"pay out" vs "pay off"

In my company we are selling things and expecting to get money from customers by instalments.

English is my second language.

But I often hear things like "pay out payments" and "pay off payments" and they mean different things for native speakers.

I'm not sure but it feels like

A)all the instalment payments are "pay out payments"

B)and the last payment, even if it comes before the due date and cover all current debt named "pay off payment".

The biggest problem is that the vocabularies don't help me. They don't have these phrases.

Now, my questions are

1)Do I understand it correctly?

2)Is there any limits in using these phrases? I mean - I'm in Australia, may it be an Australian lingo? or maybe some special use area, like finance vocabulary? or maybe it was commonly used some time ago and now these phrases are not in a vogue? Please give me some hints of how common these phrases are?

I call them phrases, but maybe they are official phrasal verbs. Are they?


3 Answers 3


In the US, these phrases have different meanings. Pay out would not be part of a purchace on installment; pay out is what a company does to distribute funds.

Payment - the individual amounts paid toward the total owed.

Payoff- the final payment, or the amount that if paid now would be the full amount owed. (Payoff can be one word as a noun in this jargon, but as a verb it is “pay off”. “What is my payoff amount? I want to pay off my loan and be done with it.”

Pay out is unrelated.

Here is a link for payoff: “Payoff The amount that will pay off a loan in full.” https://www.wellsfargo.com/mortgage/tools/glossary/


Your feeling on these terms seems broadly similar to mine. A pay out having the potential to be ongoing; perhaps dividends on shares or perhaps some sort of bonus payment. The only occasions I've heard the phrase 'pay off' it has been used to indicate the end of the line somehow; perhaps a redundancy payment, or buying your way out of a contract or other obligation.


This is what my colleagues say:

Pay out = pay the total in full with nothing more to pay.

Pay off = pay monthly until nothing left to pay.

Please, vote it up if you agree.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.