Close this search box.

Table of Contents

Net Charge-Off (NCO)


Net Charge-Off (NCO) is a financial term referring to the difference between the amount a lender has charged off as unusable and the amount that has been recovered on bad debts. It is a measure of loan losses. The higher the NCO, the more losses a lender has incurred on its loans.


Net: /nɛt/Charge-Off: /ˈtʃɑːrdʒˌɔːf/(NCO): /ˌɛnˌsiːˈoʊ/

Key Takeaways

1. `Definition:

Net Charge-Off (NCO) is a financial term used to refer to the amount that a bank or other financial institution loses when it is unable to collect on a loan. It is essentially the difference between the principal amount loaned and what the institution is able to recover.

` 2. `Importance:

NCO is a critical measure of a financial institution’s underwriting capabilities and credit portfolio management. High net charge-off rates can indicate higher risk for creditors, as it signifies increased loan defaults and signifies a warning sign for potentia investors or shareholders.

`3. `Calculation:

NCO is typically expressed as a percentage of loans, providing a clearer picture of net losses relative to a bank’s total loan portfolio. The formula to calculate NCO% is (Gross Charge-Offs – Recoveries)/Average Loans and Leases. NCO rates can fluctuate over time, depending on the performance of the economy or any changes in lending behaviors.



Net Charge-Off (NCO) is a crucial business/finance term as it refers to the amount of debt that a company believes it will not be able to collect and decides to write off its books. It basically represents the difference between gross charge-offs and any subsequent recoveries of delinquent debt. The rate of NCOs can be a significant indicator of the financial health of a company or a bank. A high NCO rate signifies poor debt performance, indicating that a company has extended loans to many customers who are unable to repay them, which can potentially threaten the financial viability of the company. Conversely, a low NCO rate implies that the company’s credit risk management is efficient, suggesting better financial health. Therefore, businesses, investors, and regulators monitor NCO rates closely.


Net charge-offs (NCO) is a crucial metric used by banking and financial institutions to evaluate and track their financial health. Essentially, the purpose of an NCO is to get a clear picture of credit losses within a given time period. This snapshot of uncollectible debt provides valuable insights into the quality of a company’s credit portfolio and its ability to manage credit risk. When the net charge-off rate is high, it generally signifies that a bank or financial institution has high default risk which may discourage investments.Furthermore, NCO is instrumental while calculating loan loss reserves, an account set aside by financial institutions to cover potential losses from unpaid loans. Higher NCO often leads to greater loan loss reserves, reducing the profit and capital of banks. Consequently, regulators, investors, and management are greatly interested in NCO as they offer crucial insights into how a financial institution is coping with its risk profile and can impact important decisions such as policy changes, portfolio management, and strategic planning.


1. Credit Card Company: Let’s say a credit card company has a large portfolio of credit card holders. Unfortunately, a certain number of those cardholders default on their payments and the company fails to recover the outstanding balance after numerous attempts. After certain time, the company declares those accounts as bad debt and removes them from their balance sheet. This is a Net Charge-Off (NCO).2. Retail Banks: Banks usually have loans given out to individuals or businesses. If a business takes a loan of $500,000 from a bank, but later declares bankruptcy and is only able to pay back $250,000, the bank would have to ‘charge-off’ or declare the remaining $250,000 as a loss. This is an example of a net charge-off in retail banking.3. Auto Financing Companies: Automobile financing companies often have a large number of customers who lease or finance vehicles through them. If a customer fails to make their lease or loan payments and the company is unable to recover the funds or repossess the vehicle, the company must charge off the loss. For example, if someone leases a vehicle for $20,000 and then defaults, only paying back $15,000, the leasing company would have a net charge-off of $5,000.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Net Charge-Off (NCO)?

Net Charge-Off (NCO) is a measure of the total amount of debt that a company or financial institution considers unlikely to be recovered and writes off its books as a loss. It is calculated by subtracting recoveries from gross charge-offs.

How is the Net Charge-Off rate calculated?

The Net Charge-Off rate is calculated by dividing the Net Charge-Offs by the average outstanding loan balances, often expressed as a percentage. It provides insights into the credit quality of a company’s loan portfolio.

What is the significance of a high Net Charge-Off rate?

A high Net Charge-Off rate may indicate that a finance institution or a company has a higher default risk, as it implies that a significant proportion of its debts are not recoverable.

How do Net Charge-Offs impact a company’s profits?

Net Charge-Offs reduce a company’s overall profits since they are considered as losses. The company is unable to recover these debts, affecting its profit margin.

What do Net Charge-Offs reveal about a borrower’s behavior?

A higher level of Net Charge-Offs can indicate poor quality of borrowers, demonstrating high default rates and ineffective credits granting procedures.

How can a company minimize its Net Charge-Offs?

Companies can minimize their NCOs by implementing effective risk management practices. This includes improving their credit assessment procedures, monitoring their loan portfolio closely, and taking prompt actions on late payments.

What is the difference between Gross Charge-Offs and Net Charge-Offs?

Gross Charge-Offs are the total amount of loans a financial institution or business considers uncollectible. Net Charge-Offs is the amount left after subtracting any recoveries or collections on the Gross Charge-Offs.

Related Finance Terms

Sources for More Information

About Our Editorial Process

At Due, we are dedicated to providing simple money and retirement advice that can make a big impact in your life. Our team closely follows market shifts and deeply understands how to build REAL wealth. All of our articles undergo thorough editing and review by financial experts, ensuring you get reliable and credible money advice.

We partner with leading publications, such as Nasdaq, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, and more, to provide insights on retirement, current markets, and more.

We also host a financial glossary of over 7000 money/investing terms to help you learn more about how to take control of your finances.

View our editorial process

About Our Journalists

Our journalists are not just trusted, certified financial advisers. They are experienced and leading influencers in the financial realm, trusted by millions to provide advice about money. We handpick the best of the best, so you get advice from real experts. Our goal is to educate and inform, NOT to be a ‘stock-picker’ or ‘market-caller.’ 

Why listen to what we have to say?

While Due does not know how to predict the market in the short-term, our team of experts DOES know how you can make smart financial decisions to plan for retirement in the long-term.

View our expert review board

About Due

Due makes it easier to retire on your terms. We give you a realistic view on exactly where you’re at financially so when you retire you know how much money you’ll get each month. Get started today.

Due Fact-Checking Standards and Processes

To ensure we’re putting out the highest content standards, we sought out the help of certified financial experts and accredited individuals to verify our advice. We also rely on them for the most up to date information and data to make sure our in-depth research has the facts right, for today… Not yesterday. Our financial expert review board allows our readers to not only trust the information they are reading but to act on it as well. Most of our authors are CFP (Certified Financial Planners) or CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor) certified and all have college degrees. Learn more about annuities, retirement advice and take the correct steps towards financial freedom and knowing exactly where you stand today. Learn everything about our top-notch financial expert reviews below… Learn More