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Overnight Rate


The overnight rate, also known as the base rate, is the interest rate at which major financial institutions borrow and lend one-day, or “overnight” , funds among themselves. Central banks often use the overnight rate as a monetary policy instrument in controlling money supply in the economy. A lower overnight rate can encourage borrowing and spending, while a higher rate can cool down economic activity by making borrowing more expensive.


The phonetics of the keyword ‘Overnight Rate’ is:Oʊvərnaɪt reɪt

Key Takeaways

  1. The Overnight Rate is the interest rate at which major financial institutions borrow and lend one-day (or “overnight”) funds among themselves. It impacts the rate of interest that banks offer to their customers.
  2. The Overnight Rate influences monetary policy and economic conditions by affecting the availability and cost of short-term funding. This can stimulate or slow down economic growth based on alterations made to the rate.
  3. The Overnight Rate is often manipulated by a country’s central bank (like the Federal Reserve in the United States or European Central Bank in the European Union) to control inflation and stabilize the country’s economy. They can lower the rate to stimulate the economy or raise it to slow down inflation.


The overnight rate is a crucial component within the finance and business sector as it directly influences the interest rates that banks charge on short-term loans to one another. This rate, determined by the country’s central bank, forms the basis for other short-term interest rates, including personal, business and mortgage loans. The central bank uses the overnight rate as a monetary policy tool to control inflation and stabilize the nation’s economy. Typically, a high overnight rate discourages borrowing, thus slowing economic activity, while a low rate stimulates economic growth by encouraging borrowing. Therefore, understanding the dynamics of the overnight rate is essential for financial planning, investment decisions, and economic forecasting.


The overnight rate serves as a key interest rate within an economy’s financial structure, implemented by central banks to control monetary policy. This rate is the interest charged to commercial banks when they borrow or lend reserves to each other for overnight use. Central banks use this rate to modulate banking system liquidity and guide the overall direction of the country’s economy. By adjusting this rate, central banks can influence the cost of borrowing money, effectively controlling inflation and stability of the financial system. For example, an increase in the overnight rate makes borrowing between banks more expensive. This scenario might cause a ripple effect where banks increase their own interest rates for loans and mortgages to cover the cost. On the other hand, a decrease in the rate makes borrowing cheaper, which might stimulate economic activity as banks are more likely to afford loans. Thus, the overnight rate is a key tool for central banks to manage a country’s economic stability and growth. A well-managed rate can foster economic activity without leading to excessive inflation.


1. Central banks and Overnight Rate: The most direct example of the overnight rate being used in a real world scenario is by central banks such as the Federal Reserve in the U.S., the European Central Bank in the Eurozone, or the Bank of Canada. These institutions use the overnight rate as a monetary policy tool. Banks that need to meet minimum reserve requirements borrow money from each other to be returned the next day, and the interest rate they agree upon is determined by the overnight rate set by their central bank. This rate influences all other interest rates in the economy and can be adjusted to encourage or discourage borrowing and spending.2. Interbank Lending: Banks and other financial institutions often have to borrow from each other to meet their liquidity requirements or finance their operations. These loans often tend to be short-term, ranging from a single night to a week or so. An increase in the overnight rate can lead to an increase in the cost for banks to borrow this money, which will hamper the bank’s performance as it will earn less profit from loans it issues out.3. Securities Repurchasing Agreements (Repo): A repurchase agreement or ‘repo’ is a form of short-term borrowing for dealers in government securities. One party sells government securities to another and agrees to repurchase the securities at a later date. The overnight repo rate is influenced by the central bank’s overnight rate and affects the borrowings between these dealers, thus influencing the overnight liquidity scenario in the money market. For example, the New York Federal Reserve implemented an overnight repurchase agreement operational exercise to ensure the federal funds rate stays within the target range set by the Federal Open Market Committee.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the Overnight Rate?

The Overnight Rate is the interest rate at which large banks borrow and lend from each other in the overnight market. It is a critical tool for central banks in monetary policy implementation.

Who determines the Overnight Rate?

The Overnight Rate is usually determined by the country’s central bank. For instance, in the United States, the Federal Reserve influences the Overnight Rate.

How does the Overnight Rate impact the economy?

The Overnight Rate affects the interest rates that banks give to their consumers. If the Overnight Rate is high, lending rates are likely to be high, which can slow economic growth. Conversely, a lower Overnight Rate often results in lower lending rates, stimulating economic growth.

How does the Overnight Rate affect consumers?

The Overnight Rate indirectly affects consumers through changes in the interest rates for loans and savings. A higher Overnight Rate can make borrowing more expensive and saving more attractive, while a lower rate has the opposite effect.

Is the Overnight Rate the same in all countries?

No, the Overnight Rate varies from country to country and is dictated by each country’s central bank based on various economic factors.

How often does the Overnight Rate change?

The frequency of changes in the Overnight Rate depends on the central bank’s assessment of the economy. In general, most central banks review rates every 4 to 6 weeks.

How does the Overnight Rate affect the stock market?

The Overnight Rate can impact the stock market as it influences borrowing costs. If the rate is high, companies may be less likely to borrow and invest in expansions, potentially leading to lower stock market returns.

Where can I find information about the current Overnight Rate?

The current Overnight Rate can usually be found on the website of a country’s central bank. Financial news websites and business news channels also frequently report on it.

Related Finance Terms

  • Central Bank
  • Interest Rates
  • Monetary Policy
  • Short-term Loans
  • Repurchase Agreement (repo rate)

Sources for More Information

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