Debtor Definition

A debtor is a person or entity, typically a business, that owes money to another party, such as a lender or supplier, and is obligated to repay the debt according to agreed-upon terms.

Starts at $0 + state fees and only takes 5-10 minutes

Excellent 4.8 out of 5 stars 15,717 reviews

The definition of debtor is a borrower who is liable to pay a defined sum to a creditor. Creditors are typically banks or suppliers of goods. A borrower might be either an individual seeking a personal loan to buy a home or a company looking for credit to expand its product line. The modern debtor definition typically requires a debt to be repaid with interest. 

In this article, we’ll explain the definition of debtor and provide some examples of debtors in the business world. Read on to find out more.

Debtors vs. Creditors

Creditors are the opposite of debtors. When debtors need money, creditors are often more than happy to lend it. Creditors, like debtors, can be either a person or a company. Family or friends can even be considered creditors if they’ve lent you money. Typical, or “real” creditors are banks or finance companies. These types of creditors typically have a credit or financing agreement in place. Creditors make money by charging interest. Paying interest charges to your creditors is one of debtors’ disadvantages.

Debtor Definition: Summary

Debtors are individuals or businesses that owe money, whether to banks or other individuals. 

Creditors may have other recourses to collect a debt if there’s collateral, such as repossession, or they can take debtors to court.

Debtor Examples

To fully understand the definition of debtor, it’s helpful to think through some examples. Consider an entrepreneur taking out a business loan to open her first used car lot. She works with a bank to finance a property and obtain her first shipment of inventory. Her loan is for $500,000. Our entrepreneur now fits our debtor definition.

The entrepreneur now owes the bank $500,000. Her bank is the creditor. In this case, the used car lot and her inventory are collateral for the loan. Meaning, if she fails to make a payment, the bank can take possession of the property. They can sell it to ensure that their investment in the entrepreneur is safe.

How We Can Help Your Small Business

Whether you’re a new or experienced entrepreneur, we can help get your business up and running. Our Corporate and LLC Formation services can help you get your company set up in virtually all 50 states. Our complete suite of business services, from Worry-Free Compliance Service to our ZenBusiness Money App, can help your company stay on track. Once you’re up and running and investing for your business, our Accounting Basics for Your Small Business can help you gain the confidence you need to keep track of your money so you’re never worried about your debt.

Debtor FAQs

  • If you go to the grocery store and pay in cash for your bananas at the register, you’re not a debtor to the grocery store. However, if you pay using your credit card, you may be in debt to your credit card company or bank. Customers are debtors if they have a loan or owe a business for goods purchased but not paid for. Customers of companies that provide goods or services meet the definition of debtor if they’re allowed to make payments at a later date.

  • For a creditor, money owed to them is considered an asset, depending on what accounting methods they use. If you’re a creditor with questions about how to account for debts outstanding, speak with your trusted accounting professional.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.

zenbusiness logo

Written by Team ZenBusiness

Start Your LLC