Notes Payable vs Accounts Payable: Difference and Comparison

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” provided to them by banks, financing businesses, and suppliers. Accounts payable and notes payable are the two types of payables. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Notes payable are formal, written promises to repay a debt, while accounts payable represent short-term liabilities for goods or services.
  2. Notes payable involve interest payments, whereas accounts payable do not.
  3. Notes payable have a specified repayment schedule, while accounts payable are due within a shorter time frame.

Notes Payable vs Accounts Payable  

Notes payable are formal agreements between a company and a creditor in which the company agrees to repay a specific amount of money over a particular period. Accounts payable are more informal agreements between a company and its vendors or suppliers and do not accrue interest.

Notes Payable vs Accounts Payable

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Notes payable is a liability account kept in a company’s general ledger. Notes Payable have a longer duration of liability, starting at six months, and require a documented contract and 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 financial institution. 

Accounts payable is a general ledger account 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

Parameters of Comparison Notes Payable Accounts Payable 
Purpose Liability is for a period of two weeks to one month. 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. It necessitates the signing a written contract signed by the debtor containing the acc’s terms. 
Contract It necessitates the signing a written contract signed by the debtor and containing the acc’s terms. Aside from a sales invoice, a formal agreement is 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 notes payable. It’s a formal agreement to pay a specific amount of money within a certain time. When a company is short on cash, it might use a promissory note to borrow 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 that has lent money or obtained an asset. 

The borrower agrees to pay a specific principal sum plus any interest on the promissory note at a specified future date. A promissory memo 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 the cash account is used to make the payment. 

The balance in the notes payable account represents the entire amount owed on all promissory notes issued by the company. Most promissory messages 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 shared 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 reports payable charge is used to record product and service transactions, showing arriving goods and debtor payments is critical. 

The accounts payable account is debited, and the cash account is credited when a creditor is paid. Most 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 later. 

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 have a longer-term liability, whereas accounts payable have liability for a shorter term. 
  3. Notes payable require a written contract which states the terms of the account, but accounts payable require 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 offer notes payable, while vendors of goods and services offer accounts payable. 

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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