and take payments directly from customer bank accounts on the day they’re due. This means you can plan for processing timelines to ensure a steady cash flow. Enjoy a stress-free setup. GoCardless tackles all the technical details on your behalf, notifying customers when payment is due and submitting payment requests to the customer banks. It also integrates with over 300 software partners to streamline your payment and accounting processes.

We can help

GoCardless is a global payments solution that helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of financial admin your team needs to deal with. Find out how GoCardless can help you with one-off or recurring payments.

Over 85,000 businesses use GoCardless to get paid on time. Learn more about how you can improve payment processing at your business today.

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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

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