According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, 65% of Americans lack financial literacy. With this in mind, let’s look at a common financial phrase that you’ve heard if you’ve ever borrowed money before, be it credit cards or student loans.
The APR (Annual Percentage Rate) refers to the actual cost of borrowing money, which includes the interest rate,closing costs,broker fees, etc. The important point here is that the actual interest rate can be, in many cases, be only one component of the APR calculation. APR was adopted as a standard so that consumers shopping for loans can really compare apples to apples.
For example, suppose you’re considering two options for a $10,000, one year personal loan. One charges 12% and no application fee. The other charges 10%, but also a $250 application fee. Which is the better deal? In other words, which loan will cost you fewer total dollars?
Whether the loan fee is paid up front or withheld from your loan proceeds also affects the APR. For this example, we’ll assume the loan fee is paid up front.
Based on these parameters, the loan that charges “only” 10%, but adds a $250 loan fee, carries an APR of 14.813%. However, since there are no fees associated with the other loan, the interest rate and the APR are the same – 12%. In short, the loan with the higher interest rate is the better deal in this instance.
The lesson here is that when you’re shopping for a loan, don’t be fooled by an interest rate that looks too good to be true. It often is. All lenders are required to disclose the APR on any loan they make, so always use APR as your point of comparison. Otherwise, you may find yourself paying way more for credit than you realized.