What is a 'Payee'

A payee is the party in an exchange who receives payment. A payee is paid in cash, check or other transfer medium by a payer, with the payer receiving goods or services in return. The name of the payee is included in the bill of exchange, and it usually refers to a natural person or an entity such as a business, trust or custodian.


In a banking situation, the payee must have an active account that is in good standing, through which funds can be transmitted from the payer.

In the case of a promissory note, through which one party promises to pay another party a predetermined sum, the party receiving the payment is known as the payee. The party making the payment is known as the payer. For coupon payments from bonds, the party receiving the coupon is the payee, whereas the bond issuer is referred to as the payer.

In some instances, a payee may be representing both sides of a transaction (payee and payer), such as when sending funds via an intermediary transaction. For example, when someone is purchasing a home with mortgage financing, a relocation company may be the payee for the mortgage company of the buyer, and then becomes the payer as it pays off and releases the mortgage of the seller.

Investment management transactions frequently have payee accounts that benefit a client's separate account. For example, in contributing to an individual retirement account IRA, a customer may write a check from his checking account to his investment management company, with the payee being the company's name receiving the funds "For the Benefit of" (FBO) the client. The would appear as "XYZ Management FBO John Smith." The funds will ultimately be deposited into John Smith's account as the payee, with XYZ Management being the custodian.

Payee's may also be more than one party. This typically happens in electronic transfers when a person withdraws money from the payers account and splits it into a variety of payee allocations. Depending on the banking institution, these types of transactions may have approval requirements for numbers, percentages and types of accounts.

The payee and payer may be the same party. This can occur when a person writes checks, makes withdrawals and deposits, or electronically transfers funds from one of his accounts to another.

It is good practice to ensure the payer and the payee are in agreement on the amount being transferred between parties. Payees have the ability to accept or reject amounts being paid to them, based on an agreement or contract.