Terms to Know

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The following are definitions of terms you may find online or in materials relating to credit, credit cards, loans, and insurance.


Actual Cash Value: Present property cash value. This is equal to the replacement cost minus depreciation.

Annual Fee: any fee that is charged on an annual (yearly) basis. This fee is charged regardless of anything else (the amount or value of purchases with the credit card for example)

Annual Percentage Rate (APR): the cost of credit as indicated by a yearly interest rate. This rate and the periodic rate (see below) must be disclosed to you before you become obligated on the card.


Balance Computation Method: the formula used to determine the outstanding balance on which you're charged interest for the billing period.

Balance Transfer: The process of moving an unpaid credit card debt from one issuer to another. Card issuers sometimes offer teaser rates to encourage balance transfers coming in and balance-transfer fees to discourage them from going out.


Collision Coverage: pays to repair or replace your vehicle if it is damaged in an accident and is available with our without a deductible.

Comprehensive Coverage: pays if your car is stolen, collides with an animal or is accidentally damaged by falling objects, fire, flood, or vandalism. You can purchase both of these coverages with deductibles in an effort to reduce the cost of your insurance.

Creditor:a person or company to whom money is owed


Depreciation: The decrease in the value of property due to wear, tear and age


Finance Charge: the charge for using a credit card comprised of interest costs and other fees; determined by multiplying the outstanding balance by the periodic rate.

Fixed Expenses: are those that do not vary from month to month and can be the most difficult to manipulate. Examples of fixed expenses include rent, car payments and student loans.

Fees: charges (other than the finance charge) that may be levied against your account. Common examples include an annual fee; cash advance fees, balance transfer fees, late payment fees, and over-the-limit fees.


Grace Period: the interest-free time a lender allows between the transaction date and the billing date for users who do not have an account balance. If there is no grace period, finance charges will accrue the moment a purchase is made with the credit card. People who carry a balance on their credit cards have no grace period.


In-Network Providers: Are provided providers that you can see through your insurance plan. If the doctor, hospital or health care facility you visit is part of your insurance company’s network, you'll get your health care at lower prices.

Incidental Expenses: are expenses that are not budgeted or specified. This category will be the hardest part of budgeting. This is where you have to start keeping track or even look at what you have been spending your money on.  You will want to keep track on a daily basis for at least one week to get a better picture of where your money is going.

Interest Rate: the proportion of a loan that is charged as interest to the borrower, typically expressed as an annual percentage of the loan outstanding.


Late Fee: a late payment fee that is charged to a borrower who misses paying at least their minimum payment by the payment deadline. In order to avoid late fees, ensure that you pay at least the minimum amount by the due date. Late payments may affect your credit history negatively, even if your entire outstanding balance is later paid in full.

Loan Default: the failure to promptly pay interest or principal when due. Default occurs when a debtor is unable to meet the legal obligation of debt repayment. Borrowers may default when they are unable to make the required payment or are unwilling to honor the debt.


Out-of-Network Providers: If you will be going to school in an area out of the network of our managed care provider, call your insurance company and ask what provisions are in the plan. Most have some method of covering emergency care while you are out of the network, but routine care and follow-up care can only be received in the plans network service area. Be sure you have a copy of the relevant health insurance cards and know how to obtain any required approvals before seeking treatment. Going out of network could mean you'll have to pay a larger percentage of the cost or the total cost, depending on your particular plan.


Periodic Rate: the interest rate described in relation to a specific amount of time. The monthly periodic rate, for example, is the cost of credit per month; the daily periodic rate is the cost of credit per day.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP): pays all necessary medical costs if you are hurt in an auto accident.

Principal: the amount borrowed or the amount still owed on a loan

Property Protection (PPI):  pays up to $1 million for damage your car does in Michigan to other people's property, such as buildings and fences.


Replacement Cost: An endorsement that insures for actual replacement cost rather than actual cash value, which only covers the replace cost minus depreciation.

Residual Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability Insurance (BI/PD): pays your defense costs and any damages you are found liable for as the result of an auto accident, up to the limits of the policy.


Transaction Fee:a flat fee paid by the merchant for each credit card transaction.


Variable Expenses: are those that vary from month to month and are usually the first expenses that people try to minimize when trying to save money. Examples of variable expenses include gas and groceries.

Variable Interest Rate: percentage that a borrower pays for the use of money, which moves up or down periodically based on changes in other interest rates.

Page last modified September 26, 2014