Prime rate

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Prime rates in the US, FRG and the European Union LeitzinsenEngl.png
Prime rates in the US, FRG and the European Union

A prime rate or prime lending rate is an interest rate used by banks, usually the interest rate at which banks lend to favoured customers—i.e., those with good credit. Some variable interest rates may be expressed as a percentage above or below prime rate.

Interest rate percentage of a sum of money charged for its use

An interest rate is the amount of interest due per period, as a proportion of the amount lent, deposited or borrowed. The total interest on an amount lent or borrowed depends on the principal sum, the interest rate, the compounding frequency, and the length of time over which it is lent, deposited or borrowed.

A floating interest rate, also known as a variable or adjustable rate, refers to any type of debt instrument, such as a loan, bond, mortgage, or credit, that does not have a fixed rate of interest over the life of the instrument.


Use in different banking systems

United States and Canada

Historically, in North American banking, the prime rate was the actual interest rate, although this is no longer the case. The prime rate varies little among banks and adjustments are generally made by banks at the same time, although this does not happen frequently. As of December 20,2018, the prime rate is 5.50% in the United States [1] , while as of October 31,2018, it is 3.95% in Canada. [2]

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Canada Country in North America

Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Canada's southern border with the United States, stretching some 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest bi-national land border. Its capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. As a whole, Canada is sparsely populated, the majority of its land area being dominated by forest and tundra. Consequently, its population is highly urbanized, with over 80 percent of its inhabitants concentrated in large and medium-sized cities, with 70% of citizens residing within 100 kilometres (62 mi) of the southern border. Canada's climate varies widely across its vast area, ranging from arctic weather in the north, to hot summers in the southern regions, with four distinct seasons.

Historical chart of the effective Federal Funds Rate Federal funds effective rate 1954 to present.svg
Historical chart of the effective Federal Funds Rate

In the United States, the prime rate runs approximately 300 basis points (or 3 percentage points) above the federal funds rate, which is the interest rate that banks charge each other for overnight loans made to fulfill reserve funding requirements. The Federal funds rate plus a much smaller increment is frequently used for lending to the most creditworthy borrowers, as is LIBOR, the London Interbank Offered Rate. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meets eight times per year to set a target for the federal funds rate.

A per ten thousand sign or basis point is one hundredth of a percent or equivalently one ten thousandth. The related concept of a permyriad is literally one part per ten thousand. Figures are commonly quoted in basis points in finance, especially in fixed income markets.

Federal funds rate interest rates to maintain banks Federal Reserve balance in the U.S.

In the United States, the federal funds rate is the interest rate at which depository institutions lend reserve balances to other depository institutions overnight, on an uncollateralized basis. Reserve balances are amounts held at the Federal Reserve to maintain depository institutions' reserve requirements. Institutions with surplus balances in their accounts lend those balances to institutions in need of larger balances. The federal funds rate is an important benchmark in financial markets.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), a committee within the Federal Reserve System, is charged under United States law with overseeing the nation's open market operations. This Federal Reserve committee makes key decisions about interest rates and the growth of the United States money supply.

Prior to December 17, 2008, the Wall Street Journal followed a policy of changing its published prime rate when 23 out of 30 of the United States' largest banks changed their prime rates. Recognizing that fewer, larger banks now control most banking assets—i.e., it is more concentrated—the Journal now publishes a rate reflecting the base rate posted by at least 70% of the top ten banks by assets.


Effective January 2, 2015, the Base Lending Rate (BLR) structure was replaced with a new Base Rate (BR) system. Under BR, which will now serve as the main reference rate for new retail floating rate loans, banks in Malaysia can determine their interest rate based on a formula set by Bank Negara, the Malaysian central bank. [3]

Malaysia Federal constitutional monarchy in Southeast Asia

Malaysia is a country in Southeast Asia. The federal constitutional monarchy consists of 13 states and three federal territories, separated by the South China Sea into two similarly sized regions, Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia. Peninsular Malaysia shares a land and maritime border with Thailand and maritime borders with Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia. East Malaysia shares land and maritime borders with Brunei and Indonesia and a maritime border with the Philippines and Vietnam. Kuala Lumpur is the national capital and largest city while Putrajaya is the seat of federal government. With a population of over 30 million, Malaysia is the world's 44th most populous country. The southernmost point of continental Eurasia, Tanjung Piai, is in Malaysia. In the tropics, Malaysia is one of 17 megadiverse countries, with large numbers of endemic species.

Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) has set a group-wide base rate at 3.2%, effective Jan 2, 2015. All new retail loans and financing such as mortgages, unit trust loans, share margin financing, personal financing and overdraft facilities which are applied for by individual customers will be based on the base rate. [4] Though certain banks may be setting a higher BR compared to others, they can sometimes offer lower ELR to customers in order to remain competitive. [5] Loans that are already approved and extended prior to January 2, 2015 will still follow the old BLR until the end of the loan tenure.

Maybank company

Malayan Banking Berhad is a Malaysian universal bank, with key operating "home markets" of Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and Indonesia. According to the Brand Finance report, Maybank is Malaysia's most valuable bank brand, the fifth top brand in Asean and ranked 83rd in the world’s most valuable bank brands.


The prime rate is used often as an index in calculating rate changes to adjustable-rate mortgages (ARM) and other variable rate short-term loans. It is used in the calculation of some private student loans. Many credit cards and home equity lines of credit with variable interest rates have their rate specified as the prime rate (index) plus a fixed value commonly called the spread or margin.

See also

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  1. According to data published by The Wall Street Journal Online and the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. "Federal Reserve Statistical Data". Federal Reserve.
  2. According to data published by The Wall Street Journal Online and the Bank of Canada. "Daily Digest- Rates and Statistics- Bank of Canada". Bank of Canada.
  3. Ho, Fiona (January 6, 2015). "Base Rate vs BLR in Malaysia: How Does BR Work?". . Retrieved January 26, 2015.
  4. "Maybank sets base rate at 3.2%". The Sun Daily. January 5, 2015. Retrieved January 26, 2015.
  5. Ho, Fiona (January 6, 2015). "Base Rate vs BLR in Malaysia: How Does BR Work?". . Retrieved January 26, 2015.