Home Blog Settled Cash (What It Means And Why It’s Important: Overview)

Settled Cash (What It Means And Why It’s Important: Overview)

What is Settled Cash?

What does settled cash mean for traders?

What are the essential elements you should know!

Keep reading as I have gathered exactly the information that you need!

How do you define settled cash and why is it important!!

Are you ready?

Let’s get started!

What Is Settled Cash

Settled cash is a phrase used by traders and brokerage firms to refer to the amount of cash an investor has available to buy and sell securities in a cash account.

The reason why the cash must be “settled” is that the trader must wait a sufficient amount of time to receive the cash proceeds resulting from a sale transaction or a trade position.

For example, if you sell stocks that you own on today’s date (trade day), the transaction will be settled in three business days.

This means that within three business days, you will effectively received the cash from your buyer (settled cash) and the buyer effectively receives the stocks you sold. 

No matter what type of security you purchase or sell, the transaction needs to settle (stocks, options, futures, swaps, or any other type of securities).

Settled Cash Definition

What is the definition of settled cash?

According to many brokerage firms, settled cash refers to cash made available to a trader following the sale of securities provided that the initial purchase price was paid for using settled funds.

This means that for a trader to validly purchase stocks, he or she must either use cash available in the trading account or settled cash resulting from the sale of other securities.

Settled Cash vs Cash Available To Trade

What is the difference between settled cash and cash available to trade?

In essence, settled cash refers to the amount of money that you can withdraw from your trading account or use to make stock purchase.

For instance, if you sell shares that you currently have in your account for $10,000, you’ll need to wait a few business days before the $10,000 in cash is available in your account (or your cash settle’s).

If you buy stocks without having settled cash (meaning you sell stocks for $10,000 and immediately buy another stock for $10,000), you will generally be required to hold on to the newly purchased securities until your previous trade cash position settles before you can sell the new stock.

Cash available to trade, as the name suggests, is cash that you currently have in your account that you can use to purchase stocks.

When you have cash available in your account, you can immediately use it to purchase stocks or securities.

Settled Cash vs Unsettled Cash

What is the difference between settled cash and unsettled cash?

In the past, prior to the use of Internet in stock or securities trading, it used to take several days for a buyer and seller of securities to settle their transaction.

With the advancement of technology and use of the Interent, trading stocks has become easier but the transaction still requires to be settled.

Depending on the stock exchange, you may have a different settlement period for trading stocks like two business days, three business days or longer.

If you are dealing with a trade where the settlement period is two business days, it means that when you place a sell order to sell securities that you own, you will have unsettled cash for the period of time you need to wait for the settlement to be over.

Unsettled cash means that you are expecting to receive a certain amount of money from the sale of your securities but waiting for the transaction’s settlement period to lapse. 

When your trade is settled, your the cash you were expecting is settled and can be referred to as “settled cash”.

Calculating Settled Cash

Typically, settled funds available for trading are calculated as follows:

  • Proceeds from transactions settling on the current date less any unsettled purchase transactions 
  • Short equity proceeds settling on the current day
  • The intraday exercisable value of open option positions 

When you transfer funds from your bank account to your cash trading account, once the cash is transferred and effectively deposited into your brokerage account, that amount will also be money available for trading.

To help you calculate settled cash, you can use the following formula:

Securities Settled Cash = Cash Value At Time of Settlement – (All Purchases At Time of Trade + Brokerage Commission + Taxes + Fees)
Author

This means that to calculate your securities settled cash, you’ll need to take the amount of cash you are expecting to receive from the sale of your securities and deduct the value of any stock purchases, commissions, taxes, and fees as may be applicable).

Settled Cash Examples

Let’s look at a few examples of how settled cash is used in practice to better understand the notion.

Example 1: Settled Cash Transaction

Imagine that you have a cash trading account where you own $15,000 of stocks in Company ABC.

On today’s date, you decide to sell all your ABC shares and cash out your investment. 

The transaction is to settle in three business days (meaning that in three days, you will get the cash proceeds settled and in your account).

In this case, after you have waited three business days, the cash you received from the sale of your stocks are fully settled and can be used to purchase new securities.

Example 2: Good Faith Trading Violation

Let’s look at an example of why it’s important to know how much in settled cash you have available to avoid any good faith violations of the terms and conditions of your trading account.

A good faith violation is generally defined as the purchase or sale of securities before the initial purchase was paid for using settled cash.

Imagine that you have a cash trading account without any cash balance but with $15,000 in Company ABC stocks.

Today, you decide to sell the ABC stock for $15,000 and on the same day purchase shares in another company XYZ for a total of $15,000.

If you choose to sell your the XYZ shares prior to the three business days you need to wait for your sale transaction of ABC to settle, then you’ll end up being in good faith violation as you are selling securities for which you have not paid for using cash or settled funds (coming from the sale of ABC).

Cash Settled Takeaways 

So there you have it folks!

What does settled cash mean?

The term settled cash is often used by traders and investors investing in stocks, options, futures, or other derivatives to refer to cash that is effectively available for withdrawal following the sale of an instrument.

In essence, if you sell shares in a company, you need to wait a certain number of business days for the transaction to “settle” for you for to receive the “cash” resulting from the sale (this is called the settlement period).

When the settlement period is over and cash is “settled”, it means that you are free to withdraw the money or use the money to make buy transactions.

During the settlement period of a trade, the buyer is waiting to receive delivery of the stocks and the seller is waiting to receive a cash deposit.

Settled cash available for investment is money that you effectively have in your trading account that you can use to make purchases.

On the other hand, when you sell shares and the settlement period has not yet been completed, your cash is unsettled (meaning your trading position has still not been technically completed).

It’s important that you look at the terms and conditions applicable to your trading account (whether you have a cash trading account or a margin trading account) to see how you can trade using settled funds and avoid being in violation of any trading rules.

I hope this article helped you better understand the meaning of settled cash.

Good luck in trading your securities!

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Now, let’s look at a summary of our findings.

Settled Cash Meaning Overview

  • “Settled cash” is a phrase used to refer to the amount of money a trader or investor has available to invest following the sale of securities and completion of the settlement period
  • When you trade securities, you’ll need to wait a certain number of business days for the transaction to be completed (the settlement period)
  • If you sell securities and expect to receive cash, the funds will become available to you for withdrawal after the settlement period (the available cash is referred to as settled cash)
  • Immediately following a sale, the cash you expect to receive is “unsettled cash” as the settlement period is not yet over and so the sale transaction is not officially completed 
Available funds for trading
Brokerage account
Cash account
Cash balance 
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Cash delivery 
Cash settled options
Cash settlement 
Financial settlement 
Good faith violation 
How long does it take to sell stock
How to buy stocks 
Margin account 
Open orders 
Physical settlement 
Settled cash forwards 
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Settled cash options
Settled cash swaps 
Settlement method 
Trading day 
Uncollected deposit 
Unsettled funds
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Book value
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Dated this day of 
Equity multiplier 
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How to invest in ETFs
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Return on investment 
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Editorial Staff
Hello Nation! I'm a lawyer by trade and an entrepreneur by spirit. I specialize in law, business, marketing, and technology (and love it!). I'm an expert SEO and content marketer where I deeply enjoy writing content in highly competitive fields. On this blog, I share my experiences, knowledge, and provide you with golden nuggets of useful information. Enjoy!

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