When comparing loans, buyers frequently only look at the interest rate. However, that’s not the entire story. There’s another number that lenders are required to supply, but that lendees rarely pay attention to. That number is the annual percentage rate, or APR. This shows an estimate of the actual percentage of the loan amount that you pay each installment period. It takes into account the interest rate, principal loan amount, and loan length, as well as any lending fees or closing costs.
Even though the APR gives you a better idea of how much you’re actually paying, the interest rate by itself is still important. This is because APR doesn’t take into account compound interest. If the interest rate is high, the amount you pay each installment period could increase significantly over time. This means a loan with a lower APR could potentially cost more over time if it has low lending fees. If two loans look very close and you’re concerned about exact numbers, you may also want to look into the APY, which is the annual percentage yield. This value does take into account compound interest. As such, it’s going to be slightly different each year, but knowing the APYs across multiple years will give you the best idea of how much you are actually paying.
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