How Amazon Payouts and Unavailable Balances Actually Work

Disclaimer: Payability does not claim to have any insider information on the processes Amazon uses to decide when to release or not to release a payment. This is proprietary information unique to Amazon. The following is based on publicly available information and trends we have observed.

As an Amazon seller, you know the basics of Amazon’s payout schedule and have likely experienced an unavailable balance at some point. Simply put, Amazon pays you every 14 days or longer. But have you ever wondered why there’s a 14 day delay — or why you might have to wait longer than two weeks for payment? 

To help you answer these questions (and more), we put together the definitive guide on all things Amazon payments. Read on to learn more about Amazon’s payment terms, when and how you’ll actually get paid, how you can initiate early payments, what your cash flow options are, and more. 

When you have a better understanding of Amazon payouts and unavailable balances, you can take more control over your income — and your business’ growth. Let’s get started…

What are Amazon’s Payment Terms?

In most situations, Amazon pays Professional Sellers every two weeks, with each payment including 14 days of orders (less Amazon’s fees) that were delivered at least 7 days ago. The actual dates of each payout typically depend on when you signed up as a seller. Said differently, Amazon does not necessarily initiate payments on the 1st and 15th of each month, like some marketplaces do.

When all is said and done, proceeds are paid out 7 days after the latest estimated delivery date — Amazon values customer satisfaction and holding your payout for 7 days allows the buyer to assess their order and confirm that it’s in the promised/expected condition. 

If a customer is dissatisfied and wants to make a return within that seven-day window, it will be processed from the funds that Amazon has on hold. Here’s a sample timeline from Amazon about the payout schedule:

Image source: https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/202124090?language=en_US&ref=ag_202124090_cont_G200136810

All this to say, some sellers have to wait more than 14 days for payment. Here are a few reasons why:

  • If orders are delivered within 7 days of your payout date, the balance will roll over into the next payment period
  • Actual transfers can take 3-5 business days to post to your account
  • Amazon might hold back all or part of your payment for more than 14 days as an “unavailable balance” (more on this below).

How do Amazon Payment Transfers Work — and When Will You Get Your Funds?

When all is said and done, you might not get your payouts for 17-19 business days after making a sale. Let’s break it down:

Amazon uses only one method of payment: ACH transfers to your bank account. Because these are not Same Day ACH transfers, you can expect to see your funds in your bank account within five business days. Whether it’s the next day or the fifth day really depends on the bank you use and the type of account you have.

According to Amazon, “Transfers can take 3-5 business days to complete. The current amount displayed is an estimate and may vary from the amount transferred based on new activity in your seller account, including: product sales, fees, refunds, chargebacks, and A-to-z Guarantee Claims.”

This 3-5 business days is in addition to the 14 day payout cycle, hence why you could end up waiting nearly 20 days for payment. 

Regardless of how long payment takes to post, you’ll see a deposit labeled in one of two ways (or you might see two individual deposits): 

  • “Amazon Payments, Inc.” covers transactions where buyers agree to pay on or before the shipment of goods
  • “Amazon Services LLC” includes transactions where buyers agree to pay after shipment

What is the Request Transfer Button?

Some sellers have a Request Transfer button in their account — if you are eligible for this feature, you’ll see the button in your Amazon dashboard. 

The Request Transfer button is designed to initiate a payment transfer before your regularly scheduled payout date. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting paid early. Instead, you are initiating a transfer of the current available payout (i.e. of orders delivered 7-10 days ago that are available on the day you hit the button). The whole amount you see in your account essentially shows you what you WILL have available — in other words, it includes the funds for all orders, not just those marked delivered.

Once you initiate a Request Transfer, the normal payment period closes and a new two-week cycle begins. So, you are effectively pushing out the date of full payment to get a portion of it early.

Let’s consider this example:

  • You have a pending balance of $5,000, which is scheduled to be transferred on the 30th
  • It’s the 20th and you need a boost in cash flow, so you hit Request Transfer
  • On the 20th, $1,000 of the balance that has been marked delivered for 7+ days is available for transfer
  • This transfer of $1,000 is expected to show in your bank account in 3-5 business days
  • The remaining $4,000 will be deposited 14 days from the 20th (not on the 30th as originally scheduled)

Here are a few other key considerations about the Request Transfer button: 

  • You can choose to “Request Transfer” every 24 hours. Each new request will initiate a transfer of the remaining balance that is available that day (again, not the full balance) 
  • Some fees (like shipping) might be deducted from the amount of your requested transfer 
  • Similar to a regular Amazon ACH transfer, a requested transfer may not hit your account for 3-5 additional business daysAlways keep in mind that every time you hit the Request Transfer button it resets your payment date for another 14 days.

Some sellers use the Request Transfer button to increase their payment frequency — i.e. to get daily payouts or weekly payouts. While you may initiate Amazon payments each day that you click the button, it does not necessarily mean that you’ll get daily payouts — or any payout for that matter. This is because Amazon might choose to not release funds on the day you request or to only release a portion of it. 

If you’re unsure about whether or not to click the button, you may want to try out Request Transfer — i.e. click it — during a time when your cash flow is already flush. That way, if Amazon decides to NOT release funds and also resets your 14 day payout cycle, you won’t be too strapped for cash.

Daily Payouts vs. Next-Day Payouts: What’s the Difference?

You may hear about other sellers having daily or next-day Amazon payouts — or maybe you’re even one of them. But what does this actually mean? Such payouts could happen a variety of different ways — and there are important considerations for each. Let’s take a look.

Daily Payouts from Amazon can be a reality if you have access to the Request Transfer button and click it every day. In this case, you are getting paid every day but these Amazon payments are not real-time/next-day. This is because there’s still a 14+ day delay from the date your sales closed and inventory was scanned, shipped and delivered. So, if you have a big sales day, you’ll still need to wait 14+ days to access those funds.

Next-Day Payouts can only happen in one of two ways:

  • Grandfathered Accounts: If you’ve been selling on Amazon for 10+ years, you may get paid for your sales the next day or shortly after. Amazon used to offer this to all sellers, but as the platform grew, issues with fraudulent products also increased. So in an effort to cut back on fraud, Amazon moved to longer payment terms for most sellers. If you were grandfathered in, consider yourself lucky. If you weren’t, don’t worry — you can still get paid the next day, everyday. Continue to the next bullet to find out how.
  • Instant Access from Payability: The other way to get daily real-time payouts is with Payability’s Instant Access, which pays sellers one business day after shipping a sale. Instant Access is designed to level the playing field for sellers that need faster access to their sales in order to keep up with demand. So if you have $1,000 in your account on Monday, you’ll get $800 of it on Tuesday (the remaining $200 is kept on hold to cover any necessary returns or chargebacks and is then paid out according to your regular payout schedule).

So how exactly does Payability work? Every morning after Amazon’s sales day closes, Payability purchases the receivable that is owed to you by Amazon, and makes those funds available the next day, everyday (even weekends and holidays). You can spend your advanced funds on the Payability Seller Card immediately, or transfer to your bank the same business day with Same Day ACH transfer, or you can use Instant Transfer to transfer funds to your bank account in seconds (24/7/365) for a small fee. With next-day access to your sales, you can improve your cash flow, turn inventory more quickly, stay ahead of the competition, and grow your business faster. To qualify for Instant Access, you must have a minimum of 3 months of selling history and average monthly sales of $2,000 or more.

What Is an Amazon Unavailable Balance?

It’s not uncommon for a seller, like Bob in the example above, to see an unavailable balance on their Payments report. But what exactly is it? 

The unavailable balance is the amount of money Amazon sets aside to cover any claims or chargebacks — and it occurs when Amazon holds back all or part of your payment for more than 14 days. Remember, normal payouts are issued seven days after the expected delivery date, which gives the customer enough time to make a necessary return or complaint. 

With an unavailable balance, you have to wait twice as long — or more. The payout of an unavailable balance could roll over into your next payout or continue to be held for several payouts. 

To see if you have an unavailable balance, look in the Closing Balance section of the Statement View on your Payments report. In addition to the delay post-delivery, there could be a variety of reasons for your unavailable balance. You can go to your Account Health page in Seller Central to learn more about your specific reason. Typically, it will fall into one of these categories (or could be a combination of them):

  • Order delivery issue or delay: If Amazon is awaiting order delivery confirmation, they’ll post an unavailable balance to your account in case the buyer in question makes a return or files a claim/chargeback. Amazon wants to make sure there are funds available to process such claims.
  • A-to-z Guarantee claim or chargeback: If a buyer files an A-to-z Guarantee claim or if you have any chargebacks from transactions in the last 30 days, you might see an unavailable balance. For A-to-z claims, the reserve will be released as soon as there’s a resolution, but could take up to 14 days or longer. For chargebacks, the funds will be released after they’re processed.
  • Seller performance: If your performance metrics fall below Amazon’s benchmarks, you should expect an unavailable balance. After all, a drop in metrics is typically accompanied by an increase in claims, chargebacks, and returns.
  • Account review: If there’s a sudden change in your sales or account activity, or if you’re new to selling and have an estimated delivery time that’s longer than your settlement period, Amazon will launch an account review and post an unavailable balance.

To avoid an unavailable balance or decrease your chances of getting one, run an audit of your account, including your overall seller performance, customer feedback, fulfillment updates, etc. If any areas are concerning you, try to find out the root of the problem so you can fix it before Amazon holds your payments even longer. If you sell in verticals such as shoes or clothing where returns and exchanges are more frequent due to sizing issues, unavailable balances can be difficult to avoid even if your other metrics are outstanding. 

And if you do have an unavailable balance, we’ve got some tips to help you through it, which leads us to our next section…

What to Do If You Have an Unavailable Balance

An unavailable balance can be a huge setback for businesses looking to grow on Amazon. For one thing, you’re not getting paid at the time you expected. Not to mention, you likely won’t have a sense for how long Amazon will take to resolve your unavailable balance issue and disperse your funds. 

Marketplace sellers that receive a significant portion of their revenue from Amazon sales may need that unavailable balance to order inventory, make payroll, pay credit cards or invest in marketing. This sounds overwhelming, but you do have options. Here are six ways to overcome an unavailable balance, plus the pros and cons of each:

  1. Ask for an increased credit card limit
    • Pros: Fast way to get increased access to cash/spending power; you may need a larger limit in the future anyway
    • Cons: If you use your credit card irresponsibly, you might find yourself unable to pay down your balance; you might end up relying on that unavailable balance to pay off your credit card bill (and it might not be released by your payment due date — or it won’t be enough to cover your full credit card balance)
  2. Get a bank term loan
    • Pros: Low interest rates, long/favorable payment terms
    • Cons: Small businesses may not qualify (in fact, approval rates for small businesses — especially online businesses — are very low); the application process is long and tedious, often taking longer than you have to wait for funds
  3. Get an online business loan
    • Pros: Quick and easy application process; higher approval rates for small and online businesses
    • Cons: High interest rates and short payment terms
  4. Tap into your savings
    • Pros: Immediate access to cash, without the need for an application or interest payments
    • Cons: Your savings may not be enough (or you may not have any to begin with); savings can take years to, well, save for and tapping into the funds should be your absolute last resort.
  5. Ask suppliers for longer payment terms
    • Pros: You could get the inventory you need right away
    • Cons: This is not a long term solution and may end up being more expensive; you still might not have your payout when payment is due to your supplier; your supplier might not even agree to longer payment terms
  6. Sign up for Payability’s Instant Access
    • Pros: A fast, easy and long-term solution to seller cash flow issues
    • Cons: Double fees on rollover balances

Payability Instant Access can solve your unavailable balance issue in 24 hours and acts somewhat like insurance against future unavailable balances or cash constraints that can hinder your growth. The application process is fast, simple and requires no credit checks, tax documents or bank statements. Approval is based on account health and sales performance. Once approved, you’ll receive 80% of whatever is currently in your Amazon payout the same day or the next day depending on the time of day your application is approved. You will continue to receive 80% of yesterday’s scanned and shipped sales each day. You can transfer all or some of your balance to your bank account with a same-day ACH transfer or spend it on the Seller Card and earn up to 2% cash back. The remaining 20% stays in a reserve to cover returns and chargebacks and is released to you when Amazon releases a payment (usually every 14 days). 

Businesses that use Instant Access always know exactly when they are going to get paid and that’s the next day, every day. Instant Access is both a long term and short term solution to an unavailable balance or gap in cash flow. Since you’re just getting your own money faster, Instant Access is a great way to fund your growth without taking on the risk of debt or the risk of another unavailable balance when you were counting on a payout to cover your next round of inventory, credit card bill or operating expenses. As long as you continue to sell, Payability will continue to advance you your funds the next day, every day. 

Do keep in mind that Instant Access does come at a fee of 1-2% of sales depending on sales volume and your length of time as a Payability customer. In the event of an unavailable balance, Payability will charge fees twice on the money that Amazon rolls over into the next pay period. This is done because Payability must take a risk on the money again. Like you, we have no idea when Amazon will actually release your unavailable balance (or any payment for that matter) so we do need to charge fees on unavailable balances again in order to cover the additional risk and our cost of capital. While double fees are never ideal, the ability to get consistent payouts even if Amazon decides to hold them back for more than 14 days, absolutely outweighs the additional fees as it gives you more control over your business and eliminates the financing roadblocks that often hold small businesses back. Platforms such as Amazon have created seemingly unlimited consumer demand. So faster access to sales revenue is essential to businesses looking to keep up unavailable balance or not.  

If you need to buy more inventory or need to cover more expenses than what is waiting in your Amazon payout, a Payability Instant Advance is also an option if you’re faced with an unavailable balance or just need to buy a large amount of inventory before your busy season. With Instant Advance, Payability buys a certain amount of your future receivables up front and at a discount, giving you a large lump sum of cash.. The actual amount is typically 75 – 150% of one month of your marketplace sales revenue (up to $250,000). Rates start at 0.75% per week with no origination fees and there are early payment rebates for every week your advance is paid off early. Minimum qualifications for Instant Advance include: at least 9 months of selling history and average monthly sales of $10,000. As with Instant Access, there are no credit checks and you can get approved for an advance in 24 hours. 

Taking Control of Your Payouts & Cash Flow with Payability

When all is said and done, if payment delays and rollover balances are a problem for your business, Payability could be the right solution for you. And applying is easy. Whether you want to overcome an unavailable balance or other cash flow issue that’s cramping your growth you could get approved for Instant Access or an Instant Advance and have cash in hand in as fast as 24 hours without a single credit check, bank statement or tax document. 

Simply submit an application, connect your marketplaces and Payability will evaluate your business based on your overall account health and sales performance — not your credit. In fact, your credit won’t be pulled at all. Once approved, you could see your funds that same day.