Types of Letters of Credit
A transferable letter of credit allows the beneficiary to act as a middleman and transfer his rights under a letter of credit to another party or parties who may be suppliers of the goods. To be transferable, a letter of credit must be so marked by the issuing bank which can only do so on the applicant’s specific instructions. The applicant should be aware that any second beneficiary, the probable supplier, is usually a party not likely known to the applicant.
A red clause letter of credit incorporates a clause, traditionally written in red, which authorizes the bank acting as the negotiating or paying bank to pay the beneficiary in advance of shipment. This enables the purchase and accumulation of goods from a number of different suppliers, and the arrangement of shipment in accordance with the letter of credit terms.
Although not recorded on a letter of credit, “back-to-back” is a term used in transactions involving two irrevocable letters of credit. Such transactions originate when a seller receives a letter of credit covering goods which must be obtained from a third party who in turn requires a letter of credit. The “second” issuing bank looks to the first issuing bank for reimbursement after paying under the second letter of credit.
Standby letters of credit may apply in general to transactions which are based on the concept of default by the applicant in performance of a contract or obligation. In the event of default, the beneficiary is permitted to draw under the letter of credit. Standby letters of credit may be used as a substitute for performance guarantees, or issued to guarantee loans granted by one firm to another, thereby securing payment to the creditor in the event the other party fails to repay its obligation on the due date. Even if the applicant claims to have performed, the bank issuing the letter of credit is obliged to make payment provided the beneficiary produces complying documents, usually a sight draft, and a written demand for payment