What is the 'Day Cycle'

A Day Cycle is the time period allotted for the delivery of Automated Clearing House debits and credits from an originator to its processor.


The Day Cycle is also sometimes referred to as daytime window. The typical hours for the ACH to handle transactions are between 8:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

The Automated Clearing House is known as the ACH Network and it operates as the center of commerce in the United States by transferring money and information from bank accounts using Direct Deposit and Direct Payment. ACH transactions include credit and debit transactions, recurring and one-time payments, government, consumer and business-to-business transactions, international payments and payment information. In total, every year, the ACH Network is responsible for handling over $41 trillion and performing 24 billion electronic financial transactions. The large number of transactions that the ACH Network makes has led to it being considered one of the most safe and reliable payment systems in the entire world.

A day cycle is beneficial because the implementation of deadlines for receipt of electronic files from the originator help ensure that the processor will be able to process all transactions in a prompt and efficient manner.

The opposite of the day cycle is the night cycle, which the ACH instituted in 1979 to allow for credit and debit transfers to be completed during the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. Many corporations find the night cycle to be helpful to move funds into concentration accounts so the funds are able to be settled and used the following day.

Example of the Day Cycle

As an example of how the Day Cycle works, an originator must first initiate the financial transaction, either a direct deposit or a payment transaction into the ACH Network. The payment request is entered and transmitted electronically via the Originating Depository Financial Institution. If the request is made between in the morning hours, it will be on the day cycle. The closer to the morning hours the request is made, the more likely it is to be settled by the end of the day cycle at 2 p.m. However, each ACH credit transaction settles in one to two business days, while each debit transaction settles in just one business day per the rules of the ACH Network. The day cycle of the business day will follow the hours set by the network.

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