The annual percentage rate (APR) on a mortgage is a better indication of the true cost of a home loan than the mortgage interest rate by itself. The APR takes into account not only the mortgage rate, but also things like closing costs, discount points and other fees that are charged as part of the loan.

Annual percentage rate (APR) explains the cost of borrowing, and it’s particularly useful for credit cards and mortgage loans. APR quotes your cost as a percentage of the loan amount that you pay each year. For example, if your loan has an APR of 10 percent, you would pay $10 per $100 you borrow annually.

An APR is also a percentage, but it also includes all the costs of financing, including the fees and charges that you have to pay to get the loan. The APR for a given loan is typically higher than the mortgage interest rate. An APR is never used to calculate your monthly payment.

When I bought my current house a few years ago, we secured a 4% rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage, which I thought was awesome. Mortgage interest rates climbed from there, making me look much smarter.