Pay Off Home Loan or Car Loan?

April 10, 2000, Revised December 11, 2006, Reviewed May 5, 2011

" I am currently sending $300 a month in additional principal on my 30-year, 7-percent mortgage to pay off the loan in approximately 15 years. Would it be wiser to make this extra payment on my 8.49 percent car loan? Are additional principal payments treated the same way for home mortgages and car loans?"

There are some small differences in the way in which extra payments are credited on car loans and home mortgage loans, which are related to the fact that interest accrues daily on car loans and monthly on mortgage loans. However, these differences are too small to matter.

Pay off the car loan first. The reason is that you save 8.49% on the car loan whereas on the mortgage you save only 7%. If you can deduct the interest on your mortgage, as most homeowners can, the advantage of paying off the car loan first is even greater. For example, if your tax bracket is 30%, your mortgage cost is only 4.9% after tax.

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