Letter of Credit Discounting

Letter of Credit Discounting an innovative financial solution that can revolutionize the way businesses engage in global trade. In this series, we will explore how LC discounting empowers businesses to overcome cash flow challenges and capitalize on new opportunities, making their mark in the competitive world of international commerce. Stay tuned as we unravel the secrets of this game-changing financial tool. Let's embark on this journey together!

What is a Letter of Credit?

A letter of credit (LC) is a frequently used financial tool in international trade that gives buyers and sellers in many nations a safe way to make payments. It functions as a written commitment made by a bank on behalf of an importer (buyer) to pay an exporter (seller) a specific sum upon the successful completion of certain terms and conditions. The LC serves as a guarantee, giving the buyer and seller assurance that payment would only be made upon receipt of the agreed-upon products or services and guaranteeing the seller that they will be paid for the goods or services they offer. The bank serves as an intermediary, which makes the letter of credit a crucial and trustworthy tool in international trade by fostering trust and easy transactions between parties participating in cross-border trade.

How Much a Letter of Credit Costs

The cost of a letter of credit (LC) can vary depending on the issuing bank, transaction complexity, and additional services required. It typically includes an issuance fee, confirmation fee (if applicable), advising fee, amendment fee, negotiation/discounting fee, and handling charges. Negotiating favorable terms is essential, considering the LC's benefits in reducing payment risks and facilitating international trade.

Types of Letters of Credit

A commercial letter of credit, a revolving letter of credit, a traveler's letter of credit, and a confirmed letter of credit are among the several kinds of letters of credit. An unsecured letter of credit with a red clause is also occasionally used in international trade.

Commercial Letter of Credit

An exporter and an importer can conduct safe and easy transactions by using a commercial letter of credit, a financial tool that is frequently used in international trade. It is provided to the seller as an assurance that payment will be delivered following successful completion of the agreed-upon terms and conditions, as stated in the LC, and is issued by a bank on behalf of the buyer. The seller can provide the required paperwork, such as shipment records or delivery evidence, to the bank for payment, lowering the risk of non-payment and fostering trust between the two sides in international business. The Commercial letter of credit is a vital tool for fostering dependability and confidence in international trade.

Revolving Letter of Credit

A Revolving letter of credit is a type of LC that allows the beneficiary to draw funds multiple times within a set period or cycle, providing continuous coverage for recurring transactions. It is a useful tool for businesses engaged in regular or seasonal trading, promoting trade continuity and cost savings.

Traveler’s Letter of Credit

This letter guarantees that issuing banks would honor draughts made at specific foreign banks for persons traveling abroad.

Confirmed Letter of Credit

A Confirmed letter of credit involves two banks: the issuing bank and a confirming bank. The confirming bank adds its guarantee to honor the LC, providing additional security for the beneficiary (seller) in international trade transactions.

How to Apply for a Letter of Credit

Applying for a letter of credit (LC) involves several steps to ensure a smooth and successful process. Here's a general guide on how to apply for an LC:

  • Understand the Trade Transaction

    The terms and conditions of the trade transaction between the buyer and seller should be made very clear. This covers the kind and quantity of the products or services, their cost, their due date, and other pertinent information.

  • Select an Issuing Bank

    The buyer needs to choose a reputable bank to issue the LC. This bank will act as the issuing bank and provide the guarantee of payment to the seller.

  • Gather Required Documents

    A sales contract, a purchase order, and any other documentation defining the agreed-upon parameters of the transaction must be gathered by the buyer and provided to the issuing bank.

  • Apply for the letter of credit

    The buyer submits an application to the issuing bank requesting the issuance of an LC. This application typically includes details about the trade transaction, the amount of the LC, the beneficiary's information (seller), and the LC type required.

  • Issuing Bank's Evaluation

    The issuing bank reviews the buyer's application and assesses their creditworthiness and ability to fulfill the terms of the LC. Based on the evaluation, the bank decides whether to issue the LC or not.

  • LC Issuance

    the issuing bank approves the application, they issue the LC in favor of the seller, outlining the terms and conditions of the trade transaction.

  • Transmitting the LC

    issuing bank sends the LC to the advising bank (if applicable), located in the seller's country. The advising bank notifies the seller about the LC's existence and terms.

  • Seller's Acceptance

    The seller reviews the LC to ensure it meets their requirements. If all terms are acceptable, the seller can proceed with the transaction.

  • Fulfillment of Terms

    The seller ships the goods or provides the agreed-upon services as per the terms of the LC. They then present the required documents to the advising bank or the issuing bank, depending on the terms of the LC.

  • Payment

    Upon verification of compliant documents, the bank makes payment to the seller as per the LC's terms.

Remember that the process may vary based on the specific requirements of the transaction, the banks involved, and the type of LC used. Working closely with the chosen bank and understanding the entire process will help ensure a successful application for a letter of credit.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Letter of Credit

Advantages of a Letter of Credit (LC)

Payment Security

An LC offers a safe means of payment for both the buyer and the seller. The purchaser is assured that payment will only be made when the goods or services have been successfully delivered in accordance with the specified terms. The seller, on the other hand, is assured of payment if they meet the requirements.

Risk Mitigation

Using an LC reduces the risk of non-payment and non-performance in international trade transactions. It helps protect both parties from potential financial losses and ensures a level of trust and confidence in the transaction.

Global Trade Facilitation

LCs facilitate international trade by providing a standardized and widely accepted payment mechanism. They help bridge the gap between buyers and sellers from different countries, overcoming language, legal, and cultural barriers.

Improved Creditworthiness

Having an LC in place can enhance the creditworthiness of the buyer, as it demonstrates a commitment to fulfilling the payment obligations.

Flexibility in Financing

LCs can offer payment options that align with the buyer's cash flow requirements, such as deferred payment or installment terms, allowing for better financial planning.

Disadvantages of a Letter of Credit (LC)


The fees associated with issuing and using an LC can add to the overall transaction cost, affecting both the buyer and seller. Additionally, some parties may require additional fees for confirming or advising the LC.

Administrative Complexity

Applying for an LC and complying with its requirements involve paperwork, documentation, and adherence to specific terms. This administrative process can be time-consuming and may require expert assistance to avoid errors.

Limited Flexibility

Once an LC is issued, any changes or amendments to the terms can be challenging and may involve additional costs and time.

Potential Disputes

Discrepancies in documents or misunderstandings regarding the LC's terms can lead to disputes between the buyer and seller, resulting in delays in payment or delivery.

Bank Risks

The seller is reliant on the issuing bank's ability to honor the LC. A risk of nonpayment exists if the issuing bank experiences financial problems or goes bankrupt.

Despite these downsides, using a letter of credit is frequently preferable to other payment methods in international trade because the benefits far exceed the negatives. Businesses must carefully consider their specific needs and the complexity of the transaction to determine if an LC is the right choice for their trade dealings.

How Does a Letter of Credit Work?

A letter of credit (LC) works as a secure payment method in international trade. The buyer's bank issues the LC, guaranteeing payment to the seller upon fulfilling specified conditions. The seller presents compliant documents to the bank, and upon verification, the bank makes payment to the seller. It reduces payment risks and fosters trust between buyers and sellers in cross-border transactions.

What Is an Example of a Letter of Credit?


Company A in the United States purchases electronic components from Company B in China. To ensure a secure transaction, Company A obtains an Irrevocable letter of credit from their bank, guaranteeing payment upon receiving compliant shipping documents. Company B ships the components and presents the documents to their bank in China. The bank verifies the documents and forwards them to Company A's bank, which releases payment, ensuring both parties are protected in the trade deal.

Difference Between Commercial LC & Revolving LC?

A Commercial letter of credit is for a single trade transaction and becomes inactive after use. A Revolving letter of credit is for multiple transactions within a specified period, automatically renewing after each draw, suitable for ongoing or seasonal trading.

The letter of credit (LC) plays a crucial role in international trade, offering secure transactions and reducing payment risks. Its versatility and benefits make it an indispensable tool for businesses navigating the complexities of global commerce.

Factors like the relation between a buyer and a seller, economic conditions, nature of transactions, national and international trade, etc. often decide the fate of trading. If there is discord among any of these factors, traders are likely to incur a loss unless they have financial security like a Letter of Credit or letter of credit discounting to fall back on.

What Is Letter Of Credit Discounting?

Letter of Credit discounting is a primary method of financing in international trade and is also known as a documentary credit. Fundamentally, it is a guarantee provided by a financial institution to pay sellers on behalf of buyers in case of default on their part. Letter of Credit discounting serves as financial security for businesses involved in either export or import or both. 

LC discounting is considered to be a typical funding option as financial institutions follow a mandatory verification process to confirm the authenticity of both the parties. Also, the chance of manipulating the discounting rate is minimal as only the prevailing rates apply to a Letter of Credit. 

Types of Letter of Credit

In a broader sense, there are 5 types of Letter of Credit   –

  1. Revocable

    It is considered to be an uncommon Letter of Credit as it can be changed or cancelled by a banking institution at any time and for any reason. It cannot be transferred to a third party.

  2. Irrevocable

    This Letter of Credit can only be changed or cancelled if all concerned parties agree to it. Typically, an irrevocable Letter of Credit is considered to be more secure than revocable ones.

  3. Transferable

    A transferable Letter of Credit can be transferred from one beneficiary to another. Such an LC is used when intermediaries partake in a transaction. 

  4. Confirmed

    When an advising financial institution trusted by the seller guarantees payment from the buyer, a Letter of Credit is confirmed. A confirmed irrevocable Letter of Credit is more secure than the unconfirmed ones as it is backed and guaranteed by both the issuing and confirming bank.

  5. Unconfirmed

     In the case when a letter of credit reaches the beneficiary with only the issuing bank's payment undertaking, without any confirmation added by another financial institution is known as an unconfirmed letter of credit.

    Besides these, other Letters of Credit include – standby Letter of Credit, revolving Letter of Credit and back-to-back Letter of Credit. 

How Does The Letter of Credit Discounting Work?

The pointers mentioned below offer a fair idea about how an LC discounting works –

  • On agreeing to the terms of trade, the seller requests a buyer to provide a Letter of Credit before the goods are delivered to guarantee the financial security of the trade.
  • The buyer approaches an issuing bank to obtain a Letter of Credit.
  • To discount an LC, the seller submits required export documents to his/her bank.
  • LC advice is issued to the exporter by his/her bank.
  • The money availed is used to process the order and deliver goods or services as per the terms.
  • The collected export documents are forwarded to the LC issuing bank.
  • On receiving the document, the issuing bank verifies them and notifies about the acceptance of bills under LC.
  • The institution disburses payment to the seller's account.

When Can A LC Be Discounted? 

It must be noted that exporters can get the LC discounted in any of these situations –

  • To fulfil financial requirements, an exporter may request for discounting of the bills backed by a received Letter of Credit. The exporter's financial institution proceeds to discount the bill and make a net payment after deducting applicable LC discounting charges.
  • When an importer wants to extend the payment term, but the exporter requires immediate payment.
  • In case an importer fails to pay the money on the due date.

Benefits Of LC Discounting

LC discounting services in India provide quick and assured access to funding in times of need, making it a preferred financial tool among business entities. 

These are key benefits of LC discounting –

  • It puts exporters at ease by eliminating credit risk and assuring payment.
  • The advance payment helps to access working capital, which in turn results in seamless cash flow and enhanced operations.
  • On receiving the payment before a bill's maturity date, the beneficiary can pay off exporters, use the money in the production process or meet other production-oriented requirements.
  • It enables beneficiaries to provide extended repayment tenure to their trading partner, which helps them to negotiate a better deal.

Though there are several benefits of LC discounting, exporters need to become familiar with its limitations as well. If they do not find letter of credit discounting a feasible option, they may consider alternative funding options to keep their operations active until the importer pays off. 

KredX helps businesses raise funds to meet their working capital requirements within 24-72 hours*against attractive terms.

LC Discounting vs Invoice Discounting

The table below highlights the significant differences between LC discount and bill discount.


Letter of Credit Discounting 

Invoice discounting


It is a financing process wherein, a lender purchases the bills or documents of export and pays the amount after deducting the applicable LC discounting charges.

It is a financial facility which enables businesses to leverage their accounts receivable to avail a loan.


A Letter of Credit serves as a safety net and assures payment for export items.

In case of default or immediate funding requirement, exporters can use LC to receive payment for the goods sold. 

It helps business entities to quickly access funds and helps to meet immediate working capital needs. 


To discount a Letter of Credit, exporters need to raise a request to their bank and submit the required export documents.

Businesses need to reach out to an invoice discounting provider to raise funds against the outstanding invoices.

Issuer or discounter

Only banks can issue a Letter of Credit and discount the same.

Any financial institution, bank or individual lender can discount an invoice. 

With this understanding of LC discounting and its alternative funding options, individuals can make an informed decision when resorting to raising finance for their export/import business.

Letter of Credit (LC) discounting provides a valuable solution for businesses facing cash flow challenges in international trade. It empowers companies to access funds, optimize liquidity, and seize opportunities, fostering growth and stability in the global market. LC discounting stands as a vital asset, fueling success and resilience in the ever-changing world of trade finance.


A. To receive payment under LC, the exporter needs to submit the required export documents to his/her bank and is forwarded to the LC issuing bank. After verifying the authenticity and confirming it the bank notifies about bill acceptance and disburses payment to the exporter's account.

A. LC discounting is a credit facility extended by banks. In this process, the financial institution purchases bills or documents from exporters and provides a loan after discounting the bill amount, i.e., reducing the applicable charges.

A. Article 14 of the UCP 500 is concerned with discrepant documents, which empowers banks to decide whether the submitted documents comply with the credit terms or not. In case of discrepancy, banks hold the discretion to withhold payment until they receive an answer from the importer.

A. Letter of Credit fee is a commission that a bank charges for providing a LC on behalf of a customer. Typically, the percentage of commission charged depends on the client's credit position.

A. Letter of Credit is used internationally, whereas a bank guarantee is used domestically. The former favours exporter whereas the latter favours buyers. Typically, an LC is used by merchants, while infrastructure and real estate developers use a bank guarantee.

A. Typically, there are 4 notable stages in assessing a Letter of Credit, namely – the verification stage, advising stage, confirmation, and negotiation or discounting stage.

A. A Letter of Credit is a financing arrangement to raise funds whereas bills of exchange are payment tools. In the case of LC, individuals need to meet a few conditions to receive payment, whereas bills of exchange are legally binding documents issued towards a payment to be made at a later date.

A. Exporters need to submit – bills of exchange, invoice, bill of lading, consignment note, airway bill and insurance, among others to get a Letter of Credit discounted.

A. Essentially line of credit and Letter of Credit are a form of = credit facility extended by banking institutions. They can be utilised to raise capital for seller payment.

A. Individuals can get a Letter of Credit by requesting their bank. Notably, all financial institutions do not offer a Letter of Credit.