A term loan is a business credit with a maturity of more than 1 year but less than 15 years. Usually the term loan is retired by systematic repayments (amortization payments) over its life. It may be secured by a chattel mortgage on equipment, but larger, stronger companies are able to borrow on an unsecured basis. Commercial banks and life insurance companies are the principal suppliers of term loans. The interest cost of term loans varies with the size of the loan and the strength of the borrower.
Term loans involve more risk to the lender than do short-term loans. The lending institution’s funds are tied up for a long period, and during this time the borrower’s situation can change markedly. To protect themselves, lenders often include in the loan agreement stipulations that the borrowing company maintain its current liquidity ratio at a specified level, limit its acquisitions of fixed assets, keep its debt ratio below a stated amount, and in general follow policies that are acceptable to the lending institution.