Bid Bond vs Performance Bond vs Payment Bond

Looking for a clearly defined comparison between the three construction bonds? Look no further! In this article, we will detail the similarities and differences between the three kinds of bonds in the construction industry; bid bonds, performance bonds, and payment bonds. We will compare and contrast these bonds, explaining the functions, pricing, and differences among them.

The contractor industry

The contractor industry is a highly competitive and challenging field to work in. Contractors are required to complete complex construction projects within tight deadlines and budget constraints. There are many risks involved, such as compliance with safety regulations, weather conditions, and unforeseen delays. To mitigate these risks, contractors often buy bonds to protect themselves and their clients.

Why do contractors need to buy bonds?

Bonds are financial instruments that function as guarantees of performance. They provide assurance to clients that contractors will fulfill their obligations and deliver quality work. Especially because the construction industry can come with significant risk due to the nature of the complexity of the work involved and the large scope of the projects, bonds are especially important as forms of financial protection for the project owners, subcontractors, and sometimes other parties involved in each project.

The 3 kinds of bonds in the construction industry

There are three types of bonds in the construction industry: bid bonds, performance bonds, payment bonds. Below, we’ll go over the details of each bond before going on to compare and contrast the three bonds.

Custom graphic explaining performance vs. bid vs. payment bond.
Summary graphic comparing and contrasting the three bonds

What are bid bonds?

Bid bonds are issued as part of the bidding process for construction projects. They serve as financial guarantees to clients that a contractor will accept the project if they win the bid. Bid bonds protect clients from contractors who might submit a low bid to secure the project and then decline the project if they are unable to meet the requirements.

Clients or project owners, particularly federal, state, and local municipalities, will often require bid bonds. For example, the government might require a bid bond for public construction projects to ensure that taxpayers’ funds are not wasted. However, if you cannot obtain a bid bond or do not wish to obtain one, other alternatives include a cashier’s check, a certified check, a money order, or other assets that can be mortgaged as a stand-in for a bid bond as a financial guarantee.


Bid bonds ensure that contractors are serious about the project they are bidding on and have the financial resources to complete the project. They provide clients with financial compensation if contractors decline the project or fail to finalize the contract.


The bond’s value is usually a percentage of the bid amount. Pricing of bid bonds varies by state, with some states having a fixed percentage of the cost of the project, while others have a range from 2-5%; these percentages, if not fixed, are dependent on one’s creditworthiness, which factors in credit score, claims history, and in some cases even requires bank statements and financial documents from the contracting business. The value of bid bonds can also vary depending on the complexity of the project, and the contractor’s previous experience and financial standing.

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What are performance bonds?

Performance bonds provide clients with a guarantee that contractors will deliver quality work and complete projects on time. They protect clients from contractors who do not meet the obligations outlined in the contract. Customers can claim compensation from the bond if the contractor is unable or unwilling to fulfill the contract’s terms.


Performance bonds provide assurance to clients that they can hold contractors accountable if they fail to meet the project requirements. They set a high standard of quality for contractors and ensure that they are fully committed to the project’s completion. Performance bonds are typically required for larger projects that require significant financial investment and high levels of expertise.


The price of a performance bond is similar to other surety bonds in that they are calculated by multiplying the bond amount, which is the maximum amount the surety will cover in the case of a claim, by a premium rate. For performance bonds, the bond amount will be the total price of the contract. Similar to bid bonds, the premium rate of performance bonds also varies by state, with some states requiring a fixed percentage of the project cost, while others have a range from 1-5%. Factors such as project complexity, contractor experience, and the contractor’s creditworthiness can also affect pricing.

What are payment bonds?

Payment bonds are issued to guarantee that contractors pay their subcontractors, suppliers, and other parties involved in the project. They protect these parties from the risk of non-payment by the contractor. Clients require payment bonds to ensure that contractors fulfill their payment obligations, so subcontractors and suppliers are not held responsible.


Payment bonds are commonly used in public construction projects, such as roads and bridges, to ensure that all parties involved are paid for their work. They also provide assurance to subcontractors and suppliers that they will receive fair and timely payment for their services.


Again, the price of a payment bond is similar to other bonds in that they are calculated by multiplying the bond amount by a premium rate. For performance bonds, however, the bond amount will not always be the total price of the contract; in some states and depending on the cost of the project, the contractor is only required to obtain a bond that covers 50% of the project payment. The premium rate of payment bonds also varies by state, with some states requiring a fixed percentage of the project cost, while others have a range from 1-5% that is determined by surety underwriters. The size and complexity of the project, contractor experience, and creditworthiness can impact this premium rate percentage.

How are these three bonds related?

Bid, performance, and payment bonds work together to protect all parties involved in a construction project. Bid bonds ensure that contractors are serious about the project they are bidding on, performance bonds guarantee that contractors deliver quality work on time, and payment bonds ensure that subcontractors and suppliers are paid.

These bonds form a chain of protection that enhances the trust and transparency among different parties. For example, a contractor will not submit a bid for a project without a bid bond, and the client will not sign a contract without a performance bond. The contractor will also not receive payment without a payment bond.

Comparing the bonds

Bid bonds are different from performance and payment bonds because they insure the project owner in the pre-project bidding process alone, while performance and payment bonds insure the project owner and other stakeholders/employees during the construction process itself.

Bid bonds and performance bonds are similar in that their functions are to protect the project owner from financial losses. In contrast, payment bonds serve to protect subcontractors and other workers involved in the project from not only being underpaid, but also not compensated in a timely manner according to the contract’s terms. As such, bid and performance bonds are required to bid on and complete a project. Bid bonds protect clients from potentially losing money during the bidding process, while performance bonds protect clients if a contractor fails to complete a project. Payment bonds protect parties involved in a construction project from non-payment.

Bid bond requirements and pricing can vary, while performance and payment bond requirements and pricing are more consistent. However, the main important similarity between all three bonds is that they serve as a guarantee of a contractor’s commitment to completing a construction project, while ensuring that their clients and other parties are protected from financial loss.


Bid, performance, and payment bonds are essential tools that the construction industry uses to guarantee quality work, timely delivery, and fair payment. They triangulate to form a shield of financial assurance that all parties involved in construction projects are protected and will be treated according to the contract terms.