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The prime rate is a benchmark for interest rates on business and consumer loans.
For example, a bank may charge you the prime rate plus two percentage points on a car loan or home equity loan.
The prime rate is determined by the federal funds rate, which is the rate banks charge each other to borrow money overnight. If banks must pay more to borrow, they raise the prime rate. If their cost drops, they drop the prime rate. The difference between the two rates is three percentage points, with the prime rate always the higher number.
The federal funds rate itself is determined by supply and demand, prompted by the actions of the Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve to increase or decrease the money supply.
prime ratethe INTEREST RATE charged by COMMERCIAL BANKS for short-term LOANS to their most preferential customers. The prime rate is somewhat lower than other commercial borrowing rates but applies only to what may be called ‘blue-chip’ companies, generally large companies with the highest credit ratings. See BANK LOAN, BASE RATE.
Traditionally defined as the rate of interest charged by a financial institution to its best customers. In reality, many commercial loans are quoted in terms of “prime minus one quarter,”for example, which indicates there are better rates than prime. In addition, many lenders offer rates based on the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), resulting in interest rates less than prime. Today,prime rate is often just a published rate by a financial institution,called its prime rate whether it is the lowest offered rate or not.