Guide to Banker's Acceptance (BA)

By Mike Zaccardi, CMT, CFA · June 16, 2022 · 7 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

Guide to Banker's Acceptance (BA)

A banker’s acceptance (or BA) is a financial instrument used to guarantee large future transactions, often in the import/export markets. As a debt instrument, it can function as an investment, commonly traded between large banks and institutional investors on the secondary market. It can trade at a discount to par like U.S. Treasury bills in money markets.

BAs play a key role in facilitating international trade and in broader fixed-income markets. While you may not own an individual banker’s acceptance in your checking account, these instruments help promote sound and liquid markets. Here, you can learn:

•   What is a banker’s acceptance and how does it work?

•   How can you obtain a banker’s acceptance?

•   How do BAs work as investments?

•   What are the pros and cons of banker’s acceptance?

What Is Banker’s Acceptance?

A banker’s acceptance (which you may see written as bankers acceptance) is a short-term form of payment guaranteed by a bank; it is often used for international trade transactions. Banks often make money on the spread between the buy and sell price on a fixed-income asset or through fees and commissions. BAs commonly have a maturity of between 30 and 180 days and trade at a discount to par. Functioning like a post-dated check, they are seen as a relatively safe method of payment for large transactions. BAs are considered short-term debt instruments.

Characteristics of Banker’s Acceptance

Here are some more details about banker’s acceptance and how these instruments work.

•   The BA is issued and priced based on the creditworthiness of the issuing bank. An investment banker earns a commission for making the transaction.

•   Only customers with a strong credit history can access the BA market. These entities are often corporations involved in international trading (import/export) markets.

•   A banker’s acceptance can also be highly marketable and liquid, allowing money to transfer from one bank to another.

How Can Someone Obtain a Banker’s Acceptance?

Not all banks offer BAs. Businesses with a good relationship with a large bank can obtain a banker’s acceptance. It can be an appealing product for an institution entering a large-value transaction. Like signing a check to someone, the account holder must have enough cash to execute the transaction. More than a simple checking account transaction, though, obtaining a BA typically requires an amount of credit to be detailed. There are usually fees involved in obtaining a BA, too.

Banker’s Acceptance as Checks

Think of a banker’s acceptance as a certified check. It’s a relatively safe way to do a transaction. The money owed is guaranteed on a specific date listed on the BA bill. Credit analysis is usually done to verify the creditworthiness of the issuer, so it’s a bit different than how a bank will verify a check before you deposit it.

BAs are frequently used to facilitate the international trading of goods. A buyer of imported products can issue a BA with a payment date after a shipment is scheduled to be delivered. The seller exporting can then take payment before finalizing the shipment. The exporter in this case can hold the BA to maturity or sell it on the secondary market. Unlike a check, the BA is backed by the guarantee of the bank, not an individual.

Banker’s Acceptance as Investments

Aside from the import/export market, bankers’ acceptances are used commonly in the investment world. Buyers might purchase a BA and hold it to maturity to effectively earn a rate of return on short-term money. Since BAs are seen as very low-risk products, they are used as a cash-like security. Still, retail consumers usually won’t find the ability to purchase a BA in an online or traditional retail bank.

Recommended: What are Some Safe Types of Investments?

Benefits of Banker’s Acceptance

There are a number of positive aspects of bankers’ acceptances to consider.

Provides Seller Assurances Against Default

Backed by the guarantee of a bank, a banker’s acceptance is regarded as a high-quality fixed-income security that is often liquid and highly marketable. For importers and exporters, financial transactions can be made to facilitate international trading of goods without the risk that one party goes bust.

Buyer Does Not Have to Prepay for Goods

A banker’s acceptance works like a promissory note and the buyer does not have to prepay. Liability can immediately transfer from the issuer of the banker’s acceptance to the bank. The payment is likely debited only on the due date.

More Likely to Go Through as They Are Only Available to Customers with Good Credit

Part of the process of issuing a banker’s acceptance is usually having a good credit standing and a relationship with a major bank. Since high-risk customers might not be considered, there is strong confidence in BAs traded. There would be no need for the exporting company to worry about default risk; that lies with the banker. While individual investors often do not engage in BA trading, there are important traditional banking alternatives that feature financial solutions to help facilitate transactions.

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!

Drawbacks of Banker’s Acceptance

While there are many positive aspects of bankers’ acceptances, there are still some risks for those involved in the transaction and trading of BAs. Consider the following:

Bank May Require Buyer to Post Collateral to Hedge Risk

Collateral is sometimes required for a deal to happen. Collateral provides a backstop should the importer be unable to pay. It can reduce risks to the bank and expedites the deal. Think of it like seller concessions to get a deal done, though collateral is generally not used when buying and selling a home.

Buyer May Default, Which Is Why Some Banks Do Not Issue Banker’s Acceptance

With banker’s acceptance, the bank accepts default risk, which can be a downside. The issuing bank typically must honor the payment terms even if the account holder, perhaps an importing/exporting corporation, does not have the cash on the payment date. Not all banks choose to be in this market due to the risk that the buyer could default.

Potential Liquidity Risk

Liquidity risk means an individual or financial institution cannot meet its debt obligations in the short term. Investors may not encounter liquidity risk with a banker’s acceptance instrument, but the issuing bank could have liquidity risk from the importer who must pay. This may be a key consideration for a bank backstopping a BA. The secondary market for banker’s acceptance products remains highly liquid.

Banking With SoFi

A banker’s acceptance is a debt instrument that plays a key role in well-functioning capital markets. BAs help facilitate international trade through bank guarantees. Knowing about this important fixed-income product type can help individuals understand financial markets and institutions and make wise investment choices.

Want to boost your everyday banking? You can open an online bank account today with direct deposit and earn a competitive APY with our Checking and Savings accounts. What’s more, there are no account fees and no ATM fees at more than 55,000 Allpoint network ATMs worldwide. Members earn cash-back rewards and have access to SoFi’s convenient mobile banking app.

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall. Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.


How does a banker’s acceptance work?

A banker’s acceptance works by helping facilitate import and export transactions so that risk is minimized. It is a negotiable note that works similarly to a post-dated check. A bank guarantees payment for the transaction, rather than the individual account holder.

Is a banker’s acceptance a money market instrument?

Yes. A banker’s acceptance (BA) is a money market instrument in addition to smoothing international import/export transactions. A BA typically facilitates relatively safe financial transactions that are also traded with high liquidity on the secondary market. The stronger the credit quality of the bank issuing the banker’s acceptance, the safer and more liquid the security tends to be.

What is a banker’s acceptance rate?

A banker’s acceptance rate is the market rate at which the instrument trades. Like U.S. Treasury bills, a banker’s acceptance is typically priced at a discount to par. The difference between the discount and par is essentially the return the holder will receive if they hold it until the payment date.

What is the difference between banker’s acceptance and commercial paper?

A banker’s acceptance and commercial paper are similar instruments in that they are both low-risk fixed-income products. A key difference, though, is that a banker’s acceptance has the unconditional guarantee of the issuing bank and is used for international trade. Commercial paper, on the other hand, pays a fixed rate like a bond. Commercial paper can have a maturity out to a year (which is longer than a BA), and it is used to finance a firm’s short-term capital projects, not the movement of international goods.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

Advisory services are offered through SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser. Information about SoFi Wealth’s advisory operations, services, and fees is set forth in SoFi Wealth’s current Form ADV Part 2 (Brochure), a copy of which is available upon request and at .

Photo credit:: iStock/Deagreez

All your finances.
All in one app.

SoFi QR code, Download now, scan this with your phone’s camera

All your finances.
All in one app.

App Store rating

SoFi iOS App, Download on the App Store
SoFi Android App, Get it on Google Play

TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender