Bad Debt Reserve vs. Factoring vs. Letter of Credit vs. Credit Insurance

Recap: Bad Debt Reserves vs. Factoring vs. Letter of Credit vs. Credit Insurance

Option 1: Self-Insurance (Bad Debt Reserve)

Definition: Use of a bad debt reserve to offset losses should any customers become unable to pay

Pros of Bad Debt Reserves: 

  • Minimal cost to the company in years with no losses
  • Simple to administer

Cons of Bad Debt Reserves:

  • Company bears burden and cost for internal credit management resources needed to mitigate risk
  • Depending on risk tolerance, may result in overly conservative limits that reduce potential revenue
  • Ties up working capital that impacts capital allocation of the balance sheet
  • Typically does not protect from large and unexpected catastrophic loss
  • Utilize unreliable third party data services

Option 2: Factoring

Definition: An agreement with a third party company to purchase accounts receivable at a reduced amount of the face value of the invoices

Pros of Factoring: 

  • Immediate access to cash
  • Option to outsource invoicing, collections, and other bookkeeping activities
  • No long-term contracts
  • Doesn't require collateral

Cons of Factoring:

  • Depending on contract structure, may not protect against non-payment events
  • Loss of control of customer relationships
  • Capacity constraints associated with line availability
  • Cost range between 1% and 4% of a receivable plus interest on the cash advance that can equal up to 30% in annual interest
  • Does not indemnify full invoice

Option 3: Letter of Credit

Definition: A bank guarantee that the payment of a buyer's obligation will be received on time and in the correct amount


Pros of Letter of Credit: 

  • Security for both seller and buyer
  • Financial standing of the buyer is replaced by the issuing bank
  • Because of the guarantee, seller can borrow against the full receivable value from its lender


Cons of Letter of Credit: 

  • May only cover a single transaction for a single buyer and can be tedious and time consuming
  • Expensive, both in terms of absolute cost and credit line usage with the additional need for security
  • Ties up working capital for the buyer
  • Competitive disadvantage when competitors are offering open terms
  • Lengthy and laborious claims process

Option 4: Credit Insurance

Definition: A business insurance product that protects a seller aginst losses from nonpayment of a commercial trade credit debt


Pros of Credit Insurance:

  • Empowers companies to confidently grow sales without credit concerns
  • Guaranteed protection against non-payment or slow payment
  • Enhances efficiency of a company's internal credit department with fast credit limit requests and ongoing buyer monitoring
  • Allows exporters to offer safe, open terms overseas
  • Expands a company's financing options by increasing its borrowing base with secure receivables


Cons of Credit Insurance: 

  • Most cost-effective for businesses with $3M in B2B sales
  • Not suit for companies with only government or B2C sales
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What is credit managemant? Credit management is defined as your company’s action plan to guard against late payments or defaults by your customers. An effective credit management plan uses a continuous, proactive process of identifying risks, evaluating their potential for loss and strategically guarding against the inherent risks of extending credit. Having a credit management plan helps protect your business’s cash flow, optimizes performance and reduces the possibility that a default will adversely impact your business.

To take control of your cash flow, consider the benefits of trade credit insurance. It’s an important business tool that helps you lower the risk for bad debtunpaid invoice or accounts receivable. If you are curious about how much trade credit insurance costs, remember this: there are ways you can help control those costs and make a good trade credit insurance investment that helps you grow your business. Your credit insurance cost premium can change depending on multiple variables, including: The type of policy you choose and the percentage of risk being covered for each transaction, Losses your business has experienced in the past, Your business’ full financial history, Your industry, Your customers’ financial standing, The country in which you are doing business, and Political risk.