Definition of Early Payment Discount
An early payment discount is a reduction in the amount on a supplier's invoice if the customer pays the supplier promptly. The early payment discount is also known as a cash discount. (The seller may refer to the early payment discount as a sales discount. The buyer may refer to the early payment discount as a purchases discount.)
Not all companies offer early payment discounts. If the discount is allowed it will appear on the sales invoice.
Examples of Early Payment Discounts
Let's assume that a company sells goods on credit and offers an early payment discount expressed as 1/10, net 30. This means that a customer is allowed to deduct 1% of the invoice amount, if payment is made within 10 days (instead of paying the full amount in 30 days). In other words, the customer saves 1% for paying 20 days early. Therefore, an invoice of $1,000 with terms of 1/10, net 30 means that the $1,000 obligation will be settled in full for $990 if it is paid within 10 days.
If the customer has adequate cash or a readily available line of credit, the 1% early payment discount for paying 20 days early equates to a very attractive annualized rate of approximately 18%. If the customer does not have cash or a credit line available, the early payment discount may not be worth the risk of a potential bank overdraft fee.