What is a Credit Instrument?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Credit instruments are items that are utilized in the place of currency. Just about all individuals and businesses make use of some type of credit instrument on a daily basis. The ability to use such an instrument instead of currency rests in the fact that debtor and the recipient agree upon the use of the instrument and there is a reasonable expectation that the alternate form of payment will be honored.

Types of credit instruments may include promissory notes.
Types of credit instruments may include promissory notes.

One of the earliest forms of a credit instrument is the check. Utilized by consumers as a legitimate means of paying for goods and services received, the value of the check is underwritten by funds that are placed in a bank account. Upon the presentation of the check by the recipient, the bank deducts the specified amount as recorded on the check by the debtor. While the check is no longer the main credit instruments employed in many financial transactions, it remains in use by many businesses and individuals.

The credit card is another example of a common credit instrument. Using a credit card to pay for a purchase creates a contract between the buyer and the seller. Essentially, the seller is extending credit to the buyer with the assumption that the company issuing the card will cover the amount of the purchase. In turn, the issuer of the credit card is anticipating that the cardholder will eventually pay off the amount of the debt along with applicable interest and finance charges.

A third type of credit instrument is the promissory note. With this arrangement, debtors receive funds from lenders with the understanding that the note will be repaid in full at a future point in time. This type of debtor’s obligation may carry a specific date for repayment of be open-ended. Promissory notes may be utilized in the lending of funds between individuals or between two business entities.

There are two main advantages to the use of a credit instrument. First, the consumer does not have to carry a great deal of currency in order to make purchases. Second, the instrument can usually be replaced with relative ease when damage, loss, or theft of the instrument takes place. This is in contrast to cash, which usually cannot be replaced when damaged, stolen, or lost.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments

Studies have proved that people who make purchases using instruments of credit such as credit cards end up spending more money than they would have if they used cash/debit-card. This is one of the reasons that retailers accept credit even though they have to pay 3 - 5% fee to the credit card company. These fees represent a large portion of the credit card company's income.

The advantage of using credit to the user is convenience and free short term credit if the card is paid off within a certain period. For a lot of people who are living paycheck to paycheck this extra financial flexibility makes a big difference.


What are the characteristics of a credit instrument?


what are the advantages of using credit instruments to the debtor and to the creditor?

please answer immediately my question. thanks!

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