Should I apply for a fixed or variable interest rate home loan?

Find out which interest rate type suits you so you save the most.

Young couple talking to an advisor.

There are two types of home loan interest rate, variable and fixed. In short:

  • 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.

Both rate types have strengths and weaknesses and it all depends on your needs as a borrower. It's usually a trade-off between flexibility on the one hand and certainty on the other.

What you need to know about variable interest rates

The benefits

  • Flexibility and features. 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. Variable rate loans are more likely to offer redraw facilities and very useful features like offset accounts.
  • Easier to switch. It's easier to refinance a variable rate loan, so if you're likely to switch mortgages in the future this is something to consider.
  • Lower in fees (generally). Competitive variable loans often come with lower fees than their fixed rate equivalents. This can save you money upfront (application fees), over the course of the loan (ongoing fees) or when refinancing (exit or switching fees).
  • Rates may fall. If the Reserve Bank lowers the cash rate or your lender decides to cut rates in a competitive market, you'll benefit by getting a lower rate. Fixed rate borrowers are locked in and won't see such a benefit until their fixed period ends.

The risks

  • Rates may rise. The biggest risk with a variable rate loan is that your rate can rise at any time. This can catch you by surprise and will result in higher repayments. If you're not prepared this could be a big financial blow and it isn't something you can easily predict.
  • Features you don't need. Not all features are useful ones. If you don't need all the options and flexibility of a variable rate you might be better off with a fixed rate, if you can find one with a reasonably low rate.
  • You need to pay more attention. Potential fluctuations mean variable mortgage holders need to pay more attention to their loan. For time poor homeowners this can be a burden in itself.

What you need to know about fixed interest rates

The benefits

  • Rates may rise. If rates start to rise and you've fixed your repayments, you'll come out ahead. This is the biggest potential benefit to fixing your rate, but it is a gamble.
  • Easier to budget. Knowing exactly what your repayments are for one, two or possibly even five years can be very helpful. You won't get caught off-guard by increased repayments and you can organise your finances with more certainty. For some people this is worth paying a little extra.
  • Simplicity. A fixed rate loan is just easier. As long as your rate is set in stone you don't have to worry about it too much.

The risks

  • Rates may fall. If rates fall across the market, you could be stuck on a much higher rate than the industry average.
  • Fewer features. An offset account can help you repay your loan faster while paying less interest. But most fixed mortgages don't offer this feature. Less flexibility is another drawback.
  • Harder to refinance. Fixed rate loans usually have higher exit or switching fees, making refinancing more costly. This means you should calculate the potential savings of refinancing and balance it against the cost of fees.

Watch: fixed and variable rates explained

Split rate loans: the best of both worlds

A split rate home loan is a total loan amount divided into two custom portions; one locked into a fixed rate and the other variable.

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.

Compare fixed, variable and split rate loans

Rates last updated February 17th, 2019
$
Loan purpose
Offset account
Loan type
Repayment type
Your filter criteria do not match any product
Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp Rate^ (p.a.) Application Fee Ongoing Fees Max LVR Monthly Payment Short Description
3.59%
3.59%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Enjoy flexible repayments, a redraw facility and the ability to split your loan. Plus, pay no application or ongoing fees.
3.69%
3.72%
$445
$0 p.a.
90%
NSW and ACT customers only. Get a special discount for a limited time when you open an IMB Transaction Account.
3.59%
3.61%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Get a low interest rate loan with no ongoing fees. Plus you can make extra repayments and free redraw online. Available with just a 10% deposit.
3.54%
3.69%
$0
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
80%
A competitive variable rate for home buyers with a 20% deposit. This product has a 100% offset account.
3.54%
3.58%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Refinancers can get a competitive rate, save on fees and access a 100% offset account plus redraw facility. $700 refinance cashback offer.
3.57%
3.58%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Get a very low interest rate and avoid big fees. Apply online for full approval in under 30 minutes and add a 100% offset account for $10 a month.
3.64%
3.66%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A simple mortgage with a competitive interest rate and no application or monthly fees. Borrow up to $2000000 from a convenient online lender.
3.49%
3.64%
$0
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
70%
A very low variable interest rate for home buyers with a 30% deposit. This product has a 100% offset account.
3.73%
3.87%
$0
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
80%
Earn Velocity Frequent Flyer Points with this mortgage to spend on flights and more (for a limited time, subject to eligibility requirements). Redraw facility available on this variable rate home loan. Competitive interest rate.
3.70%
3.70%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
A low interest rate home loan with no application or ongoing fees.
3.59%
3.62%
$500
$0 p.a.
95%
This mortgage combines a very sharp interest rate with a 100% offset account and it's available with a 5% deposit.
3.59%
3.63%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Get a low variable interest rate and buy a property with just a 10% deposit. 100% offset account attached.
3.72%
3.72%
$0
$0 p.a.
110%
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.
3.58%
3.60%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
This loan offers a competitive variable rate and a 100% offset account to help save you on interest repayments.
3.81%
3.81%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
A simple mortgage with no application or ongoing fees that has extra repayments plus split and redraw options. Requires a 30% deposit.
3.59%
3.62%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A low, variable rate mortgage for home buyers wishing to consolidate existing debts. Refinancers can get up to $1,000 on settlement to help with switching costs.
3.79%
3.79%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Access an offset account and pay no application or ongoing fees on this special variable rate for owner-occupiers.
3.86%
3.86%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Low fee loan with extra repayments. Pay no application and ongoing fees and take advantage of split and redraw options.
3.74%
4.13%
$0
$349 p.a.
90%
Get a sharp rate plus package discounts and a 100% offset account.
3.89%
4.27%
$0
$395 p.a.
80%
New borrowers or refinancers can get a discounted rate with this package loan.
3.70%
3.70%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
Get a discount for keeping your LVR at $70% or below with this innovative online lender.
3.72%
3.73%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
New customers can get a discounted variable rate and a fee-free redraw facility. NSW, QLD and ACT residents only.
3.69%
3.83%
$0
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
80%
Earn Velocity Frequent Flyer Points on your mortgage (subject to eligibility requirements). Plus, access a 100% offset account to save on interest.
3.84%
3.84%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Pay no application or ongoing fees and get access to a free redraw facility with this innovative online lender.
3.87%
4.30%
$0
$395 p.a.
80%
Unlock a range of savings with this competitive package home loan offer. Offset account and redraw facility included.
3.69%
4.08%
$0
$349 p.a.
90%
Package your loan with other AMP products and save on rates and fees.
3.88%
3.89%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Save on interest with a free 100% offset account and buy your property with just a 10% deposit.
4.04%
4.07%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
For a limited time, pay no application or settlement fees. You can also take advantage of a free redraw facility.
3.69%
4.09%
$600
$395 p.a.
95%
Get interest rate discounts and waived fees on this package loan with a 100% offset account. $500 cashback offer for first homebuyers borrowing over 80% and paying LMI.
4.10%
4.10%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
Investors with a 30% deposit can get this low rate loan to fund their property portfolio. Take advantage of split and redraw facilities.
4.24%
$0
$349 p.a.
80%
Low fee line of credit loan with package benefits.
3.97%
3.99%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
This variable rate loan keeps the features simple and fees low. This loan is offered by a 100% online lender.
4.13%
4.13%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A competitive discounted variable rate home loan. 0.33%p.a. Discount Offer for new Owner Occupier Loans.
4.29%
4.31%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Investors will pay no application or ongoing fees for this interest-only loan.
3.74%
3.74%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Pay no application or ongoing fees and get access to a redraw facility and flexible repayment schedule.
4.65%
5.02%
$0
$395 p.a.
95%
No application fee and 100% offset account.

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated February 17th, 2019
$
Loan purpose
Offset account
Loan type
Repayment type
Your filter criteria do not match any product
Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp Rate^ (p.a.) Application Fee Ongoing Fees Max LVR Monthly Payment Short Description
3.99%
3.96%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Pay no application or ongoing fee and borrow up to 80% LVR.
3.74%
4.49%
$445
$6 monthly ($72 p.a.)
90%
NSW and ACT customers only. 3 years fixed interest terms and free access to redraw facility online.
3.74%
4.01%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
An online home loan offer with a fixed interest offer for 3 years.
3.89%
3.94%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Pay no application or ongoing fee and borrow up to 90% LVR.
3.69%
3.85%
$0
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
70%
A low fixed rate mortgage for borrowers with a 30% deposit. Comes with a 100% offset account.
3.49%
4.58%
$0
$395 p.a.
90%
Loans over $150000 get a discount off an already low fixed rate. Available for NSW, QLD and ACT residents only.
3.84%
4.66%
$0
$395 p.a.
90%
A two year fixed rate home loan with application fees.
4.14%
3.94%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A sharp fixed rate mortgage for home buyers who want to make interest-only payments. Buy your own home and keep your repayments under control for 2 years.
3.69%
4.75%
$0
$395 p.a.
90%
Enjoy a competitive rate with no application fee for this package loan.
3.84%
3.82%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A fixed rate loan with free redraws, few ongoing fees. Apply online with a fast approval process.
4.09%
3.94%
$0
$248 p.a.
80%
Fixed rate home buyer product with very low fees.
3.82%
3.93%
$0
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
90%
Get Velocity Frequent Flyer Points at settlement, monthly and every three years, plus the option to make up to $10,000 a year in extra repayments.
3.74%
4.69%
$0
$395 p.a.
90%
Enjoy a discounted fixed rate and the ability to package the loan with other financial products.
3.96%
3.88%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Lock in a 3 year fixed rate with no upfront or ongoing fees.
3.85%
4.18%
$500
$0 p.a.
95%
Apply for Easy Street fixed rate home loans and get a competitive loan with a fixed interest rate.
3.64%
3.59%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Fast, 100% online application process. Very limited fees. Optional offset account (with fee).
3.75%
4.86%
$0
$299 p.a.
95%
Owner-occupiers can enjoy a discounted fixed rate, a rate lock feature and the ability to make additional repayments.
3.85%
4.69%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
A package home loan with a sharp fixed rate and a 10% deposit option for low deposit borrowers.
3.59%
4.14%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
A one year fixed rate offer with no ongoing bank fees.
4.48%
4.24%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Fix your rate and minimise repayments for 2 years with this interest-only investor mortgage.
3.99%
5.35%
$600
$0 p.a.
90%
Competitive rates for fixed for 3 years with redraw facility.
4.08%
3.93%
$0
$248 p.a.
80%
Borrow up to 80% LVR with no application fee and ongoing fees.
3.86%
3.86%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A two year fixed rate home loan with no annual or application fees.
3.94%
3.94%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Lock in a short interest loan term with a low interest rate.
3.99%
4.62%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
Investors can enjoy flexible repayments and an easy application process with this pioneering online lender.
3.99%
4.92%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Access a fee-free 100% offset account and pay no application or ongoing fees.
3.49%
4.37%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
A discounted 1 year fixed rate for home buyers that's available with a 10% deposit. NSW, QLD and ACT residents only.
3.74%
4.52%
$0
$395 p.a.
90%
Enjoy discounts on banking products and insurance with this package loan. NSW, QLD and ACT residents only.
4.29%
4.30%
$0
$0 p.a.
95%
A competitive 3-year fixed rate loan with a high max insured LVR.
3.74%
4.56%
$0
$395 p.a.
90%
A fixed rate loan with a 100% offset account and the option to make additional repayments. Loans over $150000 receive a discounted rate. NSW, QLD and ACT residents only.
4.33%
4.21%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Lock in your interest rate for two years and enjoy package discounts.
4.14%
4.87%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Pay no application fees and access a fee-free redraw facility with this fixed rate loan.
3.89%
5.05%
$595
$0 p.a.
90%
Investors can take advantage of a short term fixed rate with no application or ongoing fees.
4.49%
4.27%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Fixed rate loan with a 100% offset account and a 10% deposit option.

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated February 17th, 2019
$
Loan purpose
Offset account
Loan type
Repayment type
Your filter criteria do not match any product
Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp Rate^ (p.a.) Application Fee Ongoing Fees Max LVR Monthly Payment Short Description
3.49%
4.58%
$0
$395 p.a.
90%
Loans over $150000 get a discount off an already low fixed rate. Available for NSW, QLD and ACT residents only.
3.54%
3.58%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Refinancers can get a competitive rate, save on fees and access a 100% offset account plus redraw facility. $700 refinance cashback offer.
3.59%
3.59%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Enjoy flexible repayments, a redraw facility and the ability to split your loan. Plus, pay no application or ongoing fees.
3.69%
4.75%
$0
$395 p.a.
90%
Enjoy a competitive rate with no application fee for this package loan.
3.64%
3.66%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A simple mortgage with a competitive interest rate and no application or monthly fees. Borrow up to $2000000 from a convenient online lender.
3.69%
4.09%
$600
$395 p.a.
95%
Get interest rate discounts and waived fees on this package loan with a 100% offset account. $500 cashback offer for first homebuyers borrowing over 80% and paying LMI.
3.59%
4.14%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
A one year fixed rate offer with no ongoing bank fees.
3.59%
3.63%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Get a low variable interest rate and buy a property with just a 10% deposit. 100% offset account attached.
3.59%
3.61%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Get a low interest rate loan with no ongoing fees. Plus you can make extra repayments and free redraw online. Available with just a 10% deposit.
3.68%
3.70%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A competitive variable rate mortgage for owner occupiers that comes with a no fee debit card with a $5,000 limit.
3.69%
3.72%
$445
$0 p.a.
90%
NSW and ACT customers only. Get a special discount for a limited time when you open an IMB Transaction Account.
3.58%
3.60%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
This loan offers a competitive variable rate and a 100% offset account to help save you on interest repayments.
3.87%
4.30%
$0
$395 p.a.
80%
Unlock a range of savings with this competitive package home loan offer. Offset account and redraw facility included.
3.84%
3.84%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Pay no application or ongoing fees and get access to a free redraw facility with this innovative online lender.
3.83%
3.84%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
This investment loan keeps fees low, has a sharp interest rate and comes with a 100% offset account.
3.89%
4.27%
$0
$395 p.a.
80%
New borrowers or refinancers can get a discounted rate with this package loan.
3.74%
3.74%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Pay no application or ongoing fees and get access to a redraw facility and flexible repayment schedule.
3.99%
4.92%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Access a fee-free 100% offset account and pay no application or ongoing fees.
3.88%
3.89%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Save on interest with a free 100% offset account and buy your property with just a 10% deposit.
3.72%
3.73%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
New customers can get a discounted variable rate and a fee-free redraw facility. NSW, QLD and ACT residents only.
3.74%
4.01%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
A competitive fixed interest rate product with no ongoing bank fees.
3.94%
4.95%
$595
$0 p.a.
95%
Borrow up to 95% LVR of the value of the property you're buying and pay no application or ongoing fees.

Compare up to 4 providers

Image: Shutterstock

Marc Terrano

Marc Terrano is a Lead Publisher at finder. He's been writing and publishing personal finance content for over five years and loves to help Australians get a better deal.

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2 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    CathNovember 25, 2015

    If we sell our house after 5 years and our loan is variable over 25 years do we have to pay the whole interest owing for total of 25 years or does the bank work out interest owing for 5 years and penalty fees?

    • Default Gravatar
      JodieNovember 25, 2015

      Hi Cath,

      Thank you for reaching out to finder.com.au a financial comparison website.

      If you have been repaying your loan with principal and interest repayments you will only be repaying the remaining principal and interest amount that you owe to the lender, they will not also work out how much interest you would have repaid during the life of your loan.

      You may be able to ask your lender for a payout amount for a specific date to give you an idea of how much you will repay.

      Regards
      Jodie

      Regards
      Jodie

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