Introducing Professional Services. Learn how we can help accelerate your payments transformation.Learn more →


SWIFT vs. Global ACH

Welcome to Learn, where we provide straightforward, easy-to-understand definitions of the payments industry.

Follow us

(the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) is a network for sending and receiving international wire transfers. (also called International ACH Transfer) is a method for moving money from US-domiciled accounts across borders using local rails. US companies moving money internationally will likely weigh the pros and cons of SWIFT vs. Global ACH when it comes to attributes like speed and cost.

What are the benefits of SWIFT?

Formed in 1973, SWIFT is a well-known and widely-utilized rail for moving money overseas. SWIFT network includes 11,000 member financial institutions and is the most well-established method for sending money internationally. The network does not transfer physical funds—instead, it provides a standardized way to issue payment orders via SWIFT codes.

Primary benefits include:

  • SWIFT is a reliable, well-established rail. SWIFT is a trusted and well-understood method for moving money cross-border, with nearly 50 years in operation.
  • SWIFT’s network is large and coverage is extensive. Offered in 200 countries and territories, with 26 offices around the world, SWIFT is widely available.
  • Settlement is fast. SWIFT payments settle quickly—on average, settlement happens in 1-2 days.

While they offer speedier international transfers, SWIFT transactions are costly: between $20-$50 per transaction. Further, the exact dollar amount received by a SWIFT transfer payee can’t be fully guaranteed, since these transactions often pass through intermediary banks that may also charge a fee for handling the transaction.

Breakdown of SWIFT vs. Global ACH in terms of benefits, limitations, and use cases

Dig deeper into SWIFT vs. Global ACH in this eBook on winning with global payments.

What are the benefits of Global ACH?

Global ACH has recently emerged as an alternative to SWIFT. Run across rails including EFT in Canada, SEPA in Europe, BACS in the UK, and BECS in Australia, Global ACH payments can be settled in local currency using local bank accounts.

Global ACH offers business advantages to both companies looking to streamline existing cross-border payment flows and teams building new global products. Here are the primary benefits:

  • Global ACH costs less. Five to seven times cheaper than SWIFT, on average depending on your bank partner, Global ACH is much less expensive.
  • Payees know precisely how much they’ll receive. With Global ACH, there are no lifting or correspondent fees provided payments are initiated in USD and settled in local currency.
  • Global compliance is managed by the bank. After underwriting by a domestic bank that offers Global ACH, cross-border compliance and security is managed by that bank (not your company).

Global ACH, like every payment method, has limitations. Currently, Global ACH is credit (or push) only. Payments settle more slowly than they do via SWIFT—coverage and support for Global ACH is also more limited.

When is SWIFT a good choice?

There are several instances when moving money via SWIFT makes sense:

  • For companies sending large payments globally. SWIFT is also useful for payments to well-known counterparties (which may be recurring).
  • When a recipient is not sensitive to fees. For large payments, SWIFT fees may feel relatively insubstantial to recipients.
  • When speed is a higher-priority than cost.

When is Global ACH a good choice?

When deciding between SWIFT vs. Global ACH, the latter makes sense in the following instances:

  • For companies performing a high volume of low-value payouts globally.
  • When a recipient may be sensitive to fees. In these cases the reduction or elimination of fees can greatly improve customer satisfaction.
  • When low cost is a higher priority than immediacy.

Try Modern Treasury

See how smooth payment operations can be.

Talk to sales
More from


Learn topic image

ACH (Automated Clearing House) is a payment processing network that’s used to send money electronically between banks in the United States.

ACH APIs enable companies with high transaction volumes to write software that automates payments over the ACH network.

Read more

An ACH credit refers to the process of electronically depositing, or “pushing,” funds into a bank account using ACH.

Read more

In an ACH debit, funds are electronically withdrawn, or “pulled,” from a bank account using ACH.

Read more

A Notification of Change (NOC) is used to notify the sender of an ACH payment to correct or change information related to a customer’s bank account.

Read more

A return is a credit or debit entry initiated by the Receiving Depository Financial Institution (RDFI) that returns a previously originated payment to the Originating Depository Financial Institution (ODFI).

Read more

ACH return codes identify the reason an ACH payment was returned by the recipient's bank. They make it easier to spot and resolve payment failures.

Read more

An ACH reversal refers to an erroneous ACH payment that a payment originator requests to take back, or reverse.

Read more

Credits and debits are two kinds of ACH transactions. Whereas a credit involves depositing, or “pushing,” funds into a bank account, for a debit, funds are withdrawn, or “pulled,” from an account.

Read more

FedACH is the automated clearing house (ACH) service of the Federal Reserve Banks.

Read more

Part of the FedACH system, FedGlobal ACH offers low-cost and efficient cross-border ACH payments.

Read more

The two kinds of financial institutions in the ACH network are ODFIs (Originating Depository Financial Institution) and RDFIs (Receiving Depository Financial Institutions).

Read more

A Standard Entry Class or SEC code is a three letter code that describes how a payment was authorized by the consumer or business receiving an ACH transaction.

Read more

US companies moving money internationally will likely weigh the pros and cons of SWIFT vs. Global ACH when it comes to attributes like speed and cost.

Read more

ACH (Automated Clearing House) is a payment processing network that’s used to send money electronically between banks and financial institutions in the United States.

Read more

An electronic funds transfer (EFT), also known as a direct deposit, is the digital transfer of money between bank accounts. As digital transfers, they reduce the need for manual input and paper documents.

Read more

Global ACH can help companies move money from US-domiciled accounts across borders using local rails. Learn how and when to use this payment rail.

Read more

A Request for Payment (RFP) is an ACH Network message that can be used by businesses to send electronic invoices to their customers.

Read more

Same-Day ACH is an improvement to the ACH network that allows the processing of credit, debit, and return transactions several times a day.

Read more

A pre note or prenotification is a zero dollar payment to validate the account and routing details of a bank account before debiting or crediting it.

Read more

An International ACH Transfer—also known as Global ACH—is an ACH payment made cross-border from a US-domiciled account.

Read more

Subscribe to Journal updates

Discover product features and get primers on the payments industry.




Modern Treasury For

Case Studies





Popular Integrations

© Modern Treasury Corp.