Both the ordinary annuity and the annuity due involve equal payments that occur regularly over the life of the annuity. The difference between the two in the timing of the payments. With the ordinary annuity, the payments occur at the end of each payment period. With the annuity due, the payments occur at the beginning of each payment period. However, it can be difficult to differentiate between the two because the end of one period is also the beginning of the next period.

Review the annuity documents and find the term of the annuity. Check the date the annuity begins and the date the annuity ends.

Check the date of the first payment of the annuity. If the first payment date coincides with the beginning of the annuity term, then the payments occur at the beginning of the payment periods. This means it is an annuity due.

Find the date of the last payment. If it coincides with the end of the annuity term, then the payments occur at the end of each payment period, and you have an ordinary annuity.

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- Calculating payments image by Christopher Meder from Fotolia.com