Best ACH Transfer Brokers 2024

An ACH transfer is a bank-to-bank transaction conducted through the Automated Clearing House (ACH) network. This review will cover typical processing times, how to complete a deposit to a live trading account, and standard fees. We also touch on the payment method vs alternatives such as credit/debit cards and electronic bank wire transfers. See our list of trading brokers that accept ACH transfer deposits to get started today.

ACH Transfer Brokers

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    Interactive Brokers (IBKR) is a premier brokerage for experienced traders, providing access to 150 markets in 33 countries, along with a suite of comprehensive investment services. With over 40 years of experience, this Nasdaq-listed firm adheres to stringent regulations by the SEC, FCA, CIRO, and SFC, amongst others, and is one of the most trusted brokers for trading around the globe.

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    NinjaTrader is a US-headquartered and regulated brokerage that specializes in futures trading. There are three pricing plans to suit different needs and budgets, as well as ultra-low margins on popular contracts. The brand's award-winning charting software and trading platform also offers a high-degree of customization and superb technical analysis features.

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    Uphold is a digital asset platform offering a range of services, from crypto trading and staking to payment cards that provides rewards and easy multi-currency payments. The company was established in 2015 and has enabled $4+ billion in transactions. Uphold is now active in 180+ countries and deals in 200+ crypto and fiat currencies.

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    Firstrade is a US-headquartered discount broker-dealer with authorization from the SEC. The company is also a member of FINRA/SIPC. With welcome bonuses, powerful tools and apps, plus commission-free trading, Firstrade Securities is a popular online brokerage. It is also quick and easy to open a new account.

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    Gemini is a crypto exchange offering 90+ cryptocurrencies, a native stablecoin and derivative trading via perpetual swaps. The two proprietary platforms will suit beginners and experienced traders, execution is fast with low slippage and fees are competitive.

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    Zacks Trade is a FINRA-regulated US broker offering trading on stocks, ETFs, cryptocurrencies, bonds and more through a proprietary terminal. The broker is geared toward active traders and offers very affordable fees on most assets as well as an app and a vast amount of market data.

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    Coinbase is a leading cryptocurrency exchange that provides access to 18,000+ crypto assets that can be traded on the marketplace, stored in a wallet or borrowed via the brand's DeFi function. The US-based firm has over 10 million clients and offers educational support to individual traders and tailor-made derivative products for businesses.

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    Binance is one of the best-known crypto exchanges. The company is available in more than 180 countries with over 120 million registered customers. The platform offers a suite of crypto trading products, from staking and NFTs to derivatives.

What is an ACH Transfer?

An ACH transfer, meaning Automated Clearing House, is an electronic money transfer between banks. Payment processing via the network has existed since the 1970s with banks accepting ACH transfers now including Union Bank, HSBC, and Citibank. Today, UK investors use ACH transfers to fund live trading accounts, as well as paying for rent, direct deposits or receiving monthly salary payments. ACH cleared a combined transaction value of more than $72 trillion in 2021, an increase of over 17% vs 2020.

Importantly, an ACH transfer is a popular payment solution in the trading world thanks to its speed and reliability. Online brokers that accept the payment method include Interactive Brokers and Binance, although the network is primarily available to global traders with a US bank account.

How ACH Transfers Work

Payments are made via the ACH system, rather than going through card networks such as Visa or Mastercard. NACHA is the organisation responsible for executing the transfers and they require full adherence to transaction protocols. Failure to supply essential ACH information will result in an electronic payment being rejected.

An ACH transaction entails a data file containing information about the requested payment. Processing a transaction consists of sending that file to the originator’s bank. It is processed via the clearing house and is then auto-delivered to the recipient’s bank. If all information is correct, the funds are transferred to the receiving account in a few days. We outline how this works in practice and what is required for a successful transfer of funds:

Required Information

  • Name
  • Account Number
  • Transaction Amount
  • Routing/ABA Number
  • Business or personal account acknowledgement

ACH Transfer takes how long

Types of Payment

To initiate an ACH transfer, you will need to distinguish between an ACH Credit or an ACH Debit payment. ACH Credit is typically used to pay bills or to pay for services. The customer would give authority to a financial institution to send a payment to a payee, such as for a gym membership or a paying a car loan.

On the other hand, an ACH Debit involves individuals establishing transactions with the payee. In this situation, you provide your payment details such as an account number to the payee each time you want to make a transaction.

Fees

ACH transfers offer low transaction costs vs credit card or wire transfer payments. Credit card transactions typically incur an average cost of 2-4% of the payment amount and wire transactions may cost up to £10 per transaction. Capital One, for example, has a non-sterling charge for all payments made in a currency other than GBP. At the time of writing this was 2.75% of the transaction value.

You will typically pay a flat fee for ACH transfers ranging from £0.20 to £1.50 per transaction. Citibank supports free inter-institution transfers meaning you can actually make free online transfers between your Citibank account and your accounts at other banks, brokerages and credit unions.

Note, some banks may charge an additional fee if the transfer is being sent to a different bank or for faster processing times. Bank of America, for example, charges a £10 fee for next business day transfers.

Person-to-person payments initiated through your bank or a third-party app, such as Revolut, Zelle or Venmo, may also incur a small cost, depending on the platform. Fortunately, our review found many global brokers accept ACH transfer deposits free of charge, including Oanda.

Speed

Sending and receiving ACH transfers is relatively quick. Nevertheless, it is not an instant payment solution like bank wire transfers. The transfer of funds from one bank to another via the ACH network generally happens the following day. NACHA operating rules require that credits settle in 1 to 2 business days and that debits settle the next business day.

We would recommend allowing 3 days for an ACH deposit to be available in your trading account. Bank of America, for example, states that funds will be debited from an account on the same business day the request is initiated and will typically be credited to the receiving account on the third business day.

It is important to note that processing only occurs during working hours only. So, if you send a trading account deposit request on a Friday, you will need to factor in the weekend days plus the standard 3-day processing time before funds will normally be available.

The time of the day you submit the ACH transfer form to your bank is also important. Keep a close eye on status updates as the process may be delayed or declined if the correct details are not provided or an error occurs. Fortunately, tracking an ACH transfer is easy, though it can only be carried out by a registered bank. Each transaction has a trace ID number, one for the source and one for the final destination. Provide these details to your bank’s customer service team and they should be able to provide a live status update.

Security

ACH transfers are secure. As they are processed through credible banks, the risk of personal details being received by unauthorised parties is significantly reduced. Nevertheless, we would always recommend trading with an established broker with reputable regulatory oversight and initiating transfers through a well-known bank. Selecting trading institutions with access to compensation schemes and monetary insurance should also provide peace of mind.

Note, even if an electronic fund transfer is made from your account to someone else without verification, you can avoid liability for the payment if you notify your bank or credit union within a set time frame. This varies by bank.

How to Make an ACH Transfer

To make an ACH transfer, you will first need to check that your online broker supports it as a payment method. It is normally integrated via API so all required details will be available within your brokerage’s platform. Visit the broker’s deposit and withdrawal section or contact customer service for full details. The best platforms provide payment method details by country of residency and depositing currency.

Importantly, the process will be completed in the account funding section of your broker’s platform. There are two corresponding banks involved in the transaction; the Originating Financial Depository Institution (ODFI) and the Receiving Financial Depository Institution (RDFI). As the originator, you will be required to send a full data form of the desired transaction to your bank. This is called the ODFI, which stands for the Originating Depository Financial Institution. These files include the broker’s name, routing number and transaction type. Below is an example:

  • An investor initiates a £200 trading account deposit to their banking institution via an OFDI
  • Transaction details are requested by the bank. This includes the deposit value and routing number
  • The OFDI will debit the investor’s account
  • Occurring 3 times per day, the OFDI aggregates the ACH files and sends them to the ACH network (The Federal Reserve)
  • The Federal Reserve then organises all ACH files and routes them to the receiver’s bank (the RDFI)
  • The RDFI processes the ACH files and credits the investor’s account with £200

Benefits of ACH Transfers

  • Inexpensive – Many brokers offer ACH transfers as a free payment method. Any third-party charges, if any, are often minimal (average £1)
  • Convenient – Regular payments to your trading account using an electronic ACH payment may be easier and less time-consuming than vs credit/debit card or cheque payments. Depending on the time of initiation, sending and receiving ACH transfers can be relatively quick
  • Reversible – Account holders and merchants who experience issues with ACH payments can stop or reverse transfers under some circumstances. This is a significant advantage vs wire transfers which are usually irreversible due to their instant nature. The length of reversal requests typically ranges from 5 to 60 working days of the settlement date
  • Secure – ACH transfers are a relatively safe option for senders as they use the NACHA network. As transfers are not directly handled by humans, security risks are reduced. There are also extensive fraud prevention controls and user verification in place. Still, as with any e-transfer, be cautious of scams and ensure you utilise the services of a reputable brokerage and bank

Drawbacks of ACH Transfers

  • Transaction Limits – Most banks that initiate an ACH transfer will implement daily, weekly or monthly maximum transfer amount limits. Union Bank, for example, has a £1,500 daily transfer limit to external bank accounts. This is restrictive when it comes to trading larger volumes
  • Not Common For UK Investors – Not all brokers or banks offer ACH payments for UK traders. Your bank probably won’t allow consumer ACH transfers to banks outside the U.S. Interactive Brokers, for example, only provides the payment method for US investors depositing funds in the USD
  • UK Traders Will Need A US Bank Account – As ACH is not a universally global payment method, UK traders will need to open a bank account with a compatible US institution to facilitate trading. Alternatively, make use of local clearing house processing such as the BACS system in the UK
  • Payments Not Processed Over The Weekend – The ACH network does not settle payments on weekends or public holiday dates when the Federal Reserve is closed. This relates to both ACH Credits and Debits. Certain banks will have set time frames that must be observed if you wish your transfer to be processed within a specific duration. If you send money on a Friday or Saturday, for example, processing might not start until the following Monday

ACH Transfer Verdict

As ACH transactions pass through a single clearing house without various intermediate steps, they tend to offer lower transaction costs, enhanced security and are more convenient than many payment methods. Nevertheless, for UK investors, the requirements to hold a US bank account may be a deterrent. Instead, it may be easier for UK traders to utilise the BACS clearing network or debit cards.

FAQ

What Is An ACH Transfer Form?

An ACH authorisation form is a legal agreement that outlines the payment terms between a payer and receiver. It is required to initiate a transaction and holds details such as the payment value, routing number and recipient name.

Can I Make An ACH Transfer To Another Person And How Long Does It Take?

Yes – you can use an ACH transfer to send funds to another individual. This can be executed via US banks. Those that offer the service include HSBC USA, Union Bank and the Bank of America. Typically, a standard ACH transfer will take around three working days to be processed.

Can An ACH Transfer Be Reversed?

Because ACH transactions are not processed in real-time like a credit or debit card transaction, they can be returned or rejected after the transaction is initiated. Reasons could include providing an incorrect account number, no payment required anymore or improper account verification details provided.

Is An ACH Transfer Safe?

ACH transfers are a fairly safe and secure payment method. Payments are processed through a clearing house that enforces rules and regulations whilst keeping account numbers confidential. Unlike other payment methods, such as wire transfers and credit card deposits, ACH payments can be reversed.

Are ACH Transfers Accepted Globally?

ACH transfers generally only work for US to US domestic transactions. If you want to send funds abroad through the ACH network, you must do so using an international wire transfer. This includes sending funds from the USA to the UK, India, Canada, Europe, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Jamaica, Egypt and Ghana, for example.