Difference Between Bonds and Debentures

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Bonds and Debentures

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Financing is a basic requirement for all businesses, large and small. Debt or equity instruments might be used to raise funds. Bonds and Debentures are two key sources of external finance employed by firms when it comes to debt instruments. Although they are sometimes used interchangeably in many nations, the two names are distinct in many ways. Government organizations and major firms typically issue bonds, but public companies use debentures to raise funds from the market. The statement of financial status comes to mind when assets, liabilities, and equity instruments are mentioned. Furthermore, because financial instruments are defined as contracts, financial assets, financial liabilities, and equity instruments are all going to be pieces of paper?

When an invoice is issued for the sale of goods on credit, for example, the company selling the goods has a financial asset - the receivable – while the buyer has a financial liability – the payable. Another example is when a company raises funds by issuing stock. The entity that purchases the shares has a financial asset – an investment – whereas the issuer of the shares must account for an equity instrument – equity share capital – to raise funds. A third instance is when a company raises funds by issuing bonds (debentures). The entity that subscribes to the bonds – that is, the entity that lends the money – has a financial asset - an investment – but the issuer of the bonds – that is, the borrower who has raised the funds – must account for the bonds as a financial liability.

So, when we talk about financial instrument accounting, we're talking about how we account for stock, bond, and receivables investments (financial assets), trade payables, long-term loans (financial liabilities), and equity share capital (financial liabilities) (equity instruments). When a company wants to raise money, the instrument must be correctly categorized as a financial obligation (debt) or an equity instrument (shares). This distinction is significant because it has an impact on the gearing ratio, a crucial indication used by financial statement users to measure the entity's financial risk. Finance expenditures related to financial liabilities will be charged to the statement of profit or loss, lowering the entity's reported profit, whilst dividends paid on equity shares will be considered an appropriation of profit rather than an expense, impacting profit measurement.

When raising capital, a financial liability will be issued instead of an equity instrument having a payback obligation. As a result, the issuance of a bond (debenture) creates a financial liability because the money received must be repaid, but the issuance of ordinary shares creates an equity instrument. An equity instrument is a contract that represents a residual interest in an entity's assets after all of its creditors has been paid, in a formal sense. A single instrument may be created that has both loan and equity elements. A convertible bond, for example, contains an embedded derivative in the form of a share conversion option.

Financing is a basic requirement for all businesses, large and small. Debt or equity instruments might be used to raise funds. Bonds and Debentures are two key sources of external finance employed by firms when it comes to debt instruments. Although they are sometimes used interchangeably in many nations, the two names are distinct in many ways. Government organizations and major firms typically issue bonds, but public companies use debentures to raise funds from the market.

Difference between Bonds and Debenture in Tabular Form

Any organization requires finances to meet necessities, such as starting or expanding a business. Borrowing is the most prevalent method of obtaining finances. Companies can borrow in a variety of ways, the most common of which are bonds and debentures. Debentures and bonds are both debt instruments, and they can be used interchangeably in many nations. They are, however, two distinct investment strategies. Let's look at the differences between bonds and debentures in this article. The distinctions between debentures and bonds are shown in the table below.

Parameters Of Comparison Bonds Debentures
Collateral Bonds are typically secured by collateral. Debentures can be backed by collateral or not. As a result, investors must purchase these enterprises depending on their credit ratings.
Tenure Bonds typically have a longer-term than debentures. Companies issue debentures to raise funds for a short or long period, depending on their needs.
Issued By Large enterprises, government organizations, financial institutions, and other entities are the most common issuers of bonds. Debentures are mostly issued by private enterprises.
Interest Rate Bonds have lower interest rates since they are guaranteed to be paid back in the future and are backed by collateral. Because they are unsecured, debentures have a higher interest rate than secured loans. In addition, the issuer's honesty and reputation are completely reliant on the investor.
Payments Bond interest is paid monthly, semi-annually, or annually. These payouts are unaffected by the company's success. According to the prospectus, interest in debentures is paid every month. This, however, is contingent on the issuing company's viability.

What are Bonds?

The most extensively utilized debt instrument bonds. The most prevalent issuers are businesses, governments, and other financial entities. They're real estate-backed secured loans. The bond issuer assumes the position of the lender, promising to repay the principal and interest by the maturity date. They also set the interest rate on the bond over time. A bond is a fixed-income investment that represents an investor's debt to a borrower (typically corporate or governmental). A bond is a promissory note that spells out the terms and conditions of a loan between a lender and a borrower. Businesses, municipalities, states, and sovereign governments utilize bonds to fund projects and operations. The people who possess bonds are known as bondholders.

Bonds are a common means for governments and businesses to borrow money at all levels. Governments must support roads, schools, dams, and other infrastructure. The unanticipated costs of war may entail the need for additional funding. Similarly, businesses borrow money to grow their operations, buy real estate and equipment, start new businesses, conduct research and development, and hire new employees. The problem with large corporations is that they frequently require far more capital than a typical bank can provide. By allowing a large number of private investors to act as lenders, bonds provide a solution. Through public debt markets, tens of thousands of investors can individually contribute a portion of the required capital. Markets also allow lenders to sell or buy bonds from other individuals long after the initial issuer has raised funds.

Along with stocks (equities) and cash equivalents, bonds, also known as fixed-income instruments, are one of the most common asset classes among individual investors. Many corporate and government bonds are traded on the open market; others are only sold privately between the borrower and the lender or over the counter (OTC). When companies and other entities require funds to launch new initiatives, maintain ongoing operations, or repay existing debts, they may sell bonds directly to investors. The borrower (issuer) issues a bond that details the loan terms, interest payments, and timeframe for repaying the borrowed cash (bond principal) (maturity date). Bondholders receive a coupon (interest payment) in exchange for lending their money to the issuer. The interest rate that influences the payment is the coupon rate.

Bonds, which are a type of financial instrument, share some characteristics, regardless of whether they are government or corporate bonds. The bond issuer, maturity date, coupon, face value, bond price, and bond yield are the most essential common characteristics of a bond. A bond investor gives money to the bond issuer, and the issuer agrees to refund the money at a future date called the ‘maturity date,' which is similar to a loan. Bond investors typically get periodical interest rate payments between the bond issue date and the maturity date. Bonds, on the other hand, differ from loans in that they are easier to trade in and out of, allowing bond ownership to be traded. 

The Most Common Bond Characteristics

A bond is a legal contract between the bond's issuer and its bondholders. The bond issuer, maturity date, coupon, face value, bond price, and bond yield are the most essential common characteristics shared by all bonds. The planned cash flows of a bond are determined by these common properties of bonds. As a result, they are the most important factors influencing an investor's predicted and actual returns.

  1. The bond issuer is the entity or company that is seeking to borrow money from investors as well as the entity or company that is responsible for repaying the money borrowed. As a result, the bond issuer determines the credit risk that investors will experience. Credit ratings are assigned based on qualities reviewed by credit rating agencies, and bonds can be issued by sovereign governments, supranational organizations, and corporate issuers, among others. A single issuer can have multiple credit ratings, which are then allocated to each unique debt issue.
  2. The day on which the bond will be redeemed, or when the investor will receive the outstanding principal amount, is known as the maturity date. Bond maturities range from one day to more than 30 years.
  3. The coupon is the nominal rate of interest that an issuer agrees to pay to a bondholder each year until the bond's maturity date. It is almost always expressed as a percentage (percent) of the bond's face value and is nearly always reported as a per annum rate. For example, a bond with a coupon rate of 4% and a face value of $1,000 will pay $40 in annual interest.
  4. The notional or main amount, commonly known as the face value (FV), is the amount that will be repaid to the bondholder upon maturity. This is expressed in monetary terms, such as $5 million.
  5. This is the amount of money an investor will make if he or she invests in a bond. It's determined by multiplying a bond's annual coupon by its current market price.

What are Debentures?

The word debenture comes from the Latin word “debate”, which means "to borrow" or "to take out a loan." It's a debt instrument that can be secured by collateral or not. Governments and businesses utilize them to raise capital by borrowing from the general population. In simple terms, it is a legal document that states how much the investor has committed (principal amount), the amount of interest that must be paid, and the payment schedule. At the end of the term, the investor receives both the principal and the interest.

They're similar to unsecured loans in that the investor has no claim to the company's assets in the event of a default. The repayment is dependent on the issuing company's creditworthiness. The issuing business, on the other hand, will fix the debt interest payments before delivering stock dividends to its stockholders. Companies may also provide them with security, in the form of a mortgaged asset. In liquidation, the corporation must pay its creditors first and foremost by liquidating its assets. As a result, before investing in these securities, investors can examine their credit ratings. A debenture is a long-term loan taken by a corporation or government from the general public to meet its capital needs. Consider a government that is looking for financing to build public roadways. Debenture holders are the company's creditors, as opposed to shareholders, who are the company's owners. Debenture holders, like bondholders, receive interest on their debt investment. Unless the interest rates are floating, the coupon rates or interest rates are normally fixed. A set rate of interest protects against market changes, lowering the risk associated with the investment.

Debentures are unsecured debt instruments in which the holder has no claim to the issuer's assets. The stability, low risk, and higher earnings compensate for the lack of collateral. Investors are attracted to a financially sound company with a good credit rating because it represents investment safety. Furthermore, when interest rates are flexible, income rises as rates climb.

Characteristics of Debentures

Debentures are regarded as the company's creditors. These are the most common ways for businesses to obtain long-term financing for their financial needs. A debenture is a long-term loan instrument that is issued under the company's common seal. The debts are represented by the funds raised through debentures, and the holders of the debenture are the company's creditors. As a result, debenture features are quite significant.

  1. Lending Instrument-A debenture is a loan instrument. It usually takes the form of a certificate that serves as an admission of debt and is issued by a company.
  2. Fixed Rates of Interest-Because interest is paid at a regular rate every year, debentures are referred to as "fixed cost bearing capital." Every fiscal year, the interest rate on debentures is fixed and paid. Be a result, debentures are referred to as fixed-cost bearing capital by investors.
  3. Redeemable- A debenture must be redeemed by a certain date. Frequently, the repayment date is given as a certain time or day. It also specifies that a special principle and interest payment be made on a certain day. A company, on the other hand, is free to issue perpetual or irredeemable bonds.
  4. Owners are not creditors-Debenture holders are the company's creditors, not its owners. As a result, they lack the authority to direct the company's activities. The holders of debentures do not have the right to vote in the election of directors or to decide on management policy.
  5. Period of Maturity-Debentures is a long-term financing option. They have a predetermined maturity period over a long period. Debentures typically have a maturity length of 10-20 years and are repayable at the end of that time. The corporation repays the principal investment amount to the holder at maturity.

Difference between Bonds and Debentures In Points

  • Bonds are backed by some kind of collateral. Debentures, on the other hand, come in two varieties: secured and unsecured. The majority of the time, significant and well-known public firms issue debentures with no collateral because people are willing to acquire the debenture merely because they trust the company.
  • Bonds are considered long-term investments; hence their maturities are frequently extended. Debentures are frequently issued for a specific period, based on the needs of the issuing corporation.
  • Bond interest is calculated on an accrual basis. Lenders are paid on a monthly, semi-year, or annual basis. The issuing party's business success has no bearing on these payments. When it comes to debentures, interest is paid regularly, which is often dependent on the issuing company's success.
  • Bonds cannot be changed into equity shares, while some debentures do. Holders of convertible debentures can convert them into shares if they feel the company's stock will rise in the future. Convertible debentures, on the other hand, pay lower interest rates than conventional fixed-rate investments.
  • Bondholders receive preference in repayment over debenture holders in the case of an organization's liquidation.


Bonds and debentures are two distinct debt products that differ in many respects, despite their similarities in nature. While many individuals conflate the two and use them interchangeably, it is critical to understand the differences. After all, having the most up-to-date and accurate information is the first step toward avoiding investment dangers.

Selecting a financial instrument based on the objectives you wish to attain with your investments is crucial. Debt funds are appropriate for low-risk short-term investments, whereas equity funds are preferable for long-term objectives. Striking a balance between the two may be difficult. Examine the time horizon, risk required to reach your goal, risk capacity, and risk tolerance while choosing between different instruments funds. To spread your risk, invest in both debt and equity funds. This will assist you in reaching your many short- and long-term goals.


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  • "Debenture". Investopedia. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  • Bonds, accessed: 2012-06-08
  • ^ Harper, Douglas. "bond"Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2017-07-23.


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"Difference Between Bonds and Debentures." Diffzy.com, 2024. Sun. 25 Feb. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-bonds-and-debentures-485>.

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