The credit terms that a firm is offered by its suppliers enable it to delay payments for its purchases. Because the supplier’s cost of having its money tied up in merchandise after it is sold is probably reflected in the purchase price, the purchaser is already indirectly paying for this benefit. Sometimes a supplier will offer a cash discount for early payment. In that case, the purchaser should carefully analyze credit terms to determine the best time to repay the supplier. The purchaser must weigh the benefits of paying the supplier as late as possible against the costs of passing up the discount for early payment.
Taking the Cash Discount If a firm intends to take a cash discount, it should pay on the last day of the discount period. There is no added benefit from paying earlier than that date.
Lawrence Industries, operator of a small chain of video stores, purchased $1,000 worth of merchandise on February 27 from a supplier extending terms of 2/10 net 30 EOM. If the firm takes the cash discount, it must pay $980 [$1,000 − (0.02 × $1,000)] by March 10, thereby saving $20.
Giving Up the Cash Discount If the firm chooses to give up the cash discount, it should pay on the final day of the credit period. There is an implicit cost associated with giving up a cash discount. The cost of giving up a cash discount is the implied rate of interest paid to delay payment of an account payable for an additional number of days. In other words, when a firm gives up a discount, it pays a higher cost for the goods that it orders. The higher cost that the firm pays is like interest on a loan, and the length of this loan is the number of additional days that the purchaser can delay payment to the seller. This cost can be illustrated by a simple example. The example assumes that payment will be made on the last possible day (either the final day of the cash discount period or the final day of the credit period).
cost of giving up a cash discount
The implied rate of interest paid to delay payment of an account payable for an additional number of days.