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Collateral, Surety, Secured Lending, Asset-Based Lending, Guarantor
Definitions, Meaning Explained, Usage


With automobile purchase loans from banks, the car itself normally serves as collateral. Should the buyer default seriously in making scheduled loan payments, the bank is entitled to resposses the vehicle.

Collateral is the Lender's protection in case the borrower defaults.

What is Collateral?

In business, the term collateral usually refers to assets or other property pledged by a borrower to secure repayment of a loan. The concept is defined here in the context of related terms, including surety, asset-based lending, and secured lending.

Collateral is the lender's protection in case the borrower defaults, that is, fails to pay principal or interest, as agreed in the loan contract. In case of default, the lender takes ownership of the collateral.

Collateral Explained in Context

Sections below further explain collateral in context with lending-related terms including:

Unsecured Loan
Secured Loan
Asset-Based Elending
Loan Default


Related Concepts

  • The article Creditor-Debtor explains relationships in a debt situation.
  • See the article Liability for more on business debt.

The Role of Collateral in Secured (Asset-Based) Lending

When collateral is part of a lending agreement, the transaction may be referred to as secured lending, or asset-based lending.

In typical bank loans such as car loans (for automobile purchase), for instance, the purchased vehicle serves as collateral. When a house or other real estate is bought with a mortgage loan, these serve as collateral for the lender. If the buyer defaults on a mortgage, the lender (for example, a bank) may take ownership of the property through the legal process of foreclosure.


What Happens When the Borrower Defaults?

When a loan is made without the involvement of collateral it is called an unsecured loan.

  • When a bank account holder writes a check that results in an overdraft, which the bank pays, anyway, the account holder's negative balance is considered an unsecured loan by the bank (unless the account holder has funds in other accounts that can be applied towards the overdraft).
  • Student loans are a frequently used form of unsecured lending, where the lender (usually the government) has no direct claim on the borrower's assets in case of default. In some cases, however, the government may eventually withhold certain government funds due the borrower such as tax refunds, and apply them toward the outstanding student loan principal and interest due.

A surety or guarantee, in finance, is a promise by one party (the guarantor) to assume responsibility for the debt obligation of a borrower if that borrower defaults. The person or company that provides this promise, is also known as a surety or guarantor.