A fully amortizing payment refers to a type of periodic repayment on a debt. If the borrower makes payments according to the loan’s amortization schedule, the debt is fully paid off by the end of its set term. If the loan is a fixed-rate loan, each fully amortizing payment is an equal dollar amount. If the loan is an adjustable-rate loan, the fully amortizing payment changes as the interest rate on the loan changes.

## Key Takeaways

- A fully amortizing payment is a periodic loan payment made according to a schedule that ensures it will be paid off by the end of the loan’s set term.
- Loans for which fully amortizing payments are made are known as self-amortizing loans.
- Traditional fixed-rate, long-term mortgages typically take fully amortizing payments.
- Interest-only payments, which are typical of some adjustable-rate mortgages, are the opposite of fully amortizing payments.

## Understanding a Fully Amortizing Payment

Loans for which fully amortizing payments are made are known as self-amortizing loans. Mortgages are typical self-amortizing loans, and they usually carry fully amortizing payments. Homebuyers can see how much they can expect to pay in interest over the life of the loan using an amortization schedule provided by their lender.

## Fully amortizing payments vs. interest-only payments

An interest-only payment is the opposite of a fully amortizing payment. If our borrower is only covering the interest on each payment, they are not on the schedule to pay the loan off by the end of its term. If a loan allows the borrower to make initial payments that are less than the fully amortizing payment, then the fully amortizing payments later in the life of the loan are significantly higher. This is typical of many adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs).

To illustrate, imagine someone takes out a $250,000 mortgage with a 30-year term and a 4.5% interest rate. However, rather than being fixed, the interest rate is adjustable, and the lender only assures the 4.5% rate for the first five years of the loan. After that point, it adjusts automatically.

If the borrower were making fully amortizing payments, they would pay $1,, as indicated in the first example, and that amount would increase or decrease when the loan’s interest rate adjusts. However, if the loan is structured so the borrower only pays interest payments for the first five years, his monthly payments are only $ during that time. But they are not fully amortizing. As a result, after the introductory interest rate expires, his payments ortizing payments early in the life of the loan, the borrower essentially commits to making larger fully amortizing payments later in the loan’s term.

## Important

If you have an interest-only adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), refinancing it before the rate adjusts could help to avoid a significant jump in monthly payments.

To illustrate a fully amortizing payment, imagine a man takes out a $250,000 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a 4.5% interest rate, and his monthly payments are $1,. At the beginning of the loan’s life, the majority of these payments are devoted to interest and just a small part to the loan’s principal; near the end of the loan’s term, the majority of each payment covers principal, and only a small portion is allocated to interest. Because these payments are fully amortizing, if the borrower makes them each month, they pay off the loan by the end of its term.

As you can see, more of the borrower’s monthly payments go toward the principal on the loan Minnesota pawn store as the end of the mortgage term approaches.

Your amortization schedule for a mortgage may also break down what goes toward homeowners’ insurance or property taxes if those are escrowed into your loan payments.

The main advantage of fully amortized loans is the ability to see how your payment is divided up each month on a mortgage or similar loan. This can make planning your budget easier because you’ll always know what your mortgage payments will be, assuming you choose a fixed-rate loan option.

The chief disadvantage of fully amortized loans is that they require you to pay the lion’s share of interest charges up front. Going back to the fully amortized loan example offered previously, you can see that the majority of what the borrower pays in the first five years of the loan goes toward interest.

If they were to sell the home after five years, then they may have made only a very small dent in the loan balance. If the home hasn’t increased significantly in value, they may have very little equity to show for their efforts, making a sale of the home less profitable. The lender is a winner, however, because they’ve been able to collect those interest payments in the preceding five years.

If you have a mortgage and you’re thinking of refinancing, using an online calculator to find your breakeven point with a fully amortizing loan can help you decide if it’s the right move.

## Other Types of Loan Payments

In some cases, borrowers ortizing payments or other types of payments on their loans. In particular, if a borrower takes out a payment option ARM, they receive four different monthly payment options: a 30-year fully amortizing payment, a 15-year fully amortizing payment, an interest-only payment, and a minimum payment. They must pay at least the minimum. However, if they want to stay on track to have the loan paid off in 15 or 30 years, they must make the corresponding fully amortizing payment.

## Warning

Making minimum payments could result in a larger loan balance if you’re not making a dent in what you owe toward the interest.

## What Is a Fully Amortizing Loan?

A fully amortizing loan has a set repayment period that will allow the borrower to repay the principal and interest due by a specified date. Fully amortizing loans assume that the borrower makes each scheduled payment in full and on time.

## What Is an Amortization Schedule?

An amortization schedule illustrates how a borrower’s payments are applied to the principal and interest on a loan over time. With fully amortized loans, the bulk of interest payments are made earlier in the loan term, with more of the payment going toward the principal as you get closer to the end of the loan.

## Can You Pay Off a Fully Amortized Loan Early?

Yes, if your lender allows it. Paying off a fully amortized loan ahead of schedule could save money on interest. Keep in mind, however, that your lender may apply a prepayment penalty to recoup any lost interest if you decide to pay a loan off early.