Best Electronic Check Payment Services

Do you want to expand the payment options your business accepts? Select an electronic check payment service to make check payments easier for customers.

There was a time when using paper was commonplace. People used paper to perform all sorts of tasks, from record keeping to invoicing. However, that time has passed for most U.S. residents, as well as many residents of other countries. Technology has made digital payment options far more appealing. Everyone can now make quick payments to various retailers, utility companies, and other businesses from any location around the world. All it takes is a computer, cellphone, or other device with online access.

There are several ways to make online payments. A popular option is to pay for goods or services using credit or debit cards. Paying with electronic checks is also a common choice. If you own a business, offering such services is practically essential. It can help keep your customers happy and coming back in the future. Here is an overview of how the process works and how electronic checks compare to their paper counterparts.

What Does an Electronic Check Payment Service Do?

An electronic check payment service eliminates the need to write a paper check. It also eliminates the need to waste postage, envelopes, or time mailing a check to a payee. Instead, a customer only needs to fill out an online form. Then check processing procedures begin immediately.

When a customer writes a paper check, he or she must include certain information, such as the payee, date, and amount being paid. The customer must also sign the check to validate it. An electronic check payment service provides an online form where he or she can fill in required information. The electronic check service also records relevant identifying information for processing purposes, such as bank routing numbers.

How Does an Electronic Check Payment Service Work?

Electronic check payment services utilize an automated clearing house (ACH) network. The ACH network provides nationwide digital fund transfer services of various sorts. The National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA) controls and runs the ACH. Its purpose is to allow easy fund transfers between bank accounts, specifically. Doing so bypasses the need to use wire transfers or transfer funds using credit card networks. The ACH allows direct deposits and direct payments via electronic checks and other methods for many different purposes. Some of them include:

  • Business Payroll Processing

  • Government Tax Refund Payments

  • Various Domestic and International Business Transactions

  • Funds Transfers by Private Citizens to Family Members or Friends

  • Payments for Individual Goods or Services

What Are Some Benefits of Using Electronic Check Payment Services?

Paying with electronic checks benefits businesses and individuals in multiple ways. For example, processing eCheck payments is typically cheaper for business owners than processing credit card payments. Accepting eChecks also makes businesses more appealing to many consumers. Therefore, it can increase sales. Consumers can benefit from eChecks because they are faster and easier to fill out than paper checks. Consumers who use eChecks may also prefer to do so because it is a more environmentally-friendly option than wasting paper.

Another major benefit of eChecks is a higher degree of security. Paper checks are easily stolen. They are also easy to misplace or damage. Criminals can also easily write fraudulent checks without being caught immediately. Paying electronically online eliminates or limits many of those hazards. Electronic payments are also often easier when individuals suffer from arthritis or other ailments that make writing paper checks difficult. However, one of the biggest benefits by far of online check processing is security. Many security measures are used to protect funds transfers online, such as:

  • Encryption

  • Authentication

  • Digital Signatures

  • Duplicate Detection

  • Secure Communication Certification

What Are Some of the Best Online Electronic Check Payment Services to Use?

Selecting an electronic check payment service requires understanding your needs as a business owner and the needs of your clients. You must select a service that meets those needs. The various apps and software programs that facilitate electronic check payments and other fund transfers all have specific specializations. For example, some are better for transactions involving small businesses. Others are designed to benefit customers and owners of larger business establishments. Here are some top options:

  • PaymentCloud specializes in providing ACH network access for high-risk businesses. It features extra charge back protection options for such business owners. PaymentCloud also offers a choice of payment gateways and quick 48-hour setup. 

  • Stax is a payment processing service that caters best to larger businesses. Its subscription service allows the processing of a large volume of transactions per month with few unanticipated fees.

  • National Processing is excellent for small businesses with tight budgets. It includes electronic check processing services, as well as point-of-sale (POS) and virtual terminal options. However, the ACH service does cost an additional fee.

  • Stripe provides simple flat rate pricing and support for international business transactions. It is a multi-feature platform that also includes integration of multiple payment methods and currencies. As of 2022, over 135 payment methods and currencies are processable on the platform. 

  • Helcim provides services in the United States and Canada. Its full-service business accounts include such features as online invoicing and credit card processing options.

What Fees and Other Costs Are There to Use Electronic Check Payment Services?

Electronic check payment services often include various fees. Some are charged based on back-end processor fees. Therefore, they are not always predictable. Some services, such as PaymentCloud also do not initially disclose fees. In some cases, negotiations and business-specific calculations are required. However, many other services offer somewhat predictable setup and usage fees. For example, National Processing charges 

business owners $15 monthly service fees and $25 initial setup fees. Transaction and returned payment fees also apply on some platforms, as do extra fees for added services like credit card processing.

How Long Does Processing Electronic Checks Take Versus Processing Paper Checks?

A final thing to keep in mind is the processing time for paper checks versus eChecks. The length of time it takes to process a paper check varies. Two to three business days is most common. However, the process can take much longer under certain circumstances, such as if the check is for a large amount or a different U.S. state from the one in which it is being processed. The individual policies of each bank also alter check processing times. Processing times for eChecks are equally unpredictable at times. Verification usually takes up to 48 hours. However, the entire processing time from start to finish can take as long as six business days.