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Dodge the taxman to supersize your savings

Dodge the taxman to supersize your savings

How would you like a savings account with an interest rate 60 basis points (or more) above the best savings accounts on the market, that is not only delivered tax-free, but could also help to clear your mortgage years early?

It might come as a surprise, but when it comes to finding a great savings rate, your home loan could be the answer. That’s because for savers, a mortgage offset account can offer a good, tax-free return with a rate that’s hard to beat.

How does it work?

A mortgage offset account operates in a similar way to a transaction account, but is linked to a home loan. The ‘savings’ balance is offset against the balance of your loan, so you only pay interest on the difference.

When used in the right way, a mortgage offset account can cut years off your home loan and save you thousands of dollars.

For instance, if you took out a $300,000 mortgage and had an offset account with $15,000 in it you will only pay interest on the balance of $285,000, which over 25 years could save you almost $20,000 in interest (assuming you maintain a $15,000 balance and pay a rate of 7 percent interest).

With mortgage rates typically higher than savings rates, the benefit you get from not paying interest often outweighs the loss of a savings return and if you need to access the money you have saved it is readily available.

At the time of writing, the average interest rate on mortgages with an offset feature is 6.62 percent, according to the RateCity database. That’s about 0.6 percentage points above even the best high-interest savings accounts on the market, which boast maximum rates around the 6 percent mark.

Is it for you?

Offset mortgages can be a great tool for regular savers, but they can also provide a great tax-free place to stick one-off lump sums, tax returns or a work bonus.

Unlike most high-interest savings accounts, which require a saver to meet certain conditions to achieve a bonus rate, offset accounts ‘pay’ richly for every dollar you deposit without lock-in contracts. So if you want to be more in control and have greater flexibility with your savings, a mortgage offset can be a great option.

If you opt for an offset account don’t rush to pull your savings out of your high-interest savings or term deposit account prematurely, because by doing so may mean sacrificing some interest. Contact your institution before withdrawing funds and compare mortgages with offset accounts before making your move.

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