Tratta payments

Key Differences And Similarities: ACH vs. Check Payments

Weren’t you curious and excited when you got your first check - a check that carried your name in sleek, bold letters? Wasn’t a check a more polished payment method back in those days? Skip a few years - where do you stand now? Which payment method do you use the most? Has the convenience and security of electronic funds transfer swept your minds away? 

Choosing between ACH and check payment methods is crucial if you're a business owner. This guide will help you navigate this decision, as understanding the differences between these two methods is vital to effectively managing your business's finances. The following ACH vs. check payment comparison will give you the knowledge you need to make the right decision for your business. So, get ready to sign off your payments and take your business to new heights!

Introduction to ACH and Check Payments

Your business is flourishing, but a stack of bills is beginning to take up all your space and time. Are you looking for an easier, faster way to handle these payments? Introducing ACH vs. check, popular payment options that simplify collecting payments from vendors and customers.

Suppose you bought 1000 tons of steel for an upcoming project. How do you pay the vendor? By cash, check, or direct bank-to-bank transfer? While it is convenient to pay in cash for small purchases, larger amounts require a safer mode of payment, like checks. Imagine walking around with thousands of dollars in your pockets! Now, what if the purchase comes from overseas? Is paying by check suitable? In such situations, ACH transactions are most appropriate.

Due to their ease of use and security, ACH payments have become the standard for bill payments, payroll deposits, and online shopping. On the other hand, rectangular paper checks with numbers and signatures have been a part of many transactions for years. However, they are now experiencing a rapid decline in usage, with ACH transactions becoming the preferred method for many businesses.

Are you exploring efficient payment solutions for your growing business? Discover how Tratta's payment platform can simplify collecting payments from vendors and customers.

Although most people are turning to electronic payments like ACH, do you think they’ve entirely forgotten paper checks? Not at all! Let’s find out how your business can benefit by choosing between ACH and check payments.

How do ACH Payments Work?

ACH, or Automated Clearing House, payments involve the transfer of funds from one bank account to another. Since you can send money electronically without using credit cards, paper checks, wire transfers, or cash, they’re a convenient option for recurring payments. For example, you join a fitness class on a quarterly payment scheme. As the payment is due every quarter (recurring payment), the ACH network pulls the payment from your account to the owner's account. 

Now, what if you chose to pay via check instead of relying on ACH payments? You would have to sign the check, physically send it to the owner, process it, and wait for verification. Quite bothersome for repeated timely payments, right? Let’s first understand the basic process involved in ACH payments and then compare ACH vs. check.

  • You initiate the payment, authorizing the transfer of funds from your account.
  • The information is sent to the ACH network, which connects all the banks and acts as a message carrier that tells how much money to transfer from one account to the other.
  • The ACH network verifies everything and sends the payment instructions to your bank.
  • Your bank then transfers the money to the recipient's bank.

Even though the process involves several steps, there is no physical involvement. But that’s not the case with paper checks. Read on to learn how you can process check payments.

How do Check Payments Work?

A paper check is a written, dated, and signed document instructing a bank to pay a specific amount to a person or company. Checks have been in use for more than 100 years. They simplified the transfer of funds with an added safety layer. Isn’t carrying large amounts of cash in hand odd and risky? Although checks might seem old-fashioned these days, they are still widely used, especially for B2B payments

Unlike ACH payments, checks involve physical handling. Let’s understand the process behind check payments so that you can better compare ACH vs. check. 

  • You fill out a check with the recipient’s name, write the exact amount, and sign it.
  • Hand the check directly to the recipient. You can also send it via mail.
  • The recipient will now deposit the check at their bank.
  • The bank then forwards the physical check to your bank for verification.
  • Once they verify the details, they transfer the money from your account to the recipient’s account.

Did you notice the difference between handling ACH and checks? We’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg; there’s more to come to light. Let’s take a deep dive into the key differences between ACH and check payment. 

Key Differences Between ACH and Check Payments

Did you get a basic idea of how ACH vs. check compare? In simple terms, ACH is faster, easier, and more convenient than checks. If ACH is ideal for small and large transactions, checks mainly cater to large transactions. Did you know personal checks were once widely acceptable in restaurants and grocery stores as well? Let’s look at how ACH and checks differ in this section.

  • Speed: ACH transactions are quicker than checks. While ACH payments are processed electronically and automated, paper checks require manual preparation, leading to longer processing times. ACH transactions take only a few business days to process, whereas checks can take a week or longer to clear. 
  • Cost: Physical checks are more expensive than ACH payments. While most ACH transactions are free, checks often have a processing fee. If your business handles diverse transactions, the fees can shoot up significantly. 
  • Security: ACH payments involve electronic transactions, making them more secure than checks. With physical checks, there’s a risk of them getting lost, stolen, or forged. Besides, paper checks include sensitive bank information such as account number, routing number, etc., which fraudsters can tamper with. On the other hand, ACH payments utilize secure networks and encryption to protect sensitive information. Additionally, many banks offer real-time fraud monitoring for ACH payments, providing an extra layer of security.
  • Convenience: ACH payments offer ultimate convenience as you can initiate transactions from your computer or mobile without leaving your house. On the other hand, checks are more demanding - writing and mailing them takes time. 

Here’s a table for you to easily distinguish between ACH and check payments:







Processing Time


1-3 business days

One week or longer




Mostly free

Usually have processing fees




Little or no risk

Has risk factors - can be lost, stolen, or forged




Easy to use through a computer or mobile

It is less convenient as it requires physical handling




Direct bank-to-bank transfer

Directly to the recipient or via mail

*Note: For small businesses or individual entrepreneurs, the initial setup costs associated with ACH might be a factor to consider. However, these costs can often be outweighed by the long-term savings on per-transaction fees compared to checks.

Similarities Between ACH and Check Payments

Even though ACH payments and checks operate differently, they have some things in common. Think of it like two cars – they might use different fuels (electronic instructions vs. paper), but they both get you to the same destination (transferring money). Here's a closer look at how they share the road:

  • Transferring Money: ACH payments and checks have the same primary goal: to transfer funds between accounts. Whether paying a bill or sending money to a friend, they achieve the same outcome.
  • Issuing Low Costs: While ACH payments are generally the most cost-effective, both methods can potentially have low issuing costs. For example, some banks offer a limited number of free checks per month. As mentioned earlier, many banks and financial institutions increasingly offer free ACH transfers.
  • Reversibility: In certain situations, you can reverse ACH payments and checks. For instance, if you accidentally send an ACH payment to the wrong account, you might be able to get it back. Similarly, you can stop the payment if you lose a check before cashing it. It's like having a safety net in case of a mistake, although getting reversals might not always be guaranteed.
  • Faster Processing: While ACH payments are generally quicker than checks, there are also expedited check processing options. Some banks offer same-day check clearing for an additional fee. However, these faster options typically come at a premium, so weighing the cost against the benefit is essential.

As we've covered the basics, let's explore when ACH takes the lead and why it might be the MVP for your transactions.

When to Choose ACH Payments?

So, we've unpacked the similarities and differences to fire up the ACH vs. check debate. But when does using ACH payments make the most sense for your business? Let's see different scenarios where ACH payments fit well with your business's rising needs.

  1. ACH payments for high-volume transactions

Do you run an online store or a subscription service that handles many transactions? ACH payments are your best friend for high-volume transactions. They're fast, efficient, and easily automated. Suppose your store has a huge customer traffic. How will you process the payments? Is writing and mailing checks feasible? With ACH electronic transfer, handling payments is easy, saving you hours of hard work compared to the slow, manual process of check payments.  

  1. ACH payments for recurring transactions

ACH is the best option for recurring payments like monthly subscriptions or gym memberships. You can set up automatic transfers, so you don't have to worry about manually sending or tracking payments each month. This ensures a smooth flow of income for your business and eliminates the risk of missed payments for your customers. Think of it like having a loyal customer on autopay – you get paid on time, every time, with no extra effort!

  1. Automate B2B payments with ACH

Does your company have a steady line of vendors and suppliers? Do you need help managing their payments? ACH is your ultimate solution! Instead of periodically writing checks for each one, you can set up automatic ACH transfers for timely payments. This can drive meaningful relationships with vendors and suppliers.

  1. Simplify invoicing with ACH payment.s

Does your business get many invoices? Do you want to simplify the process of handling them? Include your ACH payment information on invoices, enabling customers to pay electronically with just a few taps and clicks. This eliminates the need for customers to mail checks and reduces the risk of lost or delayed payments. By offering them a convenient payment option, you can turn customers into repeat buyers, thus adding more value to the company. 

  1. Integrating ACH with Mobile Payments

Are you seeing a shift from credit/debit card payments to mobile payments? Have you started accepting mobile payments? If so, it’s time to integrate ACH within your app. This allows customers to pay directly from their bank accounts using their smartphones, offering a convenient and secure payment option on the go.  

By understanding these specific accounts payable and accounts receivable scenarios, you can leverage ACH payments' strengths to improve your business's cash flow, streamline operations, and enhance the customer experience. Enhance your high-volume and recurring transaction capabilities with Tratta, making payment processes effortless and secure.

But wait, don't write off checks just yet! They still have their time and place. Let's explore when sticking to the classics might be in your best interest. 

When to Opt for Check Payments?

In the age of digital payments, you might wonder if checks are still in use. While ACH payments are rapidly gaining ground, the popularity of checks has not diminished in the financial world. Let's explore some scenarios where checks can be a good choice for your business or personal transactions:

  1. Giving a check exudes professionalism.

A direct bank transfer is favorable in many cases involving customers, vendors, and employees. But consider a situation where you visit an orphanage and decide to donate a large sum of money. Isn’t saying you will transfer the donation to their accounts improper? In such professional settings, checks might convey a sense of formality or tradition. If you're donating to a charity or paying for a high-end service like legal fees, a check can add a touch of seriousness to the transaction.

  1. Checks are perfect for those having no access to online payment options. 

While Gen Z and millennials were born and raised in the laps of digital innovation and online banking, older generations may not have access to such luxuries. If your business caters to people who prefer traditional payment methods, including them is desirable. Checks offer a familiar and reliable way to send or receive payments. This can be especially relevant when dealing with older generations or people in rural areas with limited internet access.

  1. Checks offer enhanced security for bulk orders.

Some businesses prefer the security of a paper check for large purchases. Suppose a contractor is bidding on a huge construction project. The bid requires a deposit to secure the contract. The contractor might prefer a check to ensure all the details and approvals are clear before the project owner transfers a significant amount of money. This provides a paper trail and a transparent transaction record for both parties involved. 

  1. Opt for check payments for added comfort and versatility.

Let's face it: some people are old-school and wish to stick to their traditional ways of paying and collecting payments. So, they simply prefer the comfort and familiarity of checks. They might enjoy the record-keeping aspect of having a physical copy of the transaction or be uncomfortable using online payment methods. Sticking to checks is fine if that works best for you.

While ACH payments offer speed and convenience, checks can still be a practical and secure option in certain situations. The key is to choose the payment method that best suits your needs and preferences. Think of it like having a toolbox with different tools – sometimes a hammer (ACH) is the right choice, but other times a screwdriver (check) might be the better fit for the job.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed by how to bring ACH and checks into your business? No sweat—let's break down how to integrate these payment methods seamlessly into your operations.

How to Implement ACH and Check Payments in Business?

So, you've explored the world of ACH vs. check payments, but now you're wondering: How do I use them in my business? ACH and checks have pros and cons, so weigh them carefully. There is no right or wrong answer. It all melts down to your business standing and the value you wish to offer your clients and customers. But no worries—we'll guide you in choosing between the two!

Understand Your Needs

The first step is determining which payment method best suits your business and customers. Think about the types of transactions you handle. Do you deal with a lot of recurring payments, like subscriptions? ACH might be the way to go. Or you can make high-value sales where customers prefer the formality of a check. There's no one-size-fits-all answer, so consider the advantages and disadvantages of ACH vs. check for your specific situation.

Find the Perfect Payment Partner

Once you know what payment methods you want to offer, it's time to find a payment processor. Think of them as your financial teammates, helping you handle all the nitty-gritty details of accepting payments. Look for a processor that offers ACH and check options to give your customers flexibility. Here are some questions to consider when choosing a processor:

  • Fees: Compare processing fees for both ACH and check payments. Some processors might have different fees depending on the transaction volume.
  • Integration: Does the processor integrate easily with your existing accounting software or online store? A smooth integration saves you time and ensures all your financial data is in one place.
  • Security: Make sure the processor prioritizes security and uses industry-standard encryption to protect your business and customers' information.

The Automation Advantage

Here's where things get exciting – automation! Many payment processors offer tools to automate tasks associated with ACH and check payments. For example, you can set up automatic recurring ACH payments for subscriptions or generate electronic reports to track check transactions. This frees you from manual work and lets you focus on running your business.

Are you thinking green? Here’s a hidden benefit of ACH payments: For businesses looking to minimize their environmental footprint, ACH offers a clear advantage over paper checks, which require production, transportation, and disposal of physical materials.

Ultimately, the best way to implement ACH and check payments depends on your unique business needs. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each method, choosing the suitable payment processor, and embracing automation, you can create a smooth and efficient payment system that keeps your customers happy and your business thriving. Remember, it's not about completely ditching checks or ignoring ACH – it's about finding the perfect balance for your situation!

So, we've ventured through the ins and outs of ACH and checks. Are you ready for the grand takeaway that might claim the top spot for your transactions? Let's wrap this up.

Conclusion: Deciding on the Best Payment Method

Did you get an idea of how to implement ACH and check payment options in your business? The truth is, there's no single winner in the ACH vs. check battle. The best payment method depends on your unique needs.

Here's a quick recap:

  • Need speed and convenience? ACH is your champion! It's fast, easy to set up, and often has lower fees than checks. Also, security features are constantly improving.
  • Is security a top priority? Both ACH and checks offer good security measures.  However, ACH transactions happen electronically, which can minimize the risk of lost or stolen checks.
  • Is cost a significant factor? ACH payments are generally more cost-effective than checks, especially for businesses that handle a high volume of transactions.

While checks aren't going extinct overnight, the world is moving towards electronic payments. ACH offers clear advantages in terms of speed, security, and cost-effectiveness. Checks can still be a practical choice for high-value transactions where a paper trail is preferred or for those who lack access to online banking or mobile payment options. Ultimately, the best approach might be to offer both ACH and checks, giving your customers the flexibility to choose the payment method that works best for them.

The world of electronic payments is constantly evolving, with innovations like blockchain and instant payments on the horizon. Staying informed about these trends can help businesses prepare for a future filled with faster and more secure payment options.

Ready to Update Your Business? Consider incorporating Tratta into your system. Tratta’s user-friendly platform makes it easy to get started with collecting payments for your business. Explore your options with Tratta and see how self-serve payments can revolutionize how you manage your business finances!

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