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

Rates and Fees verified correct on February 22nd, 2017

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. 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, or $1,848 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 February 21st, 2017.

ME Flexible Home Loan Fixed - 3 Year Fixed Rate (Owner Occupier)

Comparative rate increases by 0.07%

January 4th, 2017

NAB Choice Package Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier)

Interest rate increases by 0.23%

January 16th, 2017

CUA Fixed Rate Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier)

Comparative rate increases by 0.03% | Interest rate increases by 0.15%

January 19th, 2017

View latest updates

Jodie Humphries Jodie
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Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp Rate^ (p.a.) Application Fee Ongoing Fees Max LVR Monthly Payment
HSBC Home Value Loan - Resident Owner Occupier only
Enjoy the low variable rate with $0 ongoing fee and borrow up to 90% LVR.
3.75% 3.77% $0 $0 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
loans.com.au Essentials - Variable (Owner Occupier, P&I)
A low-interest rate loan suited for purchases and refinances with no application or ongoing fees.
3.59% 3.61% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
NAB Choice Package Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier)
A fixed rate package loan with flexible repayments options. $1,500 cashback offer available, terms and conditions apply.
3.98% 4.92% $0 $395 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
Greater Bank Ultimate Home Loan - Discounted 1 Year Fixed LVR ≤85% ($150K+ Owner Occupier)
Discount off an already competitive interest rate for loans over $150k. NSW, QLD and ACT residents only.
3.59% 4.42% $0 $375 p.a. 85% Go to site More info
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Premium Plus Package Home Loan - New Customer Offer ($150,000+ Owner Occupier)
Apply for a new owner occupier loan or refinance from another lender and receive this discounted rate.
3.74% 4.12% $0 $395 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
State Custodians Standard Variable Spring Special - LVR 80% (Owner Occupier)
Special Owner Occupier Rate. Free Offset Account.
3.59% 3.92% $0 $299 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
Beyond Bank Low Rate Special Home Loan
A special low variable rate for Owner Occupier with 100% offset account and no application or ongoing fees.
3.73% 3.73% $0 $0 p.a. 70% Go to site More info
Switzer Home Loan
No upfront or ongoing fees and a competitive variable rate for owner occupiers.
3.89% 3.89% $0 $0 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
loans.com.au Offset Variable - Up to 80% LVR (Owner Occupier P&I)
Take advantage a 100% offset account along with no annual or application fee.
3.67% 3.69% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
CUA Fresh Start Basic Variable Home Loan - Owner Occupier
A basic mortgage with flexible repayments options.
3.89% 3.94% $600 $0 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Fixed Rate Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier Special Rate)
A limited time 2 year fixed rate for owner occupiers. Conditions apply.
3.89% 4.79% $0 $0 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
State Custodians Breathe Easy Spring Special  - LVR 80% (Owner Occupier)
Special Owner Occupier Rate. Free Offset Account.
3.72% 3.75% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
Bank Australia Basic Home Loan - Variable (Owner Occupier)
A competitive variable that allows borrowers to borrow a minimum of $100,000 with a $0 ongoing fee.
3.79% 3.83% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
ING  DIRECT Orange Advantage Loan - $150,000+ (LVR <= 80% Owner Occupier)
Pay no annual fee for the first year with this packaged variable rate home loan with offset.
3.89% 4.11% $0 $199 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
3.85% 4.26% $0 $395 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
Auswide Bank Home Loan Plus with Freedom Package - Special Package Discount LVR <= 90% (Owner Occupier) P&I
A high maximum LVR home loan with redraw facility and additional payments.
3.79% 4.18% $0 $395 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
IMB Budget Home Loan - LVR <=90% (Owner Occupier)
A competitive budget rate without any unwanted bells and whistles.
3.87% 3.92% $445 $0 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
CUA Fixed Rate Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier)
A fixed home loan with no ongoing fees and flexible repayments options.
3.84% 4.59% $600 $0 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
Online Home Loans Standard Variable - Owner occupier
A variable rate home loan for owner occupiers with a 100% offset account.
3.74% 3.75% $275 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
Australian Unity Kick Starter Home Loan
$0 ongoing service fees, maximum 80% LVR and a linked transaction account.
3.79% 3.82% $600 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
3.94% 4.33% $0 $395 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Fixed Rate Home Loan - 3 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier Special Rate)
A limited time fixed rate home loan with extra repayment abilities. Conditions apply.
3.99% 4.73% $0 $0 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
Bank Australia Premium Home Loan Package - 2 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier) LVR < 80%
A discounted 2 year fixed rate loan with high maximum LVR and no application fee.
3.69% 4.31% $0 $350 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
ME Flexible Home Loan Fixed - 3 Year Fixed Rate (Owner Occupier)
A competitive 3 year fixed rate with a redraw facility and split loan options, plus no application fee.
4.09% 4.80% $0 $0 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
Heritage Bank Discount Variable Home Loan - Special Rate Offer (Owner Occupier) New Customers Only
A great interest rate home loan offer with unlimited redraw and unlimited extra payments.
3.79% 3.84% $600 $0 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
State Custodians Standard Variable Spring Special - LVR 90% (Owner Occupier)
A special rate for owner occupiers with free 100% offset account and no application fee.
3.69% 4.02% $0 $299 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
Bank Australia Premium Home Loan Package - LVR<=80% $700k + (Owner Occupier)
Enjoy the discounted interest rate with redraw facility and no ongoing fees.
3.82% 4.17% $595 $350 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
Greater Bank Great Rate Home Loan - Discounted Variable ($150K+ Owner Occupier)
A competitive rate with redraw facility. NSW, QLD and ACT residents only.
3.89% 3.89% $0 $0 p.a. 85% Go to site More info
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Fixed Rate Home Loan - 2 Years Fixed (Owner Occupier)
Enjoy a low interest rate and borrow up to 95% (with LMI) of your home value.
4.49% 4.90% $0 $0 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
loans.com.au Essentials - Smart Loan Package P&I
This competitive rate is only available if you package your investment loan with your owner occupier loan.
3.59% 3.61% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
AMP Essential Home Loan  -  $40,000 to $99,999 (Owner Occupier, P&I)
Take advantage of a redraw facility, competitive variable rate and no application or settlement fees for a limited time.
4.55% 4.57% $350 $0 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
Australian Unity Health, Wealth and Happiness Package - (Owner Occupier)
Get a 0.60% discount on your rate, a 100% offset account and no ongoing fees.
4.05% 4.08% $600 $0 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Fixed Rate Home Loan - 1 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier)
Get a short term fixed rate for that investment property with no application or ongoing fees.
4.49% 4.95% $0 $0 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
IMB Essential Home Loan - LVR <=90% (Owner Occupier)
100% offset account, unrestricted additional repayments and no monthly account keeping fees
4.09% 4.09% $0 $0 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
NAB Base Variable Rate Home Loan - Owner Occupier (P&I)
A competitive no frills home loan with no application fees for a limited time. $1,500 cashback offer available, terms and conditions apply.
4.10% 4.14% $600 $0 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
ANZ Simplicity PLUS Basic Home Loan - Special Offer (Owner Occupier)
Enjoy a home loan with no aplication fee or ongoing fee.
4.03% 4.07% $0 $0 p.a. 95% Enquire now
3.88% 3.89% $600 $0 p.a. 90% Enquire now
Commonwealth Bank Wealth Package Fixed Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier) P&I
A package home loan with fee free extra repayments available during the fixed term.
3.99% 5.00% $0 $395 p.a. 95% Enquire now
St.George Fixed Rate Advantage Package -  2 Year Fixed Rate (Owner Occupier, P&I)
A discounted package rate for owner occupiers with the ability to package a Qantas rewards earning Amplify credit card. $1,500 cash back available for refinancers, conditions apply.
3.99% 5.04% $0 $395 p.a. 95% Enquire now
Westpac Fixed Options Home Loan Premier Advantage Package - 2 Years
A low interest rate home loan and competitive two year fixed rate.
4.19% 5.32% $0 $395 p.a. 95% Enquire now
St.George Basic Home Loan - Promotional Rate (Owner Occupier, P&I)
A no frills loan with a competitive rate and a maximum LVR of 95%.
4.08% 4.09% $0 $0 p.a. 95% Enquire now
Westpac Flexi First Option Home Loan - 3 Years Introductory Special Offer (New Owner Occupier, P&I)
A limited time deal for new owner occupiers. Advertised rate includes 1.03%p.a. discount for the first two years.
3.99% 4.37% $0 $0 p.a. 95% Enquire now

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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).

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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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