Finance Glossary

Personal loans designed with you in mind.

Building a brighter financial future takes hard work and dedication, and at CreditNinja we want to help you make informed and effective financial decisions. Which is why we put together this list of common financial terms. Click a word to read more about it!

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Advance Payday Loan – An advance payday loan is a short-term cash loan that is usually based on a personal check, which the lender holds for future deposit. In some instances, the lender requires electronic access to your bank account. A cash advance payday loan is also referred to as a payday loan, cash advance loan, or check advance loan.

ACH (Automated Clearing House) – ACH is an electronic system that connects banks in the United States. The system enables the banks to instantly send each other money during the business week (typically Monday-Friday).

ACH Authorization – Once you give someone ACH Authorization, they can deposit or withdraw money directly to or from your bank account. They can only deposit or withdraw dollar amounts that you have approved, and they can only do so on dates that you have agreed to. Giving ACH Authorization can help you avoid missing payment deadlines.

Amortized Loan – An amortized loan is a loan where the principal is paid off based on an amortization schedule, which includes monthly payments, or installments, that generally remain the same throughout the loan term.

APR (Annual Percentage Rate) –The annual percentage rate, or APR, is the yearly cost of a loan given as a percentage of the amount borrowed. The yearly cost includes both interest and other loan fees.

Arbitration – Arbitration is a way to resolve contract disagreements without using the court system. When two people or companies disagree, a third person will decide who has the better argument. The third person can legally require the loser to pay the winner or to take some other action, resolving the disagreement.

Auto Lease – An auto lease is an agreement where a person pays to use a vehicle for a set amount of time (usually 2-5 years). It is cheaper to lease a vehicle than it is to buy, but the vehicle returns to the owner at the end of the lease period. Some auto leases allow the borrower to buy the vehicle at the end of the lease term.

Auto Loan – An auto loan is a loan taken to purchase a vehicle. The borrower pays off the loan at regular time intervals over the loan term. Auto loans are typically secured by the vehicle purchased, meaning that the lender can take ownership of the vehicle if the borrower fails to make their payments.

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Bad Credit – Bad credit refers to low credit scores. Scores around 669 and lower are considered bad, and borrowers with credit scores in that range are considered subprime (see subprime loans definition below).

Bad DebtBad debt is an amount of money that a financial institution writes off as a result of borrower default. 

Balance – A balance is the amount of money in a bank account or an amount of money owed to a lender.

Balance SheetA balance sheet displays a company or business’s assets that result from its liabilities and shareholders’ equity.

Bank Statement – A bank statement is a printed record of an account holder’s bank account information. Bank statements are typically sent to customers on a monthly basis.

Bank Verification – Bank verification is used by lenders to prove that the borrower is who they claim to be and to verify the activity in the borrower’s account. Lenders typically rely on other companies, like Quovo or Yodlee, to perform bank verifications.

Bankruptcy – Bankruptcy is a last-resort option for someone that cannot pay what they owe. In bankruptcy, the person’s property may be sold to repay as much debt as possible before most remaining debts are dropped. Bankruptcy can cause major damage to a person’s credit score.

Budget – A budget is a tool for tracking how much money a person has available for the week, the month, or the year. The available money is calculated by subtracting the money going out (rent, utilities, groceries, and other expenses) from the money coming in (paychecks, interest, and other income). The remaining amount can be saved or used to pay off debt. Available money = Money in – Money out

Building Credit – Building and maintaining good credit is one of the most important actions you can take towards financial stability. A well-balanced credit report is important when it comes to making big life decisions; whether it be buying a house or a car, a college good education and much more.

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Cash Advance Fee – A cash advance fee is a charge you may receive for withdrawing funds from a credit card account. This can be done at an ATM, online, or at a branch of your bank.

Checking Account – A checking account is a bank account that allows customers to deposit and withdraw money. Customers can make withdrawals using ATM cards, paper checks, and debit cards.

Collateral – Collateral is property (like a home or a car) that the borrower will have to give to the lender if the borrower is unable to pay back the loan according to the terms of the loan agreement.

Collection Agency – A collection agency is a company that buys overdue loans and tries to collect the money owed from the borrowers. Collection agencies can be aggressive and may even sue borrowers for what they owe.

Collection Costs – Collection costs are the costs to a debt collector of collecting money owed by a borrower.

Compound Interest – Compound interest is when interest is accrued not only on the principal of the loan, but also the already existing interest.

Conditional Approval – When a lender gives conditional approval for a loan, they are expressing interest in lending the specified amount of money based on what they know about the applicant so far. However, before the lender gives final approval, they will review more information, such as that obtained through bank verification (see above).

Covenant – A covenant is part of a loan agreement describing actions the borrower must take or actions the borrower must not take.

Credit – When banks and credit unions give customers credit, they are allowing the customers to buy things now and pay for them later. For example, when you buy something with a credit card, you have not actually paid for it until you pay your credit card bill. Credit is commonly used to purchase everyday goods and services like groceries and car repairs. Installment credit, which is credit given for a specific purchase, can be used for bigger items like furniture and appliances.

Credit AcceptanceCredit Acceptance is a lender specializing in providing auto loan financing programs to dealerships throughout all 50 U.S. states. Through these programs, consumers with bad credit, no credit, or past bankruptcies are able to purchase vehicle and receive auto loans.

Credit Bureau – Credit bureaus gather individuals’ financial information, which they use to create credit reports (see below). Lenders pay the credit bureaus for credit reports, which help them evaluate how likely a person is to pay back a loan. The three main credit bureaus are TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Each is required by law to provide you with your credit report upon request for free once a year. Visit for information on requesting copies of your reports.

Credit Card Debt – Credit card debt is the total balance, or amount you owe, to credit card companies.

Credit Card Interest – Credit card interest is the cost of borrowing money from a financial institution. Carrying a credit card balance will result in interest charges. The amount of interest a borrower must pay depends on the specific credit card.

Credit Check – A credit check is the process of a lender or creditor looking at a borrower’s credit score or credit report to determine if they’re trustworthy enough to receive a loan. They come in two forms: a hard credit check, and a soft credit check. Hard credit checks or inquiries will affect a borrower’s credit, while soft credit checks do not.

Credit Counseling – Credit counseling is a service where counselors provide financial education and other support to help borrowers manage problems with debt.

Credit Entry – In banking, a credit entry is any transaction that adds money to your bank account.

Credit History – Your credit history is a collection of information about loans, credit, and borrowing from your past. There are three major companies that track your credit history: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These companies monitor your borrowing history and give you a three-digit score to let lenders know how trustworthy you are.

Credit Limit – The credit limit of an account is the maximum amount that a borrower can withdraw or use from a credit line. This amount is established by a lender and based upon a borrower’s creditworthiness, payment history, relationship with the financial institution, and other relevant aspects of their credit and financial situation.

Credit Report – A credit report is a summary of a person’s credit history that includes information from credit bureaus, banks, stores, and collection agencies. It also includes public court records, information on borrowings, bill payment records, and applications for credit. Each year, the 3 major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax) are required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report upon request. Visit for information on requesting copies of your reports.

Credit Score – Credit scores (also called credit ratings) are used by lenders to decide whether a person is likely to pay back a loan. Your credit score is based on your bill payment history, how much money you owe, the age of your credit history, the types of credit you have, and the number of times others have requested your credit report.

Creditor – A creditor is someone that lends money with the expectation of being paid back in the future. The future payment usually includes an interest charge plus the amount of money borrowed.

Creditworthiness – Creditworthiness is a description of a borrower’s likelihood of paying back a loan based on their credit history and credit health. Lenders use credit scores and reports to evaluate a potential borrower’s creditworthiness.

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Debit Card – When you use a debit card to make a payment, it directly reduces the amount of money in your bank account by the purchase price. Debit cards are different than credit cards, which you can use to buy things now while promising to pay later.

Debit Entry – In banking, a debit entry is any transaction that removes money from your bank account.

Debt – Debt is any money you owe. When you borrow money, you take on debt that you are required to pay back based on the terms of the loan agreement.

Debt Avalanche – The debt avalanche is a method used to pay off debts. It focuses on paying off the loans with the highest interest rates first, then working your way down to the low-interest debts. This can help borrowers save money on interest in the long run by eliminating the most expensive debts first.

Debt Settlement – Debt settlement is when a borrower’s debt gets settled for less than the outstanding amount they currently owe.

Debt Trap – A debt trap is when a loan or debt is nearly impossible to repay due to high interest rates or deceptive lending practices. This can lead to a cycle of debt for the borrower that’s difficult to get out of.

Debtor –A debtor is someone that owes someone else money. You become a debtor when you borrow money or buy something now with a promise to pay later.

Default – Default means failing to keep the promises agreed to in a contract. If you take a loan and do not make the payments described in the loan agreement, you have defaulted on the loan.

Demand for Money – The demand for money is the process of determining how much actual money someone wants in their checking account vs. money they have in investment accounts.

Depository Institution – Depository institutions are organizations, including banks and credit unions, that are legally allowed to accept money from people to hold as cash deposits.

Direct Deposit – Setting up direct deposit enables someone (usually your employer) to electronically deposit money into your bank account without using a paper check.

Direct Loan – A direct loan is a loan made directly from a lender to a borrower. Direct loans differ from brokered loans, where a 3rd party connects the lender and borrower.

Dishonored Payment Fee – A dishonored payment fee can be charged by a company when you try to pay them with a check or electronic payment and the bank rejects the payment. Rejections usually happen when the amount you tried to pay is more than the amount in your account (see NSF definition below).

Down Payment – A down payment is an amount of money a borrower pays for a percentage of property or an asset they intend to purchase through a finance company. This asset is usually expensive, so a loan is required to complete the purchase.

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Equifax – Equifax is one of the three major credit bureaus responsible for keeping consumer financial history and data. The other two major credit bureaus are Experian and TransUnion.

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FICO Score – A FICO score is a three-digit number used to rate a borrower’s creditworthiness and past money management. A high FICO score will result in lower interest rates, whereas a low credit score means high interest rates, or may even make it difficult to get a loan at all.

FinanceFinance is the handling of one’s own money. Both individuals and corporations can practice financing.

Finance Charge – A finance charge is any fee associated with borrowing money. You may encounter several different types of finance charges including origination fees, processing fees, application fees and more.

Financial PlanA financial plan is a strategy for money management which can include savings, spending, investing, financial health, and more.

Foreclosure – Foreclosure is a process that a lender takes to recover their loss, by selling the collateral used to obtain the loan, like a home. If a borrower isn’t able to pay their mortgage, the lender will eventually have the right to evict them and sell the home.

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Good Credit – Good credit, or a good credit score, means having a history of on-time payments, no defaults, and generally good financial practices. This will result in a good credit score, which will allow you to qualify for more credit and loan opportunities.

Grace Period – A grace period is a set amount of time that interest does not accrue on a loan or form of credit. Paying a loan off during this time would mean avoiding interest altogether. Grace period can also refer to a certain amount of time after a loan is due, when the borrower won’t incur a late fee.

Guarantor Loans – A guarantor loan is a loan that has a third party with it to help the primary borrower get funding despite low income and poor credit.

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Hard Credit Check – A hard credit check is essentially a review of your credit history by a lender or credit provider. This is done to ensure a customer’s creditworthiness before the lender provides them with a loan or credit product. These inquiries can affect your credit, so it’s important not to have too many hard credit checks on your credit report.

Hard Money Loan – A hard money loan is a non-conforming loan that is usually secured with real estate as collateral. House flippers, real estate investors, and business owners are the most common types of consumers who utilize hard money loans.

High-Yield Debt – High-yield debt, also referred to as high-yield bonds, high-yield corporate bonds, or junk bonds, is a form of investing issued by certain corporations.

Home Equity Line of Credit – A home equity line of credit, or HELOC, is when a lender provides a borrower with a certain maximum amount they can spend if needed, and the borrower’s home equity acts as collateral.

Home Equity Loan – A home equity loan is one where the borrower is required to use the equity in their home or property as collateral in order to get the loan. The amount you get would be based on the value of the property.

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Installment Loans – When you take an installment loan, you agree to make a series of payments until you have paid back the amount of money borrowed plus any interest and fees.

Interest – Interest is the cost of borrowing money. It is usually presented as the percentage of borrowed money that the loan costs each year.

Investment – An investment is a source that consumers contribute funds to with the expectation of receiving a profit or some kind of material benefit.

Investment Risk – Investment risk is the probability of loss compared to an investment’s expected return.

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Late Charge – A late charge is a fee you will have to pay if you fail to make a payment on-time, based on the terms of the loan agreement.

Lender – The term “lender” or “creditor” refers to any person, group, company, bank or other financial institution that offers to loan money to borrowers, expecting it will be repaid in full. Lenders profit by charging fees on top of the original sum lent. Most of their earnings come from interest fees, but some creditors also have additional charges for their products.

Line of Credit – A line of credit is a predetermined amount of money lent by a bank or other financial institution. A customer can take funds out, up to the agreed upon maximum amount, and will pay interest on any funds withdrawn.

Loan – A loan is an amount of money given from a lender to a borrower with the promise that the borrower will pay the lender back. Typically, the amount the borrower pays back includes a fee for borrowing the money called interest, as well as other fees for processing the loan.

Loan Agreement – A loan agreement is a formal document signed by a lender and a borrower agreeing to the terms of a loan. The terms describe how much money the borrower will receive, what borrowing fees they will pay, and how much they will pay back on specified dates.

Loan Balance – Loan balance refers to the amount of money you have to repay on your loan. All loans will have a loan balance until you’ve paid off the loan in full. Usually this balance will show the total owed, including interest and principal.

Loan Fees – A loan fee is any cost associated with taking out a loan, other than the interest rate. While most borrowers only look at the interest rate when considering a loan, there can be additional fees that you should be aware of.

Loan Forgiveness – Loan forgiveness is when you are no longer required to repay your loan. There are several occasions when your federal student loans can be forgiven, canceled, or discharged, depending on the circumstances.

Loan Period – The loan period is the amount of time the borrower has to repay the borrowed money plus any interest and fees they committed to in the loan agreement.

Loan Rollover – A loan rollover happens when a borrower cannot repay a loan within the loan term and instead pays a fee to extend the length of time they have to pay.

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Medical Debt – Medical debt is any debt that comes from seeking health care. Medical debt can be anything from a hospital bill to prescription costs.

Merchant Cash Advance – Merchant cash advances are unique types of loans that provide funding for small businesses based on potential credit and debit sales.

Microloan – Microloans are very small loans usually offered to borrowers or small businesses that lack a credit history or proper collateral. They’re intended to encourage entrepreneurship and alleviate poverty.

Military Lending Act – The Military Lending Act (MLA) restricts lenders from giving loans with interest rates higher than 36% to active-duty service members. It was enacted in 2006 and implemented by the US Department of Defense.

Money Order – A money order is a payment method that removes the risk of dishonored payment fees (see above) and NSF fees (see below). It is a paper document similar to a check. However, unlike a check, you pay for a money order up-front instead of when it is cashed. You can buy money orders at the post office, as well as some grocery and convenience stores.

Mortgage – A mortgage, or mortgage loan, is a loan used to buy a home or property. These are secured loans, with the home or property acting as the collateral needed to get the loan. If the borrower defaults, the lender is able to take the property away to recoup their loss.

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NSF Fees – NSF (non-sufficient funds) fees are charged when you try to withdraw more money, by writing a check or making an electronic withdrawal (see ACH and debit card), than was available in the account. In some cases, when this happens, the company you tried to pay will also charge you a dishonored payment fee.

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Origination Fee – An origination fee is an amount paid by the borrower to the lender at the time the loan is made to cover the cost of processing the loan.

Outstanding Debt – Outstanding debt is the total amount of money (including interest and fees) that is owed to a lender or creditor. Outstanding debt often continues accruing interest until it’s paid off.

Overdraft Fee – Overdraft fees are penalties banks charge their customers for spending more funds than they have available in their account. Overdraft fees are fixed, meaning that you’d pay the same amount no matter how much you overdraw.

Overdraft Protection – Bank customers can pay the bank for overdraft protection, which protects them from being charged overdraft fees (see above) if they attempt to withdraw more money than they have in their checking account. If an overdraft occurs, the bank will either give the account owner credit to cover the payment or will enable them to cover the payment using a credit card linked to the account.

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Pawn Shop Loan – A pawn shop loan is a short-term, secured loan offered by a pawn shop. In order to get one, you would need to offer up some sort of physical asset as collateral. The amount you get is usually a percentage of the value of the collateral, and If you’re unable to repay the loan, the pawn shop will keep the asset to cover its losses.

Pawn Shop – A pawn shop is a store run by a pawnbroker, where secured loans are offered to customers who must use an item they own as collateral for the loan. If the borrower can’t repay the loan, the pawnbroker will sell the item in the shop to recoup their losses. In some cases. customers can also choose to sell items to the pawnbroker.

Peer-to-Peer Lending – Peer-to-peer lending is a type of lending where one person borrows money directly from another, rather than borrowing from a bank or other financial institution. Peer-to-peer lending is also known as P2P lending, person-to-person lending, and social lending.

Peer-to-Peer Loan – Peer-to-Peer loans are innovative financial products that allow individuals to lend and borrow money between each other, usually through a platform that handles the interaction and relationship between the parties involved in the transaction.

Pending Direct Deposit – When your bank account shows ‘direct deposit pending’ it means that the bank is aware of an incoming payment and is in the process of verifying it.

Personal Debt – Personal debt, also known as consumer debt, is a general term that refers to any amount of money owed by a person or a household, in contrast to government or business debt.

Personal Finance – Personal finance is the organization and management of one’s own money. Consumers can develop good personal finance habits by making payments on time, reducing debt, and putting additional income into an investment or savings account.

Personal Loan – A personal loan is money borrowed for personal use, usually from a bank, or online lender. They can be secured, meaning they require collateral, or unsecured which requires no collateral, only the promise to repay.

Personal Loan Agreement – A personal loan agreement is essentially a contract between two parties that lists all of the terms of a personal loan including principal, interest, length of the loan, and additional fees and terms.

Predatory Lender – A predatory lender is one that uses deceptive lending practices in order to trap borrowers into a cycle of debt. The practices may include enormous interest rates, hidden fees, or other unfair terms.

Prepaid Cards – A prepaid card, sometimes referred to as a stored-value card, is a debit card that you can purchase and load a certain amount of money onto for spending.
Prepayment – Prepayment is when a borrower pays back a loan early (before it is due).

Prepayment Penalty – A prepayment penalty is a fee that lenders charge a borrower if they pay off their entire loan early. This fee allows the lender to recoup some of the interest they would have made if the borrower had the loan for the entire term.

Presentment – Presentment is the presentation of information to a court.

Prime Rate – The prime rate is the interest rate that banks offer to the most trustworthy customers. If you have a good, or excellent credit score, you’re more likely to receive the prime rate.

Principal – Principal is the amount of money borrowed as a loan. By the end of the loan period, the borrower will have paid back principal plus any interest and fees owed to the lender.

Private Lender – A private lender is a person or organization that lends money to individuals or businesses who may find it challenging to get loan approval from traditional sources.

Promissory Note – A promissory note is an agreement to pay someone a specific amount of money on a certain date.

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Recurring Income – Recurring income is the portion of this period’s money coming in that you expect to receive regularly in future periods.

Refinancing – Refinancing is the process of paying off an old loan with money borrowed through a new loan. The new loan typically has better terms, such as lower monthly payments or a longer loan period.

Remotely Created Payment – Remotely created payments are checks that the owner of a checking account has given someone else permission to write on their behalf. For instance, you can give a lender permission to write checks that reduce the amount of money in your checking account in order to pay off your loan.

Repayment Plan – A repayment plan is a financial payment schedule that determines when and how much you must pay to pay off an outstanding debt.

Repossession – Repossession occurs when a lender takes ownership of the loan collateral (see above) in response to the borrower’s failure to make payments described in the loan agreement.

Rescission – Rescission is the act of cancelling a contract and returning the people that signed it to the positions they were in before they made the agreement.

Reverse Mortgage – A reverse mortgage is a type of mortgage limited to homeowners who are 62 years or older. It enables you to withdraw a portion of the equity from your home, without requiring the monthly payments that are typical of conventional mortgages or home equity loans.

Rollover – Rollover refers to the practice of extending a loan term when a borrower can’t repay the agreed upon amount. Rolling over a loan usually involves added fees and interest.

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Savings AccountA savings account is an account held at a financial institution that allows the account holder to earn interest on monetary deposits.

Single Payment Loan – A single payment loan requires the borrower to repay the entire principal and the interest in one lump sum on the due date.

Soft Credit Check – A soft credit check or a soft inquiry is performed by financial institutions to determine the creditworthiness of their customers. It is referred to as ‘soft’ because these credit checks do not affect the borrower’s credit score, in contrast to hard credit checks.

Sovereign Credit – Sovereign credit refers to evaluating a nation or a sovereign state’s creditworthiness.

Subordinated Debt – Subordinated debt is an unsecured loan or bond that borrowers pay after prioritizing higher-ranking loans.

Subprime Lending – Subprime lending is the practice of making loans to borrowers with low credit scores (below 670). As borrowers with low scores are considered less likely to pay back the money they borrow, these loans generally have a higher interest rate.

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Tax Credit – A tax credit is money that taxpayers can subtract from their due taxes. In order to take advantage of the several types of tax credits available, consumers must meet certain eligibility requirements. 

Term Deposit – A term deposit refers to a type of investment account where the contributor can’t access their funds until the maturity date.

Trade Credit – Trade credit is an agreement between two businesses that allows for exchanging goods or services rather than money upfront.

TransUnion – TransUnion is one of the three major credit reporting bureaus. They monitor, track, and report your financial behavior including payment history, credit accounts, overall debt, and more.

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Underwriting – Underwriting is the process used by lenders to decide how much money, and at what interest rate, to lend to someone.

Unsecured Debt – Unsecured debt is any debt that does not require collateral. Unsecured debt is given based on the borrower’s promise to repay, and in most cases their credit history.

Unsecured Loan – An unsecured loan is a loan backed solely by the borrower’s ability to repay the debt according to the loan agreement. Unsecured loans do not involve the use of collateral (see above).

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Variable Rate – A variable interest rate, otherwise known as a floating rate or adjustable rate, is an interest rate that may fluctuate over the course of the loan, credit card, or mortgage term. Whether the rate increases or decreases is based on the current financial markets.