A point, which equals 1% of the total loan amount, is an upfront fee that reduces your monthly interest rate and total interest due over the life of a loan. This means that a one point loan will always have a lower interest rate than a no point loan. Paying points is in essence a trade off between paying money now versus paying money later.
Deciding whether to pay points depends on how long you are looking to keep the loan. We suggest paying points up front if you plan on keeping the loan for at least four years to ensure that you recoup the costs through lower monthly payments. If you think that you might move within the next four years or might want to refinance because the market rate is declining, then you probably would be better off with a no point loan.
Lenders allow you to choose amongst a variety of rate and point combinations for the same loan product. Therefore, when comparing rates from different lenders, make sure you compare the associated points and rate combinations of the offered program. The published Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is a tool used to compare different terms, offered rates, and points among different lenders and programs.