Skip to main content

What is negative amortization?

Amortization means paying off a loan with regular payments, so that the amount you owe goes down with each payment. Negative amortization means that even when you pay, the amount you owe will still go up because you are not paying enough to cover the interest. 

Your lender may offer you the choice to make a minimum payment that doesn’t cover the interest you owe. The unpaid interest gets added to the amount you borrowed, and the amount you owe increases.

Usually, after a period of time, you will have to start making payments to cover principal and interest. These payments will be higher. A negative amortization loan can be risky because you can end up owing more on your mortgage than your home is worth. That makes it harder to sell your house because the sales price won’t be enough to pay what you owe. This can put you at risk of foreclosure if you run into trouble making your mortgage payments.

Certain loans have payment options that let you pay only a portion of the amount of interest you owe each month. If you only pay some of the interest, the amount that you do not pay may get added to your principal balance. Then you end up paying not only interest on the money you borrowed, but interest on the interest you are being charged for the money you borrowed. This dramatically increases the amount of debt you have and the cost of the loan. To keep your debt from growing, try to pay down all of the interest and at least some of the principal you owe.

Take the next step

Buying a House

We've built tools to help you understand the mortgage process and compare options.

Visit our "Buying a House" guide

Was this answer helpful to you?

Please do not share any personally identifiable information (PII), including, but not limited to: your name, address, phone number, email address, Social Security number, account information, or any other information of a sensitive nature.