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APR vs Interest Rate: Understanding the Key Differences

apr vs. interest rate

When it comes to borrowing money, whether it’s for a mortgage, auto loan, or credit card, you’ve likely encountered terms like “interest rate” and “APR.” While they both play a crucial role in determining the cost of borrowing, they are not the same thing. In this blog, we will define APR vs interest rate, explore how they are calculated, and understand their implications on your financial decisions.

What Is Interest Rate?

An interest rate, simply put, is the cost of borrowing money expressed as a percentage. It represents the amount a lender charges you for using their funds. Interest rates can vary depending on the type of loan, the lender’s policies, and the borrower’s creditworthiness. Typically, interest rates are either fixed or variable.

Fixed interest rates remain constant throughout the loan term, providing predictability and stability in your monthly payments. Variable interest rates, on the other hand, can change periodically, often in response to changes in a benchmark interest rate like the prime rate.

What Is APR?

APR stands for Annual Percentage Rate. It is a broader measure of the cost of borrowing that includes not only the interest rate but also various other fees and costs associated with the loan. While interest rates are a vital component of APR, APR provides a more comprehensive picture of the true cost of borrowing.

APR includes items such as:

1. Interest charges.

2. Origination fees.

3. Points (a fee paid to lower the interest rate).

4. Mortgage insurance (for certain loans).

5. Other lender fees.

In essence, APR reflects the total cost of borrowing money over the life of the loan, expressed as an annual rate.

Interest Rate vs APR

Now that we’ve defined both, let’s explore the key differences between APR vs Interest Rate:

Interest Rate:

1. Represents the cost of borrowing as a percentage.

2. Focuses solely on the interest charges.

3. Does not account for additional fees or costs.

4. Provides a more straightforward view of the interest component of a loan.

5. Commonly used for comparing different loan options.


1. Reflects the overall cost of borrowing, including interest and fees.

2. Takes into account various loan-related charges.

3. Offers a more comprehensive understanding of the true cost of the loan.

4. Helps borrowers compare the complete financial impact of different loans.

5. Required by law to be disclosed to borrowers for most consumer loans.

Difference Between APR And Interest Rates

When you borrow money, it’s crucial to know the difference between APR (Annual Percentage Rate) and Interest Rates. APR includes extra charges, while Interest Rates only show the cost of borrowing the main amount.

APR (%)Interest Rate (%)

How Are Interest Rates Calculated?

The calculation of interest rates depends on several factors, including the type of loan, the prevailing market conditions, and the lender’s policies.

Interest charges are calculated as a percentage of your loan or credit card balance in Indian Rupees (INR). For instance, if you borrowed 2,00,000 INR to purchase a car at an interest rate of 5% over 60 months, you would pay a total of 26,400 INR over the life of the loan.

Calculating interest on a credit card in INR can be a bit more intricate. Credit card interest is charged based on your average daily balance and the daily interest rate, which is your card’s annual rate divided by 365 (the number of days in a year) and expressed in INR. To simplify this process, you can use a credit card payoff calculator to determine your interest charges.

Note: The interest rate you’ll qualify for depends on your creditworthiness but is also influenced by benchmark rates set by the Reserve Bank of India.

How Is APR Calculated?

Calculating APR is more complex than determining a simple interest rate because it considers all the costs associated with the loan. 

APR, or Annual Percentage Rate, is a measure of the total cost of borrowing money, expressed as a percentage of the loan amount. Unlike the interest rate, which only considers the cost of borrowing, APR takes into account all associated costs of the loan.

For instance, when calculating the APR for an instalment loan in Indian Rupees (INR), you would sum up all the fees associated with the loan and then add this total to the interest. Let’s say you borrow ₹1,00,000 with an interest rate of 13% and an origination fee of ₹4,000, to be repaid over a term of three years. The APR for this loan would be 15.77%.

However, for credit cards and other types of revolving credit, such as home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), the APR is equivalent to the interest rate, and it doesn’t include any additional fees. In these cases, you can use either the APR or interest rate to compare different credit cards or credit products.

The Bottom Line On APR Vs Interest Rate

Understanding the differences between annual percentage rate vs interest rate is crucial when making the right financial decisions. Here are some key takeaways:

1. Interest Rate: Focuses on the cost of borrowing in terms of interest charges alone. It’s a vital factor to consider when comparing loan options, especially for short-term loans.

2. APR: Provides a wide view of the total cost of borrowing, including interest, fees, and other expenses. It’s essential to compare the overall cost of loans with different terms and fee structures.

3. Loan Comparison: When comparing loan offers, consider both the interest rate and APR. The interest rate helps you assess the cost of borrowing, while the APR helps you gauge the overall financial impact.

4. Transparency: Lenders are required to disclose the APR for most consumer loans, ensuring borrowers have a clear understanding of the true cost of borrowing.

5. Financial Goals: Choose the loan option that aligns with your financial goals. A lower interest rate might be preferable for short-term loans, while a lower APR is often more critical for long-term loans with additional fees.

6. Creditworthiness: Your creditworthiness plays a significant role in the interest rate and APR you are offered. Maintaining a good credit score can lead to better loan terms.


Understanding the Apr Vs Interest rate empowers borrowers to make wise financial decisions. The interest rate represents the cost of borrowing money, while APR includes all associated fees and costs, providing a more comprehensive view of the total cost of a loan or credit product. Therefore, when comparing financial products, it’s essential to consider both the interest rate and APR to make an informed decision about borrowing.


1. Is APR always higher than the interest rate?

Not necessarily. While APR often includes interest charges and additional fees, there are scenarios where the APR may be lower than the interest rate, such as when the lender offers discounts or incentives that reduce the overall cost of borrowing.

2. Which is more important, the interest rate or APR?

Both the interest rate and APR are important, but their significance depends on the type of loan and your financial goals. For short-term loans, a lower interest rate may be more critical. For long-term loans with fees, a lower APR is often the key factor to consider.

3. Does 0% APR mean no interest?

Yes, 0% APR means no interest for a specified period of time, typically 6-21 months.

4. Is APR the same as the Annual Percentage Yield (APY)?

No, APR and APY are not the same. APR is the interest rate you pay on a loan or credit card, while APY is the interest rate you earn on a savings account or other deposit account.

5. What is a good APR?

A good APR depends on the type of loan or credit card you are applying for. For example, a good APR for a personal loan is typically between 5% and 10%, while a good APR for a credit card is typically between 10% and 15%.

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apr vs. interest rate

APR vs Interest Rate: Understanding the Key Differences

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