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Fixed versus variable home loan: Which is right for you?

Fixed rates offer more certainty because repayments don't change. But you can repay a variable rate faster and these loans tend to have more competitive interest rates.

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There are two types of home loan interest rate, variable and fixed. They work slightly differently:

  • Variable interest rates can change at any time (up or down) and tend to offer slightly lower rates and more repayment flexibility.
  • Fixed interest rates cannot go up (or down) for the fixed period (usually 1-5 years) but often have more fees and less flexibility.

Most Australian borrowers go for variable rate loans. Most of the time, these rates are lower than fixed rates (although in the last few years some fixed rates were lower). And their flexibility is important. Variable rate loans are much more likely to allow you to make extra repayments, letting you get out of debt faster. If you want to exit or refinance a fixed rate loan, you may get hit with some big fees.

But for a borrower who wants to know exactly what their repayments will be and lock in a good deal right now, fixing is definitely a strategy to consider.

Variable versus fixed interest rates: what's the difference?

Fixed ratesVariable rates
  • No change. Your interest rate won't change at all during the fixed period.
  • Changes. Your lender can change your interest rate at any time (up or down).
  • Less to worry about. You can "set and forget" your rate and never have to worry about it changing during the fixed period.
  • Watch your rate. You need to keep an eye on your interest rate and consider switching if it gets too high.
  • Higher fees. Fixed rate loans often have higher exit fees.
  • Lower fees. Competitive variable loans often come with lower fees than their fixed rate equivalents.
  • Refinancing. It's often harder to refinance to another loan during the fixed rate period because of fixed loan break costs.
  • Refinancing. It's easier to refinance a variable rate mortgage.
  • Fewer features. Fixed rate loans are less likely to have offset accounts or redraw facilities.
  • But you don't always need these features.
  • But do you need them? These features can come with a higher rate, so if you don't use them they're not really worth it.
  • Limited extra repayments. Some fixed loans allow extra repayments but these are often limited to a certain amount per year.
  • More flexible. Many variable rate loans come with flexible repayment options and don't charge you for making extra repayments. This lets you repay your mortgage faster.

When the fixed period on a home loan ends, it reverts to a variable rate. As most home loans have 30-year terms, even if you do fix your rate for a few years, most of your loan will end up being variable anyway.

Which rate type is right for you?

A couple signing a home loan contract.The real question is what do you want from your home loan. This helps you decide which rate type suits you best. Here are some examples to help you think about your own situation.

  • I want to know exactly what my repayments are each month. You might want to go with a fixed rate loan. With the certainty of an unchanging rate you can budget safe in the knowledge that your repayments won't vary. This means you can basically forget about your home loan for the fixed period.
  • I want the lowest possible rate and I'm happy to switch lenders. Go with a variable loan (probably). Variable rates are usually more competitive than fixed rates, although that's not always the case. But if you're a deal hunter who's always after a lower rate and is happy to compare and refinance regularly, then a variable mortgage probably gives you more options and is easier to refinance.
  • I want to repay my loan as quickly as possible. In this case you want the lowest interest rate and a mortgage which allows for extra repayments. This is more likely a variable rate but some fixed rate loans allow extra repayments too.
  • I may need to refinance my loan soon or sell my property. If you think you're likely to exit a home loan soon, either by repaying it, selling the house or refinancing for some other reason, you probably want a variable rate loan. This is because a fixed rate loan has break costs that can run to thousands of dollars.

If you still can't decide which rate type is right for you, there's a third option.

The third option: Split rates

If you really like the idea of fixing your interest rate, but you don't want to lose the flexible features available on your variable loan, you can choose to split your home loan. A split rate home loan is when you divide your loan into two (or more) portions; one locked into a fixed rate and the other variable.

This lets you enjoy some of the advantages of both rate types at the same time.

Compare fixed, variable and split rate loans

Compare variable rate loans

1 - 20 of 35
$
years
Name Product Comparison Rate Fees Monthly Payment

HSBC Home Value Loan
Principal & interestOwner-occupier10% min. deposit
Principal & interestOwner-occupier10% min. deposit
Interest Rate
2.87%
2.88%
  • Application: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$624
$3,288 refinance cashback offer
A competitive value home loan with no ongoing fee. Eligible refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more can get a $3,288 cashback. Terms and conditions apply.

OneTwo Variable Rate Home Loan
Principal & interestOwner-occupier20% min. deposit Refi Only
Principal & interestOwner-occupier20% min. deposit Refi Only
Interest Rate
2.59%
2.49%
  • Application: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 per month
$601
$5,000 refinance cashback.
A variable rate loan for owner-occupier refinancers living in NSW, VIC, QLD or SA metro and inner regional areas. Get an extra 0.15% off your rate as you repay the loan and get up to $2,500 in bonus payments. Terms and conditions apply.

homeloans.com.au Low Rate Home Loan with Offset
Principal & interestOwner-occupier40% min. deposit
Principal & interestOwner-occupier40% min. deposit
Interest Rate
2.64%
2.64%
  • Application: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$605
A competitive rate with no application or ongoing fees. This loan is not available for construction.

homeloans.com.au Low Rate Home Loan with Offset
Principal & interestInvestment20% min. deposit
Principal & interestInvestment20% min. deposit
Interest Rate
2.89%
2.89%
  • Application: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$625
This investment loan keeps fees low, has a sharp interest rate and comes with a 100% offset account. This loan is not available for construction.

Nano Variable Home Loans
Principal & interestInvestment20% min. deposit
Principal & interestInvestment20% min. deposit
Interest Rate
3.04%
3.04%
  • Application: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$637
Investors can get this no-fee variable rate loan. You will need a 20% deposit. Fast online approval. Available for refinancers and existing buyers purchasing their next property.

Athena Variable Home Loan
Principal & interestOwner-occupier20% min. deposit
Principal & interestOwner-occupier20% min. deposit
Interest Rate
2.74%
2.69%
  • Application: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$613
A competitive variable rate mortgage for owner occupiers $0 application and $0 ongoing fees. This interest rate falls over time as you pay off the loan.

Ubank Neat Variable Home Loan
Principal & interestOwner-occupier40% min. deposit
Principal & interestOwner-occupier40% min. deposit
Interest Rate
2.64%
2.65%
  • Application: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$605
Get flexibility and the option to make unlimited extra repayments with this variable rate loan.

IMB Budget Home Loan
Principal & interestOwner-occupier20% min. deposit
Principal & interestOwner-occupier20% min. deposit
Interest Rate
2.84%
2.85%
  • Application: $449
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$621
A low-rate, no-frills home loan for borrowers with a good deposit and unrestricted repayments. $0 application fee for eligible borrowers with principal-and-interest repayments and deposits of at least 20%.

Greater Bank Great Rate Discount Variable with Family Pledge Home Loan
Principal & interestOwner-occupier-10% min. deposit
Principal & interestOwner-occupier-10% min. deposit
Interest Rate
2.79%
2.80%
  • Application: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$617
Pay no deposit or LMI and get a discounted rate with this family pledge loan. Requires a family member to act as guarantor. NSW, QLD and ACT only.

Well Money Equity Plus
Principal & interestOwner-occupier40% min. deposit
Principal & interestOwner-occupier40% min. deposit
Interest Rate
2.57%
2.60%
  • Application: $250
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$600
Borrowers with 40% deposits or equity can get this low variable rate loan. 100% offset account included.

Unloan Variable Home Loan
Principal & interestOwner-occupier20% min. deposit Refinancers only
Principal & interestOwner-occupier20% min. deposit Refinancers only
Interest Rate
2.64%
2.56%
  • Application: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$605
A low-rate variable home loan from a 100% online lender. Backed by the Commonwealth Bank.

Athena Variable Home Loan
Principal & interestOwner-occupier40% min. deposit
Principal & interestOwner-occupier40% min. deposit
Interest Rate
2.64%
2.64%
  • Application: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$605
Owner occupiers with 40% deposits or equity can get this competitive variable rate loan. No upfront or ongoing fees.

Well Money Balanced Variable
Principal & interestInvestment20% min. deposit
Principal & interestInvestment20% min. deposit
Interest Rate
2.92%
2.95%
  • Application: $250
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$628
If you're an investor with a 20% deposit saved you can get this low rate mortgage. Not available for construction.

Nano Variable Home Loans
Principal & interestOwner-occupier20% min. deposit
Principal & interestOwner-occupier20% min. deposit
Interest Rate
2.74%
2.74%
  • Application: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$613
Competitive rate with zero fees, fast approval and a 100% free offset account. Available for refinancers and existing buyers purchasing their next home. 20% deposit required.

Tic:Toc Live in Loan Variable Rate
Principal & interestOwner-occupier10% min. deposit
Principal & interestOwner-occupier10% min. deposit
Interest Rate
2.59%
2.60%
  • Application: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$601
A competitive variable rate product with no application or valuation fees offered by a 100% online lender.

HSBC Home Value Loan
Principal & interestOwner-occupier30% min. deposit
Principal & interestOwner-occupier30% min. deposit
Interest Rate
2.77%
2.78%
  • Application: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$616
$3,288 refinance cashback offer
This competitive variable rate loan is available for borrowers with 30% deposits. Eligible refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more can get a $3,288 cashback. Terms and conditions apply.

Macquarie Bank Basic Home Loan
Principal & interestOwner-occupier40% min. deposit
Principal & interestOwner-occupier40% min. deposit
Interest Rate
2.84%
2.84%
  • Application: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$621
This flexible variable rate loan requires a 40% deposit or equity. Get fast online approval and $0 application fee and $0 ongoing fees.

Unloan Variable Home Loan
Principal & interestInvestment20% min. deposit Refinancers only
Principal & interestInvestment20% min. deposit Refinancers only
Interest Rate
2.94%
2.86%
  • Application: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$629
Investors can get a low variable rate. Apply online and get fast approval. Backed by the Commonwealth Bank.

Yard Variable Home Loan
Principal & interestOwner-occupier10% min. deposit
Principal & interestOwner-occupier10% min. deposit
Interest Rate
3.13%
3.15%
  • Application: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$645
This variable rate home loan is available with a 10% deposit. Optional offset account.

loans.com.au Smart Booster Discount Variable Home Loan
Principal & interestOwner-occupier20% min. deposit
Principal & interestOwner-occupier20% min. deposit
Interest Rate
2.60%
2.96%
  • Application: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$602
Get a low discounted variable rate loan. Requires a 20% deposit. Get your loan processed fast and settle within 30 days.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Compare fixed rate loans

1 - 17 of 17
$
years
Name Product Comparison Rate Fees Monthly Payment

Ubank Own Home Loan Fixed
Principal & interestOwner-occupier 1Y Fixed20% min. deposit
Principal & interestOwner-occupier 1Y Fixed20% min. deposit
Interest Rate
3.74%
3.24%
  • Application: $0
  • Ongoing: $250 p.a.
$695
Fix to this very competitive rate for one year. This loan requires a 20% deposit. This loan reverts to a variable rate once the fixed period ends, based on your LVR.