# Nominal vs Real Interest Rate: What’s the Difference?

For example, it can calculate interest rates in situations where car dealers only provide monthly payment information and total price without including the actual rate on the car loan. To calculate the interest on investments instead, use the Interest Calculator, or use the Compound Interest Calculator to understand the difference between different interest rates. The term “real interest rate” refers to the interest rate that has been adjusted by removing the effect of inflation from the nominal interest rate. In other words, it is effectively the actual cost of debt for the borrower or actual yield for the lender. The same concept that distinguishes real and nominal rates also distinguishes gross domestic product and nominal gross domestic product.

2. Now, help John to decide which plan will offer him the best real interest rate if the inflation rate during the period is expected to be 2%.
3. While many factors that affect the interest rate are uncontrollable, individuals can, to some degree, affect the interest rates they receive.

Inflation makes products and services more expensive and thereby reduces consumer purchasing power, or how much they can buy with the same amount of money as prices go up. It’s important that investors bear in mind current and expected inflation rates when they research where to put their money. Since the rate of inflation will eat away at the nominal rate of return, avoid lower returning fixed income investments that could mean a negligible real rate of return. Developed by economist Irving Fisher in the 1930s, it’s the theory that interest rates rise and fall in direct relationship to changes in inflation rates. It suggests that the real interest rate—or the return received by lenders and borrowers—drops as inflation rises, until nominal interest rates rise in conjunction with inflation.

## Real interest rate vs. nominal interest rate

This is commonly referred to as the time-preference theory of interest. The real interest rate is the nominal interest rate minus inflation. Depending on the rate of inflation, the real interest rate can be significantly different from the nominal interest rate. In the U.S., credit scores and credit reports exist to provide information about each borrower so that lenders can assess risk. A credit score is a number between 300 and 850 that represents a borrower’s creditworthiness; the higher, the better. Good credit scores are built over time through timely payments, low credit utilization, and many other factors.

Purchasing power is the value of a currency expressed in terms of the number of goods or services that one unit of money can buy. It is important because, all else being equal, inflation decreases the number of goods or services you can purchase. So the real interest rate is 5 percent in year 2, 3.9 percent in year 3, and a whopping 12.2 percent in year four. Finance is riddled with terms that can make the uninitiated scratch their heads. A nominal variable is one that doesn’t incorporate or consider the effects of inflation. But with the various ways that interest rates are calculated and expressed, it’s easy to get confused about what it is they’re telling you.

## Cost of Money vs. Purchasing Power

Of course, higher real interest rates can also improve the returns people may earn on their investments. To a lesser degree, the same can be said regarding inflation-tied bonds such as Series I bonds issues by the U.S. government. These bonds are tied to an average rate of inflation over a period of time. Suppose a bank lends \$200,000 to a homebuyer at a nominal rate of 3%.

The nominal interest rate is the rate that is advertised by banks, debt issuers, and investment firms for loans and various investments. It is the stated interest rate paid or earned to the lender or by investor. So, if as a borrower, you get a loan of \$100 at a rate of 6%, you can expect to pay \$6 in interest. If the level of inflation is higher than the nominal interest rate, it’s possible to have a negative real interest rate.

At the very least, it will let you know if a potential opportunity will end up eroding your purchasing power. The real interest rate indicates the actual borrowing cost or return on savings after taking into account the impact of inflation. This provides consumers with a fuller picture of how interest rates will affect their finances over the long term. However, the true interest someone earns on their investment is subject to the actual inflation during the period of investment (or lending). Adjusting the nominal interest rate to reflect the actual inflation will give the investor the real interest rate they’ve earned on their investment. The higher a borrower’s credit score, the more favorable the interest rate they may receive.

## Interest Rate Calculator

You’d pay \$100 at the beginning of the year and get \$106 at the end because of that six percent rate, which is nominal because it doesn’t account for inflation. When people speak of interest rates, they’re typically talking about nominal rates. You can benefit from looking beyond nominal interest rates to find the real interest rate when making investment and borrowing decisions.

When there is less demand for credit or money, they lower rates in order to entice more borrowers. With that said, banks and credit unions still have to adhere to their reserve requirements, and there is a maximum amount that they can lend out at any time. People who save money in an account with a negative interest rate would actually be paying the bank to hold their money. Similarly, a bank that charges customers a negative interest rate would have to pay their borrowers on loans. Nominal rates, on the other hand, are indicative of the current mood or conditions of the market, the state of the economy, and the total price of money.

## Definition – What is real interest rate?

Credit scores drop when payments are missed or late, credit utilization is high, total debt is high, and bankruptcies are involved. As far as purchasing power goes, a real interest rate that’s positive is always good, unless the inflation rate is greater. The inflation rate reduces what we earn with the real interest rate. The rise in the general level of prices, often expressed as a percentage, means that a unit of currency effectively buys less than it did in prior periods.

However, inflation was 5%, so at the end of the year, the product costs \$105. With that price increase, you wouldn’t have enough to buy it because when making the savings plan you only considered the nominal and not the real interest rate. “In contrast, if the real interest rate is negative, saving today to buy the same product later won’t be feasible, as your purchasing power will diminish.” For instance, an 8% interest rate for borrowing \$100 a year will obligate a person to pay \$108 at year-end. As can be seen in this brief example, the interest rate directly affects the total interest paid on any loan. Generally, borrowers want the lowest possible interest rates because it will cost less to borrow; conversely, lenders (or investors) seek high interest rates for larger profits.

## What Happens When Real Interest Rates Increase?

Anything higher than 750 is considered excellent and will receive the best interest rates. As a result, they will either reject the lending application or charge higher rates to protect themselves from the likelihood that higher-risk borrowers default. For example, a credit card issuer can raise the interest rate on an individual’s credit card if they start missing many payments. Similar to the market for goods and services, the market for credit is determined by supply and demand, albeit to a lesser extent. When there exists a surplus of demand for money or credit, lenders react by raising interest rates.

The tenure of the fund is 10 years and the annualized nominal interest rate offered is 4%. If the inflation rate during the period is expected to be 2%, then calculate the real interest rate as per the full formula and the approximate formula. In order to calculate the real interest rate, you must know both the nominal interest and inflation rates. The formula for the real interest rate is the nominal interest rate minus the inflation rate. To calculate the nominal rate, add the real interest rate and the inflation rate.