CBA turns its back on variable rate customers as they opt to slice fixed rates instead

CBA turns its back on variable rate customers as they opt to slice fixed rates instead

Australia’s biggest bank has today announced it will not be passing on the rate cut to its existing variable rate customers, opting to cut fixed rates instead.

As a result, the majority of their customers will get no relief on their mortgage repayments on the back of yesterday’s rate cut, with the exception of those variable customers who choose to switch to a fixed rate from November 11.

CBA Rate Repayments Repayments if 0.15% cut had been implemented Difference
Standard variable

4.55%

$2,039

$2,003

$36

Discounted variable

3.85%

$1,875

$1,841

$34

Lowest variable

2.69%

$1,620

$1,589

$31

Notes: based on an owner occupier paying principal and interest over 30 years with a $400K loan.

RateCity.com.au research director, Sally Tindall, said that most CBA home loan customers would be left feeling short-changed on the back of today’s decision from Australia’s largest bank.

“Many borrowers will be rightly frustrated at CBA’s decision not to pass on a rate cut to its variable customers, particularly as it’s the second time in a row,” she said.

“As a result, the bank’s variable rate customers have missed out on a potential rate cut of 0.15 per cent today, in addition to the 0.25 per cent they chose not to pass on in March.

“The sprinkling of fixed rate cuts the bank has offered up as an alternative aren’t going to cut it with many of their customers who are not in a position to refinance or fix their loan, including anyone still on a mortgage deferral.

“A rate of 1.99 per cent, fixed for four years is a great headline but the reality is, fixing isn’t for everyone.

“Fixed rates are typically a lot less flexible, usually with no offset account, limits on extra repayments and break fees if you want to get out early,” she said.

CBA home loan rate changes

Loan type Current Rate New Rate Change
Standard variable

4.55%

4.55%

0.00%

Discounted variable

3.85%

3.85%

0.00%

Lowest variable

2.69%

2.69%

0.00%

1 year fixed

2.29%

2.19%

0.10%

2 year fixed

2.29%

2.14%

0.15%

3 year fixed

2.29%

2.14%

0.15%

4 year fixed

2.99%

1.99%

1.00%

5 year fixed

2.99%

2.99%

0.00%

Note: the above rates are for owner occupiers paying principal and interest based on a loan balance of $400K.

Extra repayments – fixed rate caps from the big four banks

CBA: up to $10,000 per year

Westpac: up to $30,000 per fixed rate term

NAB: up to $20,000 per fixed rate term

ANZ: ANZ: 5% of the loan balance or $5,000 per year, whichever is less. (The 5% is calculated at the start of the fixed period).

Things to consider before fixing

  • Will I want to make extra repayments? Most banks have caps on how much extra you can repay while on a fixed rate.
  • Do I need an offset account? Most banks don’t offer an offset account on their fixed rates.
  • Will I need to get out of the loan early? There can be hefty break fees if you do.
  • What is the revert rate? If you do fix, make a note of when the fixed term ends so you can negotiate a lower variable rate, refix or refinance. If you set and forget your fixed rate for the long term it could end badly.

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Learn more about home loans

What is the difference between fixed, variable and split rates?

Fixed rate

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.

Variable rate

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.

Split rates home loans

A split loan lets you fix a portion of your loan, and leave the remainder on a variable rate so you get a bet each way on fixed and variable rates. A split loan is a good option for someone who wants the peace of mind that regular repayments can provide but still wants to retain some of the additional features variable loans typically provide such as an offset account. Of course, with most things in life, split loans are still a trade-off. If the variable rate goes down, for example, the lower interest rates will only apply to the section that you didn’t fix.

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.

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.

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 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 honeymoon rate and honeymoon period?

Also known as the ‘introductory rate’ or ‘bait rate’, a honeymoon rate is a special low interest rate applied to loans for an initial period to attract more borrowers. The honeymoon period when this lower rate applies usually varies from six months to one year. The rate can be fixed, capped or variable for the first 12 months of the loan. At the end of the term, the loan reverts to the standard variable rate.

How personalised is my rating?

Real Time Ratings produces instant scores for loan products and updates them based what you tell us about what you’re looking for in a loan. In that sense, we believe the ratings are as close as you get to personalised; the more you tell us, the more we customise to ratings to your needs. Some borrowers value flexibility, while others want the lowest cost loan. Your preferences will be reflected in the rating. 

We also take a shorter term, more realistic view of how long borrowers hold onto their loan, which gives you a better idea about the true borrowing costs. We take your loan details and calculate how much each of the relevent loans would cost you on average each month over the next five years. We assess the overall flexibility of each loan and give you an easy indication of which ones are likely to adjust to your needs over time. 

What do mortgage brokers do?

Mortgage brokers are finance professionals who help borrowers organise home loans with lenders. As such, they act as middlemen between borrowers and lenders.

While bank staff recommend home loan products only from their own employer, brokers are independent, so they can recommend products from a range of institutions.

Brokers need to be accredited with a particular lender to be able to work with that lender. A typical broker will be accredited with anywhere from 10 to 30 lenders – the big four banks, as well as a range of smaller banks, credit unions and non-bank lenders.

As a general rule, brokers don’t charge consumers for their services; instead, they receive commissions from lenders whenever they place a borrower with that institution.

Savings over

Select a number of years to see how much money you can save with different home loans over time.

e.g. To see how much you could save in two years by switching mortgages,  set the slider to 2.

What is the flexibility score?

Today’s home loans often try to lure borrowers with a range of flexible features, including offset accounts, redraw facilities, repayment frequency options, repayment holidays, split loan options and portability. Real Time Ratings™ weights each of these features based on popularity and gives loans a ‘flexibility score’ based on how much they cater to borrowers’ needs over time. The aim is to give a higher score to loans which give borrowers more features and options.

What is an ombudsman?

An complaints officer – previously referred to as an ombudsman -looks at formal complaints from customers about their credit providers, and helps to find a fair and independent solution to these problems.

These services are handled by the Australian Financial Complaints Authority, a non-profit government organisation that addresses and resolves financial disputes between customers and financial service providers.

Why should you trust Real Time Ratings?

Real Time Ratings™ was conceived by a team of data experts who have been analysing trends and behaviour in the home loan market for more than a decade. It was designed purely to meet the evolving needs of home loan customers who wish to merge low cost with flexible features quickly. We believe it fills a glaring gap in the market by frequently re-rating loan products based on the changes lenders make daily.

Real Time Ratings™ is a new idea and will change over time to match the frequently-evolving demands of the market. Some things won’t change though – it will always rate all relevent products in our database and will not be influenced by advertising.

If you have any feedback about Real Time Ratings™, please get in touch.

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