What Is an On-Us Item?

On-Us Items in Banking Explained

Definition
When two people use the same bank or credit union, that institution can process payments between those customers as "on-us" items. These transactions are on-us because the money never leaves the institution; it simply gets rerouted to another account internally.
Young man uses ATM to conduct a bank transaction
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When two people use the same bank or credit union, that institution can process payments between those customers as "on-us" items. These transactions are on-us because the money never leaves the institution; it simply gets rerouted to another account internally.

This type of self-sufficiency means on-us items usually have quicker processing times for customers and lower overhead costs for banks. Learn how on-us processing works and some benefits of these transactions.

Definition and Examples of On-Us Items

An on-us item is a payment that’s issued and received by the same bank or credit union, often in the same check-processing region. They can include payment through checks, electronic transfers, debit cards, credit cards, and ATM withdrawals.

On-us items may have quicker processing times than off-us items because the bank or credit union performs both sides of the transaction—the drawing and the depositing. The financial institution doesn’t have to go through an interbank system (also called an “off-us” transaction).

  • Alternate name: On-us transaction, on-us check, in-house on-us payment

For example, imagine that two sisters, Sarah and Hillary, both use the same financial institution. When Sarah writes Hillary a check and Hillary deposits it into her account, that institution completes the transaction as an on-us item.

Because this money is still held at the financial institution, it doesn’t need to go through an outside network to deposit the funds into Hillary’s account. But if Hillary used a different financial institution than Sarah, the financial institution would have to use a clearing network to complete the transaction—making it an “off-us” item.

Note

There are times when an item may not be on-us even though it’s processed through the same bank. This could happen if the people involved in the transaction have accounts in the same bank but different states or different check-processing regions.

How an On-Us Item Works

On-us items offer benefits to customers and institutions alike. Since banks can’t hold on-us items longer than one business day, customers get quicker access to funds. Institutions save money by not using an outside network to process the transaction.

For instance, let’s say you bank with Chase, and you make a purchase at a local store that also uses Chase to process its terminal payments. Because the issuing bank and acquiring bank are the same, Chase can process this as an on-us item. It doesn’t need to pass through another credit card network, such as Mastercard or Visa.

Think about what happens when you withdraw money from a bank-owned ATM. That bank can instantly see that you have the money; therefore, it processes your withdrawal as an on-us item and doesn’t charge you for using the ATM. On the flip side, if you were to withdraw cash from an international or non-network ATM, it would be processed as an off-us item and you would likely be charged associated fees.

On-Us vs. Off-Us Items

On-us items are drawn and deposited internally, without ever having to leave the bank’s system. The money simply moves from one account to another. Off-us items, on the other hand, must be sent to another institution using an external banking system.

On-Us Items Off-Us Items
Issuing bank and receiving bank are the same Issuing bank is different than the receiving bank
Less expensive for the bank because they perform both sides of the transaction More expensive for the bank because they have to go through an interbank system, which may charge fees

Pros and Cons of an On-Us Item

Pros
  • Quicker processing times

  • Less expensive for the institution

Cons
  • May not always be “on-us” even if the same bank performs the transaction

Pros Explained

  • Quicker processing times: All on-us checks are required by law to be available for withdrawal within one business day. Your bank can’t hold those funds longer than that.
  • Less expensive for the institution: Because banks and credit unions don’t have to use an outside network to exchange funds, they save money on fees and other surcharges that would otherwise apply.

Cons Explained

  • May not always be “on-us” even if the same bank performs the transaction: If you use a national bank that has several check-processing regions and your check deposit has to be sent to a different one, it may process some of your check deposits as “off-us.”

Key Takeaways

  • When two people send and receive money to each other using the same bank, that bank can process their transactions as on-us items.
  • On-us items are less expensive for banks to process because they don’t have to use an outside network to complete the transaction. Everything is done internally.
  • For off-us items, a bank must use a clearing network to process the transaction. Off-us items typically have fees and surcharges not associated with on-us items (although most end users will not notice a difference).
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Sources
The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. FDIC. "Expedited Funds Availability Act."

  2. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. "The 2019 Federal Reserve Payments Study."

  3. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. "Availability of Funds and Collection of Checks," See "Availability of Deposits Subject to Exceptions (§ 229.13(h))."

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