What’s the Difference Between Available Account Balance and Present Account Balance?

Quick Answer

Your present account balance tells you how much cash is in your account at any given moment. Your available account balance considers pending transactions and shows how much money you actually have access to.

A woman using a tablet and a laptop to work on her finances while sitting at a table with papers on it.

After logging into your bank account, you'll likely see your present balance and your available balance—and they might not add up to the same number. Each represents an important, yet different, view of your finances. Your present balance shows how much money is in your account. Your available balance factors in any pending transactions and tells you what's currently available for you to spend. Mixing them up could cause you to overdraw your account.

What Is Available Account Balance?

Your available account balance tells you how much you can actually spend from your account. Let's say you start the day with $1,000, then swipe your debit card at the grocery store for $100. That transaction may take a day or two to clear your account. In the meantime, your bank will take note of that pending transaction and put your available balance at $900.

If you deposit a check, some of those funds may not be available to use right away. At most banks and credit unions, you can access the full amount the next business day if the check deposit doesn't exceed $200. If the total is more than that, you'll likely have access to $200 the next business day—and the rest the day after.

Keep in mind that your bank won't know if you've written checks that haven't been cashed yet. If you've recently paid a bill by check, that withdrawal won't be included in your available balance until the receiving party cashes it.

What Is Present Account Balance?

Your present account balance (sometimes called the current balance) shows how much money is currently in your bank account—but it doesn't consider pending transactions, which can take up to three business days to clear. That means your present balance will probably run higher than your available balance. Basing your spending on this number could cause you to overdraw your bank account.

Understanding Available Balance vs. Present Balance

Let's say your available balance and present balance are aligned at $2,000. When you log into your bank's website or mobile app, you see the following pending withdrawals:

  • $1,200 rent check that's been cashed but hasn't cleared yet
  • $200 spent at the grocery store
  • $50 spent at the gas station

While your present balance would still be $2,000, your available balance—or how much you can actually spend—would be $550 because it accounts for those pending transactions.

Which Balance Should You Pay Closer Attention To?

Your available balance is important because it can put boundaries around your spending and prevent overdraft fees. This happens when your available balance drops below zero. If you want to know how much you can spend with your debit card or take out at an ATM, look at your available balance.

Your present balance includes all deposits and withdrawals that have cleared your account. It can come in handy when budgeting, especially if you've deposited checks and are waiting for them to clear. Just be sure your bank processes them before you spend that money.

Current Balance vs. Statement Balance on Credit Cards

Up to this point, we've been talking about checking and savings accounts. Credit card balances work a little differently. Your card's statement balance is the amount you owe at the end of a billing cycle. Your current balance, on the other hand, is your total outstanding balance as of today. Pending transactions can reduce your available credit but may not be included in your current balance.

The Bottom Line

Money may continually move in and out of your bank account. Your available balance and present balance tell you two different things, but both are important to your financial wellness. As pending transactions are processed and cleared, these two balances should sync up.

Regularly logging into your bank account can help you stay up to date on your transactions and available balance. It might also help you spot fraudulent charges so you can dispute them. Free credit monitoring with Experian takes it a step further and alerts you whenever something new shows up on your credit report.