How Annual Percentage Rate (Apr) Works: Types & Differences of Apr Vs. Apy

Understanding APR: Annual Percentage Rate and Its Importance in Financials

With financial decisions being a daily part of our lives, learning about crucial financial concepts like the annual percentage rate helps us navigate confidently. 

This post will discuss everything you need to know about APR, from the annual percentage rate formula and how it works to APR vs APY.

Key Highlights

  • APR is the total cost of borrowing money over a year, including interest and fees.

  • APR is a valuable tool for comparing different loan offers and choosing the most economical option.

  • The lowest APRs are usually available to people with good credit and low debt to income.

What Exactly is APR?

Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is fundamentally a handful measure used to ascertain the total cost of borrowing. The APR measures the yearly cost of borrowing money. This amount covers transaction fees and other expenditures.

More simply, APR enables you to compare the cost of different financial products on a level field and pick the most economical option. Understanding APR is helpful, but the 'optimal' financial instrument relies on your circumstances and needs.

How the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) Works

Let's examine the way it works. 

Imagine two lenders offering a loan at the same interest rate. At first glance, these deals look the same. But when you factor in fees and charges that the lenders might levy, the cost of these loans could be significantly different.

That's where APR steps in. By bundling up the interest rate with any associated fees or charges, APR gives you a 'real' loan cost. This figure clearly shows exactly how much the loan will cost you over a year.

Types of APR explained.

There are several different types of APRs, each having their unique features:

  • Introductory/Promo APR: These are temporary rates credit card companies offer as an initial offer. They typically are low or even 0% but last for a limited period.

  • Purchase APR: If the payment is not made entirely by each month, interest will be added to your debt.

  • Balance Transfer (APR): This type of APR displays interest rates that apply when transferring debt from one credit card to another.

  • Cash Advance APR: This is the interest rate that applies whenever you use your credit card to withdraw cash from a bank.

  • Penalty APR: This APR comes into play if you forget to make a payment or exceed your credit limit. It is usually the highest APR and can last indefinitely.

APR vs APY: What's the difference?

When making financial choices, you might come across another term: Annual Percentage Yield (APY). While both APR and APY provide insight into the cost of financial products, they serve unique purposes and shouldn't be used interchangeably.

APR reflects the annual interest rate that does not consider any compounding during the year. On the other hand, APY considers the effects of compounding and reflects the effective yield (return) on an investment. 

Hence, when comparing investment opportunities, APY would be more beneficial to consider. At the same time, APR will provide a more accurate picture of loans and debts.

APR vs. APY Example

Consider an example of ABC Corp. offering a credit card charging interest of 0.06273% daily. Multiplied by 365, the yearly interest is 22.9% -which is the advertised APR. If you purchased a $1,000 item each day and waited until the due date to make payments, you'd owe $1,000.6273 for each item.

The APY or effective annual interest rate calculated following the compounding is as APY= [(1+Periodic Rate)^n] – 1. In this case, the APY turns out to be 25.7%. Thus, the interest compounds daily, making the effective yearly interest rate 25.7%, compared to the initial 22.9% APR.

Remember, if you maintain a balance on your credit card for one month, you'll be charged the yearly APR rate. But if you keep that balance for the year, your effective interest rate skyrockets to 25.7% because of compounding.

How is APR calculated? 

In basic terms, APR is the yearly cost of your loan or credit, expressed as a percentage. The vital thing to note is that APR is inclusive of fees and additional costs, providing an overall understanding of the actual cost of borrowing.

Calculating APR

APR calculation may seem daunting at first, but you can easily crack it down with some understanding and help from mathematical formulas. 

Annual Percentage Rate Formula = ((Interest + Fees / Principal) / N) x 365 x 100, where:

  • Interest is the total amount paid toward the loan during its term.

  • Fees include any additional costs linked to the loan.

  • The principal is the original loan amount.

  • N represents the total number of days in the loan duration.

To get an APR, multiply the interest rate charged periodically by the number of times applied in a year. APR allows borrowers to compare loans of differing durations or with varying fee structures on a level playing field.

What Is a Good APR?

An APR is considered "good" if it is consistent with:

  • The borrower's credit rating

  • The prime rates set by the central bank

  • The current market rates. 

Be wary of attractive offers like 0% on car loans or credit products since they might be merely introductory rates that would revert to a higher APR after a certain period. In addition, these low APRs may only be available to customers with high credit scores. Always compare various financial products to ensure you're getting the best APR.

APR On A Personal Loan Is?

In a personal loan, the APR mostly depends on the borrower's credit score, loan amount, term, and income. On October 4th, it was said that APR is forecasted to be 11.43% for those people who want a personal loan.

Compared to their income, people with good credit and little debt have the lowest APRs. Poor credit and high debt-to-income ratios may increase APRs. Before taking out a personal loan, compare APRs from several lenders. Borrowers should also study the loan terms and conditions to understand all fees fully.

Disadvantages of APR

While APR is a comprehensive tool for comparing different loan offers, it has certain drawbacks that borrowers need to be mindful of.

APR and Short-Term Loans

APR calculation inherently assumes long-term repayment schedules, spreading the costs and fees over a long period. This means that for short-term loans or loans repaid faster, the APR may undervalue the actual cost of borrowing. The average annual impact of mortgage closing expenses is cheaper over 30 years than seven to 10 years.

APR and Adjustable-rate Mortgages

Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) pose another issue. ARMs have a fixed-rate term followed by a floating-rate term where interest rates adjust periodically. APR for ARMs is usually calculated assuming a constant rate, which is seldom the case. Consequently, APR estimates can often understate the actual borrowing costs if the interest rates rise after the fixed-term period.

Inconsistent Charges

APR includes certain charges such as appraisal fees, title costs, credit report charges, etc. However, it excludes certain one-time expenses and late fees. This lack of consistency can hinder comparison across various loan products.

Final Words

The world of finance doesn't have to be daunting or confusing. By understanding fundamental concepts like APR, you can make sound financial decisions. Remember, APR includes interest, fees, and other expenditures, making it an essential tool for comparing financial products. 

Knowing the difference between APR and APY might help you avoid unpleasant surprises when borrowing, investing, or researching credit options. You'll know what these terms imply next time!

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14 Nov, 2023


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