The primary function of the Fed’s Credit Office, also known as the discount window, is to ensure the stability of financial markets by providing short-term and intermediate-term credit to the banking system. All advances must be fully collateralized. Credit staff members analyze, evaluate, and monitor collateral pledged to the Reserve Bank, which can be used to secure discount window advances as well as offset risk associated with extensions of daylight credit or master account activity.
Discount window lending is administered in accordance with the Federal Reserve Act, Regulation A and various operating circulars. Federal Reserve credit is available to eligible banks, savings and loans and credit unions under three programs:
Primary Credit is available to financial institutions that Reserve Banks deem to be in generally sound financial condition. Normally, primary credit will be granted on a "no questions asked" basis at a rate that is above the Federal Open Market Committee's target for the federal funds rate.
Secondary Credit is available to financial institutions that are not eligible for primary credit. The secondary credit rate is above the primary credit rate.Seasonal Credit is a longer-term program that is available to financial institutions with less than $500 million in total deposits and that experience yearly fluctuations in deposits and loans caused by seasonal businesses such as farming, construction or tourism. Institutions must formally apply for a Seasonal Credit line by completing an application which requires monthly historical deposit, loan, securities, and fed funds data be submitted. If approved, the institution can then access its Seasonal line as funding needs dictate. Lines are normally approved for up to nine months and advances borrowed up to 30 days at a time. Please refer to the Seasonal Credit brochure for more information about this program.
All Discount Window loans must be fully secured. Reserve Banks accept a wide range of assets as collateral. General acceptance criteria for securities and loans, as well as a detailed list of eligible asset types, can be found in the Federal Reserve Collateral Guidelines.