When it comes to conducting transactions with your bank account, one of the most popular types is using ACH transfers, but they do come with limits. ACH payments are electronic bank transfers that conveniently process regular payments such as mortgages, utilities, loans, and tax payments. They can also be used for one-time payments as well.
While ACH payments are fast and secure, it’s important to know that financial institutions impose an ACH transfer limit — and each one may operate differently. Knowing your limits will help you plan better when it comes to paying your bills and making other types of transfers. It’ll help to make sure all your transactions go through smoothly and avoid any potential hiccups.
So, here we’ll take a look at:
• How ACH transfers work
• Incoming and outgoing ACH transfer limits
• The “fine print” on ACH transfers, including timing and fees.
Let’s get started!
How ACH Transfers Work
First, let’s define our terms: ACH stands for Automated Clearing House. ACH transfers are an electronic transfer system that allows individuals or businesses to transfer money from one financial institution. This network is one of the main ways to send and receive money. Did you sign up for autopay on your utilities bill? ACH transfers will make it happen. Do you receive your paycheck by direct deposit? Yup, that’s also an ACH transfer. Other types of transactions include direct ACH debits, electronic funds transfers (EFTs), electronic checks (eChecks), and direct payments. Aside from banks, third-party apps, such as PayPal, which allow you to pay friends without cash, also use the ACH network.
ACH transfers can involve money being pulled from an account — such as direct debits — where a third-party can take money out from your account once you’ve given permission. For instance, if you pay your life insurance policy monthly, with ACH payments, the company can debit your account each month. You can also push money, where you manually send money to accounts at different financial institutions such as bank accounts of your friends and family members.
Wondering how long ACH transfers take? In most cases, ACH payments, which are only for U.S. transactions, are usually faster than other types of transactions — if there’s enough money in the account, an ACH incoming transfer is usually cleared within one to several days. A few instances where it could take longer is during holidays or if the network suspects the transaction is potentially fraudulent. Debits are typically processed on a next-day basis. (If you need a super-fast transfer, look into how ACH vs. wire transfers stack up.)
Though there technically isn’t a set number of transactions you can do in a day, there are often ACH limits. Plus, there are also ACH period limits — as in, there may be daily or monthly limits, depending on your financial institution. Let’s move on to taking a closer look at the meaning of ACH limits.
Incoming ACH Transfer Limits
According to the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA), which manages ACH payments, ACH transfer limits can be as high as $1,000,000 per day, up from $100,000 previously. However, this is a recent shift, and your incoming ACH transfer limits may still average around $25,000.
This is important to note because you want to be sure that you can receive the money being sent to you. For instance, if you’re selling a vehicle for a sizable amount, you want to be sure the person purchasing it can successfully transfer the money over to you. If it’s over your limit, your transaction may hit a hitch. By knowing your limits, you can troubleshoot before you wind up in a “Where’s my money?” situation.
Outgoing ACH Transfer Limits
Depending on your financial institution, your outgoing ACH transfer limit may be much lower than what NACHA imposes. Understanding the ACH outgoing transfer limit is important because you want to ensure your transactions go smoothly. If you have multiple transactions set up regularly to send money, you’ll want them all to go through and not run the risk of payments being held up and late fees accruing.
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ACH Transfer Limits at Top U.S. Banks
The following ACH transfer limits and its associated fees are from the six biggest traditional banks, plus SoFi.
|Name of Bank||ACH Transfer Limit||Fees|
|Bank of America||Varies, but typically $3,000 daily
|$3 for standard
$10 for next-day
|Capital One||$10,000 daily
|U.S. Bank||Varies, but typically $2,500 daily||Varies, $0 to $3|
|Citibank||Inbound, up to
$100,000 daily and monthly
Outbound, up to
|Wells Fargo||Varies, but typically $5,000 daily||Varies|
|Chase||Varies, but typically $10,00 per transaction, $25,000 daily||None|
|SoFi||Up to $100,000 daily||None|
As you can see above, a few of the banks have varying daily and monthly ACH transfer limits. Some of these depend on the type of account you have and your relationship with the bank. For instance, those who have more premium accounts (such as ones that require higher balance minimum requirements) may have higher ACH transfer limits, though it’s not always the case. Also, business accounts may have different and/or higher limits than personal bank accounts. ACH transfers can be conducted with both bricks-and-mortar and secure online bank accounts.
ACH Transfer Penalties
While ACH transfers are a convenient way to conduct bank transactions, there are some limitations you need to be aware of.
ACH transfers can be conducted on a same-day or somewhat slower basis. For same-day, transfers must be submitted by 4:45 pm ET. In general, though, ACH transfers will take a bit longer, and it’s worth taking into account the day of the week. If you submit a transfer at 5:03 pm on a Friday, it may not get moving until the following Monday, which could count as a late payment.
All this to say: If you’re making a transfer and want it to arrive as soon as possible, it’s best to initiate the transfer earlier in the day. And keep these timing issues in mind if you are tracking an ACH payment, whether incoming or outgoing.
Insufficient Funds Penalty Fee
Many financial institutions won’t charge you for an ACH transfer, but they may charge you a fee if you don’t have enough money in your account. This penalty is typically called the insufficient funds fee, and the amount varies from bank to bank.
No International Transfers
In most cases, ACH transfers aren’t available to send money to another account internationally. If you want to send money overseas from your bank, you’ll have to do so via a wire transfer. You’ll likely be charged a fee for the service.
ACH transfers are an important part of modern banking, whisking funds from account to account. This process enables direct deposit, automatic bill-pay, P2P platforms, and more. However, these transactions may come with dollar and timing limits, as well as fees. Each financial institution will have different rules and guidelines as to how you can conduct ACH transfers. Knowing these ground rules is important, especially if you have a lot of daily transactions or simply want to send a large sum of money to someone. This is one of those situations in which reading the fine print on your account agreement or checking in with customer support can save you time, money, and headaches.
Here’s another way to simplify your banking life: Sign up for SoFi’s linked accounts. When you open Checking and Savings with direct deposit, you’ll enjoy a host of benefits, from zero account fees to a competitive APY. Plus, we’re a digital bank, so you can expect transactions to be fast, secure, and easily done on the go.
Which bank has the highest ACH transfer limit?
As of press time, SoFi and Citi have the highest ACH transfer limits. However, these higher limits may only be available for those who have certain types of bank accounts or have been a long-time customer with these financial institutions.
Are ACH transfers reported to the IRS?
The IRS doesn’t count ACH transfers as cash, so they are not reported.
What is the maximum amount you can transfer from bank to bank?
The maximum amount you’ll be able to transfer between banks will depend on various factors, such as how much you have in your account, ACH transfer limits for your financial institution, and how much the receiving bank is allowed to receive. NACHA recently raised the maximum possible to $1,000,000, but again, that will not be available to every banking customer.
Which bank is good for ACH?
All financial institutions should be able to initiate and receive ACH transactions. The differences involve limits, processing time, and possible fees. It’s worth checking at specific banks to understand their guidelines if you plan on using ACH transfers.
Photo credit: iStock/AleksandarNakic
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