Credit cards also often have multiple APRs depending on the type of transaction. These different transactions also have different grace periods, a period between the account closing date and your due date where you can pay off your purchases without penalty (aka interest).
What Is APR?
APR (annual percentage rate) and APY (annual percentage yield) are easily confused with each other. Knowing the differences can earn you big financial dividends and save you from unexpected financial costs.
Because the APR takes into account some of the fees of a loan, APR is often a more accurate representation of the cost to borrow than the interest rate alone.
It’s important to understand how much a loan or outstanding balance on your credit card will actually cost you. Every bank has different margins and interest rates, but the overall concept is the same.
APR calculations often begin with an index rate that reflects the economic conditions at the time. Credit cards then add a fee on top of that called a margin for using their service. This margin depends greatly on the cardholder’s credit score. People with good credit scores are offered better APRs than those with bad credit scores. Because of this, it’s important to understand how to improve your credit score. There are a lot of ways to raise your score, but here is a list of the simplest and most common:
The Two Types of APR
Essentially, the higher the APR the higher cost to borrow and vice versa. While not all fees are included, APR is a good place to start comparing lines of credit.
While it is possible for this rate to change, the lender is required by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to notify you in writing.
This means that every day a balance is carried over, you are charged .0712%, which for 0 is approximately 50 cents a day. While that seems small, the interest quickly begins to build. If the card’s bill is assessed monthly, then take that rate and multiply it by the number of days in the month.
Both APR and APY are ways to demonstrate interest rates. As we’ve been over, APR is the annual percentage rate and demonstrates the combined yearly cost of interest and fees for a loan. APY is the annual percentage yield and similarly combines interest and fees but also takes into account the effects of compounding interest.
Variable APRs are tied to an index interest rate, such as the Prime Rate from the Wall Street Journal. This underlying rate fluctuates with economic conditions and, therefore, variable APRs fluctuate as well. Basically, when the index rate goes up, your variable APR goes up.
If you’re still thinking about APR, keep reading to see our answers to the most frequently asked questions.
The APR Terms You Need to Know
Balance transfer APR is the interest rate charged when you transfer a balance to your credit card. Some cards offer low promotional balance transfer APRs–just be aware that once the promotion is over you’ll be charged the regular balance transfer APR on the remaining balance.
25.99% ➗ 365 days = .0712%
Contributor Whitney Hansen writes for The Penny Hoarder on personal finance topics including banking and investing.Writer Sarah Kutra contributed to this report.
Balance Transfer APR
Multiply this new monthly rate by the 0 balance being carried over and holding this balance will cost roughly .45 that month.
Cash Advance APR
Most credit cards use variable APRs and while you can find guidelines in the cardholder agreement as to when the APR can change, the lender is not required to inform you as to when the rate changes.
If you’ve been researching new credit cards or looking at refinancing your home loan, you’ve probably noticed the term APR popping up everywhere. APR stands for the annual percentage rate and, in terms of need-to-know financial information, understanding APR is pretty high on our list.
Get the Penny Hoarder Daily
The Difference Between APR and APY
Cash Advance APR is the interest rate charged for the privilege of borrowing cash from your credit card. Normally this APR is higher than the Purchase APR, and there is no grace period.
Credit and loans are a part of modern life so APR isn’t going anywhere. While you might be the type of borrower who pays your credit bill in full every month, there may be times in your life when you can’t avoid paying interest completely. In these moments, understanding APR will help you be an informed borrower.
Before opening a new line of credit, it is worth it to do some simple math like this to understand the cost of that credit.
Introductory APRs are normally very low rates that apply for a set period of time. Just make sure that you know the timeline and what the APR will be after the promotional period has ended.
How to Calculate APR’s Cost to You?
Penalty APR is the interest rate charged when you violate the conditions of the cards like making a late payment. Not all cards have a Penalty APR, but if it does, it’s normally the highest APR.
APR stands for annual percentage rate. It represents the yearly interest and associated costs of a loan by including loan-specific fees like the loan origination fees or mortgage insurance. You’ll find APR listed for credit cards, auto loans, mortgage loans, personal loans, and most other lines of credit. In fact, lenders are required to disclose a loan’s APR to the borrower thanks to the Truth in Lending Act (TILA).
The important thing to know is that just because you’re seeing the APR doesn’t mean you’re free from the effects of compounding interest.
.0712% ✖ 31 days = 2.21%
In this article, we’ll go over the basics of APR–what it is, how to calculate it, and how to improve it — so that you can be an informed borrower.
There are two types of APR: fixed APR and variable APR.
And as you make those decisions, here’s the key takeaways to keep in mind:
What Determines the APR You’re Offered?
If you pay off your interest from your loan or credit card balance each billing period, then your APR will be an accurate representation of your costs. If you carry a balance, however, then the cost will be more than the APR represents because you will now pay interest on the interest you were charged — aka, compounding interest. That’s where APY, which already includes compounding interest, becomes more helpful.
- Establish credit
- Pay your bills on time
- Keep the balance on your existing cards low
Purchase APR is the interest rate applied to the purchases made on the credit card. If you pay your statement in full each pay period, you’ll avoid this all together. Most credit cards have a grace period between the end of the billing period and the date your payment is due. During this period, you can pay off the purchase without incurring any interest. If you do hold a charge over the billing cycle, then the purchase APR is applied accordingly.
The Bottom Line
For example, say you’re carrying a balance of 0 on your credit card with 25.99% APR. Because the APR represents a yearly rate, you first need to find your daily interest rate by dividing the APR by 365 days.
For example, a mortgage loan may tout a low interest rate through discount points but then has higher fees, while another may have a higher advertised interest rate but lower fees. Interest rates alone may be misleading, so looking at the APR will allow you to more accurately compare the overall cost of these two loans.
- APR represents the cost of borrowing credit, including interest and fees.
- Fixed APRs have a set interest rate for the course of the loan while variable APRs rate can change without notice.
- APY is different than APR in that it takes compounding interest into its calculations.
- Improving your credit score can help you receive a lower–and therefore better–APR.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About APR
Over time, these small changes can improve your credit score and reduce the cost of borrowing overall.
Just like it sounds, fixed APRs don’t change. The rate that you locked in at onset of the loan stays with you for the term of the loan. Accordingly, fixed APRs are more predictable than a variable APR. The actual rate you’re offered is dependent on the market conditions (and your credit score) at the time of the loan/application. <!–
Ready to stop worrying about money?