RATE function

Microsoft Excel’s RATE function is a financial formula that helps you calculate the interest rate for an investment or loan based on periodic payments and a constant principal amount. In simple terms, it tells you the interest rate you would need to earn or pay to achieve a specific financial goal.


RATE(nper, pmt, pv, [fv], [type], [guess])


nperThe total number of payment periods.
pmtThe payment made each period. It must remain constant.
pvThe present value or the total initial investment (or loan amount).
[fv](Optional) The future value or a cash balance you want to attain after the last payment. If omitted, it’s assumed to be 0.
[type](Optional) The type of payment: 0 for payments at the end of each period (default) or 1 for payments at the beginning of each period.
[guess](Optional) Your guess for the interest rate. If omitted, Excel uses 10% as the default.

How to Use

The RATE function in Excel is commonly used in financial planning and investment analysis. Here’s how you can use it:

Example 1: Calculate the interest rate for a loan with the following details:

In this example, the loan has 5 payment periods, each with a payment of $200, a present value of $1,000 (the loan amount), and no future value. The function will return the interest rate necessary to repay this loan.

Example 2: Determine the interest rate required to save a specific amount of money for retirement:

In this case, the person wants to save $1,000,000 for retirement in 25 years by making no periodic payments. They currently have $50,000 saved. The function calculates the interest rate they need to achieve this goal.

Example 3: Calculate the interest rate for an investment with periodic deposits:

This example involves making 10 annual investments of $500 each with a future value of $10,000. The type is set to 1 (payments at the beginning of each period), and a guess interest rate of 7% is used.

Additional Information

The RATE function is a powerful tool for financial planning, but it can be sensitive to initial guesses for the interest rate. If the function returns an error or doesn’t converge to a solution, you can try adjusting the guess parameter or using other financial functions like the Goal Seek tool in Excel to find the desired rate.

Tomasz Decker is an Excel specialist, skilled in data analysis and financial modeling.