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United States Prime Rate

The Current U.S. (Fed) Prime Rate is: 4.50%

December 13, 2017: The FOMC has voted to raise the target range
for the fed funds rate, from 1.00% - 1.25% to 1.25% - 1.50%.
Therefore, the United States Prime Rate is now 4.50%,
effective tomorrow (December 14,2017.)
The next FOMC meeting and decision on short-term
interest rates will be on January 31, 2018.

Prime Rate Definition

The U.S. Prime Rate is a commonly used, short-term interest rate in the banking system of the United States. All types of American lending institutions (traditional banks, credit unions, thrifts, etc.) use the U.S. Prime Rate as an index or foundation rate for pricing various short- and medium-term loan products. The Prime Rate is consistent because banks want to offer businesses and consumers loan products that are both profitable and competitive. A consistent U.S. Prime Rate also makes it easier and more efficient for individuals and businesses to compare similar loan products offered by competing banks.

Each U.S. state does not have its own individual Prime Rate, so the "New York Prime Rate" or the "California Prime Rate" are in fact the same as the United States Prime Rate.

Providers of consumer and commercial loan products often use the U.S. Prime Interest Rate as their base lending rate, then add a margin (profit) based primarily on the amount of risk associated with a loan. Moreover, some financial institutions use Prime as an index for pricing certain time-deposit products like variable-rate Certificates of Deposit.

It's important to note that the Prime Rate is an index, not a law. Consumers and business owners can sometimes find a loan or credit card with an interest rate that is below the current Prime Lending Rate. Lenders will sometimes offer below-Prime-Rate loans to highly qualified customers as a way of generating business. Furthermore, below-Prime-Rate loans are relatively common when the loan product in question is secured, as is the case with mortgages, home equity loans, home equity lines of credit and car loans.

Every U.S. bank sets its own Prime Rate. However, the Prime Rate is invariably tied to America's cardinal, benchmark interest rate: the Federal Funds Target Rate (or Fed Funds Target Rate [FFTR].) The FFTR is set by a committee within the Federal Reserve system called The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). The FOMC usually meets every six weeks, and it is at these meetings that the FOMC votes on whether or not to make changes to the FFTR. When the FFTR changes, the United States (Fed) Prime Rate will also change. If the FOMC votes to make no changes to the FFTR, then the U.S. Prime Rate will also remain unchanged.

Since the second quarter of 1994, a rule of thumb for the U.S. Prime Rate has been:

U.S. Prime Rate = (The Fed Funds Target Rate + 3)

The FOMC's primary objectives are to keep inflation under control and maintain steady economic growth with maximum sustainable employment within the United States.

The U.S. Prime Interest Rate is used by many banks to set rates on many consumer loan products, such as student loans, home equity lines of credit, car loans and credit cards. If you read or hear about a change to the U.S. Prime Rate, then any loan product that is tied to the Prime Rate will also change, like variable-rate credit cards or certain adjustable-rate mortgages.

Click here for more information about how the U.S. Prime Rate works.

Click here to view a Flow Chart for the U.S. Prime Rate.

Click here to jump to the U.S. Prime Rate FAQ.

The Current Fed Prime Rate is: 4.50%

(the last rate change -- an increase of 25 basis points
[0.25 percentage point] -- occurred on December 13, 2017)

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All written content on this page, unless otherwise noted,
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copyright © 2018 FedPrimeRate.comSM

Content on this webpage updated on December 13, 2017.


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