Nonaccrual Loans: Definition, Examples, and Implications


Nonaccrual loans are unsecured loans that have not generated their stated interest rate due to the borrower’s failure to make payments for 90 days or more. This classification impacts both the lender’s accounting practices and the borrower’s credit score. This article delves into the definition, working, and implications of nonaccrual loans, as well as how borrowers can return these loans to accrual status. It also explores the concept of troubled debt restructurings and the criteria for nonaccrual loan classification.

Understanding nonaccrual loans

Nonaccrual loans, also known as “doubtful loans,” “troubled loans,” or “sour loans,” are a vital concept in the financial industry. They are unsecured loans that no longer generate their stated interest rate because the borrower has failed to make payments for 90 days or more. To better understand nonaccrual loans, let’s explore the key components in detail:

1. How nonaccrual loans work

When a borrower fails to make payments for an extended period, typically 90 days, a loan is classified as nonaccrual. This classification has several implications:
Change in credit score: The bank reports this change to credit reporting agencies, resulting in a lower credit score for the borrower.
Allowance for potential loan loss: The lender sets aside a reserve to protect its financial interests, anticipating potential losses.
Legal action: The lender may take legal action against the borrower to recover the outstanding debt.

2. Criteria for nonaccrual status

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) outlines specific criteria for classifying an asset as nonaccrual. These criteria include:
Deterioration in financial condition: If the borrower’s financial condition deteriorates, the loan may be maintained on a cash basis.
No expectation of payment: When it is unlikely that the borrower will pay the principal or interest in full.
Default for 90 days or more: If the principal or interest has been in default for an extended period unless the asset is well-secured and in the process of collection.

Returning a loan to accrual status

For borrowers who find themselves with a loan in nonaccrual status, there are steps that can be taken to return it to accrual status. These steps include:

1. Paying overdue amounts

A borrower can restore a loan to accrual status by paying all overdue principal, interest, and fees. This action demonstrates a commitment to fulfilling the original contract.

2. Resuming regular payments

In some cases, borrowers may resume making regular monthly payments as defined in the loan contract. Both parties must agree on this arrangement.

3. Providing collateral

If agreed upon, a borrower may provide collateral to secure the loan. This involves repaying the outstanding balance within a specified timeframe and resuming monthly payments.

4. Troubled debt restructuring

In situations where a borrower’s financial condition is challenging, a lender may opt for a troubled debt restructuring (TDR). This involves modifying the loan terms, which could include:
– Lowering the principal or interest payments.
– Reducing the interest rate.
– Allowing interest-only payments.
TDRs are typically considered when the borrower’s financial situation is expected to improve.

Can any loan become nonaccrual?

Lenders can classify almost any loan as nonaccrual if payments are consistently 90 days behind, except for secured loans with substantial collateral, like mortgages backed by real estate.
In cases of secured loans going into default, the lending institution can seize the collateral and liquidate it to recover the unpaid balance.

Requirements for troubled debt restructurings (TDRs)

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) provides guidelines for lenders seeking to establish troubled debt restructurings for nonaccrual loans. Borrowers in financial difficulties can work with lenders to determine if a TDR is appropriate for their situation.

Understanding cash-basis loans

When a loan enters nonaccrual status, it is classified as a cash-basis loan. This term signifies that the lender has not received interest payments for 90 days or more and, as a result, cannot record it as accrued income. Instead, it is recorded on a cash basis.

Implications of nonaccrual loans on lenders

Lenders face several consequences when loans fall into nonaccrual status. These consequences can include:

1. Impact on financial statements

Nonaccrual loans affect a lender’s financial statements. The interest income that would typically be recognized on these loans is no longer reflected. Consequently, this can impact profitability and affect how investors perceive the financial health of the lending institution.

2. Reserve for loan losses

When a loan is classified as nonaccrual, the lender must set aside reserves for potential loan losses. This serves as a protective measure to mitigate the financial risk associated with nonperforming loans. The size of this reserve directly impacts the lender’s capital adequacy and ability to withstand potential losses.

Regulatory guidelines for nonaccrual loans

Regulatory bodies, such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), outline specific guidelines and requirements for lenders dealing with nonaccrual loans. These guidelines may cover:

1. Reporting requirements

Regulatory bodies mandate that financial institutions report nonaccrual loans, along with the specific details regarding the loans and the steps taken to address them. These reports contribute to transparency and accountability in the financial industry.

2. Capital adequacy regulations

Regulators often set minimum capital adequacy ratios that banks must maintain. Nonaccrual loans can affect these ratios, potentially requiring additional capital reserves to comply with regulatory standards.

Role of credit agencies in nonaccrual classification

Credit reporting agencies play a crucial role in the classification of nonaccrual loans. They collect and maintain credit histories, influencing the financial standing of borrowers:

1. Credit score impact

When a loan falls into nonaccrual status, credit reporting agencies reflect this change in the borrower’s credit score. A lower credit score can affect future borrowing ability and interest rates on future loans or credit cards.

2. Information dissemination

Credit agencies disseminate information regarding nonaccrual loans to other financial institutions. This exchange of information helps lenders assess the creditworthiness of potential borrowers.


Nonaccrual loans are a significant aspect of the lending industry, affecting both borrowers and lenders. Borrowers facing nonaccrual loans have several options to restore their loans to accrual status, such as paying overdue amounts, resuming regular payments, or even engaging in troubled debt restructuring. Understanding the criteria for nonaccrual classification and the implications of this status is crucial for financial management.

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between nonaccrual and nonperforming loans?

Nonaccrual loans are unsecured loans that have stopped generating interest due to extended non-payment, typically 90 days or more. Nonperforming loans, on the other hand, refer to loans that are in default, which means the borrower has failed to meet the agreed-upon repayment terms. While both types signify trouble, nonperforming loans may involve secured loans with collateral, whereas nonaccrual loans are typically unsecured.

Can a borrower negotiate the terms of a nonaccrual loan?

Yes, borrowers have the option to negotiate the terms of a nonaccrual loan. This can include working out a repayment plan, paying overdue amounts, or even restructuring the loan to make it more manageable based on their current financial situation.

How does nonaccrual status impact a borrower’s credit score?

Nonaccrual status can significantly impact a borrower’s credit score. When a loan falls into nonaccrual, the lender reports this to credit agencies, resulting in a lower credit score. A lower credit score can affect the borrower’s ability to secure credit in the future and may lead to higher interest rates on loans and credit cards.

Are there tax implications for nonaccrual loans?

Yes, there can be tax implications for nonaccrual loans. When a loan becomes nonaccrual, the borrower may no longer be able to claim interest payments as tax deductions. It’s essential for borrowers to understand the tax implications of nonaccrual loans and consult with tax professionals if necessary.

Can nonaccrual loans be sold or transferred to other lenders?

Yes, nonaccrual loans can be sold or transferred to other lenders or collection agencies. Lenders may choose to sell nonperforming loans to specialized firms that specialize in debt collection. This transfer can occur when the original lender is unable to recover the debt or chooses to focus on more profitable loans.

Key takeaways

  • Nonaccrual loans result from 90 or more days of missed payments on unsecured loans.
  • Returning a loan to accrual status involves paying overdue amounts, resuming regular payments, providing collateral, or opting for troubled debt restructuring.
  • Cash-basis loans are those in nonaccrual status, where interest cannot be recorded as accrued income.
  • Criteria for nonaccrual status include a borrower’s deteriorating financial condition, no expectation of full payment, or 90+ days of default.
View Article Sources
  1. SCHEDULE RC-N – PAST DUE AND NONACCRUAL … – Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (.gov)
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  3. Appeal of Policy on Accounting Treatment For Cash … –