What is a creditor – Meaning, definition and types

Discover the essence of creditors and debtors in finance, exploring their roles and types. Master your financial understanding with our comprehensive guide.
Get free CIBIL Score
2 min read
2 Nov 2023

In the world of finance, understanding the roles of creditors and debtors is fundamental. Whether you are an individual managing your personal finances or a business owner navigating the complex landscape of accounting and finance, knowing the ins and outs of creditors is crucial. In this article, we will explore the meaning, definition, and various types of creditors, shedding light on this essential concept.

What is a creditor?

A creditor is an individual, organisation, or entity that extends credit or lends money to another party, often referred to as a debtor. In simpler terms, a creditor is someone who is owed money by someone else. Creditors can take various forms, including banks, financial institutions, suppliers, or even private individuals who have provided a loan. The relationship between a creditor and a debtor is based on a contractual agreement, which specifies the terms and conditions under which the debtor must repay the borrowed funds.

Who is a creditor and who is a debtor?

To better understand the concept, let us distinguish between creditors and debtors. As mentioned earlier, a creditor is the entity that lends money or extends credit, while a debtor is the party that borrows the funds and is obligated to repay the debt. When you take out a loan from a bank to buy a car, for instance, the bank becomes the creditor, and you become the debtor. You owe the bank the money that you borrowed, and they expect you to make regular payments, including interest, until the loan is fully repaid.

What are the different types of creditors?

Creditors can be categorised into various types, each with distinct characteristics and priorities. Let us explore some of these types:

1. Secured creditors:

Secured creditors hold a specific claim on the assets of the debtor. This means that if the debtor fails to repay the debt, the secured creditor has the right to take possession of the specified collateral or assets to recover the owed amount. Common examples of secured creditors include mortgage lenders and auto finance companies. In case of default, they can repossess the property.

2. Unsecured creditors:

Unlike secured creditors, unsecured creditors do not have a specific claim on any of the debtor's assets. Instead, they rely on the debtor's promise to repay the debt. Credit card companies and personal loan providers are typical examples of unsecured creditors. In the event of a debtor's insolvency or bankruptcy, unsecured creditors are lower in priority when it comes to receiving repayment.

3. Preferential creditors:

Preferential creditors are a specific category of creditors with priority in the event of the debtor's insolvency. These creditors have certain legal privileges, allowing them to be repaid before other creditors. Tax authorities and employees with unpaid wages are often considered preferential creditors. In the unfortunate event of a business going bankrupt, these creditors are at the front of the line to receive their owed amounts.

4. Trade creditors:

Trade creditors are businesses or suppliers that extend credit to other businesses. When a company purchases goods or services on credit, it becomes a trade debtor. On the flip side, the businesses providing these goods or services become trade creditors, as they are waiting for payment from their customers. Trade credit is a common practice in the business world and plays a crucial role in the functioning of supply chains.

Meaning of ‘creditor’ in accounting

In the realm of accounting, creditors are recorded in a specific account called the "Accounts Payable" account. This account reflects the total amount of money a business owes to its creditors. It is a liability account, as it represents the company's obligations to repay its debts. Understanding the balance in the Accounts Payable account is essential for businesses to manage their financial health and fulfil their obligations to creditors in a timely manner.

Debtors and creditors in the balance sheet

The balance sheet is a financial statement that provides a snapshot of a company's financial position at a specific point in time. It categorises assets, liabilities, and shareholders' equity. Debtors and creditors play a significant role in the balance sheet:

Debtors (also known as account receivables) represent the money owed to a company by its customers for goods or services provided on credit. This is recorded as an asset on the balance sheet, as the company expects to receive these funds in the future.

Creditors (or accounts payable) represent the money the company owes to its suppliers, lenders, and other parties. It is recorded as a liability on the balance sheet, as it reflects the company's obligations to repay these debts.

Understanding the balance between debtors and creditors on the balance sheet is crucial for assessing a company's liquidity and financial stability.

Creditors and debtors are fundamental concepts in finance and accounting, shaping financial transactions and obligations in both personal and business contexts. Whether you are managing your finances or running a company, it is essential to grasp the roles of creditors and debtors, their types, and their impact on financial statements. By doing so, you can make informed decisions and maintain healthy financial relationships.


While care is taken to update the information, products, and services included in or available on our website and related platforms/websites, there may be inadvertent inaccuracies or typographical errors or delays in updating the information. The material contained in this site, and on associated web pages, is for reference and general information purpose and the details mentioned in the respective product/service document shall prevail in case of any inconsistency. Subscribers and users should seek professional advice before acting on the basis of the information contained herein. Please take an informed decision with respect to any product or service after going through the relevant product/service document and applicable terms and conditions. In case any inconsistencies are observed, please click on reach us.

*Terms and conditions apply