Our ‘commonly asked accountancy questions’ blog series aims to help our audience understand tricky accounting terms or practices. This time, we’re focusing on what is a creditor and what is a debtor?

What is a creditor?

A creditor is a term used in accounting to describe an entity (can either be a person, organisation or a government body) that is owed money, as they have provided goods or services to another entity. Sometimes, this entity will charge interest on money borrowed as a way to make money. This could be interest on bank loan repayments or credit card payments.

Examples of creditors:

  • Trade creditors – money you owe to suppliers
  • Loan from a bank or entity

What is a debtor?

A debtor is a term used in accounting to describe the opposite of a creditor – an individual that owes money, or who is in debt to an organisation or person. For example, a debtor is somebody who has taken out a loan at a bank for a new car.

Examples of debtors:

  • Trade debtors – money owed from customers
  • Staff loans

Creditor and debtor scenario

One typical scenario of a creditor and debtor in everyday life, would be a credit card company (creditor) who has issued a credit card to a customer (debtor) once they have signed a legal contract. This will outline the interest the debtor will pay on the outstanding balance, and the spending limit that has been allocated to them (which is determined by personal circumstances).

When that card user (debtor) spends money on that credit card, they are now essentially borrowing money from the credit card company (creditor) to pay for services or goods. For this scenario the credit card company charge 5% interest on each loan, meaning the debtor would pay 5% interest on the outstanding balance until it’s cleared.

For explanations of other commonly used accounting terms, check out our jargon-busting Accounting Terms Glossary.

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