Which Types of Loans Have the Most Rate Variation?

The best rate for any type of loan depends on a variety of factors, including your income, credit score, and general financial wellness, but the type of loan also plays a huge role. Some products have a wide range of advertised interest rates, and others are much more narrow.

While it’s easy to understand why borrowers would be interested in lower rates for a loan that might last 30 years, we wanted to understand how different types of loans stack up when it comes to rate variation to give consumers a better idea of what they can expect to pay.

To do this, we analyzed the data from RateBunni to see how rates vary across the country for banks and credit unions between three loan types — 15- and 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, used-auto loans, and personal loans.

Key Findings:

  • Between the highest and lowest available rates, mortgage loans have the lowest degree of variation, a difference of just over four percentage points. 
  • Rates fluctuate much more for auto and personal loans, more than 15% APR  in both cases.
  • The median used-auto loan rate is  median mortgage loan rate (3.4% and about 3.2%, respectively).
  • About three-quarters of lowest-advertised mortgage rates are between 3% and 3.99% APR.


Among the three loan types we analyzed, rates for 15- and 30-year fixed-rate mortgages had the least amount of variation — and it’s not even a close contest. We analyzed a total of 148 advertised rates from 155 banks and credit unions (a few offer the exact same rate) for fixed-rate 15- and 30-year mortgages, and the split between the lowest rate and the highest is just over four percentage points. Almost 75% of mortgage rates in our data are between 3.00% and 3.99%.

In terms of dollars, the lack of variation between advertised loan rates is a good thing for consumers, though the sheer size of typical mortgages means it pays to find a low rate. For a $240,000 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, the difference between the highest and lowest rates is $134,000 over the life of the loan, and about $372 per month.

Used Auto Loans

Loans for used autos have the second-lowest degree of variation between the highest and lowest advertised rates in our data. The lowest advertised rate is 0.25%, while the highest advertised rate is 15%, a 14.75 percentage point spread between low and high. Our analysis included 150 used-auto loan rates from 350 lenders, and only a tiny fraction (2%) offer rates below 1%. Still, half of the rates advertised for used-auto loans are between 2 and 3.99%.

With a loan amount of $25,000 and a 60-month loan period, the difference between low and high equates to more than $10,000 — or $176 per month.

Personal Loans

A total of 144 personal loan rates offered by 311 lenders are included in our analysis, and the lowest advertised rate is a rock-bottom 0.05%, the lowest low rate of any of the loan types we analyzed. However, personal loans also had the highest high rate — 19%, which equates to a percentage-point difference of 18.95.

Personal loans are much more likely to have rates over 10% — about one in three rates are 10% or higher for personal loans (compared to just 5% of used-auto loans — no mortgage loan rates were that high).

As such, the added cost of a higher rate is considerable, even though personal loans are often for lower amounts and have relatively brief terms, like 60 months. At the low end, that means paying $167 per month for a $10,000 loan, while at the high end, it’s $259 per month. Over the lifetime of the loan, this is a difference of $5,550.


There’s no doubt that buyers are more  likely to see wide rate variation in personal loans or used-auto loans than they are in mortgage loans, even a slight break in a loan rate can make a huge difference, particularly in loans with high principal or a long repayment period. That’s why it pays to do your homework and check out all the lenders that service your area to find out which rates you might be able to secure.

To start exploring lenders and discover the right one for you, try RateBunni today.

No personal info required.


Our analysis is based on publicly-available data we’ve collected on hundreds of lenders across the country. We also factored in regulatory sources such as FDIC and NCUA to analyze lender geography, product offerings, and lender size. Additionally, our analysis was limited to the segment of banks with assets between $600 million and $180 billion, which includes 479 financial institutions, though not every institution offers every loan type. Our analysis included 311 lenders offering personal loans, 155 offering 15- or 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, and 350 offering loans for used vehicles. Data in this analysis is from November 2021.

We used the lowest average rates these banks and credit unions advertise, which may not be the rates they offer most consumers. Not all lenders offer loans to all credit tiers, and as a result their state’s average of lowest advertised rate might be impacted. We recommend shopping around to find the best rates based on your credit score and financial history. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used for making financial decisions. Loan rates change regularly, and because advertised rates vary from rates that you may be offered, consumers should not assume that they will be able to get a loan with the rates listed here.

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