Difference Between Notes Payable and Accounts Payable

Individuals and corporations occasionally lack the financial wherewithal to purchase the items they require, forcing them to do so on credit. These are referred to as “payables” and are provided to them by banks, financing businesses, and suppliers. Accounts payable and notes payable are the two types of payables. 

Notes Payable vs Accounts Payable  

The main difference between notes payable and accounts payable is that notes payable are a liability account including a written pledge to pay a set amount of money within a specified time frame, whereas accounts payable are mainly used to track credit card purchases of goods and services. 

Notes Payable and Accounts Payable

Notes payable is a liability account that is kept in the general ledger of a company. Notes Payable have a longer duration of liability, starting at six months, and require a documented contract as well as a fixed interest rate. When a firm lacks cash, it may borrow funds or acquire assets by issuing a promissory note to a bank, vendor, or other financial institution. 

Accounts payable is a general ledger account that is primarily used to track credit purchases of goods and services. It does not charge interest or other fees and does not necessarily require a written agreement. The majority of accounts payable must be settled in less than a year. 

Comparison Table Between Notes Payable and Accounts Payable 

Parameters of Comparison Notes Payable Accounts Payable 
Purpose It’s a liability account that includes a written pledge to pay a set amount of money within a specified time frame. It was once used to track credit card purchases of goods and services. 
Term of Liability  Liability has a longer duration, with the shortest being six months. Liability is normally for a period of two weeks to one month. 
Contract It necessitates the signing of a written contract signed by the debtor and containing the account’s terms. Aside from a sales invoice, a formal agreement is usually unnecessary. 
Interest Amount It has a specific interest rate and service charges. It is not charged with interest or other fees. 
Provider Banks and other financial entities frequently offer notes payable. Suppliers of goods and services offer accounts payable. 

What is Notes Payable? 

A liability account in a company’s general ledger is known as notes payable. It’s a formal agreement to pay a specific amount of money within a certain amount of time. When a company is short on cash, it might use a promissory note to borrow money or acquire assets from a bank, vendor, or other financial institution. 

A promissory note deal is one in which the borrower signs the note and unconditionally agrees to reimburse an individual, a vendor, or a financial institution who has lent money or obtained an asset. 

The borrower agrees to pay a specific sum of principal plus any interest on the promissory note at a specified future date. A promissory note specifies the interest rate, maturity date, and collateral. 

On the maturity date, the organization must pay the principal amount plus interest at the rate stipulated in the note. Debiting the notes payable account, the interest account, and lastly, the cash account is used to make the payment. 

The entire amount owed on all promissory notes issued by the company is represented by the balance in the notes payable account. The majority of promissory notes are paid within a year, and the remainder of notes payable is shown on the balance sheet as a current obligation. 

What is Accounts Payable? 

Accounts payable is a common ledger account used to keep track of credit purchases of products and services. In most circumstances, it’s a liability account with a credit balance. Because the accounts payable account is generally used to record product and service transactions, it is critical to show arriving goods and debtor payments. 

The accounts payable account is debited, and the cash account is credited when a creditor is paid. The majority of accounts payable must be settled within 12 months and is recorded as a current obligation on the balance sheet. 

Accounts payable must be carefully managed because they affect a company’s financial situation, credit rating, and overall relationship with vendors and creditors. 

If a company runs out of cash and can’t make short-term payments, creditors may urge the company to take a promissory note for the remaining sum, which will be payable at a later date. 

If the corporation and the creditor agree on the terms and conditions of the note, it is drafted, signed, and issued to the creditor. As a result of this arrangement, an account payable becomes a note payable. 

Main Differences Between Notes Payable and Accounts Payable  

  1. Accounts payable is used to record the purchase of goods and services on credit, while notes payable is a liability account with a written promise to pay a specified sum of money. 
  2. Notes payable has a longer-term liability, whereas accounts payable has liability for a shorter term. 
  3. Notes payable requires a written contract which states the terms of the account but accounts payable usually requires no written agreement. 
  4. Interest and service costs are imposed on notes payable, while interest is not charged on accounts payable. 
  5. Banks and other financial institutions typically offer notes payable, while vendors of goods and services typically offer accounts payable. 


Short-term financial obligations based on good faith are referred to as accounts payable. They do not include any contractual obligation to pay within a specified time frame, except an invoice. They are also exempt from any interest or other costs, and a return is normally required within 30 days or less. Clients are frequently given the option of purchasing products or commodities on credit.  

Notes payable, on the other hand, are short- or long-term financial obligations that need a written pledge to pay within a set period of time. Cash, goods, services, or a combination of commodities and services can be traded for these notes. Financial institutions such as banks and financing or credit enterprises frequently provide consumers who want to buy something but don’t have enough cash the opportunity to do so.


  1. http://dspace.mnau.edu.ua/jspui/bitstream/123456789/4166/1/29_%D0%A1%D1%82%D1%83%D0%B4_%D0%BA%D0%BE%D1%84_2017_36.pdf 
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378426608001830 
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