5 things the banks don’t want you to know about home loans

In a competitive landscape, there are multiple ways to get the best value-for-money from your mortgage. Here’s some classified information that the banks would like to keep on the down low.5 things the banks don't want you to know about home loans 2

The Australian home loan market is both competitive and saturated, and as a borrower you have leverage when it comes to getting the most out of your home loan and minimising your repayments, fees and interest charges. With some comparative research and due diligence, you can become more savvy in the way that you manage your home loan in order to reap the benefits of useful features that are available on the market.

Here are 5 things that your lender doesn’t want you to know.

1. Rates are negotiable

One of the biggest things your bank doesn’t want you to know is that you have the right to ask for a rate discount, and that negotiating a better rate is straightforward. If you’ve noticed that your lender is offering a discounted rate to new customers, or that other lenders are providing a more competitive rate, you should simply contact your current lender and request a rate discount.

Most lenders have customer service teams that are focused on retaining your business, and you’d be surprised at how many lenders will be willing to budge in order to keep your account-- all you have to do is ask.

While the banks don’t want you to know how easy it is to negotiate for a better rate, they also don’t want you to know just how much you can save. Even a 0.5% rate reduction could lead to big savings.

To demonstrate, if you took out a $500,000 mortgage at 5.5% interest over 30 years, your monthly repayments would be $ 2,838.95.

Without discount, interest rate at 5.5%

Mortgage Amount Interest Repayment Term Monthly repayments
$ 500,000 5.50% 30 years $ 2,838.95

If you then contacted your existing lender and asked for a 0.5% rate discount, your monthly repayments would shrink to $ 2,684.11- a monthly saving of $154.84, or $1,848 per year.

With discount of 0.5%, interest rate at 5.0%

Mortgage Amount Interest Repayment Term Monthly repayments
$ 500,000 5.0% 30 years $ 2,684.11

With discount of 0.5%, interest rate at 5.0% .

Mortgage Amount Interest Savings
$ 500,000 5.0% $ 154.84 per month
$ 500,000 5.0% $1,848.08 per year

2. It’s easy to refinance

Lenders are tight-lipped about the ease of refinancing to another lender (which is why the above holds true-- they would rather negotiate your rate than loose your account altogether). Although it’s essential that you carefully evaluate the switching costs involved when refinancing to a new lender, quite often refinancing can lead to significant cost savings in the form of a lower rate or more suitable features.

Learn more about the refinancing process and use our switching cost calculator to see if switching to a new lender would make financial sense for you.

3. Bi-monthly is better

While you may be aware that making additional repayments and using an offset account can help you pay down your mortgage sooner, most lenders don’t want you to know that if you make bi-monthly repayments (as opposed to monthly) repayments, you could pocket a sizeable saving.

To illustrate, if we take a $350,000 mortgage with 5.5% interest, if you made bi-monthly repayments rather than monthly repayments, you would save $72,631 in interest and you would pay down your mortgage 5 years and 1 month earlier-- the numbers speak for themselves.

The difference in interest paid

Interest paid bi monthly 3

The difference in loan length

Time left to pay bi monthly 3

4. Fees are not mandatory

Another untold secret of the home loan industry is that there are many home loans available without standard fees such as discharge fees, application fees or ongoing account-keeping fees. Evidently, your lender would prefer that you didn’t know this.

It’s worth shopping around for a home loan that offers minimal ongoing or discharge fees so that you can focus on meeting your repayments. In particular, if you’re thinking of locking in your rate for a fixed term, you should be wary of lenders that will charge hefty break fees.

If you’d like to minimise your account-keeping fees, compare home loans that waive ongoing fees.

5. Specialist lenders can help

If you have an undesirable credit history or you’re receiving government benefits, most of the big banks are hush-hush about the number of niche lenders and building societies that may have more lenient lending criteria. Why do the big banks want to keep this classified? Because they’d rather charge you a higher interest rate (to compensate for your poor credit history) than have you run to a competitor that may be more forgiving about your credit status.

A mortgage broker can be highly useful in terms of drawing upon a diverse range of lenders to find one that will suit your borrowing needs, especially if you are a non-conventional borrower.

Now that you know what the banks don't want you to know, compare current refinancing deals below

Rates last updated September 19th, 2018
$
Loan purpose
Offset account
Loan 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
3.64%
3.65%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Get a very low interest rate and pay fewer fees. Enjoy a fast online application process and add a 100% offset account for $10 a month.
3.64%
3.66%
$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.
3.59%
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.
3.64%
3.66%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A simple mortgage with a competitive interest rate and no application or monthly fees. Borrow up to $2 million from a convenient online lender.
3.65%
3.66%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Competitive interest rate and low fees. Available with a 10% deposit. Partial offset account attached (offset up to $15,000).
3.87%
3.91%
$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.
3.49%
4.57%
$0
$395 p.a.
90%
Loans over $150k get a discount off an already low fixed rate. Available for NSW, QLD and ACT residents only.
3.64%
3.64%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
A basic variable home loan that offers a competitive interest rate with no application fees and no ongoing fees.
3.64%
3.65%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Fast, 100% online application process. Very limited fees. Optional offset account (with fee).
3.68%
3.82%
$0
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
80%
Get double 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.
3.69%
3.70%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
Keep your LVR at 70% or below and enjoy a special discounted rate. Also, pay no application or ongoing fees.
3.69%
4.12%
$0
$395 p.a.
80%
Unlock a range of savings with this competitive package home loan offer. Offset account and redraw facility included.
3.64%
3.78%
$0
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
80%
Earn double Velocity Frequent Flyer Points on your mortgage for a limited time (subject to eligibility requirements). Plus, access a 100% offset account to save on interest.
3.54%
3.58%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Get a competitive rate, save on fees and access a 100% offset account plus redraw facility. $900 cashback offer.
3.74%
3.74%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A basic owner-occupier home loan with a low variable rate that requires a 20% deposit.
3.68%
3.70%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
This loan offers a competitive variable rate and a 100% offset account to help save you on interest repayments.
3.64%
3.64%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
A low interest rate home loan with no application or ongoing fees.
3.79%
3.80%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Get one free online redraw per month and pay no ongoing fees. Application fees are waived for loans above $150,000.
3.75%
4.00%
$0
$248 p.a.
70%
Borrowers with a 30% deposit can get this competitive rate.
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.
3.77%
3.81%
$695
$0 p.a.
95%
A simplified mortgage with a low interest rate and a redraw facility.
3.75%
3.75%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
Pay no application or ongoing fees and get a flexible loan with the ability to split up to 6 times.
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.
3.59%
3.64%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Apply online and get fast approval for this fixed rate, low-fee loan with redraw facilities. Add a 100% offset account for a small fee.
3.72%
4.10%
$0
$395 p.a.
80%
New borrowers or refinancers can get a discounted rate with this package loan. Bonus $1,500 cashback for refinancers.
3.62%
3.62%
$0
$0 p.a.
95%
A low deposit mortgage with a competitive rate and plenty of flexibility. QLD residents only. Eligible borrowers can get a 15% discount on home and contents insurance for the life of their loan.
3.72%
3.74%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Save on interest by taking advantage of a 100% offset account along with no ongoing fees or application fees.
3.85%
3.85%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Pay no application and ongoing fees with Macquarie Bank Basic Home Loan. Split and redraw facilities included.
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.
3.67%
3.69%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A great interest rate home loan offer with unlimited redraw and unlimited extra payments.
3.74%
3.74%
$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.
3.69%
4.08%
$0
$349 p.a.
90%
Package your loan with other AMP products and save on rates and fees.
3.71%
3.71%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
A variable rate home loan that has a lot of flexible features. This loan has a 100% offset account.
4.13%
4.14%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Access a fee-free offset account and a special interest rate for investors.
3.89%
3.94%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Borrow up to 90% of the value of the property you're buying, and pay no application fee.
3.77%
3.79%
$600
$0 p.a.
90%
Buy your home with just a 10% deposit, few fees and a reasonable interest rate.
3.93%
3.94%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A low-fee line of credit loan from an online lender. Unlock the equity in your home and make interest-only repayments with a competitive rate.
3.99%
4.86%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Access a fee-free 100% offset account and pay no application or ongoing fees.
3.69%
4.54%
$0
$395 p.a.
90%
A fixed rate loan with a 100% offset account and the option to make additional repayments. Loans over $150k receive a discounted rate. NSW, QLD and ACT residents only.
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.
3.89%
3.91%
$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.
3.89%
4.94%
$595
$0 p.a.
90%
Borrow up to 90% of the value of the property you're buying and pay no application or ongoing fees.
4.14%
4.81%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Pay no application fees and access a fee-free redraw facility with this fixed rate loan.

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Many Australian lenders keep their cards close to their chest when it comes to helping customers save money on their mortgage. Understanding the market and how home loans function, as well as a few tricks of the trade can help you ensure that you’re managing your mortgage in your favour (and not the lenders).

Image: Shutterstock

Belinda Punshon

Belinda is a journalist here at finder.com.au. Specialising in the home loans and property sections, she is passionate about helping Australians improve their financial wellbeing.

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