What Is a Transaction Date?

A transaction date is a date upon which a trade takes place for a security or other financial instrument. The transaction date represents the time at which ownership officially transfers. In banking, the date a transaction appears in the account is also referred to as the transaction date, although it is not necessarily the date on which the bank clears the transaction and deposits or withdraws funds.

Key Takeaways

  • The transaction date is the date upon which any financial dealing occurs.
  • The date when the change in ownership occurs in any financial dealing occurs on the transaction date.
  • The transaction date is different from the settlement date, which is the date on which the seller receives payment after the transaction has occurred.
  • Depending on the type of asset, regular way transactions have a settlement date of either one or two days after the transaction date.

Understanding a Transaction Date

In the financial world, there are many different dates to be aware of as they play a different role in the ownership process. The date at which a trade occurs is always known as the transaction date. It is the date at which ownership changes hands. However, the transaction date is not necessarily the date at which the seller receives payment. That date is known as the settlement date and typically occurs a few days after the transaction date.

The transaction date is a date that is prevalent in everyday examples. Such examples that incorporate a transaction date in the banking world include:

  • Deposits or withdrawals from a personal account (via automated teller machine or ATM)
  • The withdrawal of funds via a paper check
  • Recording a purchase on a credit card or debit card
  • Recording a point-of-sale (POS)
  • Depositing, withdrawing, or transferring funds among accounts in online banking

The investing world also includes transaction dates on a variety of financial products and procedures. Examples of transactions, which incorporate a transaction date in investing, include:

  • Buying (purchasing shares of a security)
  • Buy-to-open (similar to a traditional buy and can encompass options contracts, along with opening a more common long position)
  • Buy-to-close (the act of closing a short position via a withdrawal of cash to buy back security shares and/or options contracts)
  • Receiving cash dividend payments and/or reinvesting the distributions
  • Depositing cash received as a return in a capital distribution
  • Depositing cash received as a capital gain (often from the sale of long-term or short-term shares of a security via a hedge fund, partnership, or in a mutual fund account)
  • Depositing interest income from preferred shares or a debt instrument, such as a bond
  • Moving shares among accounts
  • Gifting stocks
  • Selling shares
  • Sell-to-close (exiting from a long position)
  • Recording a stock split

Transaction Date vs. Settlement Date

As financial transactions have multiple steps, they have multiple dates that mark the process. Clearing is the full process of a transaction, from the moment parties commit to a transaction through settlement. The transaction date is not necessarily the same date as the settlement date, which can happen several days after the transaction occurs. The seller is paid upon settlement, because all of the details about the transaction have been finalized, and because the buyer is certain that what has been promised has actually been delivered.

Regular way transactions settle on the second business day after the trade date, which is referred to as T+2. Most securities, including stocks and corporate bonds, settle this way. However, U.S. government securities have a regular way settlement of T+1. With some transactions, it is possible to specify a desire to settle on the same day as the trade. These are referred to as cash trades.