Finding the right credit card or loan can be confusing. You need to navigate sometimes confusing terms and deal with interest rates and APR.
But what is APR, and how does it work? In this quick guide we'll explain what APR means and why you need to understand it.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is a way of measuring the interest rate (and any other charges which are applied) to a number of financial products such as personal loans, credit cards and hire purchase agreements.
APR represents the amount of interest you'll pay annually if you've borrowed money from any of these products. APR acts as a standardised way to show the cost of borrowing over a yearly period.
APR is calculated using a formula laid out in the Consumer Credit Act (1974), and every lender must follow it.
The most important thing you can do is make sure that you look at the APR and compare the total amount you will be paying back when comparing loans.
Broadly speaking, a standard interest rate is the amount of interest due per period as a proportion of the amount lent.
This is usually expressed as an annual percentage.
A representative APR is an advertised amount that a minimum percentage of customers will pay. To be representative it must be the rate offered to at least 51% of people, but it's not guaranteed and means that nearly half of anyone applying for a credit card or personal loan could pay more than the representative APR that is advertised.
A personal APR is the rate offered based on the customer's personal circumstances and the amount they wish to borrow. This is only determined once a full application has been submitted. What's the difference between an APR and an APR(C)?
An APR(C) stands for Annual Percentage Rate of Charge, and is the interest rate associated with mortgages, including second charge mortgages. With a mortgage the APR(C) does not change, if you don't meet the lending criteria for the advertised APR(C), the mortgage product will not be available to you. You don't get offered a personal APR(C).
APR is calculated using a number of variables.
It takes into account:
|Loan term||3 years||3 years|
|Annual interest rate||3.10%||3.80%|
|36x monthly instalments||£291.06||£298.78|
|Total charge for the credit||£478.25||£756.14|
|Total amount repayable||£10,478.25||£10,756.14|
Use our APR calculator to see how much different APRs could cost you
APR is important because it prevents lenders from hiding any additional costs, ensures you get a true representation of borrowing, and allows fair comparisons between lenders when considering a product. You can be assured that you are getting yourself the best deal, and it makes the whole process a lot simpler.
Lenders use data from your credit file to get a full picture of your current borrowing and repayment history. If you have missed repayments on any past lending, including credit cards or mobile phone contracts, they will assume that lending to you carries greater risks; this can affect the rate of interest offered.
The APR should be seen as a guide for comparing one loan with another based on their total cost, it isn't a perfect measure of the total cost of borrowing as it doesn't include costs that aren't a compulsory part of the loan. The rate isn't guaranteed, and the company may offer a higher rate than the headline based on your current circumstances. Use our APR calculator to see how much different APRs could cost you.