What is Credit Terms?

Credit terms are the conditions under which a seller extends credit to a buyer, specifying the payment schedule and any applicable discounts or penalties. For a UK audience, understanding credit terms is essential for managing cash flow, maintaining good supplier relationships, and ensuring smooth business operations.


Key Aspects of Credit Terms:

  1. Definition:
    • Credit terms outline the time frame and conditions for payment agreed upon between a seller and a buyer. They specify when payment is due, any discounts available for early payment, and penalties for late payment.
  2. Components of Credit Terms:
    • Payment Due Date: The date by which the buyer must pay the invoice in full. Common terms include “net 30” (payment due 30 days from the invoice date), “net 60”, or “net 90”.
    • Discount Terms: Details any discounts offered for early payment. For example, “2/10, net 30” means the buyer can take a 2% discount if the invoice is paid within 10 days; otherwise, the full amount is due in 30 days.
    • Late Payment Penalties: Specifies any penalties or interest charges applied to overdue payments. This could be a fixed fee or a percentage of the outstanding amount per month.
  3. Importance of Credit Terms:
    • Cash Flow Management: Credit terms affect a business’s cash flow. Favorable terms can improve liquidity by extending the time to pay invoices, while early payment discounts can help reduce costs.
    • Customer Relationships: Clear and fair credit terms can strengthen relationships with customers by providing predictable payment schedules and mutual trust.
    • Risk Management: Setting appropriate credit terms helps manage the risk of late or non-payment, contributing to the financial stability of the business.
  4. Typical Credit Terms:
    • Net 30: Payment due 30 days from the invoice date.
    • 2/10, Net 30: 2% discount if paid within 10 days; otherwise, the full amount is due in 30 days.
    • Net Monthly Account: Payment due at the end of the month following the invoice date.
    • COD (Cash on Delivery): Payment is made at the time of delivery.
    • CIA (Cash in Advance): Payment is made before goods or services are delivered.
  5. Setting Credit Terms:
    • Creditworthiness: Assess the creditworthiness of the buyer using credit checks and financial statements to determine suitable credit terms.
    • Industry Standards: Consider the common credit terms within the industry to remain competitive.
    • Cash Flow Needs: Align credit terms with the business’s cash flow requirements to ensure sufficient liquidity.
    • Negotiation: Terms can be negotiated based on the relationship with the buyer, order size, and payment history.
  6. Example:A UK-based wholesaler sells goods to a retail chain with the following credit terms:
    • Terms: 2/10, Net 30
    • Invoice Amount: £10,000
    • Early Payment Option: The retailer can take a 2% discount (£200) if they pay within 10 days, resulting in a payment of £9,800.
    • Payment Due Date: If the retailer does not take the discount, the full £10,000 is due within 30 days.
    • Late Payment Penalty: A 1.5% monthly interest charge on overdue amounts.

    The retailer decides to take advantage of the early payment discount, paying £9,800 within 10 days, saving £200 and benefiting the wholesaler with quicker cash inflow.


Credit terms are a vital aspect of business transactions, impacting cash flow, customer relationships, and financial risk management. For UK businesses, understanding and negotiating effective credit terms can enhance financial stability and operational efficiency. By setting clear, fair, and competitive credit terms, businesses can foster strong customer relationships, manage risks, and optimize their cash flow.