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What is the difference between notes payable and bonds payable?

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July 26, 2009 10:07PM

Notes payable are written agreements between a lender and a borrower - essentially a loan. Bonds payable also are, in essence, a loan. However, bonds are issued as many "coupons," thus broadening the potential investor (lender) pool. If a business needs, for example, $500,000 to fund an enterprise, it can generally obtain a loan in the form of a note payable. If a business needs $10,000,000 to fund an enterprise, it may more easily raise capital through issuing, say, 1,000 coupon bonds at $10,000 face value each instead of asking for a $10 million loan. Both notes and bonds may be traded on the financial markets, thus they are treated quite similarly for accounting purposes.