20+ Difference Between Notes Payable And Accounts Payable

Although AP and NP are often used interchangeably, important distinctions between the two should be made clear.

Notes payable may reflect either short- or long-term obligations depending on the due dates and conditions outlined in the note, while accounts payable exclusively relates to short-term liabilities.

Another way to look at it is that larger purchases will often result in the issuance of a note payable. In contrast, smaller, more frequent purchases will be covered by accounts payable.

Comparison Between Notes Payable And Accounts Payable

ParameterNotes PayableAccounts Payable
DefinitionBanks use formal promissory notes to monitor debts. Note payables generally indicate the loan’s interest rate and due date. The general ledger must reflect NPs to repay debts in full and according to the arrangement. Depending on the promissory note, notes payable might be short-term or long-term debt.Suppliers and freelancers are billed annually for accounts payable. Credit purchases are shown in this area of the balance sheet. Unlike loans, which typically include legal obligations, buyers and sellers seldom engage again after a transaction. AP entries remind the finance department to pay bills on promptly.
Promissory notesEven though promissory notes and other written promises to return money are regarded as “notes payable,” the maturity dates on promissory notes are often farther in the future than those on other types of written pledges to repay the money.Accounts payable may be thought of as a kind of short-term obligation that, for the vast majority of companies, is anticipated to be repaid within a time period of one year at the absolute latest.
RecordingBecause they have a note payable account, they are able to monitor the payments and receipts that they send to creditors, lenders, and other financial institutions and the payments and receipts they receive from these parties. They are able to do this thanks to this account.A kind of general ledger known as an accounts payable ledger is maintained by a business to keep track of transactions involving the sale of goods and services to customers who have made payments to the firm.
TransfersIn most circumstances, you can’t convert notes due to payables.Through the negotiation process, it is possible to understand how to deal with debts that have been paid late in exchange for a note whose installments are also behind schedule. This would be done in exchange for a note whose payments are also late. The transaction would consist of exchanging the banknotes for the note in line with the conditions of the contract.
Cash flowIt is up to the management of a company to decide whether or not the fact that it has notes payable that are still past due should be factored into the company’s projections for its cash flow. At this point, a variety of different outcomes could occur as a result of this situation.When it comes time to manage a company’s cash flow, managing the accounts payable is likely to be a component that cannot be ignored at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Major Difference Between Notes Payable And Accounts Payable

What exactly are Notes Payable?

The notes payable account documents a company’s obligation to return money it borrowed or indebted to creditors.

A company’s general ledger will often include an account for written promises to pay a certain sum of money within a specified time frame.

For example, if a company is short on cash but still has to make a purchase, it might issue a promissory note to a supplier, bank, or another third party in exchange for a loan until the company can repay the debt loan.

Key Difference: Notes Payable

  • A promissory note is a kind of written debt. A loan is a pledge by a borrower to a lender to repay the money plus interest over a certain period of time. 
  • Depending on the terms of the note, the interest rate might be set for the duration of the loan, or it could fluctuate based on the rate the lender offers to its best clients. 
  • In contrast to an account payable, there is no promissory note, and no interest is due on the amount owed in this situation. 
  • Short-term liabilities are those that will be paid off within the next 12 months, whereas long-term liabilities are those that will be paid off at a later period. 
  • The portion of a long-term note payment that is due within the following year is deducted and recorded as a short-term obligation. 
  • Analysts are interested in how notes payable are categorized so that they may predict whether or not there will be a shortage of cash in the near future. 
  • Lenders often include restrictive covenants in their note payable agreements, such as prohibiting paying dividends to investors until the loan is paid in full. 
  • The lender may use its right to call a loan for violation of a covenant, but it may also choose to waive the breach and continue to receive periodic debt payments from the borrower.

What Exactly Are Accounts Payable?

Companies’ accounts payable are another common kind of account on the general ledger. Purchases made using business credit are recorded in this account.

Accounts payable is a liability account with a credit balance, similar to notes payable. Companies’ cash accounts are credited, and their accounts payable are debited when they pay off loans or settle debts with creditors.

Businesses often pay off their accounts payable within a year, allowing them to list the debt on their balance sheets as current assets.

Key Difference: Accounts Payable

  1. Total accounts payable will be included under current liabilities on a company’s balance sheet as of a certain date. 
  2. Obligations owed to a third party must be paid within a certain time frame to avoid going into default. Cash flow management relies on effective accounts payable management. 
  3. Accounting payable, or AP is the corporate name for suppliers’ immediate receivables. Considered a kind of short-term debt, the payable is owed by one company to another. 
  4. The same amount would be added to the other party’s accounts receivable. Companies often place a lot of weight on AP as a key metric in their balance sheet. 
  5. A rise in Accounts Payable indicates that the corporation is making more purchases on credit. Management has some leeway in influencing cash flow via AP. 
  6. When a company’s Accounts Payable falls, it suggests that it is making payments on its older debts faster than it makes purchases on credit. 
  7. The net change in AP from the preceding period occurs in the cash flow from the operating activities portion of the cash flow statement, which is prepared using the indirect method. 
  8. Extending the time it takes to settle all outstanding bills in AP is one-way management might boost cash reserves for a particular period.

Contrast Between Notes Payable and Accounts Payable


  • Notes Payable – Obligations due to banks are recorded as “notes payable,” which are essentially formal promissory notes. Loan terms, including interest rates and due dates, are often included in a notes payable document.

    For debts to be paid back in full and per the agreement, NPs must be documented in the general ledger. Depending on the terms of the promissory note’s agreed-upon payments, notes payable may indicate either a short- or long-term liability.
  • Accounts Payable – Debts owing to vendors and independent contractors that will mature within a year are considered accounts payable. This category’s debt reflects services or materials acquired on credit and is recorded as liabilities in a financial statement.

    In addition, unlike loans, which are often connected with formal agreements, purchases are not typically associated with repeat business with a certain seller.

    Accounting payable (AP) entries prompt the company’s finance department to make timely payments of bills.


  • Notes Payable – Even though the maturity dates on promissory notes are frequently further in the future than those on other types of written promises to return the money, all of these written pledges to do so are collectively referred to as “notes due.”

    This is the case even though the maturity dates on other types of written promises to return money are frequently much more immediate.

    This is the case even though the maturity dates on various other sorts of written pledges to refund money are normally far closer together in time.
  • Accounts Payable – Accounts payable are a kind of obligation that, for most organizations, is normally needed for repayment within a time restriction of one year from the day the obligation was incurred. This time limit begins on the day that the obligation was incurred.


  • Notes Payable – An organization can track money movement to and from its various lenders, creditors, and other financial institutions by maintaining notes payable accounts.

    Because of this, the corporation can now manage its connections with these other partners more effectively.

    Because of this account, they now have the access necessary to effectively carry out their plan and make it a reality.
  • Accounts Payable – A company will keep a ledger for its accounts payable to track the cash flow resulting from selling goods and services to clients who have already paid the company for those goods and services.

    This is done so the company can monitor the cash flow from selling goods and services to clients. Because of this, the corporation can maintain precise records of the movement of funds.


  • Notes Payable – There are a few distinct contexts in which the phrase “notes payable” refers to the legal documents that indicate that a debt is owed to a bank. One of these contexts is when the word “promissory note” is used.
  • Accounts Payable – The whole amount of money that is owed to the persons and businesses that provide a firm with its stock, commodities, and services is referred to as the payables to vendors.

    This is the phrase that is used to refer to the total amount of money. The sums owed to suppliers may be broken down even further into more specific numbers.

    This term and “payables to vendors” are used interchangeably and signify the same thing in most cases since they refer to the same thing.


  • Notes Payable – Past due notes may have other funding sources, such as interest, connected to them in addition to the note’s principal amount. This kind of financial instrument is called a subnet in the industry.
  • Accounts Payable – Most of the time, interest is not included in the entries for accounts payable, and these accounts are often managed using some mutual agreement between the parties involved.

    This is because interest is not included in the accounting in most cases. This is the case as a result of the fact that, in the overwhelming majority of instances, interest is not included in the entries that are made for accounts payable.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. In the context of notes payable, which of these two terms—debit or credit—is appropriate?

When a company repays a loan, the company must make a negative entry into the notes payable account and a positive entry into the cash account to reflect the transaction.

The balance sheet shows the account for notes payable in the liability category. After completing this process phase, the organization must investigate the interest rate that will be applied to the loan.

Q2. Where exactly can one find the payable notes?

Accounts payable are always included in the balance sheet section, “current liabilities,” along with other short-term obligations, such as payments due on credit cards.

On the other hand, notes payable can be recorded in either the current liabilities or long-term liabilities sections of a balance sheet, depending on whether or not the total amount owed is due within the following year.

Q3. Specifically, what components constitute the basis of the accounts payable system?

The term “accounts payable,” sometimes abbreviated as “AP” for short, refers to money owed to third-party vendors or suppliers for goods or services that have been received but have not yet been paid for.

The entire amount that is still owed to the company’s various business partners and suppliers is reflected in the “accounts payable” balance, which can be seen on the company’s balance sheet.

Q4. What are the three most important tasks that are related to accounts payable?

The purchase order (a PO), the receiving report (a goods receipt), and the vendor invoice are often required to carry out the accounts payable process.

These three elements are all regarded as important constituents of the whole. Purchase orders and receipts, on the other hand, aren’t required, and whether or not a company uses them depends on the way it runs its operations.

Q5. What is the AP cycle?

The Accounts Payable cycle, also known as the “Procure to Pay” cycle or the “P2P cycle,” is a series of processes involving the company’s purchase and payments department.

These processes involve carrying out all of the necessary activities, ranging from placing an order with suppliers to purchasing goods to making final payments.

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