What Is ACH Debit and How Does It Work?

By Dan Miller · February 20, 2024 · 7 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

What Is ACH Debit and How Does It Work?

An ACH debit is an electronic transfer that will take money from one account and credits it to another account. ACH, or the Automated Clearing House, is an interconnected system that allows banks to transfer money to and from accounts at different banks. ACH debits are common for things like recurring subscriptions and online payments.

The counterpart to an ACH debit is an ACH credit, and these debits and credits are a key part of the world’s banking infrastructure. ACH debits and ACH credits are safe, convenient, and come with many advantages over writing paper checks or other forms of payments. Learn more about ACH debits and how they work here.

What Is ACH Debit?

An ACH debit is when money is electronically removed from your account to another account at another bank via the Automated Clearing House (ACH). In most cases, you will see an ACH debit listed on your account when you are making a payment to another bank or account. This could be a regular monthly subscription payment (perhaps for a streaming channel) or another type of automated payment.

💡 Quick Tip: Want to save more, spend smarter? Let your bank manage the basics. It’s surprisingly easy, and secure, when you open an online bank account.

How Does ACH Debit Work?

Now that you know the “ACH debit” meaning, consider what it actually involves. ACH works because nearly all of the banks in the United States are connected electronically. Each bank that is part of the ACH system has a nine-digit routing number that identifies it to other banks.

When you make an ACH debit, you provide your bank’s routing number and your savings or checking account number to the other customer/bank. They instruct their bank to contact your bank and debit your account. Then, their account is credited once the funds are transferred.

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!

Different Types of ACH Debit

There are several types of ACH debits, each coming with its own three-digit code that might identify it to the banks in question. To the customer, these codes or types of debits come without distinction:

•   ARC (Accounts Receivable Entry)

•   BOC (Back Office Conversion)

•   CCD (Corporate Credit or Debit Entry)

•   POP (Point-of-Purchase Entry)

•   POS (Point-of-Sale Entry)

•   PPD (Prearranged Payment & Deposit Entry)

•   TEL (Telephone-initiated Entry)

•   WEB (Internet-initiated Entry).

Advantages of ACH Debit

Here are a few of the biggest advantages of using ACH debits:

Ease and Convenience

One of the biggest advantages of the ACH system is its ease and convenience. ACH transactions happen automatically, without having to take any action besides the initial setup. This can make them perfect candidates for recurring monthly transactions, as one example.

They are also typically quite quick, taking one to three days to be completed.

No Need to Write Checks

If you have a recurring monthly transaction, it is much easier to set up a recurring ACH debit than to write a check each month. Moving your transactions to ACH means that you may no longer have to write checks (or order additional checks).

Save On Postage

Using ACH to make and receive payments can also help you save money. You will no longer have to pay for postage to mail checks or other payments.

Easier Payment Tracking

Using an electronic payment system like ACH also allows for better payment tracking. Rather than having to say “the check is in the mail,” you or your bank may be able to see exactly when ACH payments are sent and received.

Better for the Environment

ACH can also be better for the environment. Some of the green reasons to use ACH include the fact that you don’t have to use paper checks, nobody has to physically deliver your payment, and there is no leftover paper to recycle, shred or throw away once the payment is complete.

Disadvantages of ACH Debit

Here are some of the biggest disadvantages of using ACH debits:

Less Control

You may have a little bit less control over an ACH payment, since it can happen automatically. Still, banks will investigate and overturn any fraudulent ACH transactions, should they happen.

Exposing Private Information

When you make or receive an ACH payment, you do have to give your bank’s routing and account information to the other party. That does run the risk of fraudulent use of your private information.

However, it is important to understand that these same routing and checking or savings account numbers also appear on the bottom of every paper check that you have.

Risk of Mistakes

You do run the risk of making a mistake in your routing or account number, perhaps especially if you are entering the information online. While it is common that you have to confirm your account and routing numbers when setting up an ACH transaction, it is still possible to make mistakes. It is very important to make sure that you are entering your checking account information correctly when setting up an ACH transaction.

Potential for Overdrafting

Because ACH transactions happen automatically, you may have an increased risk of overdrafting your checking or savings account. Make sure that you have set up a good budget and are regularly monitoring your accounts. This will help reduce the risk of overdrafting your accounts.

Forgetting to Cancel Services

One of the biggest potential disadvantages of using ACH payments is that it makes it easier to forget to cancel services that you are no longer using. Because it is easy to set up recurring ACH payments, you may find yourself getting ACH debits for services that you are no longer using or meant to cancel.

What’s the Difference Between ACH Debit and ACH Credit?

An ACH debit is when your account is debited (money taken out) and sent to a customer at another bank. An ACH credit is when you receive money into your account. Both ACH debits and ACH credits come through the automated electronic ACH system.

What’s the Difference Between ACH Debit and eCheck?

An electronic check or eCheck is another form of electronic payment that uses the ACH network. One big difference between ACH debits and eChecks is the time that it takes to process. eChecks often take between three and seven days to clear, while usually ACH debits process much more quickly (say, in one to three days).

What’s the Difference Between ACH Debit and Direct Deposit?

A direct deposit is generally credited to your account as an ACH credit. This means that money is moving into your account. On the other hand, an ACH debit is when money is electronically moved out of your account, generally to an account at another bank.

Is ACH Debit Safe?

Yes, the ACH system is generally very safe. ACH debits and other transactions are commonly considered safer than payments made by paper checks and other forms of payment. Check with your bank or credit union to make sure you understand the fraud protections that you have to secure your account against unauthorized ACH debits.

The Takeaway

The Automated Clearing House (ACH) is a system of interconnected banks that allows for safe, quick electronic payments between customers at different banks. An ACH debit is one form of electronic payment that allows you to pay an account at another bank. This may be a one-time payment or a recurring monthly payment, such as for an online subscription. To make an ACH debit payment, you will generally give the other party your bank’s routing and account information.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall. Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.


Why did I get ACH money?

There are a variety of reasons why you might get money via ACH. It could be a refund of a transaction that you canceled or returned or a credit on a closed account. Check with the merchant in question or your bank if you’re not sure where an ACH transaction came from.

Do I have to pay back ACH credit?

Whether or not you have to pay back an ACH credit depends on what the credit is for and whether it was intended for you. If you received a legitimate ACH credit, then you generally do not have to pay it back. If you received an ACH credit that was not intended for you, you will likely have to pay back the money.

What is an ACH refund?

Above, you learned what is an ACH debit. An ACH refund, however, is typically an ACH credit to your account that you receive due to a refund of a transaction you made. This might be a refund of a transaction you canceled, items you returned in person, or another form of returned payment. Check with your bank or the source of the ACH refund if you don’t know where your ACH refund came from.

Photo credit: iStock/JLco – Julia Amaral

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.


All your finances.
All in one app.

SoFi QR code, Download now, scan this with your phone’s camera

All your finances.
All in one app.

App Store rating

SoFi iOS App, Download on the App Store
SoFi Android App, Get it on Google Play

TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender