Navigating the vast landscape of payment processors can be a daunting task, especially for small businesses seeking the perfect ACH payment solution.
In an ever-evolving digital world, where streamlined and secure transactions are paramount, finding the right payment processor becomes essential for driving growth and success. Fortunately, a handful of standout players have proven their mettle in catering to the needs of small enterprises, namely Square, Helcim, National Processing, Stripe and PaymentCloud.
Each one sets itself apart from the other with unique benefits. For starters, Square is suited for new businesses on a budget, while Helcim offers some of the most competitive transaction fees in the industry. Then there’s National Processing that’s also a cost-effective option for the long term, and Stripe for e-commerce businesses. Lastly, PaymentCloud is likely the best bet for anyone running a high-risk business.
Best ACH Payment Processing for Small Business Comparison Chart
Best for start-ups.
Arguably, Square is the best for fledgling businesses. First off, it should be cleared up that ACH payments are only available via Square Invoices, but the good news is it’s free. In the same vein, it only costs one percent and a minimum of $1 for every transaction, and while there’s no cap, there isn’t any penalty for failed payments.
Also, its basic plan starts at $0 a month, and there isn’t a setup fee either, making it a cost-effective ACH payment processor for new businesses. What’s more, its Plus tier costs only $20 per month, and it includes a wide range of features such as creating milestone-based payment schedules, sending batches of invoices and customizing invoice layouts.
Best for low ACH transaction fees.
Based on the cost of its services, it’s safe to say that Helcim takes competitive pricing seriously. For one thing, there’s no monthly fee at all, and there isn’t even a setup fee either. More importantly, it uses an interchange-plus structure with a relatively low markup.
To be clear, it charges 0.5 percent and $0.25 for every ACH transaction. However, there’s a caveat: there’s no cap. That means it’s not the best for payments involving huge sums of money. For instance, a transaction of $10,000 will cost $50.25. Needless to say, that isn’t exactly ideal for businesses that need to process large payments. On top of that, it costs $5 for each returned or rejected transfer—in its defense, that’s pretty small compared to what other counterparts charge.
Best affordable, long-term solution.
With National Processing, businesses will pay a $15 monthly fee and a $25 setup fee, and returned and rejected ACH payments will cost $3.50 and $15, respectively. Also, there’s a lock-in period of at least two years in most cases, and early termination fees can cost $495 or $595, depending on which of the two banks it uses that a client gets associated with.
That may not seem like the most appealing option, but that said, its transaction fees start at 0 percent and tops out at 1.5 percent plus $0.48. It goes without saying that that could save a lot of cash in the long run. In other words, it’s an economical solution for businesses looking for something long term, despite the initial payments and costly risks.
Best e-commerce payment processing.
Not only is Stripe the go-to for e-commerce businesses, but it also throws in ACH processing with its most basic plan. Speaking of which, its entry-level subscription doesn’t have a monthly fee, meaning it’s easy on the budget.
What makes it really stand out, though, is its low 0.8 percent fee coupled with a $5 cap. In short, it’s suitable for large transactions as well. Then there’s its integration with hundreds of apps and dev-friendly platform, which allows businesses to customize their checkouts.
If there’s anything to complain about, it’s that it charges $15 for each disputed ACH payment and $4 for every failed transaction. Also, it doesn’t cater to high-risk businesses.
Best for high-risk businesses.
In the ACH payment processing scene, PaymentCloud makes itself distinct by touting itself as the solution for high-risk businesses, and for good reason.
It works with more than 20 banks, and it’ll find the right one among its many partners to set a business up with depending on its industry. This is perfect for enterprises dealing with adult content and services, firearms, tobacco and anything else along those lines that are looking for ACH processing services.
However, it doesn’t outright state how much it’ll charge clients, who will have to get in touch with the company to get a quote first. Moreover, the rates largely depend on the nature of the business—put differently, the riskier, the pricier.
What is an ACH transfer?
An ACH transfer, short for Automated Clearing House transfer, is a secure and electronic method of moving money between bank accounts within the United States. It enables businesses and individuals to transfer funds from one bank account to another through the ACH network, a system managed by the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA).
Unlike traditional paper checks, ACH transfers offer a more efficient and cost-effective way to handle transactions. They eliminate the need for physical checks, reducing processing time and minimizing the risk of lost or stolen payments. Also, they are commonly used for various financial transactions, such as direct deposits, bill payments, vendor payments and online purchases.
What are the benefits of using ACH payment processors?
Cost-Effective Transactions: ACH payments are significantly more affordable than traditional payment methods, such as credit cards or paper checks. Processing ACH transactions incurs lower fees, making it an economical choice for businesses, especially those with a high volume of recurring transactions.
Faster Fund Transfers: ACH payments facilitate faster fund transfers compared to paper checks, which can take days to clear. With ACH, businesses can enjoy quicker access to funds, leading to improved cash flow and better financial planning.
Enhanced Cash Flow Management: Predictable payment schedules and automated recurring billing options enable businesses to manage their cash flow more efficiently. This predictability helps in planning expenses, allocating resources and meeting financial obligations promptly.
Reduced Risk of Fraud: ACH payment processors implement robust security measures, including encryption and authentication protocols, to safeguard transactions and sensitive financial information. This reduces the risk of fraudulent activities and unauthorized access to accounts.
Streamlined Payment Processing: ACH payment processors automate payment processes, eliminating the need for manual intervention and reducing administrative burdens. This streamlined approach saves time and resources, allowing businesses to focus on core operations.
Increased Payment Security: ACH payments use secure networks and adhere to strict compliance standards set by regulatory authorities. The encrypted data transmission and authentication procedures ensure a high level of security, protecting both businesses and their customers from potential data breaches.
Customer Convenience: ACH payments offer customers a convenient payment option, allowing them to authorize recurring payments, set up automatic bill payments or make one-time transactions with ease. This convenience enhances customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Simplified Recurring Billing: For businesses offering subscription-based services or recurring billing, ACH payment processors simplify the process of collecting payments on a regular basis. This ensures a consistent revenue stream and reduces the risk of payment delays.
Integration and Automation Capabilities: ACH payment processors often integrate seamlessly with accounting software and other business management tools. This automation minimizes manual data entry, improves accuracy and optimizes the overall payment process.
Broader Customer Reach: ACH payments are not limited to credit card holders, and they can be initiated from any U.S. bank account. This inclusivity expands the potential customer base, accommodating those who prefer or are limited to bank account-based payments.
Environmentally Friendly: By reducing reliance on paper checks, ACH payments contribute to environmental sustainability. Going paperless helps businesses reduce their carbon footprint and support eco-friendly initiatives.
To sum things up, Square is an excellent pick for start-ups because of its low transaction fees, not to mention that there are no fees for failed payments. On the other hand, Helcim is affordable with its interchangeable-plus pricing structure, while National Processing differentiates itself with its transaction fee that starts at 0 percent plus $0.48.
For e-commerce businesses, Stripe is arguably the obvious choice, owing to its wide integration support and dev-friendly platform. Last but not least, PaymentCloud is likely the best option for certain businesses. After all, it has a reputation for taking its chances with high-risk enterprises.