The Amazon Unavailable Balance: What It Is and How You Can Overcome It

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.

Have you ever experienced an unavailable balance on Amazon and wondered what it is, why you have it, and what you can do to overcome it? Or do you want to know how to prevent one? Here, we break down everything you need to know about an Amazon unavailable balance so you can maximize cash flow and grow your business.

What Is an Amazon Unavailable Balance

If you have an unavailable balance, it means Amazon is keeping a certain amount of your earnings on hold for longer than your usual 14-day payment cycle — so it’s essentially the balance of payment that is not yet available for transfer to your bank account. Unfortunately, the amount and length of the hold are not always predictable. In some cases, the balance will rollover into your next pay period, while in others it will be held for longer. Not only that, you might have more than one at the same time. Keep reading to find out why.

Why You Might Have an Amazon Unavailable Balance

There are a number of reasons why you might have an unavailable balance. If you do have one, you can find out what caused it by going to your Account Health page in Seller Central. Chances are, it’s a result of one (or more) of these common causes:

  • Order delivery issue or delay: As you likely already know, Amazon normally holds payment for seven days post-delivery to give a customer time to make a return or file a claim. If Amazon doesn’t get delivery confirmation when it’s expected, they’ll hold payment for longer than those seven days.
  • A-to-z Guarantee claims and/or chargebacks: If a customer files a claim, you’ll have an unavailable balance from the order in question until it’s resolved, which usually takes 14 days or more. For chargebacks, you’ll get paid after they’re processed.
  • Seller performance and account reviews: Getting poor performance ratings raises a red flag with Amazon that you might be having issues with your storefront. This can sometimes lead to an account review and, as a result, an unavailable balance until things are resolved.

Preventing an Unavailable Balance

There is no sure way to prevent an unavailable balance. At the end of the day, Amazon is going to do what it’s going to do. However, there are a variety of strategies that may help prevent an unavailable balance. At the end of the day, it all comes back to having an account that’s consistently in good standing. For example:

  • Run your own account reviews: Regularly check on things like your seller performance ratings, positive feedback, fulfillment successes (or failures!), return rates, etc. If you notice any red flags, find out what’s causing them and make any necessary improvements.
  • Choose products wisely: Depending on your industry or vertical, you might be more prone to things like returns. For example, clothing and shoes tend to have higher return rates because customers can’t try before they buy to confirm something fits.
  • Optimize listings: Make sure your listings have thorough and accurate descriptions as well as high quality photos. That way, customers know exactly what they’re getting and will be less likely to file a claim, make a return, or write a negative review. 
  • Price competitively: This is a no-brainer: You want to make sales, so set a price that will attract buyers.
  • Maximize cash flow: In many cases, your good standing is dependent on your cash flow. Think about it — to stay in stock, turn inventory quickly, improve fulfillment, etc., you need to invest in product, materials and more. So if you don’t have cash and can’t invest properly, you’ll lose your good standing and increase your chances of getting an unavailable balance. More on this in our next section.

Even if you do all of these things, you still might experience an unavailable balance. If you find yourself in a cash flow crunch as a result, don’t worry. Our next section outlines exactly how you can overcome an unavailable balance and get the cash flow you need to grow.

Overcoming an Amazon Unavailable Balance

An unavailable balance is a major growth hurdle. After all, you’re not getting paid on schedule and you don’t know when you’ll get your money, so you’re cash-strapped and unable to plan around it. To overcome this, here are five ways to boost cash flow and increase your spending power so you can buy more inventory, make payroll, invest in growth opportunities and more.

  • Ask for a higher credit limit. If you’ve got a business credit card, you might be eligible for an increased spending limit. Not to mention, you might need a bigger limit in the future anyway. Just remember to continue using your credit card responsibly so you can still make payments on time and in full.
  • Get a loan. You could apply for a loan or line of credit from a bank or online business lender. Banks offer high dollar loans (usually in the millions), low interest rates and long payment terms, but their application processes are very tedious and time-consuming, and they have low approval rates for small and online businesses. On the other hand, online business lenders have high approval rates, simple application processes and loan amounts more suitable for small business (typically $5,000-$250,000). But their interest rates can be high and their payment terms are short.
  • Use personal savings. If you have savings, you’ll be able to access cash immediately with no application, interest or fees. But you might not have enough for what you need and you should save (no pun intended) the funds for a true emergency anyway.
  • Negotiate longer payment terms with suppliers. If you have a good track record with your supplier(s), you might be able to get a payment extension or negotiate longer payment terms going forward. Just keep in mind that this isn’t necessarily a long-term solution since your unavailable balance might still be on hold when your new payment is due.
  • Sign up for Payability Instant Access*. Get paid on your sales the next day, every day. Just fill out a simple application (with no credit checks or need for paperwork) and start getting funds in as fast as 24 hours. 

The Long-Term Cash Flow Solution: How Payability Works

Payability offers a variety of long-term cash flow solutions that are specifically designed for marketplace sellers. Instant Access is a great option for every day cash flow needs, to overcome unavailable balances, and more. And as we just mentioned, Instant Access lets you get paid on your sales the next day, every day. 

With Instant Access, Payability essentially buys your Amazon balance at the end of each day and makes 80% of it available to you (the rest is kept on temporary hold to cover any returns or chargebacks). So you’re getting daily payments in real time. If you need a large lump sum of cash, Payability’s Instant Advance might be an option for you. And if you want to access your funds on-the-go or on weekends and holidays, check out the Seller Card.

No matter which option you choose, Payability can help you overcome an unavailable balance in 24 hours. The application process is simple and approvals are based on account health and sales performance — not credit.

*Please note that unavailable balances are subject to additional fees. 

Victoria Sullivan
Victoria Sullivan is a Marketing Manager at Payability. She has over eight years of social media, copywriting and marketing experience. Prior to joining the Payability team, Victoria developed social media content and strategies for top technology brands such as Skype and Samsung. She holds a degree in Advertising from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. She can often be found in a yoga class or working on her fashion blog.