ACH/eCheck

The following information is for ACH-enabled/eCheck Authorize.net users.

ACH stands for Automated Clearing House. Some companies use the term “eCheck” in place of “ACH”. Enabling ACH Allows your customers to pay using their checking accounts (in addition to credit cards). ACH is currently only supported for Authorize.Net, and is limited to US merchants and customers.

Here are the basics to start using ACH with Chargify:

  • You must be a US-based merchant, billing US-based customers (Access to bank accounts is somewhat tied to countries. We hope to have a similar service in other countries in the future.)

  • You must have a Chargify account on our $149/mo plan or higher

  • You must use the Authorize.Net payment gateway.

The most popular gateway among our US merchants is Authorize.Net, and Authorize.Net is also one of the few that has had ACH in place for awhile. So the decision was easy: We chose Authorize.Net for our path to ACH.

  • If you’re already using Chargify with Authorize.Net as your payment gateway, you need to get approved for ACH/eCheck processing through your Authorize.Net account.

  • If you do not have an Authorize.Net account, you can apply for an account below. Approval time varies, but can take a little as 30 minutes!

  • If you want to accept credit cards and ACH, apply here.

  • If you just want ACH, apply here.

ACH/eCheck Email Notifications

If a Customer subscribes to a product on your Site and their initial payment method is ACH, Chargify will send the ACH Authorization Confirmation email, as specified in the ACH/echeck settings.

If a Customer has already subscribed to a product on your Site and their payment changes to ACH, Chargify will send the ACH Authorization Confirmation email, as specified in the ACH/echeck settings.

If for any reason your ACH payment terms are updated, the amount that you charge your customer is updated, etc., Chargify requires the merchant to email the customer to confirm that the terms of the payment via ACH have changed. Chargify will not automatically email your customer an update to confirm this change of amount or facets of the purchase.

ACH/eCheck Settings

From this point forward, we’ll assume that Authorize.Net approved you for ACH/eCheck processing.

  1. In your Chargify Settings, make sure your Payment Gateway is set to Authorize.Net, and that Authorize.Net has approved you for ACH/eCheck processing!

  2. Also in your Chargify Site Settings, enable ACH as a payment option:

Allowing Customer ACH Payments

Once you have your Chargify Site set up for ACH payments, your customers can start paying you from their bank accounts. But how you get their bank info varies with how you sign them up and how well you know them.

ACH guidelines place the responsibility on you, the merchant, to reduce fraudulent or incorrect use of bank account info. It’s your duty to know your customer at least somewhat, to know who they are, and to gain enough trust in them to let them enter bank account info.

Merchants use 1 of 2 basic paths to get their customers into Chargify: Chargify Public Pages, or API calls (where you make your own signup forms).

ACH is handled differently with each path:

  • Chargify Public Pages for Signup and Payment Updates If you are using the Chargify-hosted pages for things like signing up customers and allowing them to update their payment info, then the customer flow works like this: 1) Customer signs up, 2) THEN gets approved by you for ACH, and 3) THEN gives their bank account info.

  • Chargify API / Chargify Direct If you are using your own forms and connecting to our API to sign up customers and update their payment info, then you can sign up new customers with bank info from the start. This is easier for you and for your customers, but it assumes you have a closer relationship with your customers and you trust them to enter their bank account info.

Please note that the Billing Portal does not yet support ACH, regardless of how customers got signed up in Chargify. We will come back to this as we get overall feedback re ACH and how merchants and their customers are using it.

ACH Payment Flow with Chargify Public Pages

If you’re using Chargify Hosted Pages to get your customers signed up and to collect payment info from them, here’s what you’ll do to get them paying via ACH:

  • Your customer signs up for your product using the product’s hosted signup page. They will NOT be able to enter bank account info on that form. So you will need to have them sign up with a credit card OR sign up for a free product OR a paid product that has a free trial period. The point is to get them signed up without any payment info OR with a credit card, which they will later change to ACH.

  • Find your customer in Chargify. You can search by customer or by subscription.

  • Enable ACH for your customer. Here you can see two screenshots: one from the find-by-customer method, and one from the find-by-subscription method. They both work just fine; it’s really just your preference:

  • Send the Update Payment Profile form to your customer. The customer must have a valid credit card on file in order to request an update to their ACH payment method. If there is no payment method on file, requesting to “Email Customer Requesting Payment Update” will only allow them to update their credit card.

  • Your customer receives the email/form and enters their bank account info here:

From that point forward, your customer will pay you via ACH. If there is ever any change to the recurring amount or timing, we will automatically send an email to your customer, telling them of the new arrangement. This is an ACH requirement.

Manually Adding Bank Information

If you have your Subscriber’s bank information, you may add it manually by selecting “Add New Bank Account”

You’ll then have the option of entering all of the data required for the customer’s future ACH payments. First name, last name, bank name, routing number, and account number are required.

ACH Payment Flow with API/Chargify Direct

If you’re using our API or Chargify Direct to get your customers signed up and to collect payment info from them, here’s what you’ll do to get them paying via ACH:

  1. Your customer signs up for your product and enters bank info right then, OR they sign up and then later give you bank info on a separate payment update form (if you do that). Either way, you can submit bank account info to Chargify when you create or update the customer record or payment profile record.

From that point forward, your customer will pay you via ACH. If there is ever any change to the recurring amount or timing, we will automatically send an email to your customer, telling them of the new arrangement.

As mentioned earlier, this is clearly a faster and easier process for you and for your customer, but it comes with the caveat that it’s your responsibility as the merchant to know your customer and to trust them with bank account info.

Bank Account Security vs Easy On-Boarding

You’ll notice that we did not make any system using our hosted pages that allows bank account info to be entered by a brand new customer on a public-facing signup form.

We decided that allowing bank account info to be entered by a brand new customer on a public signup form is too risky. You should not do that, either. Make sure that your user/customer flow is such that you build up some knowledge of your customer and some trust before accepting bank account info from them.

ACH Payment Flow with the Chargify Admin Panel

There is a third path of sorts: As with credit cards, you can enter ACH bank account info directly into your customer’s payment profile in the Chargify admin panel.

This assumes that you already have a customer in Chargify and you need to get their payment info offline, such as over the telephone, via fax, in person, etc.

While this is possible and can help in some special customer support circumstances, that’s all it’s meant for – special customer support circumstances. Unless your organziation is PCI compliant itself, you are not supposed to handle payment info, especially in totally open, unencrypted form, so please do this sparingly or not at all. We know there are sometimes customers who refuse to work any other way.

Multiple Payment Profiles

As part of getting ACH done, we’ve introduced a much nicer way to allow your customers to have multiple Payment Profiles. This usually means multiple credit cards, but that’s not all.

Your customer can have credit cards AND bank account info on file. You or they will simply choose which profile is THE payment method being used.

Here’s an example:

Retries When ACH Payments Fail

ACH guidelines dictate tighter rules for retrying failed ACH payments (versus credit cards). So we created a separate dunning/retry system for ACH payments. You will set up a different retry schedule and emails for customers paying via ACH.

Note that the guidelines do not allow you to try more than 3 times, and after 3 failed attempts, we must forever stop trying to collect on that arrangement. Basically, if your customer cannot pay after 3 tries, you will no longer be able to try – you will need to go back to them and start over on that particular payment plan.

ACH Dunning/Retry Settings:

Emails when Anything Changes

ACH guidelines require you to notify your customer if there is any change to the recurring amount to be taken, or to the date that it will be taken. In other words, any change at all since you last notified them of what to expect.

We also recommend that you turn on the Upcoming Renewal Email in your Site Settings. This is an email we can send (if turned on) to your customers, telling them how much they will be charged, a few days before they are charged.

The point is, bank regulations are all about making sure your customer knows what to expect before any money comes out of his or her account.