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Photo By: Mike9Alive

“Interest rate” is one of those terms I think I understand, but I don’t fully ‘get’ how it works. Pete is back today with some great answers to my questions about interest rates. He explains what an interest rate is, where we find them, how they’re determined and why credit cards have different rates.

Very briefly, please explain what an interest rate is.

An interest rate is the rate at which borrowed money has to be repaid. It is typically expressed as a percentage. A rate of 1% implies that if you borrow $100, you have to eventually pay $101 back the person or institution you borrowed the money from.

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Photo By: Scoobymoo

Laziness costs money. It cost me at least $12 in the past two months. While I hummed, hawed and thought about changing banks from Royal Bank to President’s Choice Financial, I lost money. A $4 monthly fee and 50 cents for every additional interaction may not seem like much but it adds up. Every month or two, it could be one less meal out, movie or half a tank of gas. That’s how Royal Bank makes its record profits.

Despite this, I kept paying those fees. I suppose I can blame my cynicism for my procrastination. For years, as a Royal Bank customer, I had become so used to paying for banking “services” I just thought it was normal, I expected to pay to use my own money. Despite friends’ raves about PC’s fee-free banking, I was still hesitant. Why would one bank give it away for free while others charge for their services? There must be a catch. But that’s just what PC does: fee-free banking. There is absolutely no cost for putting your money into an account and taking it out. There are unlimited debits, cash withdrawals, money transfers and even cheques are free. So now that I’ve set up my account, I’m wondering: why did I ever pay for something I could get for free?

Lesson learned: Don’t pay for something you could get for free.