APY vs Interest Rate
If you’re looking to get the best return on your savings, or pay the lowest rate for a loan, you’ll want to understand the difference between APY and interest rate. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they are not the same thing.
APY stands for annual percentage yield. It tells you how much you will earn on your savings over the course of a year. Interest rate, on the other hand, simply refers to the percentage of interest earned on a savings account or investment. It can also refer to the percentage of interest a bank charges for a loan. Read on to learn more about APY vs. interest rate vs. APR and how each affects your finances.
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If you deposit money into an interest-bearing account, you will earn an annual percentage yield (APY) on that money. The APY is a useful number because it tells you how much you’ll earn on your deposits over the course of a year, expressed as a percentage. The APY calculation takes into account the interest rate being offered, then factors in whether or not the financial institution offers compounded interest.
Compound interest is the interest you earn on the interest you’ve already earned. Depending on the bank or credit union, interest may compound daily, monthly, quarterly, or annually. The more frequently interest compounds, the faster your money grows.
APY is different from APR, which stands for annual percentage rate and comes into play when you take out a loan. A loan’s APR factors in the loan’s interest rate, as well as any additional fees and costs. It tells you how much you will pay for the loan over one year.
The APY Formula
The actual formula for APY calculation is as follows: (1 + r/n)ⁿ – 1.
The “r” stands for the interest rate being paid, while the “n” represents the number of compounding periods within a year. If, for example, the interest rate is 3.5%, then that’s what you’d use for the “r.” If interest is compounded quarterly, then “n” would equal four.
Compounding frequency can cause two different savings accounts with the same interest rates to have different APYs. For example, if two different banks offer a certificate of deposit (CD) with the same interest rate, and one of them compounds annually, that institution would have a lower APY than the institution that compounds quarterly, or daily.
The good news is that if you want to compare savings rates from one bank or credit union to another, you don’t need to perform these in-depth calculations. Financial institutions are required to provide information on APY as part of the Truth in Lending Act . And, here’s the heart of it all: The higher the APY, then the more quickly the money you deposit can grow.
The APR of a loan tells you how much the loan will cost you over one year, including both the loan’s interest rate and fees, and is expressed as a percentage. A loan’s APR gives you a better sense of the true cost of the loan than the loan’s interest rate, since it includes fees. The higher the APR, the more you’ll pay over the life of the loan.
Thanks to the federal Truth in Lending Act, lenders must provide the APR of a loan. This allows you to compare loans apples to apples. A loan with a low interest rate but high fees may not be a good deal. In fact, you may be better off with a loan that charges a higher interest rate but no or lower fees. APR allows you to be a savvy consumer.
APR can be calculated with this formula: APR = ((Interest + Fees / Principal or Loan amount) / N or Number of days in loan term)) x 365 x 100. Fortunately, lender’s will tell you the APR of a loan and you won’t need to perform any complicated calculations.
Recommended: What Is a Good APR for a Credit Card?
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Types of High-Interest Accounts for Savings
If you’re looking to earn a competitive rate on your savings, you’ll want to compare accounts by looking at APYs, as well as account fees and minimums. Generally, you can find competitive rates by looking at high-yield savings accounts, money market accounts, and CDs.
High-yield savings accounts, typically offered by credit unions and online banks, are accounts that typically pay a substantially higher APY than the national average of traditional savings accounts. They generally also have low or no fees.
Money market accounts are savings accounts that offer some of the features of a checking account, such as checks or a debit card. They often come with a higher APY than a traditional savings account, but typically require a higher balance, such as $1,000 or more, to avoid monthly fees.
Certificates of deposits (CDs) also tend to pay a higher APY than a regular savings account but require you to leave your money untouched for a certain period of time, called a term. If you take money out before then, you’ll likely pay an early withdrawal penalty. CD terms typically range from three months to five years. Generally, the longer the term, the higher the APY.
High-Interest Checking Accounts
Checking accounts work well for everyday spending but typically offer no interest or very little. A high-yield checking account is a special type of account offered by some banks (traditional and online) and credit unions that offers a higher-than-average APY. These are accounts designed to give you the flexibility of a traditional checking account (with checks and/or a debit card) but with higher-interest returns.
Often, to qualify for the highest rate the checking account has to offer, however, you need to meet certain criteria. This might be making a certain number of debit card transactions in a month, having at least one direct deposit or automated clearing house (ACH) payment each month, or choosing to receive paperless statements.
Some high-interest checking accounts will offer different APY tiers, with higher account balances earning a higher APY than lower account balances.
The terms APY, APR, and interest rate are often used interchangeably. However, they each mean different things. APR is the amount you will pay on a loan over the course of a year, and includes the loan’s interest rate and fees. APY is the amount of money you can earn on your deposits in a savings account, and takes the account’s interest rate, plus compounding interest, into account.
If you’re looking for a bank account that allows you to earn a competitive APY, save, and spend all in one product, you might want to consider opening a SoFi Checking and Savings Account. You’ll not only get an above-average APY but won’t pay any overdraft, minimum balance, or monthly fees.
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SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 4.20% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on Savings account balances (including Vaults) and up to 1.20% APY on Checking account balances. There is no minimum direct deposit amount required to qualify for these rates. Members without direct deposit will earn 1.20% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 4/25/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.
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