Creditor Definition

What Is a Creditor?

A creditor is an individual or institution that extends credit to another party to borrow money usually by a loan agreement or contract. Creditors are commonly classified as personal or real.

Those who loan money to friends or family or a business that provides immediate supplies or services to a company or individual but allows for a delay in payment may be considered personal creditors.

Real creditors are banks or finance companies that have legal contracts and loan agreements with the borrower that grant the lender the right to claim any of the debtor's real assets or collateral if the loan is unpaid.

Key Takeaways

  • A creditor is an individual or institution that extends credit to another party to borrow money usually by a loan agreement or contract.
  • Creditors such as banks can repossess collateral like homes and cars on secured loans, and take debtors to court over unsecured debts.
  • Borrowers with good credit scores are considered low-risk to creditors, and these borrowers often garner low-interest rates.
1:29

Creditor

Understanding Creditors

Creditors often charge interest on the loans they offer their clients, such as a 5% interest rate on a $5000 loan. The interest represents the borrower's cost of the loan and the creditor's degree of risk that the borrower may not repay the loan.

To mitigate risk, most creditors tie interest rates or fees to the borrower's creditworthiness and past credit history. Borrowers with good credit scores are considered low-risk to creditors, and these borrowers often garner low-interest rates.

In contrast, borrowers with low credit scores are riskier for creditors and are often charged higher interest rates to address that risk. 

Creditor vs. Debtor

While the creditor is the entity that extends credit, a debtor is the legal party that accepts the credit or loan, owes the debt, and agrees to its repayment. 

What Happens If Creditors Are Not Repaid?

Secured creditors, often a bank or mortgage company, have a legal right to reclaim the property, such as a car or home, used as collateral for a loan, often through a lien or repossession.

An unsecured creditor, such as a credit card company, is a creditor where the borrower has not agreed to give the creditor any property such as a car or home as collateral to secure a debt. These creditors may sue these debtors in court over unpaid unsecured debts and courts may order the debtor to pay, garnish wages, or take other actions.

Creditors and Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is a legal process through which individuals who cannot repay debts to creditors may seek relief from some or all of their debts. Bankruptcy is initiated by the debtor and is imposed by a court order. 

When a debtor declares bankruptcy, the court notifies the creditor of the proceedings. In some bankruptcy cases, all of the debtor's non-essential assets are sold to repay debts, and the bankruptcy trustee repays the debts in order of their priority.

Tax debts and child support typically rank highest along with criminal fines, and overpayments of federal benefits for repayment. Unsecured loans such as credit cards are prioritized last, giving those creditors the smallest chance of recouping funds from debtors during bankruptcy proceedings.

What Is the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act?

A creditor often seeks repayment through the process outlined in the loan agreement. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects the debtor from aggressive or unfair debt collection practices and establishes ethical guidelines for the collection of consumer debts.

What Is Chapter 11?

Chapter 11 is a form of bankruptcy that involves the reorganization of a debtor’s business affairs, debts, and assets and allows a company to stay in business and restructure its obligations.

What Information Do Creditors Report to Credit Bureaus?

Individuals often rely on credit scores to obtain loans and extensions of credit. Creditors and lenders are not required by law to report anything to credit bureaus, however, many businesses report on-time payments, late payments, purchases, loan terms, credit limits, and balances owed, information used by credit bureaus to construct credit scores.

The Bottom Line

A creditor is an individual or institution that extends credit to another party to borrow money usually by a loan agreement or contract. On secured loans, creditors can repossess collateral like homes or cars and creditors can sue debtors for repayment of unsecured loans. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) established ethical guidelines for the collection of consumer debts by creditors. 

Take the Next Step to Invest
×
The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Investopedia receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where listings appear. Investopedia does not include all offers available in the marketplace.
Service
Name
Description