Why the comparison rate isn’t a good comparison anymore

The comparison rate is a handy tool, but counting on it could see you paying too much.

When you’re comparing home loans, the headline interest rate only tells part of the story. While a low interest rate can help you save serious money on your loan, a low-rate loan with hefty fees can eat up these savings in the long run.

This is where a comparison rate comes in. A comparison rate takes into account a home loan’s headline interest rate as well as the accompanying fees and expresses these as a single annual percentage. This is a much better tool for determining the true cost of a home loan.

There’s one major problem with comparison rates, though. The way they’re calculated is light-years away from what you’re likely to experience with your home loan.

In 2003, the Australian government made it mandatory for lenders to display comparison rates in their advertising. The idea was that displaying a uniformly calculated comparison rate would help consumers suss out the cost of the various loan products in the market.

A lot has changed since 2003.

As per the government’s guidelines, advertised comparison rates are all calculated on the same loan amount and term. The problem with this is that house prices have skyrocketed since 2003. Meanwhile, the way advertised comparison rates are calculated hasn’t changed.

Advertised comparison rates are based on a $150,000 loan over a 25-year term. With the median capital-city dwelling price now above $630,000, it’s highly unlikely your home loan is going to fit these criteria.

As we’ll find out below, changing the terms of a loan can have a significant impact on the loan’s comparison rate. Let’s look at three comparison rates, all pulled from advertising by real lenders.

Advertised comparison rates

  • Lender A Comparison Rate: 3.72%
  • Lender B Comparison Rate: 3.74%
  • Lender C Comparison Rate: 3.81%

We visited each lender’s website to find out how this comparison rate would change under more realistic borrowing circumstances. Fortunately, by law, lenders must provide you a document known as a Key Facts Sheet when you’re applying for a home loan. This document will give you the comparison rate for your specific borrowing amount and loan term. We entered our own info to generate Key Facts Sheets for each of the lenders.

To get a better picture of how different factors can influence a comparison rate, we generated Key Facts Sheets based upon the median Sydney dwelling value of $880,000 and a 10% deposit, leaving a loan amount of $792,000.

When we entered this information on each lender’s website, the results were surprising.

Actual comparison rates

  • Lender A Comparison Rate: 3.79%
  • Lender B Comparison Rate: 3.74%
  • Lender C Comparison Rate: 3.78%

After entering these figures for each lender, we found the lender with the cheapest advertised comparison rate actually became the most expensive. Meanwhile, the lender with the most expensive advertised comparison rate actually became cheaper under these criteria.

While the difference in the comparison rates above might seem insignificant, this small change can add up over the life of your loan. Over the course of a 30-year loan term, the total amount you would pay for Lender A’s product would be $1,328,418.80. The total amount for Lender B would be $1,318,818, and the total amount for Lender C would be $1,324,861.40.

The loan with the most expensive advertised comparison rate ends up being $3,557.40 less expensive than the loan with the least expensive advertised comparison rate. Meanwhile, the loan in between the two ends up a whopping $9,600.80 less expensive.

The reasons for this can vary. Some home loans incentivise higher borrowing amounts with lower interest rates. Others might incentivise lower loan-to-value ratios and charge higher rates to borrowers with a smaller deposit. A longer loan term can also add to the total amount of interest you pay.

With this in mind, it pays to generate your own Key Facts Sheet for your expected borrowing amount with lenders you’re considering. The advertised comparison rate can be a helpful tool when you’re considering home loans, but if you don’t take the time to dig a bit deeper, you could end up paying thousands more.

Ready to compare home loan rates? Check out today's rates in the table below

Rates last updated November 19th, 2018
$
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.
3.59%
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.
3.87%
3.91%
$600
$0 p.a.
95%
A home loan with no ongoing fee and a redraw facility that you can borrow up to 95% LVR.
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.
3.57%
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.
3.54%
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.
3.68%
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.
3.75%
3.80%
$600
$0 p.a.
90%
Competitive variable rate mortgage with a partial offset account. Get this loan with a 10% deposit.
3.49%
4.57%
$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%
3.57%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A competitive variable essentials interest rate product aimed at refinancers looking to switch to a lower rate.
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.
3.59%
4.00%
$845
$350 p.a.
90%
Get a low variable interest rate and buy a property with just a 10% deposit. 100% offset account attached.
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.
3.69%
4.86%
$0
$395 p.a.
90%
Special discounted rate for first home buyers. Start your home buying journey with 2 years of fixed repayments at a competitive rate plus package discounts. Available with a 10% deposit.
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%
3.64%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
A low interest rate home loan with no application or ongoing fees.
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.
3.79%
3.82%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
An essentials variable investor mortgage with a high borrowing amount so you can fund a large purchase.
3.75%
3.75%
$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.
3.67%
3.72%
$600
$0 p.a.
80%
Family guarantee option available. Enjoy flexible repayments and a low minimum loan amount.
3.75%
4.72%
$0
$299 p.a.
95%
Owner-occupiers can enjoy a discounted fixed rate, a rate lock feature and the ability to make additional repayments.
3.64%
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.
3.74%
4.13%
$0
$349 p.a.
90%
Get a sharp rate plus package discounts and a 100% offset account.
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. Plus $1,500 cashback offer for eligible refinancers.
3.84%
3.85%
$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.
3.64%
3.59%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Fast, 100% online application process. Very limited fees. Optional offset account (with fee).
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.
3.80%
3.80%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
Earn tens of thousands of Qantas Points to spend on flights, hotels and more with this variable owner occupier mortgage. Competitive variable rate mortgage that requires a 30% deposit.
3.59%
3.99%
$600
$395 p.a.
95%
Get interest rate discounts and waived fees on this package loan with a 100% offset account.
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.
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%
Low fee loan with extra repayments. Pay no application and ongoing fees and take advantage of split and redraw options.
3.83%
4.89%
$0
$395 p.a.
80%
A flexible 3 year fixed rate loan you can use to buy your own home.
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.
3.84%
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%
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.
3.59%
4.14%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
A one year fixed rate offer with no ongoing bank fees.
3.84%
4.22%
$345
$0 p.a.
80%
Flexible, competitive variable rate that has flexible repayments, split and redraw facilities.
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.
3.70%
3.90%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
Enjoy all the benefits of the Basic Home Loan and take advantage of an offset account.
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.
3.74%
3.74%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A basic owner-occupier home loan with a low variable rate that requires a 20% deposit.
3.89%
4.27%
$0
$395 p.a.
80%
New borrowers or refinancers can get a discounted rate with this package loan.
3.59%
3.58%
$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.
3.99%
4.13%
$0
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
80%
A competitive variable rate home loan with no application fee.
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.
3.84%
3.82%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A fixed rate loan with free redraws, few ongoing fees. Apply online with a fast approval process.
3.89%
3.94%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Pay no application or ongoing fee and borrow up to 80% LVR.
3.73%
3.87%
$0
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
80%
Borrow up to $500000 and earn Velocity Frequent Flyer Points (terms and conditions apply).
3.75%
4.00%
$0
$248 p.a.
70%
Borrowers with a 30% deposit can get this competitive rate. Cut down on interest costs with a 100% offset account.
3.69%
4.75%
$0
$395 p.a.
90%
Enjoy a competitive rate with no application fee for this package loan.
3.79%
4.87%
$0
$395 p.a.
95%
Low deposit home loan. Enjoy flexible repayment options while paying limited fees.
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.
3.81%
3.81%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A home loan with a competitive rate and plenty of handy features. This product comes with a 100% offset account.
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.
3.97%
3.99%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Package your owner occupied loan with investment loan and receive a discounted investment rate. 100% offset account included.
3.69%
4.08%
$0
$349 p.a.
90%
Package your loan with other AMP products and save on rates and fees.
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.
3.89%
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.
3.99%
5.35%
$600
$0 p.a.
90%
Competitive rates for fixed for 3 years with redraw facility.
3.99%
3.99%
$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.
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.
4.13%
4.14%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Access a fee-free offset account and a special interest rate for investors.
4.18%
4.18%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Investors get a 100% offset account and pay no application or ongoing fees on this loan from an innovative online lender.
3.72%
3.72%
$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.
3.94%
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.
3.74%
4.01%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
A competitive fixed interest rate product with no ongoing bank fees.
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.
3.99%
4.86%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Access a fee-free 100% offset account and pay no application or ongoing fees.
3.99%
4.62%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
Investors can enjoy flexible repayments and an easy application process with this pioneering online lender.
3.69%
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 $150000 receive a discounted rate. NSW, QLD and ACT residents only.
4.29%
4.26%
$0
$0 p.a.
95%
A competitive 3-year fixed rate loan with a high max insured LVR.
3.99%
3.99%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Get a discounted, low-fee investor loan from a convenient online lender. 20% deposit required.

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Important Information*
UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate - Discount offer for Owner Occupiers, P&I Borrowing over $200,000

Take advantage of a low-fee mortgage with a special interest rate of just 3.59% p.a. and a 3.59% p.a. comparison rate.

loans.com.au Essentials - Variable (Owner Occupier, P&I)

A competitive interest rate home loan with interest only options. Interest rate 3.64% p.a.
comp rate of 3.66% p.a.

Tic:Toc Live in Loan Variable Rate - Principal & Interest

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.

HSBC Home Value Loan - (Owner Occupier P&I)

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.

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