Invoice Purchase vs. Invoice Discounting: Key Differences

nvoice Purchase vs. Invoice Discounting: Key Differences for Businesses

When running a business, cash flow is king. But what happens when you’re waiting on payments for outstanding invoices? Invoice financing, which encompasses both invoice purchase and discounting, offers a solution by providing immediate access to cash tied up in unpaid invoices. However, these two methods have distinct characteristics that can significantly impact your business. Understanding these key differences is crucial before deciding which option best suits your needs.

Invoice Purchase: Selling Your Invoices Outright

With invoice purchase, you essentially sell your unpaid invoices to a financial institution, often called a factor. The factor advances you a significant portion of the invoice value, typically between 70% and 90%, upfront. Once your customer pays the invoice, the factor keeps the remaining balance, minus their fees.

Key characteristics of invoice purchase:

  • Ownership Transfer: You relinquish ownership of the invoice to the factor. They assume the full risk of non-payment by your customer.
  • Collections Responsibility: The factor handles all collection activities, freeing up your resources for other tasks.
  • Customer Confidentiality: Your customers generally remain unaware of the invoice purchase arrangement, preserving your business relationships.
  • Cost: Invoice purchase fees are typically higher than invoice discounting due to the assumed risk by the factor. These fees can be structured as a flat fee per invoice or a percentage of the invoice value.

Benefits of invoice purchase:

  • Immediate Cash Flow: Provides a quick and reliable source of working capital to manage expenses or invest in growth opportunities.
  • Reduced Risk: Eliminates the risk of bad debt associated with customer defaults.
  • Improved Efficiency: Frees up your team’s time from chasing late payments.
  • Confidentiality Maintained: Protects your business relationships with customers.

Drawbacks of invoice purchase:

  • Higher Cost: The fees associated with invoice purchase can be significant compared to discounting.
  • Loss of Control: You relinquish control over the collection process and customer communication.

Invoice Discounting: Borrowing Against Your Invoices

Invoice discounting is a loan secured by your outstanding invoices. Similar to invoice purchase, you receive a percentage of the invoice value upfront, typically between 80% and 95%. However, unlike purchase, you remain the owner of the invoice and are responsible for collecting payment from your customer. Once your customer pays, you repay the loan amount plus a discount fee to the financing institution.

Key characteristics of invoice discounting:

  • Ownership Retention: You retain ownership of the invoice and bear the risk of customer default.
  • Collections Responsibility: You manage the collections process or outsource it to a third party.
  • Customer Awareness: Your customers may be notified of the discounting arrangement, depending on the financing institution’s practices.
  • Cost: Invoice discounting fees are generally lower than purchase fees due to the shared risk between you and the lender. Fees are typically calculated as a percentage of the invoice value.

Benefits of invoice discounting:

  • Improved Cash Flow: Provides access to capital faster than traditional bank loans.
  • Lower Cost: Offers a more cost-effective solution compared to invoice purchase.
  • Control Over Collections: You maintain control over customer communication and collections strategy.

Drawbacks of invoice discounting:

  • Default Risk: You are responsible for covering the loan amount in case of customer defaults.
  • Collections Burden: Your team must dedicate time and resources to chasing late payments.
  • Potential Customer Impact: Notifying customers of the discounting arrangement may damage relationships.

Choosing Between Invoice Purchase and Discounting

The best option for your business depends on your specific needs and priorities. Consider the following factors when making your decision:Factoring

  • Cash Flow Needs: If you require immediate access to a significant amount of working capital, invoice purchase might be preferable.
  • Risk Tolerance: If you are risk-averse and want to eliminate the risk of customer defaults, invoice purchase offers a safer option.
  • Collections Resources: If your team lacks the resources to manage collections effectively, invoice purchase can be a time-saving solution.
  • Customer Relationships: If maintaining positive customer relationships is crucial, invoice discounting might be a better choice, especially if you have a reliable collections process in place.


Invoice purchase and discounting are valuable tools for businesses seeking to improve cash flow and manage outstanding invoices. By understanding the key differences between these two financing methods, you can make an informed decision that best aligns with your unique financial circumstances and business goals. Consulting with a financial advisor specializing in invoice financing can also provide valuable insights and guidance throughout the process.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *