What Is a Bank Holiday?

Banking

In the landscape of personal finance and the business world, bank holidays hold a pivotal role. They can influence financial institutions, businesses, and individual bank account management as the flow of money may slow. The usual hustle and bustle of the banking world takes a pause, giving employees a well-deserved break and impacting transaction timelines.

man using ATM

In this guide, we unravel the importance of bank holidays and how they might affect your money, that way you can be prepared to plan around these significant dates.

What is a bank holiday?

A bank holiday is a specific day on which financial institutions remain closed in honor of a nationally recognized holiday. In the United States, the Federal Reserve plays a crucial role in determining these bank holidays, aligning them with the federal holidays to ensure nationwide observance.

How do bank holidays work?

On bank holidays, financial institutions cease regular operations, pausing services such as in-person banking and often delaying transaction processes. Despite the physical closures, individuals can still access a range of services via online banking, allowing for a degree of financial management even during the holiday.

Transactions initiated on a bank holiday might experience delays, as these days are not considered a business day. To deal with these closures seamlessly, you should anticipate the delays and plan your financial activities, like scheduling bill payments ahead of time, to avoid any financial disruptions.

List of Official Bank Holidays in the United States

Here is a list of the official bank holidays in the United States, providing a glimpse into the history and significance behind each special day.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Celebrated to honor the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., this day encourages individuals to reflect on the strides made in the fight against racial discrimination. The holiday falls on the third Monday of January, giving a long weekend to many.

Washington’s Birthday (Presidents Day)

Officially designated to honor George Washington’s birthday, it is commonly known as Presidents Day, where Americans remember all the leaders who have guided the nation. Falling on the third Monday of February, it gives a chance to learn and appreciate the history and lives of U.S. presidents.

Memorial Day

On the last Monday of May, Memorial Day is observed to honor and remember the military personnel who have laid down their lives in the service of the nation. It marks a day of reflection and gratitude, acknowledging the great sacrifices made for the country’s freedom.

Juneteenth

This day commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans on June 19, 1865. It stands as a significant marker in the history, representing freedom, and the end of slavery in the United States.

Independence Day

Celebrated on the 4th of July, Independence Day marks the day the Declaration of Independence was adopted, signifying the nation’s freedom from British rule. It is a day of patriotic celebration, marked with fireworks, parades, and barbecues.

Labor Day

Observed on the first Monday of September, Labor Day honors the American labor movement and the works and contributions of laborers to the development and achievements of the country.

Columbus Day

Columbus Day, falling on the second Monday of October, commemorates Christopher Columbus’s landing in the Americas on October 12, 1492. It is a day to acknowledge the discoveries and the historical implications of this event.

Veterans Day

Celebrated on November 11, Veterans Day honors military veterans who have served in the United States Armed Forces, emphasizing the unyielding courage and service of the armed forces personnel.

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving, observed on the fourth Thursday of November, is a time for family and friends to gather and give thanks for the blessings of the past year, a tradition dating back to the Pilgrim’s feast with the Native Americans.

Christmas Day

Closing the year with a festive spirit, Christmas Day is celebrated on December 25, when Christians honor the birth of Jesus Christ. In general, the day represents a time of giving, receiving, and sharing joy with loved ones. It is the only bank holiday tied to a religious holiday, but also exemplifies the importance of the “holiday season” as a secular time of celebration in the U.S.

Some holidays, like Martin Luther King Day and Labor Day, fall on specific days of the week. Others, like Christmas and Fourth of July, fall on specific dates. On occasions when these holidays fall on a Saturday, banks will close the prior Friday, providing a three-day weekend for many. If the holiday falls on a Sunday, banks close the following Monday.

How Bank Holidays Affect Consumers

Bank holidays, while a time for remembrance and celebration, undeniably affect the day-to-day transactions and services offered by financial institutions. Below, we explore how these holidays can impact consumers:

Transaction Delays

On a bank holiday, transactions initiated might not be processed until the next business day. This includes check clearances and online transfers, potentially leading to delays in your financial planning.

Bill Payments

Scheduled bill payments may experience delays if a bank holiday falls on a due date. It is advisable to plan ahead and make your payments in advance to avoid late fees or service interruptions.

In-Person Services

Most banks close their physical locations on bank holidays, meaning in-person services such as consultations or accessing safety deposit boxes won’t be available.

Online Banking

Despite the physical closures, online banking services remain accessible, allowing consumers to check balances, transfer funds, and perform other banking activities uninterrupted. However, funds transfers may be delayed until the following business day.

Customer Support

Customer support services might be limited or unavailable during bank holidays. In urgent situations, it is best to refer to the online resources most banks offer on their websites.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are all banks closed on bank holidays?

Most banks observe federal holidays and close their physical branches. However, some smaller banks and credit unions might choose to remain open. It is always a good practice to check with your specific financial institution for their holiday schedule.

Can I still use ATMs on a bank holiday?

Yes, ATMs generally remain operational on bank holidays, providing a convenient way to carry out essential transactions such as cash withdrawals and balance inquiries.

Do bank holidays affect direct deposits?

Bank holidays can delay the processing of direct deposits. If a bank holiday falls near the day when you expect a direct deposit, it might not be processed until the next business day.

What happens if a bank holiday falls on a weekend?

If a bank holiday falls on a weekend, it is typically observed on the nearest weekday, either the preceding Friday or the following Monday, ensuring employees still receive a day off.

How can I plan my finances around bank holidays?

To avoid disruptions in your financial activities, keep track of the bank holidays and plan your transactions accordingly. Utilizing online banking services can be a great way to manage your finances efficiently during bank holidays.

Dawn Allcot
Meet the author

Dawn Allot is a personal finance writer and content marketing expert specializing in finance, travel, real estate, and technology. In addition to her work at Crediful, Dawn regularly writes for Bankrate, GoBankingRates, and The Balance.