What Is an Equated Monthly Installment (EMI)?

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An equated monthly installment (EMI) is a fixed payment borrowers make to lenders on a monthly basis. EMIs consist of two parts: interest and principal. Once you make a certain amount of EMIs, your loan will be entirely paid off.

Definition and Examples of EMI 

An EMI is a fixed, monthly payment that borrowers make to lenders, usually on the same day of every month. You can use them to repay a variety of loans, including mortgages, car loans, and student loans. As long as you stick to your EMI schedule, you’ll be able to pay off your loan completely at the end of the term. 

Unlike variable payment plans, which give borrowers the freedom to make payments whenever they’d like depending on their financial situations, EMIs have a clearly laid out repayment schedule and term to maturity. An equated monthly installment is ideal if you’d like to budget for your loan and know exactly what you’ll pay upfront.

The term EMI is most commonly used in other countries like India, so you may not see it used by a U.S.-based lender. In many cases, as with Capital One and Clearview Federal Credit Union, the fixed monthly payments are referred to as installment loans.

How EMI Works

An EMI involves both principal and interest, as well as a loan’s term. The amount of each monthly payment will depend on the amount, duration, and interest rate of the loan. When you make your payments initially, most of the money will go toward interest. Over time, however, more of your money will pay down the principal. 

There are two ways to calculate EMI: the reducing-balance method and the flat-rate method. With the reducing-balance EMI, interest depends on the remaining portion of the loan and allows for lower interest payments over time. The flat-rate EMI looks at the original loan amount to calculate interest. 

Since the flat-rate method disregards the balance of the loan, it comes with higher total interest payments than a reducing-balance EMI. For this reason, the reducing-balance method tends to be more cost-friendly and appealing to borrowers.

The Flat-Rate Method

To calculate EMI using the flat-rate method, you would first add the total principal of the loan and the total interest on the principal together. Then, you would divide the sum by the total number of payments, or the number of months during the loan term.

Let’s say you take out a $50,000 loan with a 4% interest rate for two years. Using the flat-rate EMI, you’ll borrow a total of $4,000 in interest or about $166 monthly. Your EMI payments will be $2,250 per month. Flat-rate EMIs are widely seen in car loans and personal loans

The Reducing-Balance Method

The calculation for the reducing-balance EMI looks like this: 

formula for equated monthly installment

The Balance

  • P is the principal loan amount
  • r is the monthly interest rate, i.e., the yearly interest rate divided by 12
  • n is the total number of months you pay the loan 

While you can do the formula by hand, typing it into an Excel spreadsheet is recommended. This is what the reducing-balance method looks like using our example:  

EMI= 50,000x(0.04/12)x[(1+(0.04/12))24] / [(1+(0.04/12))24-1] = $2,171.25

With this calculation, your EMI payments will amount to $2,171.25 a month. In this case, the principal amount paid back gets deducted from the outstanding loan amount, and interest for the subsequent year will be charged on the remaining deducted balance. It is not deducted from the entire loan amount, as it is in the flat-rate method. 

As mentioned, the reducing-balance method is typically preferred, as it’s considered more affordable than the flat-rate method, which often results in a higher interest rate. You’ll likely see a balance-EMI with a mortgage or credit card. 

Key Takeaways

  • An EMI is a fixed monthly payment a borrower makes to a lender.
  • EMIs are used to pay off a variety of loans including mortgages, car loans, student loans, and personal loans.
  • An EMI features two parts: principal and interest. 
  • You can use the flat-rate or reducing-balance method to calculate EMI. 

Article Sources

  1. Capital One. "What Is an Installment Loan?" Accessed July 20, 2021. 

  2. Clearview Federal Credit Union. "The Difference Between Installment Loans and Revolving Lines of Credit." Accessed July 20, 2021. 

  3. Corporate Finance Institute. "Equated Monthly Installment (EMI)." Accessed July 20, 2021.