Table of Contents

What is annual percentage rate (APR)?

How does APR work? 

What’s the difference between interest rate and APR?

What are the different types of APR?

5 factors that affect APR

How is APR calculated?

The bottom line


Rate of Return

What Is Annual Percentage Rate (APR)?

What Is Annual Percentage Rate (APR)?

Jun 30, 2022


6 min read

The APR takes into account interest rate and any fees a lender may charge for issuing a personal loan or mortgage, or for credit cards, any unpaid balance.

When borrowing money, an individual will have to pay a lender for the privilege of doing so. A common term the borrower will likely come across is APR, or annual percentage rate, which represents the costs associated with borrowing, plus interest rate and any fees.

APR impacts everything from mortgages to personal loans, and ultimately, increases the repayment amount to the lender.

What is annual percentage rate (APR)?

As the name implies, the annual percentage rate is the amount paid to borrow money on an annual, or yearly, basis. It includes the interest rate and any additional fees the lender may charge for taking out the loan. As a percentage of the loan balance, APR is calculated before taking into account compounding interest, which is the interest accumulated on interest over a period of time.

How does APR work? 

APR is calculated as a percentage of the loan principal. It is charged each year and is included in a borrower’s monthly payments. The types of fees rolled into the APR will depend on the type of loan.

  • Credit cards.

    Credit cards are considered a type of unsecured loan since they don’t have to be backed by collateral. For credit cards, the APR and interest rates are typically the same. Cardholders are charged an APR if they carry a balance on the credit card. However, if the balance is paid off before the payment due date no APR is charged. APRs may differ depending on whether the card is used for a purchase, balance transfer, or cash advance. APR rates can also vary with late payments, triggering a higher rate known as penalty APR. 

  • Personal loans.

    Borrowers may be required to pay origination or application fees when taking out a personal loan, which impact APR rates.

  • Mortgages.

    A mortgage is a type of secured loan because it’s backed by collateral, in this case a house. Mortgages require borrowers to pay closing costs or origination fees, mortgage points, document preparation, and underwriting fees—all included in calculating the APR. That’s typically why there’s a difference between the annual interest rate and APR.  

Knowing the APR for a loan or credit card is important because it can help in making an apple-to-apple comparison of the true cost of borrowing. For instance, when buying a house, comparing the APRs of multiple mortgage pre-qualifications helps the homebuyer understand the fees and interest rate upfront to help determine which loan is best-suited.

Consumer protection laws such as the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) require certain lenders to disclose the APR and other financial charges, as well as the total repayment amount for the loan. Looking at these disclosures can give borrowers a more accurate picture of loan offers to help them make more informed decisions.

What’s the difference between interest rate and APR?

The interest rate is a percentage of the loan a borrower pays for the privilege of borrowing money. The APR, on the other hand, includes the interest rate as well as any fees a lender charges for the loan. In this way, APR is a more accurate reflection of the overall cost of borrowing.

Interest rates and APR are typically interchangeable for credit cards, but that’s not usually the case for other types of loans, which charge borrowers fees on top of the interest rate. 

What are the different types of APR?

An APR can either be fixed or variable.

Fixed APR

Fixed APRs means that the APR won’t change during the lifetime of the loan. Borrowers with this type of APR are most likely making the same monthly payments throughout the duration of the loan, which can be more predictable budget-wise. Personal loans and mortgages usually come with fixed APRs. 

Variable APR

Variable APRs can fluctuate because they are  typically tied to an index rate, such as The Wall Street Journal’s prime rate. That means if the index rate rises, so would the APR. In many cases, a variable APR tends to have lower rates upfront, but can go up over time. Credit cards and mortgages often have variable APRs.

5 factors that affect APR

The following five factors contribute to a loan’s overall APR:

  • Interest rate and fees.

    This is the interest rate plus any fees associated with borrowing.

  • Credit score and history.

    Oftentimes, the higher the credit score, the lower the interest rate and APR on a loan or mortgage. Lenders may also look at a borrower’s credit and employment history for any negative remarks such as late payments and bankruptcies to determine loan approval, and in turn, APR rates. 

  • Debt-to-income ratio (DTI).

    DTI is calculated by taking a borrower’s total monthly debt and dividing it by their gross monthly income. Lenders may require an applicant’s DTI to be lower than a certain percentage to qualify for a loan. 

  • Loan term.

    Lenders may offer lowered interest rates for shorter loan terms.

  • Type of interest rate.

    Applicants for variable rate loans may be offered a lower APR initially, but that could change and increase over time. 

How is APR calculated?

The APR is calculated by multiplying the periodic interest rate—the annual interest rate divided by how often the borrower makes payments—by the number of pay periods. Since lenders are required to disclose the APR, consumers usually don’t have to calculate the APR themselves. 

The formula for calculating the APR is: 

[(fees and interest over lifetime of loan / loan amount) / days in loan term] x 365 x 100 = APR

For example, let’s say an individual borrows $10,000 in a one-year personal loan. Over the 365-day loan term, there’s $500 in interest and $150 in fees from the lender.

So, to arrive at the APR:

  • Add the interest and fees paid ($650)
  • Divide that number by the loan amount ($650/$10,000=0.065)
  • Take the resulting number and divide it by the loan term (0.065/365 = 0.000178082192)
  • Multiply the result by 365 (0.000178082 x 365 = 0.065)
  • Multiply that number by 100 (0.065 x 100 = 6.5) 

In this scenario, the APR is 6.5%. 

The bottom line

The APR takes into account interest rate and any fees a lender may charge for issuing a personal loan or mortgage, or for credit cards, any unpaid balance. An APR can come in different forms including fixed and variable, depending on lender and type of financial product. Understanding the APR can be helpful when comparing multiple loans, as it can give a more accurate picture of the total cost of the loan than interest rate alone.

At Titan, we are value investors: we aim to manage our portfolios with a steady focus on fundamentals and an eye on massive long-term growth potential. Investing with Titan is easy, transparent, and effective.

Get started today.


Certain information contained in here has been obtained from third-party sources. While taken from sources believed to be reliable, Titan has not independently verified such information and makes no representations about the accuracy of the information or its appropriateness for a given situation. In addition, this content may include third-party advertisements; Titan has not reviewed such advertisements and does not endorse any advertising content contained therein.

This content is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal, business, investment, or tax advice. You should consult your own advisers as to those matters. References to any securities or digital assets are for illustrative purposes only and do not constitute an investment recommendation or offer to provide investment advisory services. Furthermore, this content is not directed at nor intended for use by any investors or prospective investors, and may not under any circumstances be relied upon when making a decision to invest in any strategy managed by Titan. Any investments referred to, or described are not representative of all investments in strategies managed by Titan, and there can be no assurance that the investments will be profitable or that other investments made in the future will have similar characteristics or results.

Charts and graphs provided within are for informational purposes solely and should not be relied upon when making any investment decision. Past performance is not indicative of future results. The content speaks only as of the date indicated. Any projections, estimates, forecasts, targets, prospects, and/or opinions expressed in these materials are subject to change without notice and may differ or be contrary to opinions expressed by others. Please see Titan’s Legal Page for additional important information.

Three Things, a newsletter from Titan

Stay informed on the most impactful business and financial news with analysis from our team.

You might also like

What Is the Rule of 72?

The Rule of 72 is an easy, concise equation that calculates the amount of time your investment will need to increase its value twofold.

Read More

What Is a Rate of Return?

Simply put, the rate of return (ROR) is the gain or loss for any investment, in percentage terms, for a given period of time.

Read More

What Is Compound Interest?

Compound interest works by using the continual multiplication—or compounding—of an amount of money, over a set number of cycles, within a set period of time.

Read More

How to Calculate Rate of Return on Investments

Rate of return allows us to make clear comparisons among investments, which is essential. It puts them on a common scale.

Read More

Ready to become a client?

It’s time to give your wealth a future.



© Copyright 2023 Titan Global Capital Management USA LLC. All Rights Reserved.