What is Better, ACH or Wire Transfer?

“Moderator: Okay, let’s start the discussion. Today’s topic is, what is better, ACH or wire transfer?

Participant 1 (P1): Easy, wire transfers always win. ACH technology is so complicated. Have you ever tried signing up for an ACH transaction?  

Participant 2 (P2): What are you talking about? The process is so simple. I always prefer moving money through ACH transactions. 

P1: But have you seen the abysmal transfer speeds on ACH? I cannot wait that long.

P2: What about the hefty processing fees that the wire transfer charges? Not worth it.

Moderator: Alright, alright. Both of you made excellent points. Now let the experts at iCheckGateway.com once and for all solve the ACH vs. Wire Transfer debate.”

This happened in a recent financial debate that we were asked to monitor. So, our experts stepped in and helped the audience out! To ensure that you do not miss out on all the fun and can choose the correct payment service for your business, we consolidated the entire debate into this blog. 


What is Better, ACH or Wire Transfer?

Speed of Transfer – Fast or Slow?

  • ACH: Banks previously took at least 3 to 4 business days to process a funds transfer request on the ACH network. However, some banks now offer same-day or next-day ACH solutions with modern-day technological improvements.
  • Wire Transfer: Wire transfer and credit card payments are the fastest mode of electronic payments. They usually take just a few seconds to process.

Winner: Wire transfer

If time is of the essence and you want to transfer the funds as quickly as possible, wire transfer is the correct choice.

Total Amount for Transfer – More or Less?

  • ACH: ACH is best for small recurring payments. However, it can also be a great way to transfer larger funds if both the receiver and the sender trust each other. 
  • Wire Transfer: The receivers prefer wire transfers for one-time transactions, like transferring a down payment for a real estate deal. It is a surer way of sending payments. 

Winner: Undecided. Depends on the relationship between the sender and receiver of funds. 

Location for Transfer – Domestic or International?

  • ACH: ACH does not work across international borders. It is limited to domestic transfers only.
  • Wire Transfer: International wire transfer is the only way (when compared to ACH) through which you can send money across borders.

Winner: Wire transfer

Direction of Transfer – Request or Send?

  • ACH: ACH transactions are primarily classified into credit and debit transactions. So, you can send as well as receive money through ACH. Many banks and financial institutions leverage the ACH debit facility to take the necessary payment installment from your bank account automatically.
  • Wire Transfer: You can only send funds through a wire transfer.

Winner: ACH

Mode of Transfer – Automated or Manual?

  • ACH: ACH transfers take up slightly more time than a wire transfer. Therefore, most business owners prefer wire transfers for a one-off domestic or international transfer. However, once set up, ACH can help you automatically process payments. 
  • Wire Transfer: Wire transfers are usually manually processed. 

Winner: ACH

Possibility of Reversals – Needed or Not Needed?

  • ACH:  It is easier for a payment processor to reverse money transfers made through ACH. In case of a breach of agreement, or incorrect payment, the sender can ask for a payment reversal. 
  • Wire Transfer: Wire transfers cannot be reversed. A sender can only get the money back by asking the receiver to initiate another transfer back to the sender’s account.

Winner: ACH

Transferring funds through ACH is encouraged if you are conducting business with someone you do not trust just yet. Rely on a trusted partner who understands payments.

Collection of Extra Information – Needed or Not Needed?

  • ACH: ACH transfers are usually considered slightly more secure than wire transfers. Nacha-certified payment processors can help you create custom forms for your business to accept ACH transactions. These forms can be used to handle financial disputes and prevent customer chargebacks.
  • Wire Transfer: The speed with which domestic and international wires take place comes at the cost of little to no customization.

Winner: ACH

Availability of Funds – Immediate or Delayed?

  • ACH: As discussed earlier, ACH electronic transfers take a while to be processed. However, even after processing, the funds may not be immediately available to the receiver for a few days.  
  • Wire Transfer: Wire transfers are instantaneous. So, the receivers can use the amount for another transaction as soon as they receive the funds.

Winner: Wire transfer

Bulk Payments – Needed or Not Needed?

  • ACH: ACH payment solutions are the most cost-effective ways to process payments in bulk. ACH transfers cost a fraction of the transfer fees, compared to wire transfers and credit cards. Business owners and employers who need to process thousands of transactions (for example, the salary of their employees) every month prefer ACH. Individuals also use ACH for recurring bill payments without any manual intervention. Moreover, online ACH payments via hosted payment pages help businesses offer cash discounts to their customers.
  • Wire Transfer: Wire transfers can also be used to make bulk payments. However, the manual nature of the payment type and higher processing fee make wire transfers unsustainable in the long run.

Winner: ACH



We hope that this blog clarifies the differences between ACH and wire transfer and helps you choose the right one under different circumstances. To sum up the blog, you should select:

  • ACH, if:
    • You want to transfer smaller amounts periodically.
    • You do not trust the receiver of funds just yet.
    • You may need to ask for a reversal at any point.
    • You want to request funds instead of sending them.
    • You want to automate your transactions.
    • You want to have an additional layer of security and collect some information during the transfer process.
    • You want to process bulk payments.
  • Wire transfer, if:
    • You want to carry out a one-off transaction.
    • You do not have a long-standing relationship with the receiver and need to transfer a large amount for immediate use.
    • The receiver needs access to the funds as soon as possible and cannot wait long.
    • You want to transfer funds across international borders.
    • You cannot wait and need to transfer funds instantaneously within a few minutes.


Want to learn more about ACH and credit card processing and credit card processing? Want to set up your business for accepting and sending funds through ACH seamlessly? Speak with payment experts today!


Date originally published: January 12, 2022

iCheckGateway.com’s innovative solutions help you accelerate payments simply, securely, and reliably.

We help businesses accept and process payments with our suite of next-gen customizable fintech solutions. Our automated technologies help you carry out ACH and credit card transactions on a single easy-to-use platform.