Financial Words of the Week: Fixed Rate / ARM

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Previously, we defined interest  as the cost of borrowing money. You have a range of options when it comes to interest rates. Before you take out a new loan or credit card, be sure you understand those options.

When looking at mortgages, you will likely see fixed rate and adjustable rate mortgages. With a fixed rate mortgage, your lender sets the interest rate during the application process, and it does not change for the life of the loan. With an adjustable rate mortgage, your interest rate will change regularly, based on a published reference rate. The frequency of this change depends on your mortgage.

Loans other than mortgages can be either fixed rate or variable rate. The definition of a fixed rate loan is the same as a fixed rate mortgage, but variable rate loans differ from adjustable rate mortgages in how frequently the rate can change. If the reference rate changes frequently, the interest rate on a variable rate could change monthly. Many car loans have fixed rates, while most credit cards have variable rates.

If you are unsure what your interest rate is on an existing loan, you can look at the terms and disclosures on your monthly statement or your loan paperwork. If you are applying for a new loan or line of credit, the application disclosure should tell you how the interest rate is set.

UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a financial services holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Arizona. It also has a loan production office in Texas. Subsidiaries of the holding company include mutual fund and alternative investment services groups, single-purpose companies that deal with brokerage services and insurance, and a registered investment advisor that manages the company's proprietary mutual funds and investment advisory accounts for institutional customers.

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