Revolving vs Non-Revolving Credit: Key Differences

By Dan Miller · March 02, 2023 · 6 minute read

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Revolving vs Non-Revolving Credit: Key Differences

One important way that some types of loans or financial products differ is in whether they’re revolving or non-revolving credit. Understanding the differences in revolving vs. non-revolving credit can allow you to better choose which financial product is right for your situation and understand how each can impact your credit.

Revolving credit refers to a line of credit that you can access over and over again, subject to a total credit limit. Credit cards are one type of revolving credit.

Non-revolving credit, on the other hand, allows you to access a specific amount of money upfront. You then pay down your balance. Once it’s paid off, you can no longer access the money. Student loans, auto loans, and mortgages are all examples of non-revolving credit.

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Understanding Revolving Credit and How It Works

Revolving credit is a type of credit that you can access over an extended period of time. As mentioned, a credit card is one example of revolving credit — you’re given a maximum credit limit, and as long as your outstanding balance remains below that limit, you can continue to use the card. As you pay down your balance, the amount of your revolving credit that you can use increases.

Another example is a personal line of credit. It works similarly to a credit card, with a maximum credit limit and a minimum payment required each month, but there is no physical card included. Instead, you can access the funds with a check, a transfer, or at an ATM. A popular line of credit option is a home equity line of credit (HELOC). In this case, the home serves as collateral, though not all lines of credit are secured.

How Does Revolving Credit Impact Your Credit Score?

Many forms of revolving debt are reported to the major credit bureaus and will show up on your credit report. This means that how you use your revolving credit will impact your credit score.

If you reliably pay off your credit balances each and every month, that will generally have a positive impact on your credit score. However, if you miss payments or carry a high balance, your credit score may go down.

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Advantages of a Revolving Line of Credit

The biggest advantage of a revolving line of credit is that you’re able to access the funds as you need them. Instead of taking out a large lump sum, you can only borrow the money you need right now. This can help you save money on interest charges, since you only pay interest on your outstanding balance.

A credit card is one of the most popular forms of revolving credit. With a credit card, you’re initially given a credit limit that represents the highest amount of money that you can borrow. As you make purchases, your amount of available credit decreases, but you can raise that amount by making payments to your account.

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What Is Non-Revolving Credit?

Non-revolving credit is another type of debt that you’ll want to be aware of. Some popular examples of non-revolving credit are auto loans, student loans and mortgages.

With non-revolving credit, you receive all of your money upfront. As you make payments, your balance decreases, but you are not able to access any additional funds.

How Does Non-Revolving Credit Work?

If you have a non-revolving credit account, you will receive all of the funds you apply for upfront. One example of a non-revolving credit account is an auto loan. If you take out an auto loan, you get the total amount to buy your car at the outset. Then, you’ll make regular monthly payments, which decreases your outstanding balance.

But with a non-revolving credit account like an auto loan, you won’t be able to access any additional money without reapplying and requalifying with your lender.

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Benefits of Non-Revolving Credit

One benefit of a non-revolving credit account is that you may be able to qualify for a higher amount and/or lower interest rates. Banks may be more willing to extend you additional credit on a non-revolving credit line, specifically because you won’t be able to continue to revolve the debt amount over time. To illustrate this point, consider the difference in the amount and interest rate between a typical mortgage (non-revolving) and credit card (revolving).

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Revolving Credit vs Non-Revolving Credit

Here’s a quick look at some of the differences between revolving credit vs. non-revolving credit:

Revolving Credit

Non-Revolving Credit

Access to Money Can access money over and over, subject to the total credit limit Just have access to the original amount borrowed
Interest charged Only on the amount outstanding On the full amount borrowed
Interest rate Often comes with higher interest rates Generally has lower interest rates
Purchasing Power Relatively lower credit limits Can qualify for higher amounts

The Takeaway

Credit and debt accounts can be either revolving or non-revolving, and there’s an important difference between the two. With a non-revolving credit account, you receive all of the money at once, and you’re not able to access any additional funds without reapplying with your lender. With a revolving credit account, you are only charged interest on the amount that you choose to borrow at any one time, and you can pay down your balance and access additional funds at any time.

One common form of revolving debt are credit cards. With a credit card, you can make purchases and use your card as long as your outstanding balance is below your credit limit. You’re only charged interest on any amount you don’t pay off from your monthly statement. If you’re looking for a new credit card, you might consider a rewards credit card like the SoFi credit card. With the SoFi credit card, you can earn cash-back rewards, which you can then use to invest, save, or pay down eligible SoFi debt.


What is the major difference between revolving and non-revolving credit?

The biggest difference between revolving vs. non-revolving credit is how often you are able to access the money from your credit account. With a non-revolving credit account, you access the total amount upfront, and then are not able to access any additional funds without reapplying. If you have a revolving credit account, you can continue to pay down your balance and access additional money, as long as your balance is below your maximum credit limit.

When should I use revolving credit?

A revolving credit account, such as a credit card, can be a great choice if you don’t have a fixed amount that you’re looking to borrow. If you have a revolving credit line, you’re able to borrow (and pay interest) only on what you need at any one time. And if you later find that you need to borrow additional funds, you can do so with a revolving line, as long as your outstanding balance remains below your total credit limit.

When does a revolving line of credit become mature?

Some revolving letters of credit come with a maturity date. Before the maturity date, you can access the line of credit, pay down the balance, and continue to access additional funds. This is often known as a “draw period.” After the maturity date when this draw period ends, the line of credit converts to non-revolving, and you are no longer able to access additional funds. Make sure to check the terms of your line of credit to understand how this may affect you.

Photo credit: iStock/staticnak1983

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .


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