Despite the fact that here in America we have a more or less centralized banking system, each bank still interfaces with that backbone (the Automated Clearing House, Visa and MasterCard payment networks, etc.) using its own proprietary software. That leads to the various banks processing identical transactions on different timetables. Nothing in this post is scripture, but I thought it might be interesting to share my observations on the quirks of each bank, as I've observed them, and invite readers to share their own experiences in the comments.
These observations are based on obsessively logging into all my bank accounts multiple times each day, both on PC and smartphone. If you don't obsessively watch your accounts, you probably won't notice any of these differences, since they don't have any impact on the important stuff like statement balances or due dates.
American Express clears transactions the fastest among any of the banks whose cards I carry: they'll typically post the second business day after a purchase.
When making a payment, my "available credit" will typically increase on the day the payment is scheduled to be received, while my "outstanding balance" will decrease only the following day.
Rewards typically post to third party accounts about a day after statement closing, while my Blue Cash seems to take up to 2 days (based on a very small number of statements to date).
Barclaycard clears transactions typically within 3-4 business days, I haven't observed them to be particularly fast or slow.
Payments post in the opposite manner of American Express: my outstanding balance will go down in the evening of the day a payment is scheduled to post, but my available credit won't go up until the following business day.
One of the many reasons I love the Barclaycard Arrival (now Arrival+) is that rewards post mid-cycle. Interestingly, in my experience they tend to post the evening before a charge actually clears on my online account. This can lead to some confusion about whether miles are the results of a charge posting or RewardsBoost shopping portal miles posting, because the pending charge disappears completely overnight, before reappearing as cleared the following day.
US Bank is the opposite of American Express: charges take the absolute longest to post of any of my credit cards, at least 4 business days and sometimes up to 5.
However, I've been able to use this to my advantage, because of the other quirk of US Bank compared to my other credit card issuers: US Bank reports my balances to credit bureaux on the last day of the month, not on statement closing, while rewards are naturally based on all the charges during my statement cycle. That means I can drive down my balances before the end of the month with charges that will post before my statement closing date. I'm unable to truly maximize this quirk because my statement closing date happens to fall at the beginning of the month. If you have a mid-month closing date, however, you could easily avoid having any of your spend ever show up on your credit reports.
All of my US Bank credit cards are without a preset spending limit, so I'm not sure when credit becomes available again after a payment. However, payments usually show up online the day after a payment is scheduled to arrive, with the correct posting date.
Chase is absolutely vanilla compared to these other card issuers. Charges clear within 3-4 days, and payments post on schedule (although they don't show up in online banking until the following day). Ultimate Rewards points post towards the evening of the day my statements become available, while third-party rewards (Avios) can take 2-3 days to post.
I also use my Chase cards least aggressively of all my rewards-earning credit cards, so my experience may simply be a consequence of basing my conclusions on fewer datapoints.
Do these quirks jibe with your own experiences?
Have you observed similar quirks with other card issuers, like Comenity, GE Capital, or FIA Card Services?