# Interest rates explained

**This guide to interest rates explains what they are, how they work, the different types of interest rates and how best to compare savings accounts with different interest rates.**

Page overview

- What is an interest rate?
- Why do interest rates change?
- What is the EU base rate?
- What are the different types of interest rates?
- What is APR?
- What are negative interest rates?
- Why are there different types of interest rates?
- What's the difference between fixed and variable interest rates?
- How is interest paid?
- How do I compare interest rates?
- Can I compare the interest rates on offer at Raisin IE?
- What are the best interest rates currently available at raisin.ie?

- What is an interest rate?
- Why do interest rates change?
- What is the EU base rate?
- What are the different types of interest rates?
- What is APR?
- What are negative interest rates?
- Why are there different types of interest rates?
- What's the difference between fixed and variable interest rates?
- How is interest paid?
- How do I compare interest rates?
- Can I compare the interest rates on offer at Raisin IE?
- What are the best interest rates currently available at raisin.ie?

## What is an interest rate?

An interest rate is either the **percentage you earn** from the money you’ve saved or the **percentage you’re charged** for the money you’ve borrowed.

Interest rates are usually expressed as an **annual percentage**, but they can be calculated over shorter periods. They vary depending on the financial provider and the type of financial product you choose, as well as various other factors (more on this below).

## Why do interest rates change?

Interest rates can change in line with changes to the **European Central Bank (ECB) base rate** (also known as the bank rate), impacting both borrowers and savers. If the ECB base rate goes up, the cost of borrowing will probably increase, but savers might earn more on their deposits. There are countless other factors that could influence banks to change their interest rates, including changes in **demand** and the interest rates offered by other banks.

## What is the EU base rate?

The base rate set by the ECB is the rate of interest **commercial banks are charged** for loans by the European Central Bank. The base rate influences the interest rates that banks then charge borrowers or offer to savers.

The ECB can use the base rate to stimulate or deter consumer spending, depending on how the economy is performing. The current base rate is **-0.5%** as of **October 2020**.

## What are the different types of interest rates?

There are two main types of interest rates; the** simple interest rate** and the **effective interest rate** (typically referred to as AER).

### What is the simple interest rate?

The simple interest rate can be broken down into the **nominal interest rate** and the** real interest rate**. The nominal interest rate is the given rate on which interest payments are calculated or the rate on which savings earn interest over time. For example, a deposit of €10,000 at a nominal interest rate of 2% over one year would earn you interest of €200.

The real interest rate **takes the impact of inflation on nominal interest rates into account** by deducting the rate of inflation from the nominal interest rate. For example, if the nominal interest rate is 2% and the inflation rate is also 2%, the real interest rate is 0%.

### What is the AER?

The **AER** (Annual Equivalent Rate) is a way of illustrating the interest rates of savings accounts in Europe. It shows how much you could earn from a savings account if the interest was calculated daily, compounded annually and paid after 12 months. The **AER is an illustration** of how much you could expect to earn per year and makes it easier to compare savings accounts.

## What is APR?

APR stands for** Annual Percentage Rate**. APR is the interest rate displayed when borrowing money and includes any fees incurred when you take out a loan. Just like the AER for savings accounts, the APR is useful because it sets a **comparison benchmark** for loans.

## What are negative interest rates?

Negative interest rates can be used to stimulate economic growth by **making it cheaper to borrow money** in order to increase spending and investment.

## Why are there different types of interest rates?

Different interest rates exist as some are better suited to specific financial products than others. As well as the ECB’s base rate, factors that determine the interest rates offered by financial providers include the following:

- The
**type**of savings account - The residual
**term** - The
**currency**of the account - The
**number of commercial banks**in the country - National projections of
**savings vs credit** - The
**risk**to the bank

## What's the difference between fixed and variable interest rates?

## Fixed interest rates

Fixed rates of interest allow you to **know exactly how much you’ll pay back on a loan** or** earn from a savings account**, and this amount won’t change, even if the ECB base rate changes. For example, with a fixed rate savings account, you can lock your money away for a set period of time at an interest rate that stays the same from the day you open your account until the end of your term. Fixed rate bonds can be preferable during times of uncertainty, as you don’t have to worry about interest rates dropping.

## Variable interest rates

A variable rate of interest allows your financial provider to **increase or decrease your interest rate at any time**. A financial provider will typically do this in response to a ECB base rate change, but other factors can result in a rate change. For variable rate savings accounts, this means that you could earn more or less from your savings deposits, depending on whether the rate increases or decreases.

## How is interest paid?

How interest is paid depends on your savings provider, but it’s usually paid **annually**. It’s always best to check the details of the savings account you’re applying for, as interest can also be paid quarterly, monthly or even daily. You’ll typically **earn more** from a savings account **if interest is calculated more frequently**.

## How do I compare interest rates?

If a financial service provider doesn’t use a standardised method of comparing interest rates, it can be difficult to compare savings accounts. Arguably, the most important thing you need to know is **which interest rate a financial service provider is using**, i.e. whether it’s the **nominal interest rate** or the **AER**. You should also find out how often interest is calculated and whether there are any administrative fees.

AER is typically used to compare the interest rates of savings accounts, as it clearly explains the overall interest you could earn. At Raisin.ie, we use the AER to advertise the interest rates of all savings accounts offered by our partner banks as we believe that it provides you with a **clearer understanding** of how profitable a savings account is.

## Can I compare the interest rates on offer at Raisin IE?

You can use the table on our savings accounts page to compare and find the most competitive interest rates on savings accounts offered by our partner banks. The interest rate will depend on the bank, the deal they offer and the type of savings account. Alternatively, if you know what type of savings account you want to open, you can view fixed rate bonds or notice accounts separately.

## What are the best interest rates currently available at raisin.ie?

The best interest rates in our marketplace are subject to change, but generally, the best bank interest rates are available on **longer fixed term savings accounts**. The way a bank operates a savings account could make a difference though, so be sure to read the details before applying to banks with the best interest rates.

To find the best savings account for you, compare bank interest rates on savings accounts or look for a bank, register for a Raisin IE Account and log in to apply.