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Finance Charge


A finance charge is a cost imposed on consumers for the privilege of borrowing money or extending credit. It could include various forms of costs such as interest, transaction fees, and service charges. This charge is often calculated as a percentage of the amount borrowed and varies based on the terms of the loan or credit.


The phonetics of “Finance Charge” is: /faɪˈnæns tʃɑːrdʒ/

Key Takeaways

  • Finance Charge Definition: A finance charge is a fee that is typically charged when you borrow money or buy something on credit. This might include interest charges, transaction fees, and other costs associated with a loan or credit account. It is essentially the cost you pay for the privilege of borrowing.
  • Calculation Method: The amount of a finance charge can vary greatly depending on your creditworthiness, the amount you borrow, the interest rate, and the length of time you borrow for. It is typically calculated as a percentage of the amount borrowed. The method of calculation should be clearly stated in your loan or credit agreement.
  • Understanding and Avoiding Finance Charges: Being aware of exactly how much you will be charged in finance charges can help you determine whether or not a loan or line of credit is a good financial decision for you. You can avoid finance charges on credit cards by paying off your balance in full each month.


The finance charge is a crucial term in business and finance because it represents the cost of borrowing or the price paid for the use of credit. It’s essentially the total amount of interest, fees, and other charges that a borrower has to pay for a loan or on a credit card balance over a particular period of time. Understanding the finance charge helps both consumers and businesses make informed financial decisions as it allows them to compare the costs of different loan types or credit offers, effectively manage their credit and debt, and ascertain the true cost of borrowing beyond just the principal amount. Notably, it’s a critical element in the calculation of the annual percentage rate (APR), which provides a standardized way to compare different lending options.


A finance charge essentially serves as the cost a person pays to borrow money, acting as a form of compensation for the lender. This interest is recognized as earnings by the lending institution which enables them to provide further loans and continue their operations. From the borrower’s perspective, it’s the cost they bear for the convenience and ability to spend money they don’t currently possess. Whether an individual is purchasing a house through a mortgage, buying items on a credit card, or taking out a personal loan, a finance charge will likely be involved, emphasizing its importance in the world of credit lending.

Finance charges are used to determine how much additional money a borrower will pay over the life of a loan, beyond the actual amount borrowed. They are especially important considerations in businesses where they can significantly influence a company’s net income and cash flows. Such charges are typically tax-deductible for businesses as they are considered as business expenses. This, in turn, could lower a company’s tax liability. In summary, finance charges serve as the cost of borrowing, providing incentives for lenders to lend and playing a crucial role in shaping borrowers’ decisions and the financial landscape as a whole.


1. Credit Card Interest: If a credit card holder does not pay off their full balance by the end of the payment period, the remaining amount will be subject to a finance charge. This charge is essentially the interest rate applied to the remaining balance.

2. Mortgages: Most home loans (mortgages) will have a specified finance charge that takes the form of interest on the loan. This finance charge is typically a percentage of the original loan amount, and it will be specified in the loan agreement.

3. Car Loans: Similar to mortgages, car loans also often include a finance charge. This is the cost over time of borrowing money to purchase a car. The finance charge could also include other costs related to the loan, such as origination or late fees.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a finance charge?

A finance charge is a fee charged for the use of credit or the extension of existing credit. It can be a flat fee or a percentage of borrowings, with the amount varying by lender, the type of loan, and the amount of credit.

What does a finance charge include?

A finance charge usually includes not only interest, but also other charges associated with borrowing, such as transaction fees and any service charges.

How is a finance charge calculated?

This depends on the provider and the type of credit. Most finance charges are calculated using the annual percentage rate (APR) and the amount of credit used or owed.

Can finance charges be avoided?

In some cases, finance charges can be avoided. For example, many credit cards won’t charge interest if you pay off your balance in full each month. However, for loans and other forms of credit, finance charges are typically unavoidable.

When are finance charges applied?

Finance charges are usually applied on a periodic basis, often monthly. The specifics will depend on the terms of the credit agreement.

Are finance charges tax-deductible?

Depending on the specific situation, some finance charges may be tax-deductible. It’s often the case with mortgage interest, for example. However, you should consult with a tax professional to be certain.

Can finance charges change over time?

Yes, finance charges can change. This is particularly true for credit cards and other forms of credit with variable interest rates. Changes will be disclosed to you by the lender as required by law.

How can I compare finance charges between different options?

Always look at the APR when comparing finance charges. The APR combines the interest rate and any fees to give you a true cost of borrowing on an annual basis. Remember, the lower the APR, the lower the finance charge.

Related Finance Terms

  • Interest Rate
  • Principal Balance
  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
  • Late Payment Fee
  • Compound Interest

Sources for More Information

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