Payments. Ecommerce. Profits.

ACH Vs. Wire

ACH Vs. Wire: What is the Difference

Electronic transfers are some of the most common payment methods out there, as they can be cheaper, safer, and can take place the same day, and for many, understanding this process makes sense if you want to offer it in your business.

With many ways of being able to make or receive a payment, there are two that stand out, which are ACH and wire, but which of these is best for your needs?

First Of All, A Quick Summary 

  • An ACH transfer is for consumers who need to make a direct deposit or want automatic bill payments and are great for B2B structures that deal with telephone orders and don’t need to be paid until a later time. 
  • A wire transfer is great for individuals and businesses who need to transfer funds immediately and are able to set certain instructions in the event of an unexpected expense or need to send funds abroad. 

Similarities Between ACH And Wire

Both Offer A Degree of Convenience 

If you find yourself writing multiple cheques, these electronic systems can offer you a better way to make transfers, so if you need same-day funds, you have wire, and if you want to set a particular date, ACH transfer is the best option.

That’s not to say that you’re guaranteed to have a better experience as ACH can take up to three days, or even longer to process and is generally longer than most transfer types. 

Both Can Be Verified And Traced By Banks

Both types of transfers can be authorized by banks by using a verification process, and in the case of ACH, you have instant verification via online authorization and manual verification via a micro-deposit transaction process.

With a wire transfer, this is done by a two-step process by contacting the receiver to verify it verbally, and when you have the SWIFT number, you can track the status of the transaction.

What Are ACH Transfers?  

Simply put, this method (which stands for automated clearing house network) makes payments through this network. You can find this exclusively in around 10,000 US financial institutions, where transactions are batched and processed on a fixed schedule.

This is as simple as telling a bank that funds are requested from another account, and these batches can take place up to 5 times a day, and these transfers can take hours or even days to complete depending on the request, but the default time is around one business day.


  • More Efficient– This is an immediately more efficient way of making transfers instated of using cheques. You will have to remember to make the payment yourself instead of having it automated for you, and you can receive payments easily as well.
  • Less Fees- ACH payments cost less in fees than paper cheques or credit and credit cards, and after using it for some time, you’ll notice how much you save in your processing fees, and the payments are less likely to be tampered with by fraudsters. 


  • The payments aren’t instant-  so most can take up to three days, so if your payment is time sensitive, you might want to look at using a wire transfer instead, and while some payments through ACH can be same-day, this only applies to certain payments.
  • Can’t make payments overseas- You can only make ACH payments between US accounts, and you may find alternative methods that allow you to do this, but this depends on the bank you use. 

ACH Transfers Are Ideal For:

  • Small to medium businesses who may not have the funds to pay a supplier and want more flexibility for their costs.
  • Consumers who use a credit card or want to pay for something with installments, setting up a payment schedule that works for both parties. 

What Are Wire Transfers?

This method is one of the most popular ways of moving money. These transactions act as point-to-point transfers between two financial institutions, even if they are different, and work by the sending bank providing instructions to the recipient’s bank. 

ACH Vs. Wire (1)

An excellent example of this would be through a platform like Paypal, so even though the process is almost instant, a lot of information is being relayed, such as the name, address, and phone number of the payee.


  •  wired money is sent and received in real-time-  you can send funds while the other person waits for it, even if they’re in a different time zone, and the receiver will be able to claim the money right away.
  • Convenient to use– You can receive funds in your own currency and find many centers in your city that are tied with many banks, so if you’re on vacation and need to send it via a wire, you can do so in many areas. 


  • Costs of transfers-  there are general costs with this type of transfer, as the sender usually has to account for this when paying the charge and may have to add this to their overhead costs, which typically come as a percentage of the transfer. 
  • Has a higher degree of risk- This is because they’re typically non-reversible, so if the sender changes their mind after the transfer, they won’t be able to get it back, which is where fraud can come into play.  

Wire Transfers Are Ideal for 

  • Individuals or limited companies that buy and sell stocks and need the instant system when needing to act quickly in these types of markets.
  • If you have an online-only business or use platforms like Paypal, which is the best example out there of this kind of transfer.  

ACH VS Wire: Which One Is Best For Me? 

This will all depend on how you want to move funds around. If your clients and customers are US-based, you can avoid the fees and use ACH transfers.

As this limits who can send you funds, it might be a good idea to contact your bank and see what other kinds of transfer they offer, as you may find a method where you can transfer more funds, and you need to set up a payment plan, for example. 

Be aware, though, that ACH transfers aren’t free of costs but are just cheaper, as you can still expect to pay anything over 1% if the transfer amount is over $10, and if you’re receiving it, your bank can still charge you a fee.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which One Avoids More Risk? 

To find this out, it’s best to look at how easy it is to resolve any issues should they arise, so even though you can cancel a transaction, you won’t be able to do it while it’s in process, and this is similar to both transfer types.

What makes wire transfers riskier is that there’s a small margin of error, and even though you could cancel a transfer, it makes this harder when a transfer can occur over a few minutes or even seconds and is easily reversed if the bank makes an error in the amount or the account. 

Are There Limits To How Much You Can Transfer? 

With both of these, it depends on the bank, which can range from $10,000 to $25,000 a month for ACH. 

For a wire, it’s $10,000 for individuals, and for businesses, you might find a limit of $100,000 per transfer and $250,000 per day. 

Closing Thoughts

There are benefits to using either of these options, but it’s up to you, knowing what you know, to make the right decision for yourself and your business, as there are many benefits to being this decisive, that is, you can save time and make your business more efficient.