title:Choosing Between Fixed Rates and Variable Rates author:John Mussi source_url:http://www.articlecity.com/articles/business_and_finance/article_5434.shtml date_saved:2007-07-25 12:30:07 category:business_and_finance article:

When taking out a loan, finding the lender that offers the best interest rates is a very important step. Depending upon the loan that you’re applying for, however, you might find that you have to make certain decisions before you can determine which loan offer really has the best rate. One of these important decisions that you might have to make is whether or not you want to have your interest at a fixed rate or at a variable rate.
Fixed and variable rates are most common when dealing with mortgage loans, though there are other types of loans that offer both types of interest as well. If you’re not sure which type of interest would be best for you, or what the main differences are between the two types, then the information presented below might help you to make an important decision concerning your next loan.
Fixed Rates
Fixed interest rates are rates which will not fluctuate as time goes by, regardless of how much national interest rates may rise or fall. They are often used as part of a promotion, with low introductory fixed rates being replaced by either variable rates or a higher fixed rate after six months or more have passed. Generally, the only way to change a fixed interest rate is to refinance the loan and get either a lower fixed rate or a variable rate on the new loan agreement.
Variable Rates
Unlike fixed rates, variable rates fluctuate in response to changes in national rates. When national rates increase, a variable rate loan will also increase? but when national rates decrease, the variable rate will do the same. Variable rates are the most common type of interest rate, and are generally used for small loans, credit cards, and many other types of debts. It can be difficult to predict exactly how much you will pay in total with variable rates, but if national interest rates stay low then you may end up paying much less than originally estimated.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Fixed Rates
Fixed rates have several advantages and disadvantages, and may or may not be right for you and your loan needs. They provide security against increases in national rates, meaning that you might end up paying a much lower rate if you’ve locked in a lower fixed rate than the current national rate. If national rates fall, however, you may end up paying more than you would with a variable rate. Promotional fixed rates are generally set low, but as they only last for a limited amount of time you might end up paying a much higher rate once they expire. Fixed rates can make budgeting easier, however, due to the fact that all payments should be for the exact same amount.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Variable Rates
Like fixed rates, variable rates have their own advantages and disadvantages. While they can occasionally lead to lower interest rates than their fixed counterparts, the fluctuations of national rates will generally bring them up again before you’ve finished repaying the loan. Variable rates can sometimes grow to several times the rate you were originally paying in a matter of months, though there is always the possibility of having just as sharp of a drop as well. With variable rates most loans will have the same monthly payments, though the number of payments may be extended or the final payment may be a different amount due to the fluctuating interest that has been accrued over the loan term.

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