Backup Line

DEFINITION of 'Backup Line'

A line of credit used by a bank to cover any issue of commercial paper for which financing from new paper may not be available. A backup line of credit effectively provides an alternate source of liquidity for the issuer and a source of credit for the purchaser. Backup lines usually take the form of a confirmed letter of credit or contractual facility.


The amount of backup line generally ranges from 50 to 100%, depending upon the quality of the paper issued. Lower grade paper usually get greater coverage and vice-versa. These lines of credit are usually paid for with either compensating balances or else with a simple straight fee.