# Annuity vs. Perpetuity: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sawaira Riaz || Published on November 12, 2023
An annuity consists of a series of equal payments at regular intervals for a specified number of periods, while a perpetuity offers payments indefinitely.

## Key Differences

An annuity and a perpetuity are both financial instruments that offer periodic payments. However, they differ in the duration of these payments. An annuity refers to a series of equal payments made or received at regular intervals for a defined number of periods. This can range from a few years to several decades. It's a finite arrangement, and once the stipulated number of payments is made, the annuity concludes. On the other hand, perpetuity represents a stream of cash flows that continues indefinitely.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 12, 2023
When considering the concept of an annuity, one might think of retirement accounts or insurance payouts. Annuities are often purchased to provide a steady income for a specific duration, such as throughout retirement. The payments from an annuity, whether monthly, quarterly, or annually, are predictable and terminate after the agreed-upon period. Perpetuity, in its theoretical context, means the payments never end. While rare in the real world, some endowments or certain preferred stocks can resemble perpetuities as they pay dividends or interest indefinitely.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 12, 2023
From a valuation standpoint, annuities and perpetuities are calculated differently due to their durations. For an annuity, present and future values can be calculated using formulas that factor in the interest rate, number of periods, and payment amount. Because a perpetuity lasts forever, its present value is derived by dividing the periodic payment by the interest rate. This simplicity comes from the notion that, theoretically, a perpetuity's payments have no end date.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 12, 2023
Although the terms annuity and perpetuity are often used in the world of finance, they have broader applications. An annuity could represent any set of periodic, consistent payments over a fixed timeframe, like a multi-year rental agreement. In contrast, perpetuity might symbolize anything with an infinite duration, although true perpetuities are rare given the ever-changing nature of economies and financial instruments.
Sara Rehman
Nov 12, 2023

## Comparison Chart

### Duration

Fixed number of periods.
Indefinite or infinite.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 12, 2023

### Examples

Retirement accounts, insurance payouts.
Endowments, some preferred stocks.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 12, 2023

### Valuation Formula

Uses interest rate, number of periods, and payment amount.
Payment divided by the interest rate.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 12, 2023

### Common Use

Provides steady income for a specified period.
Represents infinite streams of payments or income.
Janet White
Nov 12, 2023

### Nature of Payments

Periodic, consistent payments over a predetermined timeframe.
Constant payments indefinitely.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 12, 2023

## Annuity and Perpetuity Definitions

#### Annuity

A financial product that provides a series of payments made at equal intervals.
Many retirees rely on an annuity to provide a steady income.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 24, 2023

#### Perpetuity

A bond or other security with no fixed maturity date.
Some preferred stocks act like perpetuity, offering dividends that last as long as the company exists.
Harlon Moss
Oct 24, 2023

#### Annuity

A form of insurance or investment entitling the investor to a series of annual sums.
She invested part of her savings in a fixed-rate annuity.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 24, 2023

#### Perpetuity

Continuous and unending payments or returns.
The land lease was set up as a perpetuity, ensuring the family receives rent forever.
Sara Rehman
Oct 24, 2023

#### Annuity

A fixed sum of money paid to someone each year, typically for the rest of their life.
The lottery winner chose to receive his prize as an annuity.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 24, 2023

#### Perpetuity

A financial instrument that offers infinite periodic payments.
Valuing a perpetuity is straightforward due to its endless payment structure.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 24, 2023

#### Annuity

A regular payment made by an investment institution.
The annuity he purchased guarantees payments for 20 years.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 24, 2023

#### Perpetuity

A constant stream of identical cash flows with no end.
The scholarship was funded by a perpetuity that pays out interest every year.
Harlon Moss
Oct 24, 2023

#### Annuity

A contract between a person and an insurer, guaranteeing periodic payments.
Annuity plans can be tailored to meet individual financial needs.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 24, 2023

#### Perpetuity

The quality or condition of being perpetual
"The perpetuity of the Church was an article of faith" (Morris L. West).
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 13, 2023

#### Annuity

The annual payment of an allowance or income.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 13, 2023

#### Perpetuity

Time without end; eternity.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 13, 2023

#### Annuity

The right to receive this payment or the obligation to make this payment.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 13, 2023

#### Perpetuity

The condition of an estate that is limited so as to be inalienable either perpetually or longer than the period determined by law.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 13, 2023

#### Annuity

A contract or agreement by which one receives fixed payments on an investment for a lifetime or for a specified number of years.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 13, 2023

#### Perpetuity

An estate so limited.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 13, 2023

#### Annuity

A right to receive amounts of money regularly over a certain fixed period, in perpetuity, or, especially, over the remaining life or lives of one or more beneficiaries.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 13, 2023

#### Perpetuity

An annuity payable indefinitely.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 13, 2023

#### Annuity

A sum of money, payable yearly, to continue for a given number of years, for life, or forever; an annual allowance.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 13, 2023

#### Perpetuity

(uncountable) The quality or state of being perpetual; endless duration; uninterrupted existence.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 13, 2023

#### Annuity

Income from capital investment paid in a series of regular payments;
His retirement fund was set up to be paid as an annuity
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 13, 2023

#### Perpetuity

(countable) Something that is perpetual.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 13, 2023

#### Perpetuity

A limitation intended to be unalterable and of indefinite duration; a disposition of property which attempts to make it inalienable beyond certain limits fixed or conceived as being fixed by the general law.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 13, 2023

#### Perpetuity

An annuity in which the periodic payments begin on a fixed date and continue indefinitely.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 13, 2023

#### Perpetuity

The quality or state of being perpetual; as, the perpetuity of laws.
A path to perpetuity of fame.
The perpetuity of single emotion is insanity.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 13, 2023

#### Perpetuity

Something that is perpetual.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 13, 2023

Endless time.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 13, 2023

#### Perpetuity

The number of years in which the simple interest of any sum becomes equal to the principal.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 13, 2023

#### Perpetuity

Duration without limitations as to time.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 13, 2023

#### Perpetuity

The property of being perpetual (seemingly ceaseless)
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 13, 2023

#### Perpetuity

An annuity that has no termination date.
Certain endowments function similarly to a perpetuity, providing funds indefinitely.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 24, 2023

## FAQs

#### What is the primary distinction between an annuity and a perpetuity?

An annuity offers payments for a set number of periods, while a perpetuity provides payments indefinitely.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 12, 2023

#### Do real-world perpetuities exist?

While true perpetuities are rare, some endowments or preferred stocks resemble perpetuities.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 12, 2023

#### Is the valuation of a perpetuity simpler than an annuity?

Typically, yes, because perpetuity valuation is based on a consistent payment divided by the interest rate.
Sara Rehman
Nov 12, 2023

#### What is a real-life example of something resembling a perpetuity?

Endowments, where the principal remains untouched but interest is used, can act like perpetuities.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 12, 2023

#### Can annuities have beneficiaries?

Yes, many annuity contracts allow for beneficiaries to receive payments or benefits upon the annuitant's death.
Sara Rehman
Nov 12, 2023

#### Are annuities commonly used for retirement planning?

Yes, annuities are often used to ensure a steady income during retirement.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 12, 2023

#### Can annuities offer lump-sum payouts?

Yes, some annuities provide the option of lump-sum withdrawals instead of periodic payments.
Harlon Moss
Nov 12, 2023

#### Are there tax implications for annuity withdrawals?

Yes, withdrawals from certain annuities can be subject to taxation.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 12, 2023

#### Can annuities be both fixed and variable?

Yes, annuities can be fixed (set payment) or variable (payment varies based on investment performance).
Aimie Carlson
Nov 12, 2023

#### How is the present value of an annuity determined?

It's calculated using the interest rate, number of periods, and payment amount.
Harlon Moss
Nov 12, 2023

#### How are the returns on a variable annuity determined?

They are based on the performance of the investments chosen within the annuity.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 12, 2023

#### Do perpetuities have a principal amount that remains untouched?

Typically, the principal amount in a perpetuity remains constant, with only the interest or returns being distributed.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 12, 2023

#### Can the value of a perpetuity decrease over time?

While the nominal payment remains constant, inflation can decrease the real value of a perpetuity's payments over time.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 12, 2023

#### Is a perpetuity's payment always the same?

In theory, a perpetuity offers a constant payment amount indefinitely.
Sara Rehman
Nov 12, 2023

#### Can perpetuities be sold or transferred?

While uncommon, rights to the payments from something resembling a perpetuity can be transferred under specific conditions.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 12, 2023

#### Is there a real-world financial instrument that offers exact perpetuity features?

True perpetuities are rare, but some endowments or certain preferred stocks can function similarly.
Harlon Moss
Nov 12, 2023

#### Are there fees associated with annuities?

Yes, annuities can have various fees, including management fees, surrender charges, and other administrative fees.
Harlon Moss
Nov 12, 2023

#### Are annuities protected against market downturns?

Fixed annuities offer guaranteed returns, but variable annuities are subject to market fluctuations.
Janet White
Nov 12, 2023

#### Can an annuity be passed down as an inheritance?

If an annuity has a designated beneficiary, it can be passed down upon the annuitant's death.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 12, 2023

#### How does inflation impact the value of a perpetuity?

Inflation can erode the real value of a perpetuity's constant payment over time.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 12, 2023