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Debit vs. Credit: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 23, 2023
Debit refers to a deduction from an account, while credit signifies an addition or the granting of funds.

Key Differences

Debit, in financial terms, generally represents a decrease in assets or an increase in liabilities. It's the amount taken out of an account. For instance, when you use a debit card, money is directly deducted from your bank account. Credit, conversely, often symbolizes an increase in assets or a decrease in liabilities. It can also represent the trust given to a borrower to repay funds at a later date.
When looking at accounting's double-entry system, every transaction impacts at least two accounts. For example, if a business takes out a loan, its cash account may receive a credit (increase). Simultaneously, its liability account, like a loan payable, would get a debit (increase). However, in the context of banking and everyday transactions, people often see credit as a positive and debit as a negative, which can sometimes lead to confusion.
Debit and credit are fundamental concepts in the world of finance and accounting. They balance out transactions and ensure that the accounting equation stays in equilibrium. It's crucial to remember that the meaning of debit and credit can shift based on the context. In a bank statement, a debit reduces your balance, whereas a credit increases it.
In terms of personal finance, using a debit card means you're spending money you already have. In contrast, using a credit card implies borrowing money that you promise to pay back. Responsible use of credit can help build a positive credit history, while misuse can lead to debt and financial challenges.

Comparison Chart

Definition in Banking

Deduction from an account
Addition to an account or granting of funds

Impact on Assets in Accounting

Typically decreases assets
Typically increases assets

Impact on Liabilities in Accounting

Typically increases liabilities
Typically decreases liabilities

Card Usage

Uses funds from existing balance
Borrows funds to be repaid later

Trust Level

Immediate transaction with owned funds
Trust to repay borrowed funds

Debit and Credit Definitions


A card allowing the holder to transfer money electronically from their bank account.
She always uses her debit card for daily expenses to avoid accumulating debt.


An addition to a bank or financial account.
His paycheck resulted in a credit to his checking account.


The left side in double-entry bookkeeping.
In the journal entry, he recorded the expense on the debit side.


The right side in double-entry bookkeeping.
The payment received was noted on the credit side of the ledger.


A deduction from a bank or financial account.
Her bank statement showed a debit for her recent grocery shopping.


Trustworthiness or reliability, especially in repaying loans.
With a good job and timely payments, her credit score improved.


An entry recording an amount owed in accounting.
The company's ledger displayed a debit in the equipment expense column.


Acknowledgment or praise for an act.
The director received credit for the film's success.


A charge made against a particular account.
The monthly subscription results in a debit against his savings account.


Recognition for having paid or as a permission to defer payment.
The store gave her credit for the returned item.


An item of debt as recorded in an account.


An arrangement for deferred payment of a loan or purchase
A store that offers credit.
Bought my stereo on credit.


Is a debit always a decrease?

No, a debit can increase assets and expenses but decrease liabilities and equity.

How is "debit" abbreviated?

"Debit" is often abbreviated as "Dr."

In which side of the ledger is a debit recorded?

Debit is recorded on the left side of a ledger account.

In which side of the ledger is a credit recorded?

Credit is recorded on the right side of a ledger account.

Is a credit always an increase?

No, a credit can increase liabilities and equity but decrease assets and expenses.

How is "credit" abbreviated?

"Credit" is often abbreviated as "Cr."

How can one remember the effects of debits and credits?

A useful mnemonic is DEALER: Debits increase Expenses, Assets, and Losses; Credits increase Equity, Revenues, and Liabilities.

Do all accounts have a natural debit or credit balance?

Yes. Assets and expenses typically have natural debit balances, while liabilities, equity, and revenue have natural credit balances.

Are debits and credits concepts used globally?

Yes, the double-entry system using debits and credits is a foundational concept in accounting practiced worldwide.

What does "debit" mean?

In accounting, "debit" refers to an entry that either increases an asset or expense account, or decreases a liability or equity account.

Why are debits and credits important in accounting?

They form the double-entry system which ensures that every financial transaction affects at least two accounts, maintaining the accounting equation's balance.

Does a debit always have a corresponding credit?

Yes, in the double-entry accounting system, every debit entry must have an equal and opposite credit entry.

Is a debit card the opposite of a credit card?

Not exactly. Both are payment cards, but a debit card takes money directly from a bank account, while a credit card borrows money up to a certain limit.

How can I determine if an account should be debited or credited?

Identify the nature of the account (asset, liability, equity, revenue, or expense) and then apply the rules of the double-entry system.

How do debits and credits impact the accounting equation?

They ensure the accounting equation (Assets = Liabilities + Equity) remains in balance by recording dual effects of each transaction.

What does it mean when a bank account is debited?

When a bank account is debited, money is taken out of the account.

What does it mean when a bank account is credited?

When a bank account is credited, money is added to the account.

Do debit balances indicate positive values?

Not always. While assets and expenses typically have debit balances, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are positive in a broader sense.

What happens if debits and credits don’t balance in a ledger?

It indicates an error in the accounting entries, and the accounts won't balance, which can lead to inaccurate financial statements.

What does "credit" mean?

In accounting, "credit" refers to an entry that either increases a liability or equity account, or decreases an asset or expense account.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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