Debit vs Credit: Bookkeeping Basics Explained


While credit comes in many forms, the most common are credit cards and home, car and student loans. You must apply for credit, and the amount you’re authorized to use is determined by lending institutions (like banks or mortgage companies) based on your personal financial history. Xero offers double-entry accounting, as well as the option to enter journal entries. Reporting options are also good in Xero, and the application offers integration with more than 700 third-party apps, which can be incredibly useful for small businesses on a budget. Xero is an easy-to-use online accounting application designed for small businesses.

On a balance sheet, positive values for assets and expenses are debited, and negative balances are credited. The dual entries of double-entry accounting are what allow a company’s books to be balanced, demonstrating net income, assets, and liabilities. With the single-entry method, the income statement sales to working capital and capital turnover ratio is usually only updated once a year. As a result, you can see net income for a moment in time, but you only receive an annual, static financial picture for your business. With the double-entry method, the books are updated every time a transaction is entered, so the balance sheet is always up to date.

Journal entry accounting

Debits and credits are a critical part of double-entry bookkeeping. They are entries in a business’s general ledger recording all the money that flows into and out of your business, or that flows between your business’s different accounts. To know whether you need to add a debit or a credit for a certain account, consult your bookkeeper.

A debit is an accounting entry that results in either an increase in assets or a decrease in liabilities on a company’s balance sheet. In fundamental accounting, debits are balanced by credits, which operate in the exact opposite direction. The next month, Sal makes a payment of $100 toward the loan, $80 of which goes toward the loan principal and $20 toward interest.

Her work has appeared in Business Insider, Forbes, and The New York Times, and on LendingTree, Credit Karma, and Discover, among others. Expenses are the costs of operations that a business incurs to generate revenues. In this case, we’re crediting a bucket, but the value of the bucket is increasing. That’s because the bucket keeps track of a debt, and the debt is going up in this case. Adam Hayes, Ph.D., CFA, is a financial writer with 15+ years Wall Street experience as a derivatives trader.

  • As long as the account is in good standing, the borrower can continue to borrow against it, up to whatever credit limit has been established.
  • Some examples are rent for the physical office or offices, supplies, utilities, and salaries to all employees.
  • All changes to the business’s assets, liabilities, equity, revenues, and expenses are recorded in the general ledger as journal entries.
  • In the second part of the transaction, you’ll want to credit your accounts receivable account because your customer paid their bill, an action that reduces the accounts receivable balance.

Debits and credits are two of the most important accounting terms you need to understand. This is particularly important for bookkeepers and accountants using double-entry accounting. Here are some examples to help illustrate how debits and credits work for a small business. Within each, you can have multiple accounts (like Petty Cash, Accounts Receivable, and Inventory within Assets).

If a company pays the rent for the current month, Rent Expense and Cash are the two accounts involved. If a company provides a service and gives the client 30 days in which to pay, the company’s Service Revenues account and Accounts Receivable are affected. Both cash and revenue are increased, and revenue is increased with a credit. Profits made by credit unions are returned back to members in the form of reduced fees, higher savings rates and lower loan rates. Well, here comes again the explanation of banker and customer relationship.

More from Merriam-Webster on credit

Implementing accounting software can help ensure that each journal entry you post keeps the formula and total debits and credits in balance. The debit increases the equipment account, and the cash account is decreased with a credit. Asset accounts, including cash and equipment, are increased with a debit balance. Debits and credits are used in each journal entry, and they determine where a particular dollar amount is posted in the entry. Your bookkeeper or accountant should know the types of accounts your business uses and how to calculate each of their debits and credits.

It can also mean your ability to borrow or buy things on a credit contract. Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. The term credit has its roots set in the latin word ‘creditum’ meaning “that which is entrusted or loaned” which also came from ‘credere’ which means to “trust or entrust”. A credit indicates that a transaction has occurred in which a liability or a gain was caused.

What Are Debits (DR) and Credits (CR)?

The debit entry to a contra account has the opposite effect as it would to a normal account. On the bank’s balance sheet, your business checking account isn’t an asset; it’s a liability because it’s money the bank is holding that belongs to someone else. So when the bank debits your account, they’re decreasing their liability. When they credit your account, they’re increasing their liability. Sal purchases a $1,000 piece of equipment, paying half of the purchase price immediately and signing a promissory note for the remaining balance. Sal’s journal entry would debit the Fixed Asset account for $1,000, credit the Cash account for $500, and credit Notes Payable for $500.

Examples of credit in a Sentence

In double-entry accounting, every debit (inflow) always has a corresponding credit (outflow). Just like in the above section, we credit your cash account, because money is flowing out of it. An accountant would say we are “debiting” the cash bucket by $300, and would enter the following line into your accounting system. The rules governing the use of debits and credits are noted below. In bookkeeping and accounting, a credit likely refers to the amount entered on the right side of a general ledger account or to the right side of a T-account. In traditional double-entry accounting, debit, or DR, is entered on the left.

If you are really confused by these issues, then just remember that debits always go in the left column, and credits always go in the right column. A credit could also be a verb that means the act of recording an amount on the right side of an account. When an account balance is on the right side of an account, we say the account has a credit balance.

What are the Benefits of Factoring Your Account Receivable?

On the other hand, credits decrease asset and expense accounts while increasing liability, revenue, and equity accounts. In addition, debits are on the left side of a journal entry, and credits are on the right. A credit actually means an entry on the right side of an account. Depending on the account, a credit could be an increase or decrease for the account. For example, a credit always increases accounts with a credit balance like liabilities, revenue, and equity accounts. This means that a credit recorded in a liability account would increase the liability account.


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