What is a promissory note

Explore the key components and uses of promissory notes, essential for formalising agreements in financial transactions.
What is a promissory note
5 min read
07 December 2023

A promissory note is a legally binding document that establishes a promise to pay a specified amount to a designated individual or entity at a predetermined time. Promissory notes play a significant role in facilitating financial transactions and lending activities.

NBFCs are financial institutions that provide banking services without meeting the legal definition of a bank. This financial instrument can serve as evidence of debt, outlining the terms and conditions of the loan. Personal loan with repayment schedule and interest rate is offered by NBFC. Promissory notes are widely used in various financial transactions, providing a straightforward means of formalising agreements between parties.

How does a promissory note work?

A promissory note is a financial instrument used in lending transactions. It is a written promise from a borrower to repay a specified amount to a lender within a defined timeframe. The note outlines key terms, including the principal amount borrowed, any interest rate, and the repayment schedule. Once both parties sign, the document becomes a legally binding agreement.

What are the types of promissory notes?

Following are few types of promissory notes:

1. Secured promissory note:

  • Backed by collateral.
  • Offers lender asset protection.

2. Unsecured promissory note:

  • No collateral is required.
  • Relies on the borrower's creditworthiness.

3. Demand promissory note:

Repayment upon lender's request.

4. Instalment promissory note:

Repayment in fixed instalments.

5. Joint and several promissory notes:

Multiple borrowers share liability.

6. Convertible promissory note:

Converts into equity in specific conditions.

What is included in a promissory note?

A promissory note includes various essential elements to outline the terms of a loan agreement between a borrower and a lender. Here are the key components typically included in it:

Parties involved:

Names and addresses of the borrower (maker) and the lender (payee).

Principal amount:

Specifies the amount of money borrowed by the borrower.

Interest rate:

If applicable, details the interest rate charged on the loan.

Repayment terms:

Outlines the schedule and method of repayment, including instalment amounts and due dates.

Maturity date

Specifies the date when the entire outstanding amount must be repaid.


If the loan is to be repaid in instalments the number and frequency are stated.

Interest calculation method:

Clarifies whether interest is simple, compound, or calculated by another method.

Late fees and penalties:

Specifies any charges or penalties for late payments.


Outlines the consequences of default and the actions that the lender can take.

Governing law:

Specifies the jurisdiction whose laws will govern the promissory note.


Includes the signatures of both the borrower and lender to make the document legally binding.

Which parties are involved in a promissory note?

A promissory note involves two parties: the "maker" who promises to repay a specified amount, and the "payee" who receives the promise of payment. It outlines terms such as interest rates, repayment schedule, and consequences of default. Both parties should clearly understand and agree to the terms outlined in the document.

What are the pros and cons of a promissory note?

Pros of a promissory note include clear loan terms, legal enforceability, and flexibility in structuring agreements. However, cons may include potential strain on personal relationships, complexity in legal language, and the need for proper documentation. Both parties should carefully consider these factors before making a promissory note.

In conclusion, a promissory note is a versatile financial instrument that offers legal protection and clarity in various transactions. Understanding their types, features, and appropriate use is crucial for both lenders and borrowers in fostering transparent and responsible financial relationships. Hence, it is crucial to read a promissory note carefully and, when needed, seek legal advice to ensure that it complies with applicable laws and serves the best interests of both parties.


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Frequently asked questions

What is an example of a promissory note?

An example of a promissory note is a student loan agreement. In this document, a borrower (maker) promises to repay a specific amount to a lender (payee) over a set period, with defined interest rates and repayment terms. The promissory note outlines the legal obligations of both parties.

Is a promissory note guaranteed?

A promissory note is a legal document outlining a borrower's promise to repay a specific amount to a lender. While it is a binding agreement, it doesn't guarantee repayment. If the borrower defaults, the lender may need to take legal action to enforce the terms and collect the owed amount.

What makes a promissory note legal?

For a promissory note to be legal, it must include essential elements like the names of the parties, the amount borrowed, repayment terms, interest rates, and the agreement's date. Both parties must willingly agree, and the document should comply with applicable laws and regulations to be enforceable.

What are the advantages of promissory notes?

Promissory notes offer advantages such as clear loan terms, enforceability in legal proceedings, and flexibility in structuring agreements. They establish a written record of the borrower's promise to repay, providing clarity and protection for both parties involved. Additionally, promissory notes may help build trust in financial transactions.

Who signs the promissory note?

In a promissory note, the person borrowing the money, known as the borrower or maker, is the one who signs the document. The lender or payee, who is receiving the promise of repayment, does not typically sign the promissory note but retains the legally binding document for reference and enforcement if needed.

What is the time of the promissory note?

The term, or time, of a promissory note, refers to the period within which the borrower agrees to repay the loan. It specifies the duration of the loan agreement, outlining when the borrower is obligated to fulfil the repayment terms, whether through a lump-sum payment or a series of instalments.

How to collect on a promissory note?

To collect on a promissory note, start with friendly reminders. If unsuccessful, send a formal demand letter outlining the outstanding amount, deadlines, and consequences of non-payment. If needed, pursue legal action through small claims court or hire a collection agency. Ensure compliance with local laws and the promissory note's terms.

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