ACH, Automated Clearing House, is an electronic network that handles a large volume of financial transactions daily. ACH is used for handling direct deposits, paychecks and payments of many kinds. ACH transactions work when an originator authorizes a transaction. ACH accepts the transaction from the receiver and completes it if funds are available. ACH is a middleman between the person making the transaction and the person receiving it. Businesses typically pay fees to complete the transaction and often charge customers for the convenience.
Determine if your bill can be paid through ACH. ACH payments are electronic and accepted by many merchants and companies. They are also often called electronic funds transfers (EFTs). To find out if an organization accepts ACH payments, look at the bill, call or review the website.
Choose your method of payment. ACH payments are made through a checking account or debit card.
Pay over the phone. Many companies accept payments over the phone. To make an ACH payment over the phone, call the company you are paying. Give the company your information regarding payment type. If it is a checking account, you must give your bank's routing number, checking account number and payment amount. When paying with a debit card, you must give the card type, card number, expiration date and security code from the back of the card. (This is usually three digits except for American Express.)
Pay on the company's website. Many companies accept ACH payments. Locate the section on the company's page that says "Pay Bill" or something similar. You are required to enter your information there. Generally you must enter the payment date, payment amount and the information from your checking account or debit card.
Set up automatic payments. Many companies also allow customers to set up recurring automatic payments. The customer must sign an agreement authorizing the company to take payments each month out of a particular account for a specific bill. Consumers use this service for installment loans, credit card payments, utilities and insurance payments.
Tips & Warnings
- Paying via ACH saves the need to write a check and mail the bill.
- While convenient, your ACH payment may not be credited immediately. Ask.
- Ask if there are ACH fees involved with making your payment.
- Be sure to log your payment in your checkbook.
- When you authorize an ACH payment, you are giving the business access to your checking account. Make sure that the transaction was accurate.
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