With current mortgage rates continuing along at historic lows, it may seem hard to decide whether to take out a 15-year or a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage if you’re planning to purchase a home.

Bankrate’s 15-year or 30-year fixed-rate mortgage calculator can assist you in making that determination.

The first step is to find the lowest current mortgage rates. You can use Bankrate’s site to help you locate the lowest rates on a 15-year and a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for your specific region of the country.

Once you find those rates, the mortgage calculator will walk you through the process of determining how much you’ll spend — and how much you’ll save — if you opt for a 15-year or a 30-year mortgage.

Higher payment, big savings

For example, a borrower who wants to borrow $200,000 and can get a 15-year mortgage at an interest rate of 3.73 percent will pay $1,452 each month.

Meanwhile, a 30-year mortgage at a 4.24 percent interest rate will yield a monthly payment of $983.

Although the difference in monthly payments is steep, the savings are impressive in the long run. Over the course of the 15-year mortgage, the homeowner would pay $61,443 in interest.

In contrast, over the course of a 30-year mortgage, the borrower would pay interest of $153,775.

The calculator asks other questions to help you make the best decision for your own personal situation. For example, the prospective buyer will be asked:

  • How long until retirement?
  • How tight is the monthly budget?
  • How much has been accumulated in savings?
  • What’s the annual contribution to the borrower’s retirement plan?

Using that information, the mortgage calculator makes an in-depth recommendation. It includes the pros and cons of each option and takes the current mortgage rates for 15-year and 30-year fixed-rate loans into account.