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Payment Automation

ACH Payment vs Wire Transfer – What’s the difference?

Adam Frazier
Adam Frazier
October 21, 2016

ACH payments and wire transfers may seem similar, almost identical. However, the two are quite different, and understanding the differences between them is beneficial for anyone who is interested in using electronic methods of payments for moving money to and from bank accounts.

ACH payments are more convenient, and cheaper, as well as more secure. On the other hand, wire transfers are quicker. Each can be used for different means but in most financial situations using an ACH payment to transfer money is a better choice.

ACH Payment

ACH are similar to wire transfers, the information is sent in a batch to the automated clearinghouse, which clear the payments through and then send them onto the bank. The clearing house essentially acts as the middle man, receiving the payments, clearing the payment and then information the bank or financial institution.

Although it may seem like an option that is unnecessary, because the clearing house personnel take care of the clearing of the ACH payments, the payment is significantly less money than a wire transfer. The ACH payments are usually one flat rate of around .25 cents per payment. ACH payments are also more convenient as they can be automated. The only downside that an ACH payment has is the time period it takes to move the money. Wire transfers take a shorter time to transfer, while ACH payment can take up to three business days.

Wire Transfer

Wire transfers move money between financial institutions to and from bank accounts. The financial institutions are doing most of the moving, and thus charge heavy fees to send and receive money through a wire transfer, which can go up to $30 a transfer. Because the wire transfer is done mostly through financial institution personnel, there is little to no wait time for a wire transfer.


ACH payments have the disadvantage in this category. Since they take a longer period of time to clear, it’s possible that the money that needs to be moved to the other bank account could be late. With wire transfers, the money gets there almost instantaneously, but you pay the price for fast.

Security, Cost and Convenience

In every other category, ACH payments seem to have the upper hand. ACH payments are more secure because they provide a verification of payment and payee. ACH payments cost significantly less than wire transfers (.25 cents versus up to $30 per payment). ACH payments can be automated, unlike wire services.

So which is better to use? If you are looking to transfer money quickly and don’t mind paying the price, then a wire transfer is the choice. If you are interested in saving money and being more secure using ACH payments is the best choice.

If you’re using ACH or wire services you’ve taken a step in the right direction. Now, think about moving to an automatic electronic payment service. Did you know that payment automation is one of the latest ePayment trends? It’s relatively simple and does not impact your staff or payment process.

You continue to make bill payments in your accounting system like you do today, but you never have to print, sign, stuff or mail printed checks again. There is no change to your existing bank accounts or relationships and you have immediate access to real-time payment status.

We at AvidXchange specialize in payment automation; the following are some of our automation benefits:

  • Eliminate printing, paper checks, postage and fraud costs
  • Continue utilizing your existing bank accounts
  • Process one file for all payments
  • No longer manage vendor payment information (because the technology does it for you!)
  • Enjoy real-time access to payment status

The Scary Truth About B2B Payments

Adam Frazier

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