What is a Vendor Note?

A vendor note is a short-term loan to a customer.

How Does a Vendor Note Work?

Let's say you plan to purchase inventory from Company XYZ for $2 million. You only have $200,000 in cash and want to pay Company XYZ over time for the rest. Essentially, you’re borrowing $1.8 million from the seller, and the seller is 'carrying a note' until you pay back that $1.8 million. The seller will charge interest that may be a rate that is lower, the same as, or higher than what the buyer might get from a bank or other lender.

In many cases, the vendor might require collateral (i.e., the inventory or a claim on cash accounts, for example) to ensure that the buyer pays.

Why Does a Vendor Note Matter?

Vendor notes are a great way to acquire inventory, but they usually require a solid relationship between the buyer and seller. From the vendor's perspective, it may not be paid for a sale right away, but receiving the cash over time is often better than not receiving it at all (plus the earned interest). When vendors sell high-price items such as cars to auto dealers or medical equipment to hospitals, vendor notes become a crucial sales advantage.

In some cases, new buyers are especially dependent on vendor notes if they cannot qualify for bank loans or other financing to acquire inventory.

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Paul Tracy
Paul Tracy

Paul has been a respected figure in the financial markets for more than two decades. Prior to starting InvestingAnswers, Paul founded and managed one of the most influential investment research firms in America, with more than 3 million monthly readers.

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