ACH vs. Wire Transfer:
A Guide for Yacht Charter Brokers
Jan 11, 2024
In the world of yacht charters, seamless and secure transactions are crucial. Choosing the right method for your business needs requires understanding the differences between ACH transfers and wire transfers.
Wire and ACH transfers are both electronic methods used to transfer funds between banks.
A “wire” transfer is a payment initiated and settled through FedWire, the electronic funds transfer service operated and maintained by the Federal Reserve Bank.* Processed on an individual basis in real time, the recipient is usually able to use wired funds immediately. Wire transfers are final and cannot be reversed through FedWire by the sender’s bank under any circumstances.
An “ACH” transfer is a payment initiated and settled using the ACH Network, the payment network operated and maintained by Nacha.** Unlike wires, ACH transfers are typically processed through the ACH Network by the sender’s bank in batches. Depending on the circumstances, funds may take up to 6 days to be credited to the recipient’s bank account. The sender’s bank can reverse ACH transfers over the ACH Network under certain circumstances without the recipient bank’s authorization.***
What's the Difference?
Typically credited to the recipient’s account as soon as the wire is processed by the recipient’s bank (typically within a few hours).
Between a few hours to 5 business days.
Credits (sender push): 1-2 business days.
Debits (receiver pulls): 2-3 business days.
$20 to $65 (charged to sender) and $20 to $40 (charged to recipient).
Zero to $10 (depending on bank and transfer type, charged to sender by sender’s bank).
Extremely secure (processed individually, usually requires a phone call, multiple security checks, etc.).
ACH Credit: very secure (sender initiates & must have access to sender’s account).
ACH Debit: moderately secure (needed vigilance when disclosing recipient information).
Not reversable by sender - even if the amount or the account number of the recipient is incorrect.
Sender has up to 60 days to attempt to initiate an ACH transfer reversal.
No limits, but wires over $10,000 may require additional security depending on the bank.
Between $3000 and $25,000 per day, depending on the sending bank’s ACH policies, although account holders may request exceptions for amounts that exceed typical daily limits.
None. Recipient must contact sender to confirm receipt.
None. Recipient must contact sender to confirm receipt.
None. Sender must initiate each transfer manually. Transfer does not contain any transaction information.
Both sender and recipient may set up recurring ACH transfers; but, unless the recipient uses a payment processor, transfers do not contain transaction information.
Pros and Cons for Charterers and Charter Professionals
Wire transfers and ACH transfers are both considered to be secure, reliable payment methods but each have their advantages and disadvantages, both for charterers and for charter professionals.
Very fast settlement both for both sender and recipient.
Irreversible: Transactions final, unjustified reversals prevented.
Can usually send unlimited amounts.
Irreversible: charterers can’t get their money back if they send the wrong amount or send funds to the wrong account, or if the charter did not meet their expectations.
Expensive (for charterer and charter broker).
Time-consuming and anxiety-inducing for charterer: most consumers aren’t used to sending wires nor willing to visit their bank for payments.
No automation; no electronic “paper trail” with transaction information, confirmations, etc., unless the broker works with a payment processor to accept wires.
Broker must expose bank account and routing information to charterer, unless the broker works with a payment processor to accept wires.
Much less expensive than a wire transfer.
More automation options available than with wire transfers - senders can pre-authorize ACH debits for future payments.
Consumer familiarity with ACH transfers (Direct deposit, bill payment, etc.).
Easily supported by electronic payment processors .
Slower settlement times, but settlement can be faster if broker works with a payment processor.
Transaction amounts may be limited; however, banks will typically waive the limits if the charterer contacts them in advance of the payment or when using a trusted payment processor.
Less secure: charterer must expose bank account and routing number to broker, unless the broker works with a payment processor.
No electronic paper trail with transaction information, confirmations, etc.; unless the broker works with a payment processor.
Choosing the Right Options:
The best payment method options for your yacht charter business depends on your specific needs and preferences, as well as the preferences of your charter clients. By understanding the differences between ACH and wire transfers, you can hopefully make more informed decisions and ensure a smooth and secure payment experience for your clients. Whether you choose to accept wire transfers or ACH transfers as payment methods, both options can be greatly improved if you work with a payment processor.
Contact Yachtly to find out more about how you can maintain the integrity and security of your charter payments and save time by offering more payment method choices to your charter clients.
* Fun Fact: to be able to access and use the Fedwire system, all banks must maintain a bank account with the Federal Reserve Bank. These accounts are known as “Master Accounts”. All wire transfers consist of transfers from the Master Account of the sender’s bank to the Master Account of the recipient’s bank. Americans processed 106 trillion dollars using Fedwire in 2022.
** Fun Fact: “ACH” stands for “Automated Clearing House.” Nacha (formerly known as the “National Automated Clearinghouse Association”) is a private, not-for-profit organization made up of member banks that sets the rules and standards for ACH transactions. Americans sent 76.7 trillion dollars using the ACH Network in 2022. Unlike Fedwire, Nacha is not involved in processing ACH payments. Instead, Nacha delegates coordination of ACH payment reconciliation to the Federal Reserve (“FedACH”) and to the Clearinghouse Payments Company, known as “ACH Operators”.
*** Fun Fact: Ultimately, all ACH transactions are settled through the Federal Reserve system by transferring funds from the sending bank’s Master Account to the recipient bank’s Master Account.
**** Fun Fact: Banks must submit wires before Fedwire’s daily deadline (the “Fed Window”) for the funds to be immediately available in the recipient’s account. Each bank determines the deadline for submission of wire requests from account holders according to its risk management policies on its own.
***** Fun Fact: Applies to consumers only. Businesses only have 48 hours to reverse an ACH payment. Consumers must provide reason for reversal in writing, but recipients can dispute the reversal by providing evidence that the transfer was authorized.
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