Debenture vs Bond: What’s the Difference?

6 mins read
by Angel One

To fulfil even the most fundamental criteria, such as starting a firm or growing an existing one, an organisation of any kind requires financial backing. The most frequent strategy for acquiring the necessary finances is to take out a loan. The most common forms of corporate debt financing are bonds and debentures, but there are other options as well. Because they are both debt instruments, debentures and bonds may be used interchangeably in many nations. Nevertheless, these are two distinct types of investment products. Let’s have a look at the key distinctions between debentures and bonds in this article.

What is Debenture?

Debentures, in comparison to other types of bonds, are often issued for a more particular reason. Debentures are often issued in order to generate cash for the purpose of meeting the costs of an impending project or paying for an extension that is planned for a firm. These debt instruments are a typical example of a sort of long-term financing that companies may acquire.

Debentures provide a return on investment to investors in the form of a coupon rate of interest that may either be variable or fixed, and they also mention a date by which the debt must be repaid. When the time comes for the firm to make the interest payment, it is customary for the corporation to make the interest payment first, followed by the dividend payment to the shareholders.

At the time when the payment is due, the corporation generally has two options available to it about the settlement of the principal. They have the option of making a single payment in full or breaking up their payment into many smaller ones. The corporation will make fixed payments to the investor totalling a predetermined amount on an annual basis up to the time when the debenture reaches maturity. This payment schedule is termed as a debenture repayment reserve. In the supporting documents, you will find a list of the debenture’s terms and conditions.

Debentures are also referred to as revenue bonds due to the fact that the originator of the debt plans to repay the debt using the revenues from the business initiative that they agreed to fund. Debentures are not backed by any tangible assets or security in any way. They are not supported by anything other than the issuer’s unwavering confidence and good standing in the market.

While certain debentures, similar to other types of bonds, are convertible, which means that their value may be changed into that of the company’s stock, some debentures are not convertible. In general, investors like convertible securities and are willing to settle for a little lower return in order to get them. Debentures may be acquired via a broker, just like any other kind of bond.

The Types of Debentures

The following are the most common types of debentures:

  • Convertible debentures: Investors holding this type of debenture have the option to convert them into common equities. At the time of issuance, these debentures mention the investor’s rights, the trigger date for conversion, and the date. 
  • Non-convertible debentures: These types of debentures can’t be changed into common stocks like convertible debentures.  
  • Registered debentures: The registered debentures are registered in the company. If the holder wants to change the ownership of such a debenture, it is done through a clearing facility.
  • Unregistered debentures: These are unregistered or bearer debentures. These types of debentures don’t require the issuer to maintain any records.
  • Redeemable debentures: Holders can redeem the debenture on a specific date mentioned on the company’s debenture certificate. 
  • Irredeemable debentures: Irredeemable debentures, as the name suggests, are not redeemable. These debentures are redeemable only when the company goes into liquidation.  

What are Bonds?

Bonds are the most prevalent kind of financial instrument used by both private companies and government agencies. Between both the supplier and the investor, it acts as a kind of promissory note. A quantity of money is lent out by an investor in exchange for the guarantee that it will be repaid on or before the note’s maturity date. In most cases, the investor will also be entitled to receive recurrent interest payments throughout the course of the bond’s tenure.

Bonds are often seen as a reasonably risk-free investment option within the context of the world of finance. Bonds issued by corporations or governments with high credit ratings are seen as having a low probability of default. However, every bond, even those provided by government organisations or municipalities, will come with its own independent credit rating.

Bonds, in general, are seen as secure investments that provide a fixed rate of return, despite the fact that their returns are often not very outstanding. In most cases, competent financial advisers will recommend to their clients that they maintain some portion of their wealth in the form of bonds and that they gradually grow that portion as they get closer to the age when they may retire.

The Types of Bonds

  1. Government bonds: Government bonds are the safest form of investment. The types of government bonds are Treasury bonds, Treasury bills, and Treasury notes. 
  2. Corporate bonds: Issued by corporations to raise funds from the market. Investment grade bonds and high-yield bonds are types of corporate bonds.
  3. Zero coupon bonds: Zero coupon bonds don’t make regular interest payments. These bonds are sold at a discounted price compared to their face value. The bondholder receives the face value upon maturity.  
  4. Convertible bonds: Bonds that can be converted into a predetermined number of common shares of the issuing company. They offer the potential for capital appreciation and income.
  5. Floating-rate bonds: Bonds with interest rates that reset periodically based on a reference interest rate (e.g., LIBOR or the Prime Rate). They provide protection against rising interest rates and falling bond pricesfor the bondholder.

Important Considerations

Debentures are not inherently more risky than other types of bonds just because they do not come with any kind of collateral backing them up. Despite the fact that they do not have any collateral attached to them, they are not deemed to carry any risk.

Debentures are also the most prevalent long-term mode of financing issued by companies. Bonds might be issued by a firm in order to obtain capital for the purpose of increasing the number of retail outlets it operates. It anticipates that future sales will allow it to return the money. Because of this, the bond is given the same level of creditworthiness as the corporation that issued it.

Corporations and governments have the ability to fund expenditures that go beyond their typical cash flows by issuing bonds and debentures.

Debenture vs Bond: Key Difference 

Characteristic Debentures Bonds
Security Mostly unsecured and not backed by collateral. It can be either secured or unsecured. Secured bonds are backed by collateral or assets.
Priority in Liquidation Debenture holders have lower claims during bankruptcy than bondholders Bondholders typically have a higher priority for repayment in the event of default.
Interest Payment Interest is paid out of profits and may be tax-deductible for the issuer. Interest payments are often fixed and not tax-deductible for the issuer.
Maturity Period Short to medium-term maturity, typically up to 10 years. Medium to long-term maturity, often over 10 years.
Types Convertible and non-convertible debentures. Corporate bonds, municipal bonds, government bonds, etc.
Convertibility Some debentures may be convertible into equity shares of the issuer. Bonds are usually not convertible into equity.
Market Less liquid and often traded in smaller volumes on secondary markets. Generally more liquid and traded in larger volumes on secondary markets.
Risk Higher risk for investors due to a lack of collateral; higher interest rates may be offered. Risk profile varies based on issuer and type; often seen as safer than debentures.
Taxation Interest income from debentures may be taxed at the investor’s applicable income tax rate. Interest income from bonds may also be taxed, but tax treatment varies by issuer and type.

Who Should Invest in Bonds & Debentures?

Bonds are particularly suitable for risk-averse investors. Guaranteed, low-risk, fixed returns make bonds ideal for saving for retirement funds. Bonds are good long-term investment options as they provide fixed-interest income and principal protection. Unlike debentures, they are often backed by collateral. 

However, if you want higher returns on your investment, then debentures are better. Also,  debentures are a good short-term investment option. 


There is a distinction between borrowing money via a bond and doing so through a debenture. Unlike a debenture, which lacks security, a bond is protected by a guarantee. Debentures, on the other hand, provide a wide range of potential returns.

If you are able to evaluate the credibility of the company that is issuing the debentures, you will undoubtedly be in a position to acquire debentures at a price that will allow you to make a greater profit. However, if you are just starting out in the world of finance, bonds are probably the best option for you to start with.

Because bonds are provided by government entities, they have a greater degree of safety than other investments. As a result, investors are entitled to returns on their investments. However, debentures are the best option for you if you have a high-risk tolerance and you want to increase your return in a shorter amount of time.


What is the primary difference between bonds and debentures?

Bonds are a broad category of debt securities that include various types of fixed-income instruments, while debentures are a specific type of bond that is unsecured, meaning they are not backed by collateral. All debentures are bonds, but not all bonds are debentures.

How are bonds and debentures secured?

Bonds can be either secured or unsecured. Secured bonds are backed by specific assets or collateral, providing a safety net for investors. In contrast, debentures are always unsecured, meaning they have no specific collateral backing them.

What is the risk difference between bonds and debentures?

Bonds, especially secured bonds, generally carry lower risk compared to debentures. Debentures are riskier for investors because they lack collateral, making them more dependent on the issuer’s creditworthiness.

Are bonds or debentures more suitable for income investors?

Income investors often prefer bonds, particularly investment-grade corporate bonds or government bonds, due to their lower default risk and more predictable interest payments. Debentures, with their higher risk profile, may offer higher yields but come with greater uncertainty.

Do bonds and debentures have different tax implications for investors?

The tax treatment of bonds and debentures can vary depending on factors such as the issuer and the investor’s location. In some cases, interest income from municipal bonds (a type of bond) may be tax-exempt at the federal or state level, while interest from debentures is typically subject to ordinary income tax.