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Open-End Credit vs Closed-End Credit: Differences and Similarities

Open-End Credit vs Closed-End Credit
Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman

Updated May 18, 2022
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
Financial institutions can offer open-end credit and closed-end credit to consumers and businesses. Open-end credit is a revolving credit product, while closed-end credit is a nonrevolving lending product. That’s the core difference between these distinct forms of credit.Any revolving credit product, such as a credit card or personal line of credit, allows the consumer to make repeated transactions up to the credit limit. Revolving credit replenishes automatically whenever you make repayments on the open-end credit account.Nonrevolving credit products, such as personal loans and other closed-end credit accounts, never replenish and effectively close once you repay the lender in full. Closed-end credit must be repaid in full by a predetermined date, also known as the loan maturity date.Open-end credit must be repaid over time and generally gives consumers the option of making minimum monthly payments or greater each billing cycle. Open-end credit account holders have no obligation to use their available credit and can maintain their accounts indefinitely. Below we highlight the pros and cons of open-end credit vs. closed-end credit. 

What Is Open-End Credit?

As mentioned above, open-end credit is a revolving credit product that replenishes automatically whenever you make repayments to your creditor. Credit cards, personal lines of credit, and home equity lines of credit are examples of open-end credit. Borrowers with an open-end credit account can make repeated transactions up to the credit limit. Open-end credit must be repaid over time and generally gives consumers the option of making minimum monthly payments or greater each billing cycle. 

How Does Open-End Credit Work?

Open-end credit works by giving account holders a revolving credit account to finance transactions or draw funds. Banks and credit unions may offer open-end credit to consumers and businesses.Open-end credit account holders have no obligation to use their available credit. Drawing funds from an open-end credit account or using the account to make transactions creates a debt that must be repaid over time.Consumers and businesses with open-end credit accounts can make minimum monthly payments or greater each billing cycle. These account holders may also maintain their accounts indefinitely in many cases. An open-end credit account may feature a temporary draw period in some cases. Home equity lines of credit, for example, may include a draw period of five to 10 years from which you may draw funds. You may have to pay interest on any HELOC funds you borrow during the draw period.HELOCs may enter a repayment period when the draw period closes. The repayment period may range from 10 to 20 years. The borrower at this stage may no longer draw funds and must begin making monthly payments toward any outstanding principal plus interest. This shows an open-end HELOC account may evolve into a closed-end credit account. Personal lines of credit can similarly have a temporary draw period followed by a closed-end repayment period.

What Is Closed-End Credit?

Closed-end credit is any nonrevolving consumer lending product that provides borrowers with funding and a predetermined repayment schedule. This form of credit features a prearranged payment schedule that usually requires the borrower to make monthly payments over the life of the loan.Closed-end credit is an extension of credit that must be repaid in full by a specified date. Examples of closed-end credit include personal loans, auto loans, mortgages, and student loans.

How Does Closed-End Credit Work?

Closed-end credit works by giving borrowers a loan of money. The loan may provide borrowers with financing for a specific purpose or a lump sum of cash for general purposes.Banks, credit unions, and private lenders may offer closed-end credit products, including all types of personal loans. As mentioned earlier, closed-end credit must be repaid in full by a predetermined date, also known as the loan maturity date. A closed-end credit agreement may include a specific term or repayment schedule. Closed-end credit may also include interest charges. Some lenders may charge a prepayment penalty fee if consumers decide to pay off their closed-end loan obligations early.

Closed-End Credit Examples

As mentioned earlier, personal loans, auto loans, mortgages, and student loans are examples of closed-end credit. Payday loans are also an example of closed-end consumer loans. A payday loan is generally a small loan of money that may include high fees and repayment terms as short as 14 days.

Secured Loans

Nonrevolving secured loans are an example of closed-end credit. These loans can include collateralized auto loans, mortgage loans, and secured personal loans. Borrowers may secure a loan by pledging an asset as collateral, such as real estate, motor vehicles, or deposits in a savings account.

Unsecured Loans

Nonrevolving unsecured loans are an example of closed-end credit. These loans can include unsecured personal loans and student loans. The difference between secured vs. unsecured loans is the former includes a collateral requirement whereas the latter does not.

Difference Between Open-End and Closed-End Credit

Consumers with a bad credit score may qualify for open-end and closed-end credit products, such as subprime personal loans. Subprime borrowers, however, may have to pay higher interest rates than consumers with a good credit score.Consumer lending products, aka consumer loans, can be open-end credit or closed-end credit. Installment loans, including a 144-month auto loan, are examples of closed-end credit. The below table highlights some of the differences between open-end and closed-end credit:

Pros and Cons of Open-End Credit

Here are some pros and cons of open-end credit:

Pros of Open-End Credit

Below we highlight some of the pros of open-end credit:

Flexibility

Account holders have the flexibility to draw funds or make transactions as needed. The available credit is there whenever you need to draw from it and can be replenished with repayments to your creditor.

Interest Charges

Account holders may only pay interest charges on the revolving credit they use for transactions. Interest charges don’t apply if you’re carrying no balance. In the case of credit cards, you may avoid interest charges by paying your statement balance in full each billing cycle.

No Early Payment Penalties

Credit cards, one of the most common forms of open-end credit, feature no early payment penalties. Some forms of open-end credit, such as HELOCs, may include prepayment or early closure penalties, but credit cards have no prepayment or early closure penalties.

Cons of Open-End Credit

Below we highlight some of the cons of open-end credit:

Frequent Usage

Having a revolving credit account can cause some account holders to make frequent usage of their available credit. This may lead to unnecessary spending in some cases.

High Interest Rates

Unsecured open-end credit can include high interest rates. The average rate on U.S. credit card accounts assessed interest in the fourth quarter of 2021 stood at 16.44%, according to Federal Reserve data.

Debt

Using a high percentage of your available credit and making minimum payments can lead to a high burden of debt. Carrying large amounts of debt can lower your credit score and make it harder for you to save.

Pros and Cons of Closed-End Credit

Here are some pros and cons of closed-end credit:

Pros of Closed-End Credit

There are certain benefits and disadvantages of a personal loan and other closed-end credit products. Closed-end credit can help you build credit and can provide financing for buying major assets, including cars and homes. These are among the pros of closed-end credit.

Cons of Closed-End Credit

Closed-end credit products can feature high rates of interest. Personal loans, for example, may carry annual interest rates up to 35.99%. These loan products may increase your burden of debt and could make it harder for you to save, among other cons.

The Takeaway

Financial institutions may offer open-end credit and closed-end credit to consumers with good or bad credit scores. Lenders, however, can set their own underwriting standards and may not always offer the best terms for you.Lantern by SoFi can help you compare personal loan rates. Just provide basic information about yourself and the loan you need, and Lantern can guide you in the process to apply for a personal loan with the lender of your choice. Check your rate today and see if you prequalify.
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The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website on credit (https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/credit-and-loans)SOLC0222003

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between open-end credit and closed-end credit?
What is open-end credit?
What is closed-end credit?

About the Author

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman writes about personal loans, auto loans, student loans, and other personal finance topics for Lantern. He’s the recipient of more than 10 journalism awards and currently serves as a New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists board member. An alumnus of the Philadelphia-based Temple University, Abdur-Rahman is a strong advocate of the First Amendment and freedom of speech.
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