RateCity.com.au
powering smart financial decisions
Georgia BrownGeorgia BrownNov 04, 2021(1 min read)

Mortgage rates are influenced by the official cash rate, which is determined by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) at its monthly board meeting on the first Tuesday of every month, except for January.

The official cash rate is the interest rate that banks charge other banks to borrow money. If the RBA cuts the cash rate, the interest rate banks are charged when they borrow from other banks is reduced. Likewise, if the cash rate is hiked, the interest rate banks are charged will go up.

If banks can save money from reduced interest rates, they will often pass on some or all of these savings to their variable rate home loan customers – although they are not required to. They can also choose to pass on a cash rate rise by increasing mortgage interest rates.

Related FAQ's

How often do mortgage rates change?

Mortgage interest rates change based on two main factors: changes to the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) cash rate, and out-of-cycle rate hikes from your lender.

Generally, your home loan lender will change its mortgage rates in alignment with the RBA’s cash rate. On the first Tuesday of each month (excluding January) the RBA meets to decide whether the cash rate should increase, decrease, or stay on hold. If the cash rate changes, a lender’s variable interest rates should change in tandem.

Lenders may also change interest rates out-of-cycle with the RBA cash rate, with fixed rates and variable rates frequently hiked and cut at the lender’s discretion. To stay on top of changing mortgage rates, read the latest home loan news.

If a mortgage rate changes, will it affect your repayments?

If you have a variable rate home loan, changes to your mortgage rate may affect the cost of your repayments. Rising interest rate could cost you more in interest charges, while interest rate cuts could see you paying less interest on your home loan.

If you have a fixed rate home loan, your interest charges will stay the same during the fixed interest period, regardless of whether the lender’s variable rates rise or fall. Once the fixed rate term expires, your loan will revert to a variable rate, so be prepared in case of bill shock.

What is a mortgage rate?

The interest rate on a home loan is sometimes called the mortgage rate. This percentage indicates how much interest the lender will charge you with each home loan repayment. Your interest rate is effectively the “cost” of “buying” the money you’re using to buy a property – the higher your mortgage rate, the more your home loan repayments may cost.

Using a home loan calculator, you can estimate how much your home loan repayments may cost, based on your mortgage rate, loan term, and loan amount. This may also be affected by whether you’re making principal and interest repayments or interest-only repayments, if you have a fixed rate or variable rate mortgage, and any fees and other charges that may apply.

Who sets mortgage rates?

Mortgage rates are influenced by the official cash rate, which is determined by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) at its monthly board meeting on the first Tuesday of every month, except for January.

The official cash rate is the interest rate that banks charge other banks to borrow money. If the RBA cuts the cash rate, the interest rate banks are charged when they borrow from other banks is reduced. Likewise, if the cash rate is hiked, the interest rate banks are charged will go up.

If banks can save money from reduced interest rates, they will often pass on some or all of these savings to their variable rate home loan customers – although they are not required to. They can also choose to pass on a cash rate rise by increasing mortgage interest rates.

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 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.

What is the difference between a fixed rate and variable rate?

A variable rate can fluctuate over the life of a loan as determined by your lender. While the rate is broadly reflective of market conditions, including the Reserve Bank’s cash rate, it is by no means the sole determining factor in your bank’s decision-making process.

A fixed rate is one which is set for a period of time, regardless of market fluctuations. Fixed rates can be as short as one year or as long as 15 years however after this time it will revert to a variable rate, unless you negotiate with your bank to enter into another fixed term agreement

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 however fixed rates do offer customers a level of security by knowing exactly how much they need to set aside each month.