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As a non-English-native person, I somehow find it difficult to understand the following: When an account is said to be debited, what does this mean? How does this differ from an account that is credited? Both seem to be checking(withdrawal-possible) account, and I am having difficulty distinguishing these two. How do they differ in some math-quantity understanding in economics?

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migrated from math.stackexchange.com Oct 13 '12 at 3:05

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This is an accounting question, not a math question. But see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debits_and_credits. Beware that common usage differs from the usage in accounting, probably because of people confusing a bank's point of view with a depositor's point of view. –  Trevor Wilson Oct 13 '12 at 2:43
If your account is credited, you have gotten money, not lost money. Do you mean to distinguish between credit cards and debit cards? –  Neal Oct 13 '12 at 2:58
Debits are on the left, credits on the right. Accounting 101. But in regards to amounts in a bank account debits are simply what you use for example your debit card. A credit is when you receive money. Don't mix credit in this terminology with a credit card. –  NuWin Jul 21 at 19:55

3 Answers 3

Strictly speaking the terms arise from double entry book keeping terminology, and don't exactly relate to their common English usage, which is part of the confusion.

All double entry book keeping operations consist of a (debit, credit) tuple performed on two different books (ledgers).

The actual arithmetic operation performed by a debit or a credit depends on the book keeping classification of the ledger it is performed on. Liability accounts behave the way you would expect - a debit is subtraction, and a credit is addition. Asset accounts are the other way around, a debit is an addition, and a credit is a subtraction.

The confusion when dealing with banks, partly comes from this classification, since while your deposit account is your asset, it is the bank's liability. So when you deposit 100 cash at the bank, it will perform the operation (debit cash account (an asset), credit deposit account). Each ledger account will have 100 added to it. Similarly when you withdraw cash, the operation is (credit cash, debit deposit). However the operation that your accountant will perform on your own books, is the opposite, since the cash was your asset, and now the deposit account is.

For those studying math, it may also help to know that double entry book keeping is one of the earliest known examples of a single error detection/correction algorithm.

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While this may well be factually correct, it's way OTT for a non-native English speaker who is having trouble with "debited" and "credited". –  Vicky Nov 20 '14 at 15:54
The original question came in from the mathematics group - and I would gently suggest, nothing about the impeccable english it is written suggests that english comprehension is an issue. –  Lumi Nov 20 '14 at 21:55

I'm not sure if this is your point of confusion, but when an account is said to be debited (or credited), the words "debited" or "credited" are not referring to a type of account (such as "checking"). They are referring to an operation that is performed on an account. The same account can be credited at one time and debited at another time.

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Credited to your account means amount has been deposited to your account(this will be your income). Debited from your account means withdrawn from your account(This will be your expense). Hope this clarifies your question. Regards Jayanthi

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