A:

A bank guarantee and a letter of credit are similar in many ways but they're two different things. Letters of credit ensure that a transaction proceeds as planned, while bank guarantees reduce the loss if the transaction doesn't go as planned.

A letter of credit is an obligation taken on by a bank to make a payment once certain criteria are met. Once these terms are completed and confirmed, the bank will transfer the funds. This ensures the payment will be made as long as the services are performed.

A bank guarantee, like a line of credit, guarantees a sum of money to a beneficiary. Unlike a line of credit, the sum is only paid if the opposing party does not fulfill the stipulated obligations under the contract. This can be used to essentially insure a buyer or seller from loss or damage due to nonperformance by the other party in a contract.

For example a letter of credit could be used in the delivery of goods or the completion of a service. The seller may request that the buyer obtain a letter of credit before the transaction occurs. The buyer would purchase this letter of credit from a bank and forward it to the seller's bank. This letter would substitute the bank's credit for that of its client, ensuring correct and timely payment.

A bank guarantee might be used when a buyer obtains goods from a seller then runs into cash flow difficulties and can't pay the seller. The bank guarantee would pay an agreed-upon sum to the seller. Similarly, if the supplier was unable to provide the goods, the bank would then pay the purchaser the agreed-upon sum. Essentially, the bank guarantee acts as a safety measure for the opposing party in the transaction.

These financial instruments are often used in trade financing when suppliers, or vendors, are purchasing and selling goods to and from overseas customers with whom they don't have established business relationships. The instruments are designed to reduce the risk taken by each party.

For further reading, see What Is International Trade?

RELATED FAQS
  1. Can I have more than three original Bills of Lading?

    There is no restriction on the number of bills of lading that can be issued, but the number issued must be stated on the ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How long does a stock account have to be dormant before it can be escheated?

    A stock account is typically considered dormant and eligible for escheatment after five years of inactivity; however, this ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Do banks have working capital?

    The concept of working capital does not apply to banks since financial institutions do not have typical current assets and ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How does a bank determine what my discretionary income is when making a loan decision?

    Discretionary income is the money left over from your gross income each month after taking out taxes and paying for necessities. ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What net interest margin is typical for a bank?

    In the United States, the average net interest margin for banks was 3.03% in the first quarter of 2015. However, this was ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What are the main benchmarks that track the banking sector?

    The appropriate benchmarks for tracking banking sector performance depend on the type of banking. For instance, commercial-only ... Read Full Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Stock Analysis

    Analyzing Porter's Five Forces on JPMorgan Chase (JPM)

    Examine the major money-center bank holding firm, JPMorgan Chase & Company, from the perspective of Porter's five forces model for industry analysis.
  2. Term

    How Time Deposits Work

    A time deposit is an interest-bearing bank deposit that has a specific maturity date.
  3. Term

    Who Benefits from Microfinance?

    Microfinance describes banking services provided to low-income people or groups. Specific services offered by microfinance institutions include microloans, micro-savings and micro-insurance products.
  4. Stock Analysis

    3 Popular Financials Stocks in 2015 (WFC, COF)

    Find out about some of the popular financials stocks in 2015, why they have become popular and whether they will remain popular going forward.
  5. Retirement

    Is Bank of America Stock Suitable for Your IRA or Roth IRA? (BAC)

    Learn why Bank of America's established track record and long-term stability make it more suitable for a traditional IRA than for a Roth IRA.
  6. Stock Analysis

    Bank of America's 3 Key Financial Ratios (BAC)

    Discover some of the key financial ratios that show the quality of Bank of America's loan portfolio and how profitable the bank has been.
  7. Stock Analysis

    Wells Fargo's 3 Key Financial Ratios (WFC)

    Look at some of most important financial ratios for with Wells Fargo & Co. and understand why they are so important for analyzing the bank's core business.
  8. Economics

    What's a Non-Banking Financial Company?

    A non-banking financial company, or NBFC, does not hold a banking license, yet it still provides many banking services.
  9. Stock Analysis

    3 Disrupters of Retail Banking

    Understand how the retail banking industry operates and why it's becoming outdated. Learn about three disrupters that are changing the way consumers bank.
  10. Investing Basics

    APR and APY: Why Your Bank Hopes You Can't Tell The Difference

    Banks use these rates to entice borrowers and investors. Find out what you're really getting.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Debit Card

    An electronic card issued by a bank which allows bank clients ...
  2. Credit Union

    Member-owned financial co-operative. These institutions are created ...
  3. Check

    A written, dated and signed instrument that contains an unconditional ...
  4. Bank Deposits

    Money placed into a banking institution for safekeeping. Bank ...
  5. Cost Of Funds

    The interest rate paid by financial institutions for the funds ...
  6. Average Revenue Per User (ARPU)

    A measure of how much income a business generates, given the ...
Hot Definitions
  1. Inverted Yield Curve

    An interest rate environment in which long-term debt instruments have a lower yield than short-term debt instruments of the ...
  2. Socially Responsible Investment - SRI

    An investment that is considered socially responsible because of the nature of the business the company conducts. Common ...
  3. Presidential Election Cycle (Theory)

    A theory developed by Yale Hirsch that states that U.S. stock markets are weakest in the year following the election of a ...
  4. Super Bowl Indicator

    An indicator based on the belief that a Super Bowl win for a team from the old AFL (AFC division) foretells a decline in ...
  5. Flight To Quality

    The action of investors moving their capital away from riskier investments to the safest possible investment vehicles. This ...
Trading Center