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Line of Credit (LOC) : Work, Types, Limitations & Credit Score

Last Updated : 18 Apr, 2024
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What is Line of Credit?

A line of credit (LOC) is a financial arrangement that provides individuals or businesses with the flexibility to borrow money up to a predetermined limit. It can be done through writing checks or employing a bank card for purchases or cash withdrawals. Operating much like a credit card, a line of credit permits borrowers to withdraw funds as required and repay the borrowed amount gradually. These financial tools are commonly offered by banks and credit unions, and they may also be known as bank lines or personal lines of credit. The versatility of a line of credit makes it a convenient option for managing varying financial needs over time.


Geeky Takeaways:

  • A line of credit represents a financial arrangement giving flexibility for borrowing up to a predetermined limit.
  • Commonly provided by banks and credit unions, it is also referred to as a bank line or personal line of credit.
  • It operates like a credit card, permitting gradual withdrawal and repayment of borrowed amounts.
  • Borrowers can access funds through checks, bank cards, or cash withdrawals, similar to a credit card.

How Line of Credit Work?

When applying for a line of credit, the financial institution assesses eligibility based on criteria such as a good CIBIL score, preferably above 750, and a stable income. Upon qualification, a designated draw period begins, permitting the borrower to withdraw funds from the LOC account. The financial institution facilitates fund transfers through cheques, card transactions, or account transfers, aligning with the borrower’s convenience and requirements. Interest starts accruing once the borrower initiates withdrawals, and as repayments are made, the amounts repaid are added to the LOC account. Following the draw period, the repayment period commences, during which the borrower is required to repay the remaining balance, if applicable. This structure provides borrowers with a flexible and accessible financial resource while ensuring responsible repayment practices.

Types of Lines of Credit

1. Personal Line of Credit: A personal line of credit is a flexible financial tool that provides individuals with access to unsecured funds. Borrowers can utilize the funds as needed, repay the borrowed amount, and then borrow again. This type of credit line is commonly employed for diverse purposes, including covering unexpected medical bills, financing home renovations, or contributing to special events like weddings. Its adaptable nature makes it a convenient option for managing fluctuating financial needs over time.

2. Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC): A HELOC is a secured credit line that leverages the equity in a homeowner’s property as collateral. This equity, representing the home’s value minus any outstanding mortgage balance, enables homeowners to access funds for home improvement projects or debt consolidation. HELOCs often offer more favorable interest rates compared to other forms of credit due to the secured nature of the loan.

3. Business Line of Credit: Designed to cater to the financial needs of businesses, a business line of credit supports working capital, inventory purchases, and expansion plans. The credit line can be either secured or unsecured, contingent on factors such as the borrower’s creditworthiness and the risk assessment conducted by the lender. This financial instrument provides businesses with the flexibility required to navigate various operational requirements and seize growth opportunities.

4. Securities-Backed Line of Credit (SBLOC): A SBLOC is a unique form of secured-demand LOC where the borrower’s securities serve as collateral. This arrangement allows individuals to leverage their investment portfolios to secure a line of credit, providing liquidity while maintaining their investment positions.

5. Demand Line of Credit: Although less common, a demand line of credit offers a unique feature where the lender has the authority to call the borrowed amount due at any time. This arrangement provides flexibility for the lender and requires the borrower to be prepared for potential immediate repayment.

6. Overdraft Line of Credit: An overdraft line of credit is a personal credit line often offered by banks in the form of an overdraft protection plan. By linking the overdraft plan to their checking account, banking customers gain protection against potential overdraft situations. This serves as a safety net, ensuring that transactions are covered even if the account balance falls below zero, preventing unnecessary fees and disruptions in financial transactions.

Limitations of Lines of Credit

1. Limited Availability for Larger Financing Needs: Business lines of credit, while providing flexibility, may fall short when it comes to addressing substantial and long-term financial needs. For major investments or projects requiring extensive funding, businesses may find the limited coverage of a line of credit inadequate, necessitating alternative financing options.

2. Fees: The convenience of a line of credit can come with additional costs, such as annual fees, transaction fees, and maintenance fees. These fees, when aggregated, can impact the overall cost-effectiveness of the credit line. Businesses need to carefully evaluate these charges to ensure that the benefits outweigh the associated costs. Thoroughly assess the fee structure to determine the true cost of utilizing a line of credit for your business needs.

3. Impact on Credit Score: Careful use of a line of credit is crucial to maintaining a positive credit score. Overusing the credit line or missing repayments can result in lower creditworthiness, affecting the ability to secure favorable terms for future credit. Businesses should be mindful of their credit management practices to safeguard their financial standing. Prioritize responsible credit usage to preserve and enhance your business’s creditworthiness.

4. Collateral or Personal Guarantees: Securing a business line of credit often involves pledging collateral or providing personal guarantees. While this enhances the lender’s security, it poses a risk for the borrower. Defaulting on the credit line may lead to the forfeiture of assets or personal liabilities, underscoring the importance of careful consideration before securing the credit.

5. Potential for Overuse: The accessibility of a revolving line of credit can be a double-edged sword. While it provides flexibility, it also has the potential to encourage businesses to overextend themselves. Vigilant financial management is essential to prevent falling into a cycle of overuse and accumulating unsustainable levels of debt. Establish clear usage guidelines and regularly monitor credit utilization to avoid overextending your business.

6. Variable Interest Rates: Lines of credit often come with variable interest rates, susceptible to fluctuations based on market conditions. This variability can introduce uncertainty into financial planning, requiring businesses to monitor and adapt to changes in borrowing costs. Analyze the market conditions and be prepared for potential fluctuations in interest rates when utilizing a line of credit.

7. High-Interest Rates and Late Payment Fees: Excessive borrowing against a line of credit can result in high-interest payments and late payment fees. These additional costs can significantly contribute to the financial burden on businesses, emphasizing the importance of disciplined borrowing and timely repayments.

8. Potential to Spend More Than You Can Afford to Repay: Mismanagement of a line of credit can lead to a misalignment between spending and repayment capacity. This mismatch can result in financial strain, making it challenging for firms to meet their financial obligations. Careful budgeting and financial planning are essential to prevent such situations and ensure sustainable financial practices.

How LOC affect Credit Score?

1. Hard Inquiry During Application: When you apply for a line of credit, the lender conducts a hard inquiry on your credit report to assess your creditworthiness. While this inquiry is necessary for the application process, it results in a temporary reduction in your credit score. It’s mandatory to be mindful of the frequency of credit applications, as multiple hard inquiries within a short period can further impact your credit score. Balancing the need for credit with the potential impact on your score is crucial for overall credit health.

2. Utilization Ratio: The utilization ratio, a key factor in credit scoring, reflects the proportion of your total available credit that you are currently using. When you use a line of credit, it increases your total credit usage, impacting this ratio. Maintaining a credit utilization ratio below 30% is advisable for optimal credit score health. Responsible management of credit usage demonstrates financial discipline and positively contributes to your creditworthiness.

3. Average Age of Accounts: Opening a new line of credit reduces the average age of your credit accounts. The average age of accounts is a factor considered in credit scoring, and a decrease in this average can initially lead to a lower credit score. While the impact is temporary, understanding this aspect helps in anticipating and managing potential fluctuations in your credit score.

4. Diversification: Diversifying your credit mix by adding a line of credit to your profile can positively influence your credit score. Credit scoring models often consider the types of credit accounts you hold. A diverse mix, including revolving credit like lines of credit and installment credit like loans, showcases your ability to manage various financial responsibilities.

5. Payment History: Timely payments on your line of credit are the cornerstone of building a positive payment history. Payment history is a critical factor in credit scoring, and consistent, on-time payments contribute significantly to a higher credit score. Establishing a pattern of responsible credit management enhances your creditworthiness. Set up reminders or automatic payments to ensure timely payments on your credit accounts.

6. Length of Credit History: Maintaining a line of credit over an extended period contributes positively to the length of your credit history. A longer credit history offers a more comprehensive view of your financial stability and behavior. While the impact may not be immediate, the length of credit history is a valuable component of a robust credit score. Avoid closing longstanding credit accounts to preserve their positive impact on your credit history.

Difference Between Unsecured LOCs and Secured LOCs


Secured Line of Credit

Unsecured Line of Credit

Collateral Requirement

Requires collateral, such as a home or vehicle. Lenders can seize collateral in cases of default.

There is no collateral requirement; approval is based on the borrower’s creditworthiness.

Interest Rates

Typically, lower interest rates are due to reduced risk for the lender.

Generally, higher interest rates are compared to secured LOCs due to increased risk for the lender.

Borrowing Limits

Offers higher borrowing limits compared to unsecured options.

Lower borrowing limits compared to secured lines of credit.


Easier qualification for borrowers with lower credit scores; collateral mitigates the lender’s risk.

Stricter credit and income requirements will make it more challenging for individuals with lower credit scores to qualify.

Choosing Between Options

It is best for those seeking higher borrowing limits and lower interest rates. Suitable for individuals willing to use assets as collateral.

Ideal for borrowers who prefer not to risk their assets. It is suitable for individuals with strong credit histories.

Difference Between Revolving Credit and Non-Revolving Credit


Revolving Credit

Non-Revolving Credit


Allows repeated borrowing up to a set credit limit.

Provides a lump sum upfront, paid back in fixed installments.

Access to Funds

Accessible again after paying off the balance.

The account is closed after paying off the balance; there is no further access without reapplication.


Standard forms of revolving credit will include credit cards.

Includes student loans, auto loans, and mortgages.


Payments are made on the outstanding balance; credit can be reused within the limit.

Fixed repayment schedules with specific end dates.


Typically charged only on the outstanding amount.

Charged on the full borrowed amount.


Offers flexibility in borrowing and repayment.

Structured repayment terms with a fixed amount upfront.

Purchasing Power

Borrowers can repeatedly qualify for funds within the limit.

Can qualify for higher amounts compared to revolving credit.


A line of credit offers flexibility for individuals and firms to borrow funds within set limits. The application process assesses factors like income and credit scores. Different types, such as secured and unsecured LOCs, come with varying considerations. Limitations include potential fees, credit score impact, and risks of overuse. Understanding how LOCs affect credit scores involves factors like hard inquiries, utilization ratios, and the average age of accounts. Distinguishing between revolving and non-revolving credit emphasizes variations in access to funds and repayment structures. Comparing secured and unsecured LOCs underscores differences in collateral, interest rates, borrowing limits, and qualifications. This knowledge enables informed decisions aligned with financial needs and risk tolerance.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How are payments structured for a line of credit?

An individual will receive a monthly statement detailing the amount owed on your line of credit. The minimum payment is required each month, usually equivalent to the monthly interest. It’s mandatory to note that solely paying the interest will not contribute to reducing the overall debt.

Is obtaining a line of credit advisable?

Lines of credit come with pros and cons, depending on usage. While excessive borrowing can lead to financial challenges, it can also serve as a cost-effective solution for unexpected or significant expenses.

What constitutes the minimum payment on a line of credit?

Typically, the minimum payment on most lines of credit is 2% of the balance or a minimum of $50, whichever amount is greater.

How is interest charged on a line of credit?

Interest on lines of credit accrues daily, starting from the moment you withdraw funds. This daily calculation persists until the balance is fully paid off.

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