How to Calculate and Convert Basis Points

Christian Worstell
In this article...
  • Learn how to calculate and convert basis points and how they can help you maximize your returns. Find out what these percentage points mean for your money.

Basis points are a unit of measure used to express the percentage change in an investment, such as annuities. Investors can utilize basis points to accurately monitor shifts in the financial market, thereby enabling them to make more informed decisions with their investments.

Understanding basis points is essential for any investor who wants to maximize returns while minimizing risk. In this guide, we'll explore how to calculate basis points, why to use them instead of percentages and how investors can utilize them most effectively.

What Are Basis Points?

Basis points (BPs) are a unit of measure used in finance to describe the percentage change in the value or rate of a financial instrument or product. For example, an increase from 5% to 6% in an interest rate would be referred to as a 100-point hike. The term basis point can also be used to express changes in other areas such as stock prices, credit ratings and bond yields.

  • You calculate basis points by dividing one percent (1%) into one hundred equal parts, which results in 1/100th of a percent or 0.01%.

  • An increase of one hundred basis points equals a rise in the original figure by one full percentage point (from 5% to 6%, for example).

  • Similarly, when we say that there was a decrease of 50 basis points, it means that the original number has decreased by 0.5%, or half of a full percentage point.

Basis points are commonly used because they provide more granularity than percentages do. This makes them useful for expressing small changes and differences between numbers without having to use decimal places or fractions.

In addition, using BPs allows investors and analysts to quickly compare two different values with just one glance rather than having to calculate multiple percentages each time they want to make a comparison.

By understanding basis points, investors can determine their risk levels and ROI potential before making decisions about investing in assets. By understanding how much return on investment (ROI) will be gained based on BP movements within markets, investors can determine what kind of exposure they need while still maintaining acceptable levels of risk tolerance.

Many institutions convert basis points as part of their pricing models, so being able to understand how to calculate basis points can help investors make better informed decisions when trading securities like stocks and bonds.

How Do You Convert Basis Points?

You can calculate basis points by dividing one percentage point (1%) by 100. An increase of 1% in an interest rate, for instance, would equate to one hundred basis points (100 BPs). A change of 1% in an indicator can be expressed either as “one percent” or “100 basis points,” depending on which terminology you prefer. 

Basis points help investors compare different investments more easily since they allow them to express returns in terms that everyone understands regardless of what type of investment they're analyzing. For instance, if an investor has two stocks with returns of 8% and 10%, respectively, he/she can express this difference as 200 BPs rather than two percentage points.

Many banks employ basis point-based pricing models when establishing credit card accounts, enabling customers to be cognizant of any fees that may apply. Lenders often compute fees related to certain types of transactions such as mortgages or loans based on BPs rather than percentage points.

Understanding how Basis Points work is not only important for those investing money, but it is also useful knowledge for people trying to manage their personal finances responsibly. Knowing your BP-based fees upfront allows you to budget accordingly and ensure that you don't end up paying more than necessary when making purchases or taking out loans. This could potentially save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars over time.

How Are Basis Points Used?

Basis Points are commonly used to compare different investments and calculate returns on investment. 

Basis points allow investors to quickly identify the magnitude of changes in interest rates or other financial metrics without having to convert percentages or fractions into a decimal point.

For example, the Federal Reserve increasing the federal funds rate by 25 bps implies a rise of 0.25%. This makes it easier for investors to assess how much their investments will be affected by any given change in interest rates or other factors affecting their portfolio’s performance.

Comparing the two bonds using basis points can help investors discern which one offers more return for its level of riskiness, allowing them to make an informed decision about where best to invest their money. By comparing these two bonds using basis points rather than percentages, investors can easily see which bond is offering more return for its level of riskiness and make informed decisions about where best to invest their money accordingly.

Basis points also help traders understand trends in markets such as foreign exchange (forex) trading or commodities trading, where small movements can result in large profits or losses depending on market conditions at any given time. By understanding how many basis points each currency pair moves up or down per day, traders can gauge whether buying or selling at certain levels will be profitable based on historical data rather than relying solely on intuition.

Why Use Basis Points Instead of Percentages?

Basis points provide more precision than percentages when measuring tiny shifts and can be useful for investors who need to make precise calculations. An increment of 1 basis point – equal to 0.01% in percentage terms – can be seen if an interest rate moves from 5% to 5.01%.

Basis points also allow investors to compare different investments on an even playing field by expressing their returns in terms of relative values rather than absolute ones. This can help simplify decisions around portfolio diversification and risk management strategies.

In addition, basis points offer more flexibility compared to other units of measurement such as cents per dollar (cents/dollar). Whereas cents/dollar requires the user to convert each investment into its own currency before making comparisons, basis points allow investors to compare investments across currencies without needing any additional conversion steps first.

This makes basis points particularly helpful when evaluating global investments that involve multiple currencies – allowing quick and easy comparison between different assets regardless of their underlying currency denomination or market volatility at any given moment in time. 

How Do Investors Use Basis Points?

When comparing two investments, investors will look at how many basis points separate them in terms of return on investment (ROI). Investors can use basis points to compute the anticipated return on each potential investment to decide how much they must invest in order to reach their desired result within a specified period.

Investors may employ basis points as part of their risk mitigation strategies, such as diversifying their portfolios. By spreading out investments across multiple assets with varying levels of volatility, investors can lower the overall risk in their portfolio while still achieving desirable returns over time.

When the Federal Reserve raises the base rate – for example a 25-bp increase from 3% to 3.25% – it can be seen as a "double-edged sword" for both debtors and creditors. While the former would face higher costs on loans, the latter can benefit from improved yields on deposits.

Basis Points FAQs

How Do You Explain Basis Points?

One basis point is equal to 0.01% (or 1/100th of one percent). An interest rate of 5% to 6% would be an upsurge of one hundred bps, denoted as +100bps. Basis points are commonly used when discussing changes in bond yields, mortgage rates, and other investments that involve borrowing money at different rates over time.

How Much Is 50 Basis Points?

One basis point is equal to 0.01%, so 50 basis points would be equivalent to 0.50%, or 50 decimal points.

Why Do We Have Basis Points?

Basis points are commonly used when discussing interest rates, yield curves and other financial instruments that have small variations in value over time. By using basis points, investors can compare the performance of different investments to gain a better understanding and make more informed decisions.

What Is 1% in Basis Points?

One percent in basis points is equal to 100 basis points.


Basis points are an important tool for investors to understand when evaluating investments. They provide a more precise way of measuring returns and risks than percentages, allowing for better decision-making. Understanding basis points can help you make informed decisions about your investments and maximize the potential return on investment while minimizing risk.

Christian Worstell
About the Author

Christian Worstell is a senior Medicare and health insurance writer with He is also a licensed health insurance agent. Christian is well-known in the insurance industry for the thousands of educational articles he’s written, helping Americans better understand their health insurance and Medicare coverage.

Christian’s work as a Medicare expert has appeared in several top-tier and trade news outlets including Forbes, MarketWatch, WebMD and Yahoo! Finance.

While at HelpAdvisor, Christian has written hundreds of articles that teach Medicare beneficiaries the best practices for navigating Medicare. His articles are read by thousands of older Americans each month. By better understanding their health care coverage, readers may hopefully learn how to limit their out-of-pocket Medicare spending and access quality medical care.

Christian’s passion for his role stems from his desire to make a difference in the senior community. He strongly believes that the more beneficiaries know about their Medicare coverage, the better their overall health and wellness is as a result.

A current resident of Raleigh, Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. You can find Christian’s most recent articles in our blog.

If you’re a member of the media looking to connect with Christian, please don’t hesitate to email our public relations team at

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