How Long Does ACH Transfer Take? Complete Guide

By Dan Miller · February 21, 2024 · 5 minute read

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How Long Does ACH Transfer Take? Complete Guide

ACH transfers typically take between one and three days, but that’s only part of the story. The Automated Clearing House (ACH) is a network of interconnected banks that allow for transfers between customers with accounts at different banks. You can send money to another person, as well as receive funds from them, even if you don’t share a bank.

ACH transfers usually take up to two business days to happen, although it’s possible that it can take a longer or shorter time. Financial institutions can pay for same-day transfer, although not all banks may offer this service to their customers. Because ACH transfers generally take a few days to transfer, if you need to transfer money sooner, you may want to explore other options.

Read on to learn more about ACH transfers.

What Is an ACH Transfer?

An ACH transfer is a way to electronically transfer money to or from another person who may have a checking or savings account at a different bank from you. One way to think about the ACH transfer system is that it’s the electronic version of writing a paper check.

When you send an ACH transfer, the money will generally be debited from your account when you make the transfer. The money may take one to three business days to go to the recipient’s bank account. The ACH transfer time is often quoted as taking two days; the transactions are processed in batches, which can help explain why they are not instantaneous.

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Types of ACH Transfers

The ACH system classifies a few different internal routing and transaction codes, but most customers can think of two distinct types of ACH transfers: ACH debits (money coming out of your account) and ACH credits (money going into your account, or an ACH payment). Here’s a look at those two types of ACH transfers:

ACH Debit Transactions

An ACH debit transaction is where money is taken from your account and sent to an account at another bank. Common examples of ACH debit transactions might be recurring payments, online subscriptions or mortgage payments. When your account receives an ACH debit, your savings or checking account balance will decrease.

ACH Credit Transactions

An ACH credit transaction is the opposite of an ACH debit transaction. An ACH credit transaction is when another person or company sends money to your account. There are a variety of different scenarios where you might receive an ACH payment or credit.

•   You might get an ACH credit when you receive your direct deposit from your employer.

•   Social Security and certain other government payments can be ACH credits to your account.

•   An ACH credit will increase your bank account balance when you receive one.

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How Long Does an ACH Transfer Take?

The ACH network processes ACH transfers several times a day, but it’s common that ACH transfers take one to two business days, or sometimes three. If you are scheduling an ACH debit to make an online bill payment, you’ll want to make sure to allow enough time before your bill is due.

You’ll also want to be aware of this processing time when receiving an ACH credit. Knowing that the credit will take that amount of time to clear can help you manage your account balance. It’s wise to be aware that ACH transfer time isn’t instantaneous, so you don’t risk drawing on funds that aren’t yet available. Otherwise, you could end up overdrafting your account.

Recommended: Guide to ACH Routing Numbers

Expediting ACH Transfers: Same-Day ACH Transactions

While most ACH transfers take a few business days, it is possible to expedite the process. Banks can pay an additional fee to process an ACH transaction on the same day. Your bank may or may not support a same-day ACH transaction. Additionally, it will depend on the financial institution and whether or not they pass that banking fee on to you.

Ask your bank’s customer service rep or check their details online or in their app to see what’s possible and if you need to pay a surcharge for this service.

Recommended: How to Stop or Reverse ACH Payments

The Takeaway

How long does an ACH transfer take? These electronic transfers, which allow money to be sent and received between customers at different banks, typically take around two days. ACH transfers make for a convenient way to send and receive money as compared to sending paper checks. It may be possible to pay for an expedited ACH transfer if you don’t want to wait a couple of days.

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What are the restrictions to external funds transfers?

Restrictions on external funds transfers may vary depending on your bank. Some banks may limit external transactions to $5,000 per transaction, $10,000 per day, and $50,000 per month, as one example. Check with your bank to see what restrictions might be in place for you.

What does ACH transfer cost?

Every financial institution that sends or receives ACH transfers must pay a fee to the National Automated Clearing House Association, which is the organization that governs and manages the ACH system. Depending on the bank, they may or may not pass these fees on to the customers who receive or send ACH transfers. Check with your bank to see how much an ACH transfer might cost you, especially same-day transactions.

Why is an ACH transfer not an instant transfer of funds?

Although it may be possible to pay for an expedited (same-day) ACH transfer, transfers do not happen instantaneously. The answer to “How long do ACH transfers take?” is usually a couple of days. Typically, ACH transactions are processed in batches vs. right away, which can explain the timing.

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