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Know Credit Rating Symbols to Avoid Being Duped

Through the below post we have tried to address the confusion which is prevailing around Rating Symbols and Definitions for Long Term Debt Instruments and hope that by using these symbols correctly traders and investors can undertake judicious decisions. Just remember that the below symbols pertain to Long Term Debt Instruments and it means that these instruments are with original maturity exceeding one year.
Symbols pertaining to short term refers to less than one year.

It is worthwhile to mention that actual level of default risk faced on an investment depends on the financial situation of the borrower. Default risk can be assessed by tracking the credit rating of an investment. Credit rating agencies (CRA) assign credit ratings after carrying out a detailed analysis of the issuer’s financial ability to honour the payments on time.

These ratings are in the form of alphanumeric symbols. Rating is given for an instrument and not to a firm; so two different instruments issued by the same firm can have different ratings. The higher the credit rating, the lower is the default risk. The rating is generally prefixed with CRA symbol.

SEBI has standardized the rating symbols used by the credit rating agencies so that investors are able to easily gauge the level of credit risk assigned to an instrument. The rating symbols and their definitions are reproduced below.

Rating symbols Meaning and definition for Long Term Investment 

  • AAA - Instruments with this rating are considered to have the highest degree of safety regarding timely servicing of financial obligations. Such instruments carry lowest credit risk.
  • AA - Instruments with this rating are considered to have high degree of safety regarding timely servicing of financial obligations. Such instruments carry very low credit risk.
  • A - Instruments with this rating are considered to have adequate degree of safety regarding timely servicing of financial obligations. Such instruments carry low credit risk.
  • BBB - Instruments with this rating are considered to have moderate degree of safety regarding timely servicing of financial obligations. Such instruments carry moderate credit risk.
  • BB - Instruments with this rating are considered to have moderate risk of default regarding timely servicing of financial obligations.
  • B - Instruments with this rating are considered to have high risk of default regarding timely servicing of financial obligations.
  • C - Instruments with this rating are considered to have very high risk of default regarding timely servicing of financial obligations.
  • D - Instruments with this rating are in default or are expected to be in default soon.

Modifiers {"+" (plus) / "-"(minus)} can be used with the rating symbols for the categories AA to C. The modifiers reflect the comparative standing within the category.

Rating Symbols and Definitions for Short Term Debt instruments

Short term debt instruments are the instruments with original maturity of up to one year


  • A1 – Instruments with this rating are considered to have very strong degree of safety regarding timely payment of financial obligations. Such instruments carry lowest credit risk.
  • A2 - Instruments with this rating are considered to have strong degree of safety regarding timely payment of financial obligations. Such instruments carry low credit risk.
  • A3 - Instruments with this rating are considered to have moderate degree of safety regarding timely payment of financial obligations. Such instruments carry higher credit risk as compared to instruments rated in the two higher categories.
  • A4- Instruments with this rating are considered to have minimal degree of safety regarding timely payment of financial obligations. Such instruments carry very high credit risk and are susceptible to default.
  • D - Instruments with this rating are in default or expected to be in default on maturity.


Modifier {"+" (plus)} can be used with the rating symbols for the categories A1 to A4. The modifier reflects the comparative standing within the category.

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