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“APR” stands for Annual Percentage Rate. When you are in the market for a loan or a credit card, you will often come across this popular term.

Understanding APR is crucial because it helps you evaluate the true cost of borrowing money. In this article, Finger Finance will explain what APR is, how it differs from interest rates, and why it matters to borrowers.




What Is An APR Rate?


APR, or Annual Percentage Rate, is a comprehensive measure of the cost of borrowing money, expressed as a yearly percentage. It includes not only the interest rate charged by the lender but also any additional fees or charges associated with the loan. In essence, APR provides a more accurate representation of the total cost of borrowing than the interest rate alone.


How Is APR Calculated?


APR is calculated using a standardized formula that takes into account certain factors. The factors are summarized in the table below: 


Interest Rate:  This is the annual interest rate charged on the principal amount borrowed.
Additional Fees:  Any fees or charges imposed by the lender, such as origination fees, application fees, or closing costs, are included in the APR calculation.
Loan Term:  The length of time over which the loan is repaid is factored into the APR. Longer loan terms generally result in higher APRs.


APR vs. Interest Rate


It is important to distinguish between APR and the interest rate, as they serve different purposes:

  • Interest Rate: The interest rate represents the cost of borrowing the principal amount, expressed as a percentage of the loan. It does not account for any additional fees or charges.
  • APR: The APR, on the other hand, provides a more comprehensive view of the cost of borrowing by incorporating both the interest rate and any associated fees. It reflects the true annual cost of the loan.


Why Is APR Important?


Understanding APR is crucial for borrowers for several reasons. This includes:


Comparing Loan Offers

APR allows borrowers to compare loan offers from different lenders accurately. By considering both the interest rate and fees, you can determine which loan is the most cost-effective.



APR promotes transparency in lending by requiring lenders to disclose the total cost of the loan. This helps borrowers make informed decisions.


Cost Assessment

APR helps borrowers assess the affordability of a loan. A lower APR generally indicates a less expensive loan, while a higher APR suggests higher borrowing costs.


Credit Card Shopping

When evaluating offers, understanding the APR can help you get a credit card with a lower interest rate and fewer fees, ultimately saving you money.




What Are Different Types of APR?


There are different types of APR that borrowers should be aware of. This involves:


Fixed APR:  This type of APR remains constant throughout the life of the loan, providing predictable monthly payments.
Variable APR:  Variable APRs can change over time based on fluctuations in an underlying benchmark interest rate, such as the prime rate. These loans may have lower initial rates but can become more expensive if interest rates rise.
Introductory APR:  Credit card companies often offer low or even 0% APRs for an initial period, which can be advantageous for balance transfers or purchases. However, these rates typically increase after the introductory period.
Penalty APR:  Some credit card agreements include a penalty APR that applies when the cardholder fails to make timely payments. These rates are significantly higher than standard APRs and can have a substantial impact on the cost of carrying a balance.


Why Is The APR Rate So High For Payday Loans?


Many people are shocked why the APR for payday loans is so high, however they do not realise that whilst the APR is calculated at an annual interest rate, the majority of payday loans are only designed to be used for a few weeks. The APR is based on annual measures of interest, so when it comes to a product like a payday loan which is often only used for a number of weeks, APR can become quite confusing.

With a payday loan your APR is calculated by how much interest you will pay and is then multiplied as though you were paying it off for a full year. This is why the APR for a payday loan can seem extremely high.


The Bottom Line


APR is a vital tool for borrowers to evaluate the true cost of borrowing money. By considering both the interest rate and any associated fees, borrowers can make informed decisions when selecting loans or credit cards. When shopping for financial products, it is essential to compare APRs from different lenders to find the most cost-effective option that suits your financial needs and goals.

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Justine Gray

Justine is an expert writer with a wealth of experience in the financial world. In particular, she enjoys writing about consumer finance and household income. Read her articles for useful advice and top tips on how to save money and lots more.