When you borrow money or make an investment, you know the interest rate is important. But as you compare rates on financial products, you may find that they’re expressed in two different ways: annual percentage rate (APR) and annual percentage yield (APY). While these two abbreviations may only be one letter apart, there are big differences between them. Here’s what you need to know about these two terms, as well as why it’s so important to understand APR vs. APY.
While both APR and APY are used to describe the interest rate charged on a loan or paid on an investment, there is one key difference between the two. APR is your yearly rate without taking compound interest into account. APY, on the other hand, is your effective annual rate and includes how often interest is applied to your balance.
The interest on your investments may compound daily, monthly, quarterly or yearly, and interest earned is added to the principal balance. When interest is added to the balance, it’s called compounding. And when interest is paid on interest, it’s called compound interest.
Many credit card providers compound interest daily. That means your balance at the end of each day is multiplied by the daily interest rate to calculate the interest you owe. This is compounded, or added to the amount you owe. The next day, you’re charged interest on a slightly higher balance.
APY takes this compound interest into account to show you how much you may pay or earn. Since loans and investments may compound interest more often than once a year, APY is typically higher than APR. But if a loan compounds once annually, APR and APY could be the same.
To better understand the difference between APY and APR, consider a real-world example.
Say you wanted to invest $10,000 in a certificate of deposit (CD), and you have the option to invest in one of two accounts. Each one earns 2.00% APR, but one compounds monthly while the other compounds annually. Here’s how your money would grow over a year.
|Investment||APR||Compounds||Interest earned||Balance after a year|
The account that compounds monthly earns more interest. Your balance grows faster because the interest you earn is being added to the principal every month. If your interest compounds annually, you’ll sit on the same balance for most of the year before you earn interest.
The more often interest compounds or is added to your balance, the bigger the difference between APR and APY.
When an investment is being marketed, it’s often in APY. That’s because APY makes the amount of interest you earn look higher. That’s why you’ll see APYs quoted for the following financial products:
- Savings and checking accounts
But when you borrow money, the lender typically expresses the interest you’re charged in APR. That’s because the APR makes it seem as though you’re not being charged as much interest. Loans commonly promoted with APRs include:
- Private student loans
- Student loan refinancing
- Personal, home and auto loans
- Credit cards
Interestingly, federal student loans are “advertised” by the Department of Education as carrying an interest rate not expressed in APR or APY. If you’re fuzzy on APR or APY vs. interest rates, keep in mind that the “A” stands for “annual,” or the amount of interest you’ll owe (or receive) after a year.
To gauge the difference between APR and APY — and, therefore, the true cost of interest — some online calculators can prove useful. If a loan or investment lists an annual interest rate in the form of APR, for example, you can convert it to APY to see how much interest you’d actually earn or pay.
Let’s assume that you have a 6.00% annual rate and that interest compounds monthly (12 times a year) on your account. That means your APY would be 6.17%.
When you’re looking to borrow or invest, you must compare apples to apples. There are big differences between APR versus APY. That can make it difficult to compare loan and investment products if their rates are expressed in different ways.
But now you know how to convert from APR to APY. That may help you make informed choices about your investments and the loans you take out. In the world of educating financing for instance, you’ll better understand how student loan interest works.
Andrew Pentis contributed to this report.
Interested in a personal loan?Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2020!
|Lender||APR Range||Loan Amount|
|1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Opploans.
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Opploans currently operates in these states: . *Approval may take longer if additional verification documents are requested. Not all loan requests are approved. Approval and loan terms vary based on credit determination and state law. Applications processed and approved before 7:30 p.m. ET Monday-Friday are typically funded the next business day.
3 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Payoff.
4 Important Disclosures for FreedomPlus.
5 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
6 Important Disclosures for LendingPoint.
7 Important Disclosures for LendingClub.
All loans made by WebBank, Member FDIC. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage & history. The APR ranges from 6.95% to 35.89%*. The origination fee ranges from 1% to 6% of the original principal balance and is deducted from your loan proceeds. For example, you could receive a loan of $6,000 with an interest rate of 7.99% and a 5.00% origination fee of $300 for an APR of 11.51%. In this example, you will receive $5,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $187.99. The total amount repayable will be $6,767.64. Your APR will be determined based on your credit at the time of application. The average origination fee is 5.49% as of Q1 2017. In Georgia, the minimum loan amount is $3,025. In Massachusetts, the minimum loan amount is $6,025 if your APR is greater than 12%. There is no down payment and there is never a prepayment penalty. Closing of your loan is contingent upon your agreement of all the required agreements and disclosures on the www.lendingclub.com website. All loans via LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of 36 months. Borrower must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or be in the United States on a valid long term visa and at least 18 years old. Valid bank account and Social Security number are required. Equal Housing Lender. All loans are subject to credit approval. LendingClub’s physical address is: LendingClub, 71 Stevenson Street, Suite 1000, San Francisco, CA 94105.
†Per reviews collected and authenticated by Bazaarvoice in compliance with the Bazaarvoice Authentication Requirements, supported by anti-fraud technology and human analysis. All reviews can be reviewed at reviews.lendingclub.com
**Based on approximately 60% of borrowers who received offers through LendingClub’s marketing partners between January 1, 2018 to July 20,2018. The time it will take to fund your loan may vary.
8 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
9 Important Disclosures for Avant.
*If approved, the actual loan terms that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination, state law, and other factors. Minimum loan amounts vary by state.
**Example: A $5,900 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,619.75, repayable in 36 monthly installments, with an APR of 29.95% would have monthly payments of $250.30.
Based on the responses from 11,574 customers in a survey of 210,584 newly funded customers, conducted from 1 Feb 2018 – 1 Aug 2019 95.05% of customers stated that they were either extremely satisfied or satisfied with Avant. 4/5 Customers would recommend us. Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.
* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.
Upgrade Bank Disclosures
* Personal loans made through Upgrade feature APRs of 6.98%-35.89%. All personal loans have a 1.5% to 6% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36-month term and a 17.98% APR (which includes a 14.32% yearly interest rate and a 5% one-time origination fee), you would receive $9,500 in your account and would have a required monthly payment of $343.33. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $12,359.97. The APR on your loan may be higher or lower and your loan offers may not have multiple term lengths available. Actual rate depends on credit score, credit usage history, loan term, and other factors. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. There is no fee or penalty for repaying a loan early. Personal loans issued by WebBank, Member FDIC.
** Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank via ACH within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes this transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days.
|5.99% – 18.82%1||$5,000 - $100,000|
|6.53% – 35.99%||$1,000 - $50,000|
|6.98% – 35.89%*||$1,000 - $50,000|
|99.00% – 199.00%2||$500 - $4,000|
|5.99% – 24.99%3||$5,000 - $35,000|
|5.99% – 29.99%4||$7,500 - $40,000|
|6.79% – 20.89%5||$5,000 - $50,000|
|9.99% – 35.99%6||$2,000 - $25,000|
|6.95% – 35.89%7||$1,000 - $40,000|
|5.99% – 17.24%8||$5,000 - $75,000|
|9.95% – 35.99%9||$2,000 - $35,000|