Difference Between ACH and SWIFT (With Table)

Transferring money is an indispensable task in our life. Whether one needs to pay or to get paid, it is necessary to look for trustworthy and efficient methods of fund transferring as it involves our hard-earned money.

ACH and SWIFT are two of the most general ways of transferring funds, both of which carry some key differences between them. 


The main difference between ACH and SWIFT is that ACH transfers are convenient for small and medium businesses because this method of electronic fund transfer processing is user-friendly, helps one to pay recurring bills, and is cost-effective as well. Whereas, in SWIFT transfers, it is quite discouraging and inconvenient for both the recipient and payer to use.


On one hand, ACH means the Automated Clearing House network, which includes approximately 10,000 financial institutions. The ACH is used to do transactions such as direct payments, EFTs, etc. Further, it is costlier and cannot be reversed once done.

On another hand, a SWIFT transfer is an electronic payment service used to send money between accounts. This method is used to transfer that money which is for a same-day arrival, but its service comes at a premium rate. It is done between the registered bank account of one country to another bank account in another country.

Comparison Table Between  ACH and SWIFT

Parameters of ComparisonACHSWIFT
MeaningACH is an electronic monetary network that is used to make payments between two financial organizations.SWIFT is an international monetary network used by financial institutions and banking sectors to transfer money from one bank account to another safely and rapidly.
Field of applicationIt transfers funds only within the United States of America.SWIFT can transfer funds from one registered bank account worldwide without having any territorial border limitations.
Speed of fundingIt takes only 3 to 5 business days to transfer the funds from one bank to another and hence, the speed of transfer is low.SWIFT payments are done when payment needs to be safe and rapid, involving no risk factor.
Cost involvedEven though ACH transfers take more time than SWIFT transfers, it is cost-effective, to begin with, and are free of cost for customers.It is a matter of cost, as the financial institutions or banks charge money for transferring such funds.
Risk involvedACH payments are a bit safer as they can be altered if any unforeseen situation occurs.It involves a risk factor as the transfer of money cannot be undone once the receiver has accepted the transfer.
Method ACH doesn’t provide any ID or payment code as such.SWIFT allows a unique identification code to each of its financial institutions

What is ACH?

ACH fund transfers are interbank transfers that are carried out through the Automated Clearing House Network. It is a network of financial institutions, including banks and credit unions that make it easier to process the whole necessary stuff. ACH is under the rules and regulations of the rule-making organization, Nacha. 

ACH is a USA-only network, thus it is not available to customers outside America. To carry out an ACH transfer, funds are requested from the originating bank account and transferred into the receiving bank account. This kind of transfer is generally done into batches and therefore it can have any number of business days ranging between 3-5.

These kinds of transfers are preferable as they are convenient, time-saving and cost-effective, or often cost-free. Some may use it for direct receipt or direct payment. It is viable for recurring payments such as payment for utility bills and payroll. Furthermore, it is also used by small business houses to get rid of paperwork.

What is SWIFT?

A wire transfer is a financial transaction processing in which the sending bank forwards a confirmation message to the recipient’s bank through a safe and secure system, like SWIFT or Fedwire.  The instructions of SWIFT involve the bank account number and ABA bank routing number for the payee receiving the transaction amount.

Every financial institution sets the cutoff time limit for forwarding same business day bank wires. Funds are available within 24 hours after coming to the payee’s bank account destination. 

SWIFT charges money for transactions that are done and therefore it is advisable to transfer a large amount of money in one- go itself to the cross-border customers. Once payment has been wired, there is no chance of reversing the transaction.

Main Differences Between ACH  and SWIFT

  1. NACHA supervises the US-based ACH network whereas CFPB offers some fraud and consumer protection to SWIFT.
  2. SWIFT fund transfers are faster in the process as it takes only 24 hours to complete whereas ACH can take up to 3-5 days to complete the same procedure of fund transfers.
  3. ACH payments are cost-friendly and sometimes free for customers to take the service from whereas SWIFT payments are expensive as it involves the transfer of funds between two banks that may/are situated in two different countries.
  4. ACH payments are more safe and secure as compared to the wire payment or SWIFT which takes place among two different bank accounts. The transactions done in ACH are reversible unlike in SWIFT payments.
  5. One can use SWIFT worldwide irrespective of the place of his/her living but ACH is a US-based network only.
  6. ACH payments are preferable for payments that are performed in bulk.


Money carries a lot of value be it from any nation or sources and therefore several trusted and preferable choices of transacting methods are available in the market. One needs to choose wisely and rationally according to their needs and demands. It is very important to note that SWIFT is one of the most used electronic communications in the world to transfer money irrespective of the place of living.