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How to find your interest rate

How to find your interest rate

Pop quiz, hotshot – what interest rate are you currently paying on your home loan? Could you name it off the top of your head?

Many studies in recent years have found that the majority of Australians with home loans don’t know their home loan’s current interest rate, with CUA stating in February 2016 that 60% of Australians don’t know what rate of interest they’re paying on their mortgage, and UBank finding in December 2015 that as little as 16% of Australians do know their interest rate. This is despite the interest rate having a major impact on any home loan’s affordability. 

Before you can start thinking too seriously about refinancing your home loan and getting a better deal, you’ll first need to find out what rate of interest you’re currently paying as a baseline to compare to other offers. Finding this information isn’t always as easy as it sounds.

Home loans for refinancing:

Here are five ways to find the interest rate on your home loan:

Check your lender’s list of rates

Many lenders will have a page on their website dedicated to listing and comparing the different home loans products they currently provide, including information such as interest and comparison rates. If you know the name of your home loan product, you can look it up in the list and see its details, including the interest rate.

nab-home-loan-interest-rates-compressorNAB’s interest rates for home lending

It’s worth remembering that not every home loan may be summarised on one of these pages, as lenders create new home loan offers and discontinue old ones all the time. If you’ve had your mortgage for a number of years, it’s entirely possible that your lender isn’t offering that particular deal to new customers any more, or has changed the name of the offer. Or perhaps a loan offer with the same name is currently available, but at different rates and terms to what you originally signed up for, especially if you have a variable rate home loan.

Check your mortgage statement

To help you keep track of what money going into your home loan (and if you have a redraw facility, any money coming back out), your lender will keep records of recent transactions and other updates to your mortgage in the form of statements, much like what you’d find for a more typical bank account. These statements may be sent to you once or twice a year, or even quarterly or monthly, depending on your lender, and include details around how much you’ve borrowed, how much you’re still owing, the remaining home loan term, and of course, your interest rate.

commbank-mortgage-statementThe interest rate in the above CommBank statement can be found at number 3

Many lenders initially send your mortgage statements as physical paper copies for compliance reasons, though you often have the option to switch to paperless online statements that can be accessed via internet banking if you prefer electronic records.

Online Banking

Most lenders include options to conduct most of your banking over the computer, rather than over the phone or in person at a branch. If you have a home loan through one of the smaller non-bank lenders, it’s possible that they conduct ALL of their business online, and don’t have any branches or shopfronts available to visit.

By logging into your online banking, you can usually quickly and easily access basic information about your home loan, such as its current balance. You’ll likely also have the option to transfer extra available cash towards paying off your home loan.

Because lenders often design their online banking services to focus on making day-to-day transactions and transfers smooth and stress-free, rather than providing a lot of extra details, you may need to dig a little deeper into the different tabs and menus to find more detailed information on you home loan, such as its interest rate. 

anz-internet-banking-loan-detailsHow to find your home loan details, including the interest rate, with ANZ Internet Banking

Mobile banking

Finding your home loan interest rate using your lender’s mobile banking app can often follow a similar process to doing so via online banking, with the biggest difference being that you’ll be doing so via your phone rather than on a computer.

Much like internet banking on a computer, mobile banking apps are often designed primarily with simplicity, speed and ease of use for making everyday transactions in mind, so accessing detailed home loan information via your phone may not always be straightforward, depending on your lender. 

westpac-mobile-banking-interest-rate-compressorHow to find your home loan interest rate details with Westpac, including on Mobile Banking

Calling/visiting them!

call-centre-compressor

Yes, nobody likes waiting on hold, hearing for the thirteenth time that “your call is important to us”, and trying to convince speech recognition software to transfer you to a real person. But sometimes the direct approach is one of the simplest ways to find out your current interest rate.

Make sure you have all of your account information and other details required to confirm your identity handy, and your lender should be able to tell you your home loan’s current interest rate with relatively little fuss.

The same deal goes for visiting a bank branch – if your lender has an office nearby, you can drop in, take a number and wait in line to see if a teller can source your interest rate for you.

What next?

Once you’ve found your current interest rate, what’s the next step towards getting a better deal on your home loan? 

Well, assuming you already have a refinancing goal, whether that’s to save money, borrow more, or to pay off your home faster, the next step is to start comparing other home loan offers, both from your existing lender and others, to see if you can find an alternative that will help you reach your lofty goal. 

While comparing different home loans by interest rate is important, be sure to compare the other costs, features and benefits too, to make sure that you choose a refinancing home loan that provides great value for your money. 

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Learn more about home loans

Does the Home Loan Rate Promise apply to discounted interest rate offers, such as honeymoon rates?

No. Temporary discounts to home loan interest rates will expire after a limited time, so they aren’t valid for comparing home loans as part of the Home Loan Rate Promise.

However, if your home loan has been discounted from the lender’s standard rate on a permanent basis, you can check if we can find an even lower rate that could apply to you.

How do you determine which home loan rates/products I’m shown?

When you check your home loan rate, you’ll supply some basic information about your current loan, including the amount owing on your mortgage and your current interest rate.

We’ll compare this information to the home loan options in the RateCity database and show you which home loan products you may be eligible to apply for.

 

What happens to my home loan when interest rates rise?

If you are on a variable rate home loan, every so often your rate will be subject to increases and decreases. Rate changes are determined by your lender, not the Reserve Bank of Australia, however often when the RBA changes the cash rate, a number of banks will follow suit, at least to some extent. You can use RateCity cash rate to check how the latest interest rate change affected your mortgage interest rate.

When your rate rises, you will be required to pay your bank more each month in mortgage repayments. Similarly, if your interest rate is cut, then your monthly repayments will decrease. Your lender will notify you of what your new repayments will be, although you can do the calculations yourself, and compare other home loan rates using our mortgage calculator.

There is no way of conclusively predicting when interest rates will go up or down on home loans so if you prefer a more stable approach consider opting for a fixed rate loan.

What are the different types of home loan interest rates?

A home loan interest rate is used to calculate how much you’ll pay the lender, usually annually, above the amount you borrow. It’s what the lenders charge you for them lending you money and will impact the total amount you’ll pay over the life of your home loan. 

Having understood what are home loan rates in general, here are the two types you usually have with a home loan:

Fixed rates

These interest rates remain constant for a specific period and are a good option if you’re a first-time buyer or if you’re looking for a fixed monthly repayment. One possible downside of a fixed rate is that it may be higher than a variable rate. Also, you don’t benefit from any lowering of interest rates in the market. On the flip side, if rates go up, your rate won’t change, possibly saving you money.

Variable rates

With variable interest rates, the lender can change them at any time. This change can be based on economic conditions or other reasons. Changes in interest rates could be beneficial if your monthly repayment decreases but can be a problem if it increases. Variable interest rates offer several other benefits often not available with fixed rate home loans like redraw and offset facilities and free extra repayments. 

What is the Home Loan Rate Promise?

The Home Loan Rate Promise is RateCity putting its money where its mouth is. We believe that too many Australians are paying too much for their home loans. We’re so confident we can help Aussies save money, if we can’t beat your current rate, we’ll give you a $100 gift card.*

There are two reasons it pays to check your rate with the Home Loan Rate Promise:

  • You can find out how much you could save on your home loan by switching to a loan with a lower interest rate
  • If we can’t beat your current rate, you can claim a $100 gift card with our Home Loan Rate Promise*

How do I apply for a home improvement loan?

When you want to renovate your home, you may need to take out a loan to cover the costs. You could apply for a home improvement loan, which is a personal loan that you use to cover the costs of your home renovations. There is no difference between applying for this type of home improvement loan and applying for a standard personal loan. It would be best to check and compare the features, fees and details of the loan before applying. 

Besides taking out a home improvement loan, you could also:

  1. Use the equity in your house: Equity is the difference between your property’s value and the amount you still owe on your home loan. You may be able to access this equity by refinancing your home loan and then using it to finance your home improvement.  Speak with your lender or a mortgage broker about accessing your equity.
  2. Utilise the redraw facility of your home loan: Check whether the existing home loan has a redraw facility. A redraw facility allows you to access additional funds you’ve repaid into your home loan. Some lenders offer this on variable rate home loans but not on fixed. If this option is available to you, contact your lender to discuss how to access it.
  3. Apply for a construction loan: A construction loan is typically used when constructing a new property but can also be used as a home renovation loan. You may find that a construction loan is a suitable option as it enables you to draw funds as your renovation project progresses. You can compare construction home loans online or speak to a mortgage broker about taking out such a loan.
  4. Look into government grants: Check whether there are any government grants offered when you need the funds and whether you qualify. Initiatives like the HomeBuilder Grant were offered by the Federal Government for a limited period until April 2021. They could help fund your renovations either in full or just partially.  

What is a variable home loan?

A variable rate home loan is one where the interest rate can and will change over the course of your loan. The rate is determined by your lender, not the Reserve Bank of Australia, so while the cash rate might go down, your bank may decide not to follow suit, although they do broadly follow market conditions. One of the upsides of variable rates is that they are typically more flexible than their fixed rate counterparts which means that a lot of these products will let you make extra repayments and offer features such as offset accounts.

How can I calculate interest on my home loan?

You can calculate the total interest you will pay over the life of your loan by using a mortgage calculator. The calculator will estimate your repayments based on the amount you want to borrow, the interest rate, the length of your loan, whether you are an owner-occupier or an investor and whether you plan to pay ‘principal and interest’ or ‘interest-only’.

If you are buying a new home, the calculator will also help you work out how much you’ll need to pay in stamp duty and other related costs.

What is a standard variable rate (SVR)?

The standard variable rate (SVR) is the interest rate a lender applies to their standard home loan. It is a variable interest rate which is normally used as a benchmark from which they price their other variable rate home loan products.

A standard variable rate home loan typically includes most, if not all the features the lender has on offer, such as an offset account, but it often comes with a higher interest rate attached than their most ‘basic’ product on offer (usually referred to as their basic variable rate mortgage).

What is a comparison rate?

The comparison rate is a more inclusive way of comparing home loans that factors in not only on the interest rate but also the majority of upfront and ongoing charges that add to the total cost of a home loan.

The rate is calculated using an industry-wide formula based on a $150,000 loan over a 25-year period and includes things like revert rates after an introductory or fixed rate period, application fees and monthly account keeping fees.

In Australia, all lenders are required by law to publish the comparison rate alongside their advertised rate so people can compare products easily.

What is a fixed home loan?

A fixed rate home loan is a loan where the interest rate is set for a certain amount of time, usually between one and 15 years. The advantage of a fixed rate is that you know exactly how much your repayments will be for the duration of the fixed term. There are some disadvantages to fixing that you need to be aware of. Some products won’t let you make extra repayments, or offer tools such as an offset account to help you reduce your interest, while others will charge a significant break fee if you decide to terminate the loan before the fixed period finishes.

How do I apply for Westpac’s first home buyer loan?

If you’re a first home buyer looking to apply for a home loan with Westpac, they offer an online home loan application. They suggest the application can be completed in about 20 minutes. Based on the information you provide, Westpac will advise you the amount you can borrow and the costs associated with any possible home loan. 

You can use Westpac’s online mortgage calculators to estimate your borrowing power. You can also work out the time it might take to save up for the deposit, and the size of your home loan repayments

When applying for a home loan with Westpac, you’re assigned a home finance manager who can address your concerns and provide information. The manager will also offer guidance on any government grants you may be eligible for. 

Who can enter?

Any Australian resident who is over 18 and currently has a personal home loan is eligible for our Home Loan Rate Promise. See terms and conditions.

Remaining loan term

The length of time it will take to pay off your current home loan, based on the currently-entered mortgage balance, monthly repayment and interest rate.