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What is Partial Payment?

What is Partial Payment?

Partial Payment Definition

Partial payment refers to a payment that is not made in full but instead constitutes only a portion of the total amount due. This type of payment is often made in situations where the full amount cannot be paid at once. Partial payments can apply to various contexts such as loans, bills, or purchases, where the payer is either permitted or required to pay a fraction of the total amount at a given time, with the understanding that the remaining balance will be paid later according to agreed terms. This can be a useful approach for managing large or unexpected expenses, allowing for financial flexibility.

Understanding Partial Payment in Accounts Receivable

Partial payment in the context of accounts receivables refers to the scenario where a customer makes a payment that is less than the full amount owed for goods or services received. This partial payment reduces the outstanding balance in the accounts receivable ledger but does not completely settle the debt.

Partial payments in accounts receivables are common and can be beneficial for both the business and the customer, but they require careful management and accurate record-keeping to ensure the financial health and stability of the business.

Key Aspects of Partial Payments in Accounts Receivables

Recording Partial Payments

When a partial payment is received, it is recorded in the accounts receivable ledger, showing the reduction in the amount owed by the customer. This entry decreases the accounts receivable balance and increases cash or bank balance, depending on the mode of payment.

Balance Outstanding

After recording the partial payment, there remains an outstanding balance, which is the amount still owed by the customer. This amount continues to be reflected in the accounts receivable until it is fully paid.

Payment Terms and Agreements

Often, partial payments are made according to specific terms agreed upon between the seller and the buyer. These terms might include installment plans, or specific arrangements made due to the customer’s financial constraints.

Impact on Cash Flow

Partial payments can impact a business’s cash flow. While they provide some immediate cash inflow, the remaining outstanding balance might affect the business’s ability to cover its expenses.

Managing Accounts Receivables

Businesses need to manage partial payments carefully. This includes maintaining accurate records, following up on outstanding balances, and ensuring that all partial payments are accounted for correctly.

Legal and Contractual Implications

Depending on the contractual agreement, there may be legal implications or late fees associated with not paying the full amount by a certain date.

How to Record a Partial Payment in AR?

Here’s an example that demonstrates how partial payments are recorded in accounts receivable and the implications for both the creditor and the debtor.

XYZ Company sells office furniture. ABC Corp purchased furniture worth $10,000 from XYZ Company and received an invoice for the same amount. The terms of the sale allow ABC Corp to pay the invoice within 30 days. However, due to current cash flow issues, ABC Corp is unable to pay the full amount by the due date.

Partial Payment Example

  • Original Invoice Amount: $10,000
  • Due Date for Payment: 30 days after the invoice date

On the due date, ABC Corp informs XYZ Company that they can only pay a part of the invoice at present. They make a partial payment of $4,000.

Accounting Entries for XYZ Company:

When the Invoice is Issued:

  • Debit Accounts Receivable $10,000
  • Credit Sales $10,000

When the Partial Payment is Received:

  • Debit Cash/Bank $4,000
  • Credit Accounts Receivable $4,000

Resulting Situation:

  • Remaining Balance: After the partial payment, the remaining balance in ABC Corp’s account is $6,000 ($10,000 - $4,000).
  • Accounts Receivable: XYZ Company’s accounts receivable ledger now reflects an outstanding balance of $6,000 from ABC Corp.
  • Further Action: XYZ Company may need to follow up with ABC Corp for the remaining balance or potentially negotiate a new payment plan for the outstanding amount.


  • Cash Flow Impact: The partial payment of $4,000 provides some cash inflow to XYZ Company, but they still need to manage their accounts receivable to recover the remaining $6,000.
  • Relationship Management: XYZ Company must decide how to manage this relationship moving forward, balancing the need for timely payments with maintaining a good business relationship with ABC Corp.

Why Partial Payment Happen?

Understanding the reasons behind partial payments is important for businesses as it can influence how they manage their accounts receivables and customer relationships. In many cases, accommodating partial payments can be beneficial for maintaining long-term customer relationships and ensuring future business.

Customers may choose to make partial payments for a variety of reasons, often driven by their financial situation or the specific circumstances surrounding the transaction. Some common reasons include

  • Cash Flow Issues: A customer may be facing temporary cash flow problems, making it difficult to pay the full amount at once. By making a partial payment, they can manage their immediate financial obligations while still acknowledging and reducing their debt.
  • Large or Unexpected Bills: For particularly large invoices or unexpected expenses, a customer might not have the funds available to cover the entire amount immediately. Partial payments allow them to address these large bills over time.
  • Budgeting and Financial Planning: Some customers prefer to spread out payments to better align with their budgeting and financial planning. This approach can help them manage their monthly expenses more effectively.
  • Negotiated Payment Plans: In some cases, customers may negotiate payment plans with the creditor, especially if they anticipate difficulty in paying the full amount. This could be due to a variety of financial reasons or due to the nature of the goods or services provided.
  • Dispute Over Invoice: Sometimes, a partial payment is made because the customer disputes part of the invoice. They might pay the portion they agree with while the dispute over the remaining balance is resolved.
  • Good Faith Gesture: A partial payment can also be a gesture of good faith, showing that the customer intends to pay their debt but is currently unable to pay in full. This can be important in maintaining a good business relationship.
  • Testing Product or Service Quality: In some transactions, especially in B2B scenarios, a customer might make a partial payment initially, to pay the rest once they are satisfied with the quality of the product or service.
  • Financial Hardship: Customers might be experiencing financial hardships due to various reasons like job loss, medical emergencies, or other personal crises, which affect their ability to make full payments.

How to Create a Partial Payment Invoice

Generating a partial payment invoice involves creating a document that communicates the amount paid, the remaining balance, and any other relevant details. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to create one:


  • Title: Label the document as "Partial Payment Invoice" or "Invoice - Partial Payment" for clarity.
  • Invoice Number: Assign a unique invoice number for tracking and reference.
  • Date: Include the date when the partial payment invoice is issued.

Seller and Buyer Information

  • Seller's Details: Include your business name, address, contact information, and (if applicable) tax identification number.
  • Buyer's Details: Include the customer's name, address, and contact information.

Original Invoice Reference

  • Original Invoice Number: Reference the original invoice number related to this partial payment.
  • Original Invoice Date: State the date when the original invoice was issued.
  • Original Invoice Amount: Mention the total amount of the original invoice.

Details of the Partial Payment

  • Payment Amount: Specify the amount of the partial payment received.
  • Payment Date: Indicate the date when the partial payment was made.
  • Method of Payment: Note how the payment was made (e.g., cash, bank transfer, credit card).

Outstanding Balance

  • Remaining Balance: Clearly show the remaining balance after the partial payment. This can be calculated as, Original Invoice Amount - Payment Amount.
  • Due Date for Balance: If applicable, mention the due date for the remaining balance.

Additional Information

  • Payment Terms: Include any terms and conditions related to the partial payment and the remaining balance.

(Add any relevant notes or comments, such as thanking the customer for the payment or reminding them of the remaining balance due.)


  • Contact Information: Provide information for customer inquiries.
  • Legal or Tax Statements: If required, include any legal or tax statements related to the transaction.

Tools and Software

Many accounting software packages allow you to easily create and track partial payment invoices. These can automatically adjust the outstanding balance and keep records for future reference. If you're doing this manually, you can use word processing or spreadsheet software to create a template based on the structure provided above.

Benefits of Partial Payment

Partial payments offer several benefits, both for the payee (the one receiving the payment) and the payer (the one making the payment). Here are some of the key advantages:

For the Payee (e.g., Businesses, Creditors)

  • Improved Cash Flow: Even a partial payment increases cash flow, which is crucial for maintaining day-to-day operations. It's often better to receive some payment rather than none at all.
  • Reduced Credit Risk: Partial payments reduce the outstanding balance, thereby lowering the credit risk associated with non-payment or bad debts.
  • Customer Retention: By accommodating partial payments, businesses can demonstrate flexibility and understanding of customers' financial situations, which can help in retaining customers and fostering long-term relationships.
  • Avoidance of Costly Collections: Receiving partial payments can be more cost-effective than engaging in collection activities or legal proceedings to recover the full amount.
  • Better Financial Planning: Knowing that partial payments are coming in can help businesses plan their finances more effectively, as they have a clearer picture of their expected cash inflow.

For the Payer (e.g., Customers, Debtors)

  • Financial Flexibility: Partial payments provide a way for payers to manage their finances better, especially if they are facing temporary cash flow issues.
  • Reduced Financial Stress: Being able to make partial payments can reduce the stress and pressure of having to find a large sum of money at once, especially in times of financial hardship.
  • Avoidance of Late Fees and Penalties: In some cases, making partial payments can help avoid or reduce late fees, penalties, or additional interest charges.
  • Maintaining Credit Score: For debts like loans or credit card payments, making at least partial payments can help in maintaining a good credit score, as it shows a commitment to fulfilling financial obligations.
  • Building Trust: Consistent partial payments can build trust with the creditor, which might be beneficial for future credit or service requests.

Mutual Benefits

  • Negotiation Opportunities: The process of agreeing on partial payments can open up communication lines between the payer and payee, leading to better understanding and potentially beneficial negotiations for both parties.
  • Reduced Risk of Default: Partial payments reduce the likelihood of complete default, which is beneficial for both, the payer (who avoids the severe consequences of default) and the payee (who recovers at least some of the owed amount).

A partial payment is simply when someone pays only part of the total amount they owe, instead of the whole sum at once. It's like making a down payment on a larger bill, offering flexibility for both the person who needs to pay and the one who is waiting to receive the money. This approach can be especially helpful when the full amount is a bit too much to handle all at once, allowing for smaller, more manageable payments over time. For businesses, receiving partial payments means getting some cash flow, even if it's not the entire amount right away. For customers, it's a way to stay on top of their expenses without the pressure of a large, one-time payment.

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