To receive dividends from stock shares you must own them before the ex-dividend date. On the ex-dividend day, you become entitled to receive the dividend, even if you sell your shares. If you own the stock through a brokerage account, the broker will most likely credit the dividend to your account's cash balance. Getting that dividend cash in hand -- or at least into your bank account -- takes some additional financial organization. If you want to receive dividend checks as quickly as possible, you may want to change how your shares are held.
Stock Shares in a Brokerage AccountStep 1
Ask your broker to set up Automated Clearing House payments from your brokerage account to your bank account. An ACH transfer moves money from one financial institution to another at no cost within a couple of days. You may be able to set up the ACH authorization through the broker's online account service area. The ACH authorization can take several days to be effective, so plan ahead.Step 2
Wait for the dividend payment amount to show in the cash balance of your brokerage account. Dividends are not paid on the ex-dividend date. The company paying the dividend will designate a different payment date, which is when the dividend money will be credited to your brokerage account.Step 3
Initiate an ACH transfer of the dividend payment amount out of your brokerage account to your bank account. You online account access will provide a link to withdraw money. Complete the transfer request and the dividend money will be in your bank account in a couple of days.
Stock Shares Registered in Your NameStep 1
Verify or arrange to have your stock shares registered in your name. Shares held in an online brokerage account are in "street" name. The stock's transfer agent only knows that the broker holds the shares, not who is the beneficial owner -- you. Registered shares in electronic form are held by the transfer agent that handles the specific stock, not by a stockbroker. Shares owned in a dividend reinvestment plan are an example of registered shares. You can have your broker transfer your street name shares to the transfer agent so the shares become officially registered in your name.Step 2
Set up direct ACH payments of your share dividends with the stock transfer agent. The dividend will then be deposited directly into your bank account on the dividend payment date.Step 3
Verify on the dividend payment date that the money was deposited into your bank account.
- If you own a portfolio of stocks that pay dividends, ask your broker to set up regular ACH transfers of available cash from your brokerage account into your bank account.
- Shares held by the transfer agent in electronic registered form allows for the quickest payment of dividends to your bank account.
- Having shares held at the transfer agent in registered form makes the most sense if you plan to be a long-term investor in the stock. If you like to buy and sell shares, letting your broker hold shares in street name is more convenient.
- Note that the ex-dividend date, the record date and the payment date for a stock dividend can all be on different days. The payment date is included in the dividend declaration and may be up to a month after the stock goes ex-dividend.
Tim Plaehn has been writing financial, investment and trading articles and blogs since 2007. His work has appeared online at Seeking Alpha, Marketwatch.com and various other websites. Plaehn has a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the U.S. Air Force Academy.