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What Are Dividend Payment Dates?

If you're considering investing in a dividend stock, you're likely wondering when your dividend payment date is. After all, dividend stocks are ideally about earning a steady income stream. 

Many public companies pay dividends regularly, usually quarterly, semi-annually or annually. Knowing when these payments come from companies is vital for your financial plan. 

But before investing in dividend stocks, it's also crucial to understand how they work. By the time you finish this article, you'll understand what dividend payment dates are, why they're important as an income investor and how to think about them strategically.

What is a Dividend Payment Date?

Dividends are payments made by publicly traded companies out of their profits distributed to you and other shareholders. When a company pays dividends, you will receive either cash or stock in exchange for your shares in the company. Naturally, if you're expecting income from an investment, you'll want to know when you'll get paid. So what is the dividend payment date? 

The dividend payment date refers to when these payments are due. They typically hinge upon when companies declare dividends and when their financial periods close. For example, companies conducting business during the first three months of the year (January, February and March) will announce their dividends in February and pay them in March. 

Companies conducting business from April through June will have the same dividend payment schedule. July through September will follow a similar schedule, and so on. Most companies pay dividends quarterly or semi-annually. They have specific payment dates on the last day of each quarter or every six months, respectively. For instance, Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) follows a quarterly schedule and often pays dividends in February, May, August and November.

Companies sometimes have special dividends that don't match their normal dividend payout dates.

When comparing your investment options, remember that dividend stocks that pay quarterly dividends often have higher yields because stocks with higher yields are usually riskier than those with lower yields.

dividend payment date

Understanding Dividend Payment Dates 

Companies set stock dividend dates after they announce their earnings and decide how much money they will have available to pay dividends. 

Once a company has decided to pay a dividend, it also has to decide on the payment date. Depending on the company and the timing, the company may have more than one option, but there are some fundamental rules that all companies follow. 

When a company declares a dividend payment, you'll see it posted along with the dividend announcement, which will tell you the amount of the dividend and the record date. You'll need to own the stock on the record date to be considered a shareholder. If you own a dividend stock at the time of its record date, you will receive the dividend. If you become a shareholder after the record date, you will not be entitled to that dividend.

Dividend Payment and Relevant Dates

The dividend payment date is when you receive your dividends from a company. This day typically falls one month after the record date, although it can change by one week in either direction, based on the company's board of directors' decision. Most dividend pay dates are set explicitly for a specific date each year. It can help you plan your income for the year and gives you a date to look forward to. However, some companies choose to pay dividends earlier or later than scheduled. A company's dividend payment date is fixed when it declares its dividends before the financial period ends. These dates are published in the company's annual report and Form 10-Q, which includes unaudited financial statements, providing a view of the company's finances throughout the year. To find your dividend payment date, visit the company's investor relations website. 

Here, you'll usually find a section dedicated to dividend payments. You can also find some of this information on each stock summary on MarketBeat. The dividend payment date is essential information when deciding whether to invest in a company. Knowing the dates gives you an idea of when you will receive your payments and how much they will be worth. 

Declaration Date 

The declaration date is the day the company's board of directors officially announces the dividend amount. The board establishes how much each shareholder will receive and when the payment is due, which often marks the beginning of a company's quarterly or semi-annual dividend cycle. In addition to tracking dividend payments, the declaration date is significant from a tax perspective. Dividend payments are generally taxable as ordinary income. 

When you receive your dividend payment on its designated date, you'll need to know when it was declared to accurately report it on your taxes. The date also marks the period when the stock price may be affected. When a company declares a dividend, you may buy shares in anticipation of receiving payments. On the other hand, you may sell stock to benefit from capital gains rather than receive dividends.

Record Date 

The record date determines who is eligible to receive dividends. The company takes a snapshot of all shareholders registered in its system on the record date. The record date is usually two to three weeks after the dividend declaration date. If you want to receive your dividend payments, you must own shares on or before this date. Some companies allow you to purchase stock up to two or three days after the date and still receive the dividend. Every dividend is different, and the record date is usually included on the announcement that includes the dividend payment date.


When a company declares a dividend payment, it sets the time and date that shareholders can expect to receive their income. Dividend payment declarations usually indicate the official "ex-dividend" date or "ex-date." The ex-dividend date usually falls one business day before the record date. 

If you purchase a stock just before the declared payment date, you can't reap the benefit of the income payment. However, if you buy before the ex-dividend date and sell after, you'll get the dividend if you meet the other criteria. As a general rule, avoid purchasing stock on the ex-dividend date. 

For example, if a company declares a dividend of 30 cents payable on December 20, and you buy the stock on December 18, you pay the total price of $10. You will only receive $9.70 in dividend payments because the stock price decreases by the amount of the dividend on the ex-dividend date. The price of your stock adjusts downward by 30 cents.

Dividend Reinvestment Plan (DRIP) 

A dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP) is an investment strategy that allows you to use your dividend proceeds from your existing shares to purchase additional shares of stock in the company instead of receiving cash payments. Instead of waiting for dividends to accumulate over time, you can put those dollars to work immediately by reinvesting them in more shares of the same company. You can also add funds from other sources. 

DRIPs can be attractive because they provide an easy way to diversify your portfolio and increase long-term returns. If you're a small investor, DRIPs are a popular option if you're looking to add to your holdings of a particular stock when it may be more difficult to obtain shares directly through a transfer agent or broker. 

For example, if you own shares of companies like The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO), Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) and General Electric (NYSE: GE), they are all part of popular DRIP programs. In addition, if you wish to pay less in commissions, you can use your dividend payments to purchase new shares through a DRIP.

Make the Most Out of Dividend Payment Dates

Dividend payments may vary from quarter to quarter and year to year, depending on a company's financial health. Understanding dividend payment dates is a must if you're an income investor. Dividends can provide you with an additional source of income that has more predictability than stock market returns. 

For example, you may prefer to see money arrive in your accounts in the same months you receive your regular salary. By understanding the declaration, record and ex-dates and taking advantage of DRIPs, you can make the most out of your dividend payments. Dividend payment dates give you peace of mind because they help you anticipate when your payments will arrive, allowing for better budgeting or even reinvestment opportunities. 

Dividends can increase your long-term portfolio value and may offer compounding effects if you reinvest those payments into other stocks or funds. Additionally, certain qualified dividends may get favorable tax treatments, increasing your potential returns. Researching a company's dividend policy before investing can also provide insight into its financial health and management style and help you make more informed decisions about where your money goes.

Learn more about the 50 best dividend stocks on MarketBeat


Dividends can be an essential part of your investment strategy. By understanding the dates associated with dividend payments, you can better plan your annual income and achieve greater returns over time. This FAQ guide can help clarify any questions regarding dividend payment dates.

What are the three important dates for dividends? 

The three important dates for dividends are the declaration date, the record date and the ex-date. The declaration date is when the company officially announces how much of a dividend you will receive and when it will be due. The record date marks your eligibility to receive dividends and the ex-date marks the day that you, as a shareholder, can expect to receive your income. Any stock you purchase after this date will not be eligible for dividends.

Will I get a dividend if I buy two days before the ex-dividend date? 

Yes, if you purchase stock before the ex-dividend date and meet all other criteria, such as owning the shares on or before the record date. Note that the stock price may decrease by the amount of the dividend on the ex-date. For this reason, purchase stocks just before the declaration date.

How many days should I hold stock to get a dividend?

You will receive the dividend if you buy the stock before the ex-dividend date and meet all other criteria. However, if you purchase stocks on the ex-dividend date, you will not be eligible to receive the dividend.

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