Check Processing

R33 ACH Return Code: Return of XCK Entry

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Automatic Clearing House (ACH) payments have become increasingly popular over the last few years. A total of 29.1 billion payments, valued at $72.6 trillion, circulated in 2021 alone.[1]NACHA. “ACH Network and Value Statistics.” Accessed April 09, 2022. As businesses become more likely to encounter ACH payments, it’s important to understand the entirety of this payment process. One of the most difficult situations involved in ACH transactions is that of returns. If you’re receiving an ACH return code R33: Return of XCK Entry, follow along to see what is causing it and how you can resolve it.

What is an ACH payment?

First things first, let’s break down what exactly an ACH payment is. The Automated Clearing House (ACH) refers to a payment processing network that operates and is widely popular in the United States. ACH payments are computer-based electronic transfers with no physical transaction involved in the payment process. The ACH network delivers funds electronically between banks and other financial institutions. 

What is an ACH return code?

An ACH return code is a three-character code. The code emerges when the beneficiary’s bank initiates a return of an ACH payment. Each ACH code is unique and signals to merchants the reason why the payment failed. ACH return codes help both banks to identify payment failures and their cause. Additionally, with the help of ACH return codes, financial institutions and banks can communicate any ongoing issues and resolve problems in a timely manner.

ACH return codes consist of three characters: a letter and two numbers. The first character of the code will always be the letter ‘R’ which signals a ‘return’. A two-digit number follows the letter signifying the reason for the return. Return codes are helpful to banks and merchants as they indicate potential payment problems and lay out how to address the dispute with the payment issuer. 


The National Automatic Clearing House Association (NACHA) manages ACH return codes. These codes remain standard across industries, making the process easier for all businesses, banks, and financial institutions involved. NACHA works as a governing body for the entire ACH network. The association designates specific rules to handle each unique ACH return code. This further signifies the importance of these return codes as each one signifies a specific problem and how to solve it. 


Originating Depository Financial Institutions (ODFIs) work as the issuing bank of an ACH payment. This leaves, Receiving Depository Financial Institutions (RDFIs) as the banks that receive an ACH payment. ODFIs initiate ACH returns to RDFIs. Each financial institution remains responsible for addressing ACH return codes. Both banks are required to follow the rules and guidelines designated by NACHA in the process of every return and its specific return code.

A check on the table that could potentially receive an r33 ach return code

What Does ACH Return Code R33 Mean?

Return Code R33 means is a return of an XCK entry. The XCK Standard Entry Class (SEC) refers to a consumer or non-consumer account. It involves a lost, destroyed, or damaged check. This absence of damage to the check makes the check’s identifying image unprocessable. XCK entry is for the use of financial institutions only, not merchants. In the case of return code R33, the RDFI holds sole discretion for the return. An XCK entry remains eligible for return up to 60 days following its Settlement Date. 

Formal definition

The formal definition of ACH return code R33 is “return of XCK Entry.”

Solutions to Fix R33 Return Code

There is nothing to be done for an ACH R33 return code on the merchant level. Reach out to your bank to inquire about details regarding the status of your transfer. If necessary, you may reach out to your customer for an alternative payment option. However, waiting for your banks or financial institutions to resolve the issue is best. You may inform your customer of the problem with payment if this will create a delay in the delivery of their products or services. Assure them that the issue is being dealt with and should be resolved at the banking level as soon as possible.

Final Thoughts

Currently, there are 85 ACH return codes in existence. That number may seem overwhelming, but understanding each return code is crucial for dealing with ACH payments. ensuring that all of your business’s ACH payments go as smoothly. If an ACH return code remains unresolved, the electronic transfer cannot be completed and funds remain unsecured. 

NACHA continues to add, clarify, and update ACH return codes to benefit both the associated merchants and banks. Merchants must stay up to date with all of the current ACH return codes. Business owners should also keep an eye out for any changes, amendments, or additions to this list to ensure smooth ACH payment processing throughout every transaction.

Article Sources

  1. NACHA. “ACH Network and Value Statistics.” Accessed April 09, 2022.

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