What Does It Mean to Have an Annual Percentage Yield?

What Does It Mean to Have an Annual Percentage Yield?

The real rate of return on an investment is the annual percentage yield (APY), which takes into account the effect of increasing interest. Compounding interest is different from simple interest in that it is calculated regularly and the amount is added to the balance right away. With each passing period, the account balance goes up a little bit, and so does the interest paid on the amount.


  • The annual percentage yield (APY) is the real rate of return that will be made in a year if the interest is added to the principal.
  • Interest that compounds is added to the total amount spent on a regular basis, which makes the sum go up. This means that each interest payment will be bigger because the amount is now higher.
  • The APY will be higher if the interest is added to itself more often.
  • The idea behind APY and APR is the same, but APR is used for loans and APY is used for savings.
  • The annual percentage yield (APY) on a checking, savings, or CD account will be different for each type of account and may be a changeable or set rate.

What’s the Difference Between APR and APY?

How to figure out the APY

APY makes the rate of return uniform. It does this by showing the real amount of growth that will be made through compound interest if the money is put away for a year. How do you figure out the APY?

The formula for APY is:

r = period rate
n = number of times to add up

What the annual percentage yield (APY) can tell you is that any investment, whether it’s a certificate of deposit (CD), a share of stock, or a government bond, is eventually judged by its rate of return. The rate of return is just the percentage of how much an investment has grown over a certain amount of time, usually a year. But if different investments have different compounding times, it can be hard to measure their rates of return. One person might combine every day, while another might do it every quarter or every six months.

Comparing rates of return by just saying the percentage value of each over one year isn’t true because it doesn’t take into account what happens when interest is added to itself. It is important to know how often compounding happens because the faster an investment grows, the more often a deposit compounds. This is because every time it compounds, the interest gained over that period is added to the principal sum, and future interest payments are based on the bigger principal amount.

Getting a look at the APY on two investments

Let’s say you’re trying to decide whether to buy a one-year zero-coupon bond that pays 6% at maturity or a high-yield money market account that pays 0.5% per month and grows by 0.5% each month.

At first glance, the rates look the same because 6% is equal to 12 months times 0.5%. But when the benefits of compounding are taken into account when figuring out the APY, the return on the money market deposit is (1 +.005)12 - 1 = 0.06168 = 6.17%.

Simple interest rates aren’t a good way to compare two investments because they don’t take into account what happens when interest is added to itself and how often that happens.


The yearly percentage rate (APR) used for loans is similar to APY. The APR shows how much the user will pay in interest and fees for the loan over the course of a year. The annual percentage yield (APY) and the annual percentage rate (APR) are both normal ways to measure interest rates.

But APY takes into account interest that builds up over time, while APR does not. Also, account fees are not included in the formula for APY. Only growing times are. This is an important thing for an investor to think about since they have to think about any fees that will be taken out of the general return on investment.

One Use of APY

If you put $100 away for a year with 5% interest and your deposit was added to every three months, you would have $105.09 at the end of the year. If you had just gotten simple interest, you would have had $105.

The annual percentage yield would be (1 +.05/4) * 4 - 1 =.05095 = 5.095%.

It gives 5% interest a year, which is added up every three months and comes to 5.095%. That’s not a big deal. But if you left that $100 alone for four years and added to it every three months, it would have grown to $121.99, which is more than what you put in. If they hadn’t added it up, it would have been $120.

X = D(1 + r/n)n*y

= $100(1 + .05/4)4*4

= $100(1.21989)

= $121.99


X = Final amount
D = First Payment
r = period rate
y = number of years n = number of increasing periods per year

Things to think about

Interest That Adds Up

The idea behind APY is based on the idea of compounding, or adding interest to itself. Compound interest is the way that money works so that returns on investments can earn their own returns. Imagine putting $1,000 into an investment that earns 6% per month. You have $1,000 when you start investing.

At 6%, your investment will have made interest for one month after one month. Your investment is now worth $1,005 ($1,000 multiplied by (1 +.06/12) = $1,005. At this point, we haven’t seen interest build up on itself yet.

Your cash will have made 6% interest for a second month after the first month. But this interest is made on both the money you put in at the beginning and the $5 interest you got last month. Your return will be higher this month than it was last month because the amount you put in will be higher. Your investment is now worth $1,010.03 ($1,005 times (1 +.06/12) = $1,010.03. This second month, the interest earned is $5.03, which is more than the $5.00 earned last month.

After three months, your $1,000 investment, the $5.00 you made the first month, and the $5.03 you made the second month will all earn interest. This shows how compound interest works: the amount gained each month will keep going up as long as the APY doesn’t go down and the investment capital doesn’t go down.

When banks in the U.S. promote accounts that pay interest, they must include the APY. That tells possible buyers exactly how much money a deposit will earn after 12 months.

Variable APY vs. Fixed APY

The APY on a savings or bank account can either be set or changed over time. A changeable APY varies and changes based on how the economy as a whole is doing. A set APY doesn’t change (or changes much less often). Not every type of APY is better than every other type. Even though it sounds good to lock in a set APY, think about times when the Federal Reserve is raising rates and APYs are going up every month.

Most checking, savings, and money market accounts have varying APYs. However, some special bank accounts or bank account bonuses may have a higher set APY up to a certain amount of withdrawals. In one case. A bank may give 5% APY on the first $500 placed and then 1% APY on all other accounts.

Risk and APY

In general, buyers get better returns when they take on more risk or are willing to give up something. The same can be said about the annual percentage yield (APY) of checks, savings, and CDs.

When a person keeps money in a bank account, they are asked to be able to use that money whenever they need to. A customer might need to pull out their debit card, buy food, and take money out of their bank account at any time. Because of this, checking accounts often have the lowest APY because the customer doesn’t have to take any risks or give anything up.

When a person has money in a savings account, they may not need the money right away. Before the money can be used, the customer may need to move it to their bank account. On the other hand, normal savings accounts don’t let you write checks. Because of this, APYs on savings accounts are usually higher than APYs on checking accounts. This is because savings accounts have higher ceilings than checking accounts.

Last, when a person buys a certificate of deposit, he or she agrees to give up liquidity and easy access to funds in exchange for a higher APY. The customer can’t use or spend the money on a CD (or they can, but they have to pay a fee to do so). Because of this, the APY on a CD is the highest of the three because the customer is paid for not being able to get their money right away.

How does APY work? What is it?

APY is the yearly percentage return that shows how interest is added to itself. It shows the real interest rate you get on an investment because it takes into account the interest you earn on the interest you earn.

Take the case from above, where the $100 investment earns 5% every three months. During the first quarter, the $100 earns you interest. But during the second quarter, you get interest on both the $100 and the interest you got during the first quarter.

What’s a good APY rate?

APY rates change often, and a good rate at one time may not be a good rate at another time because of changes in the economy as a whole. In general, the APY on savings accounts tends to go up when the Federal Reserve raises interest rates. So, when monetary policy is tight or getting tighter, APY rates on savings accounts tend to be higher. Also, there are often low-cost savings accounts with high returns that always offer competitive APYs.

How do you figure out APY?

APY makes the rate of return uniform. It does this by showing the real amount of growth that will be made through compound interest if the money is put away for a year. The method for figuring out the APY is (1+r/n)n - 1, where r is the rate for each period and n is the number of compounding periods.

How can an investor use APY?

Any investment, whether it’s a CD, a share of stock, or a government bond, is judged in the end by its rate of return. APY lets an owner compare the results from different investments on a level playing field, which helps them make a better choice.

What’s the difference between APY and APR?

APY is a true way to show the real rate of return because it takes into account how the interest is added up over time. APR includes any fees or other costs that are part of the deal, but it doesn’t take into account how interest is added up over the course of a year. Instead, it’s just an interest rate.

In Conclusion

In banking, the annual percentage yield (APY) is the real rate of return on your cash or savings account. APY is different from simple interest calculations because it takes into account how interest earned in the past affects future results. Because of this, APY is usually higher than simple interest, especially if the interest on the account grows often.

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