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How to Withdraw Money From a Brokerage Account

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No matter what you're investing for, there comes a time when you need to withdraw money from a brokerage account. This may be a bit different than what you're used to. Unlike with a bank account, taking money out of this type of investment account can sometimes involve extra steps. The main reason is that your money is presumably invested and not available as cash.

Fortunately, it's not too difficult to get the hang of this process. Once you learn how to withdraw money from a brokerage account, you'll be able to access your money when you need it.

How to withdraw money from a brokerage account

When you want to withdraw money from brokerage account, here's how:

  1. Log in to your account on your broker's site.
  2. Go to the transfers page. Where you find this option depends on the broker you use, but it's usually on the main navigation bar.
  3. Choose the amount and the withdrawal method. You can transfer the money to a bank account, wire it, or request a physical check. Most brokers, even the best online brokers that don't have many fees, do charge fees for wire transfers. This type of transfer is faster than a standard electronic funds transfer.

You can only withdraw cash from your brokerage account. If you want to withdraw more than you have available as cash, you'll need to sell stocks or other investments first.

Keep in mind that after you sell stocks, you must wait for the trade to settle before you can withdraw money from your brokerage account. This typically takes two business days. After your trade has settled, you can follow the withdrawal process above to get your cash.

One final thing to note is that if you have a margin account, your broker might let you take cash out before your trades settle. However, you could be charged margin interest for the period of time between when you submit the request to withdraw money from a brokerage account and when the settled funds reach your account. Always check with your broker before doing an automated withdrawal to ensure you won't get hit with interest charges or other fees by jumping the gun.

Related: What Taxes Do I Pay on Selling Stock?

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Withdrawing money from retirement accounts

If you've opened an individual retirement account (IRA) with your broker and you want to make a withdrawal, there are additional rules you need to know.

Withdrawals from retirement accounts have brokerage taxes that withdrawals from regular brokerage accounts don't. If you take money out of a traditional IRA or 401(k) account, you have to pay income tax on the amount of your withdrawal. You'll add the withdrawal to your taxable income when preparing your tax return, and then you must pay the resulting taxes, which will depend on your tax bracket.

What's more, those who are younger than 59½ often have to pay early withdrawal penalties, which is why it's not recommended to tap into your retirement savings. The federal government charges early withdrawal penalties equal to 10% of the withdrawal. Your state may also charge a penalty of its own. Fortunately, there are some exceptions. It may be possible to avoid a penalty if your withdrawal is for any of the following:

The way taxes and penalties are handled depend on the broker. Some require you to withhold these from the amount you withdraw, which means you'd need to take out more money to end up with the amount you want. Others let you decide if you want to withhold anything. If not, then you're responsible for paying any applicable taxes and penalties when filing your tax return.

Learn more: Are Brokerage Accounts Taxable?

Plan ahead for a smooth withdrawal process

It's not quite as fast or easy to withdraw money from a brokerage account as it is to get money out of your bank account. If you need to make any trades, those will take a couple days to settle. You'll also need to wait for the funds to transfer to your bank account after you make the withdrawal, unless you pay extra to wire the money.

What this means is that it's best to give yourself some time to withdraw money from a brokerage account. You'll be able to get a hold of your money, but it's not a process that you can rush.

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