Loan amortization and extra payments – Wells Fargo

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Loan amortization and extra mortgage payments

Learn about the advantages of paying a little extra each month

Do you have a 15- or 30-year fixed-rate loan that you’d like to pay down faster? You might find that making extra payments on your mortgage can help you repay your loan more quickly, and with less interest than making payments according to loan's original payment terms.

What is loan amortization?

Loan amortization is the reduction of debt by regular payments of principal and interest over a period of time. For example, if you make a monthly mortgage payment, a portion of that payment covers interest and a portion pays down your principal.

Typically, the majority of each payment at the beginning of the loan term pays for interest and a smaller amount pays down the principal balance. Assuming regular payments, more of each following payment pays down your principal. This reduction of debt over time is amortization.

How can making extra payments help?

When you make an extra payment or a payment that's larger than the required payment, you can designate that the extra funds be applied to principal. Because interest is calculated against the principal balance, paying down the principal in less time on a fixed-rate loan reduces the interest you’ll pay. Even small additional principal payments can help.

Here are a few example scenarios with some estimated results for additional payments. Let’s say you have a 30-year fixed-rate loan for $200,000, with an interest rate of 4%. If you make your regular payments, your monthly mortgage principal and interest payment will be $955 for the life of the loan, for a total of $343,739 (of which $143,739 is interest). If you pay $100 extra each month towards principal, you can cut your loan term by more than 4.5 years and reduce the interest paid by more than $26,500. If you pay $200 extra a month towards principal, you can cut your loan term by more than 8 years and reduce the interest paid by more than $44,000.

Another way to pay down your loan in less time is to make half-monthly payments every 2 weeks, instead of 1 full monthly payment. When you split your payments like this, you’re making the equivalent of 1 extra monthly payment a year (26 bi-weekly payments totals 13 monthly payments). This extra payment may be applied directly to your principal balance. Be sure to first check with your lender if this is an option for your loan.

Using the same example as above, if you make a payment of $477.50 every 2 weeks, instead of 1 monthly payment of $955, you could shorten your total loan term by more than 4 years and reduce the interest paid by more than $22,000.

A little goes a long way

Making your normal monthly payments will pay down, or amortize, your loan. However, if it fits within your budget, paying extra toward your principal can be a great way to lessen the time it takes to repay your fixed-rate loan and the amount of interest you’ll pay.

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