Pensioners to be stung by falling rates

Pensioners losing superannuation savings by falling term deposit rates

Australia’s current period of low interest rates has been a boon for home buyers and anyone paying off loans on low rate credit cards. For people with out a mortgage, however, a low cash rate might not be something to celebrate.

RateCity research has found that Australian banks have made substantial cuts to interest rates on term deposits over the last year, impacting savers across the country.

“It’s less competitive than it was 12 months ago”, says Peter Arnold, RateCity’s product director. “Savers need to make sure they don’t rollover into a lower rate.”

“Falling interest rates also have a disproportionate effect on retirees. They tend to bring down the discount rate on benefit payouts in the future, as well as reduce the income earned from savings by self-funded retirees,” he says.

Which terms have seen the biggest cuts?

Three-month term deposits have seen the biggest drop in interest rates, falling 14 basis points on average from June to November, RateCity figures showed. While nearly all big four banks had rates well over three percent in June, these were now for the most part sitting at 2.9 percent. Only Westpac bucked this trend, with an even lower value of 2.5 percent. 

Six-month term deposits saw a similar trend, dropping by 11 basis points during the same period. Twelve-month interest rates, meanwhile, fell ten basis points to a market average of 3.4 percent. The big four has interest rates at 3.2 percent or more for this term deposit type — the only term for which the big four has kept rates over three percent. 

This is sure to facilitate the continuing shift away from term deposits by consumers, as they look for another type of high interest savings account with which to help fund their retirement — along with other endeavours. 

Roy Morgan Research revealed earlier in the year that term deposits have seen a substantial decrease in popularity in recent times thanks to falling interest rates. Over the 12 months to June, the number of Australians with term deposits fell by 36,000, or two percent of customers.

Low interest rates spark alternative strategies  

Philip Lowe, Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, spoke in late October on the effect the current low interest rate environment has on investing.

In a speech delivered at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s Seventh Annual Australasian Fixed Income Conference, he explained that investors were seeking out “alternatives to bank deposits earning very low or zero rates”. 

For the most part, he noted, investors hoping to earn a substantial return on their savings — such as retirees-to-be — had been buying existing assets in the hope their price would increase. He urged investors to use their savings to fund the creation of new assets, however, which would help spur economic growth. 

This may not be an option for everyone with a savings account, but it may be something to consider going forward. 

Did you find this helpful? Why not share this article?

Advertisement

RateCity

Money Health Newsletter

Subscribe for news, tips and expert opinions to help you make smarter financial decisions

By signing up, you agree to the ratecity.com.au Privacy & Cookies Policy and Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy

Advertisement

Learn more about term deposits

Will term deposit rates increase?

While there’s no definite way to predict when term deposit rates will increase, it may help to understand some of the factors that influence term deposit interest rates.

The official cash rate is set by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA). When the RBA either increases or cuts interest rates, it influences the interest rates set by banks.

The other factor that determines when term deposit rates will rise is competition between banks. Banks may increase their term deposit rates or offer higher rates as an incentive to win new customers over or increase their market share.

Term deposit interest rates will also change, depending on how much you invest and how long you invest.

How often do term deposit rates change?

One of the advantages of a term deposit is that this type of investment enjoys a fixed interest rate. This means that the interest rate that you have signed up for will not change during the period of your term deposit, regardless of rising or falling market interest rates.

However, it is important to be aware of the end of your term deposit. Once your term ends, whether this is in three months or three years, many banks will default to rolling over your deposit into a new term, sometimes with a lower interest rate. Once your term deposit rolls over, you will then be locked into this new fixed interest rate for another term.

Make sure to use the grace period at the end of your term to your advantage. Shop around for a competitive interest rate and reinvest your money accordingly.

What is the best interest rate for a fixed term deposit?

The best interest rate for a fixed term deposit changes all the time, as interest rates move up and down and banks compete with each other to win market share.

To find the best interest rate for a fixed term deposit, it’s helpful to understand how interest rates are applied to term deposits.

There are three factors that determine the fixed interest of term deposits:

  1. The size of your deposit
  2. The duration of the term
  3. The frequency of interest paid

Term deposits vary in duration from one month to five years or more. Interest rates generally work on a sliding scale; shorter terms get a lower rate, longer terms get a higher rate.

Here are a couple of examples of how interest is applied to term deposits.

  • A $10,000 term deposit taken out over 12 months, with interest paid at maturity, might receive a fixed interest rate of 2.20 per cent.
  • A $10,000 fixed term deposit taken out over 12 months, with interest paid quarterly, might receive a fixed interest rate of 2.00 per cent.

Using the size of your deposit, the duration of the term and how often you want to be paid interest, you can shop around for the best interest rate for a fixed term deposit.

Which bank has the best term deposit rates?

If you’ve been shopping around for a term deposit, you might be wondering which bank has the best term deposit rates.

Term deposit rates will generally be affected by the amount you choose to deposit and whether you opt for a short or long term deposit.

Longer term deposits tend to have higher interest rates than shorter terms. The trade-off for earning a higher interest rate on your term deposit is that you can’t access your funds for the duration of the term deposit.

When comparing which bank has the best term deposit rates, it pays to do your research and compare how your funds will fare over the short and long term.

Unlike home loans or savings accounts which give you the option of fixed or variable rates, term deposits are always fixed, which means you get a guaranteed amount of interest over the term of the deposit.

How do you calculate term deposit interest?

If you’re ready to open a term deposit, there’s a lot you’ve already figured out. You’ve decided on the length of your term and found the best interest rate, but there’s something you still might be wondering. How do you calculate term deposit interest?

One of the easiest ways to calculate term deposit interest is by using a term deposits calculator. However, you can also estimate your total earnings on your own.

A fixed interest rate signifies what percentage of your original balance your term deposit will earn annually. For example, a deposit of $1,000 at an interest rate of 3 per cent will earn three per cent of $1,000 annually – meaning you’ll earn $30 of interest each year.

You can estimate your interest using three variables. Multiply together your deposit amount, interest rate, and term length and you’ll approximate the interest a deposit will earn. For example, if you invest in a term deposit for $5,000 at an interest rate of 3 per cent for two years, your interest would total $300.

Are term deposits compounded?

Term deposits can be compounded, depending on what you choose to do with the interest.

There are two ways to receive interest from a term deposit: either a lump sum at maturity; or paid on a regular basis, usually monthly. If you get your interest paid regularly, you can get it paid into a transaction account, or back into the term deposit account. By using this second option, you’re getting interest paid on your interest. In other words, it’s compounding.

Having the money paid into a transaction account means you can access it for your day-to-day spending, while compounding the interest means you get a better overall return on your investment. Both have advantages, depending on your needs, but be aware that some term deposit accounts that pay interest regularly may offer a lower interest rate to offset the effect of compounding.

What is a fixed term deposit?

A fixed term deposit is a safe and stable way to earn a fixed return on your cash investment.

Fixed term deposits are essentially bank accounts where you lock your money away for a fixed period and earn a fixed interest rate on those funds.

Fixed term deposits can be both short term, which is usually anything under 12 months, or long term, which can be up to 10 years.

Once the fixed term has ended, the bank or financial institution will give you back your initial deposit plus any interest you earn during the fixed term period.

Depending on the type of fixed term deposit account you open, when the term matures, you may have the option of rolling the funds over for a new term or withdrawing the funds.

Unlike other savings or transaction accounts which offer variable interest rates and flexible features, fixed term deposits offer fixed interest rates, which means the amount of interest you earn will remain the same during the term of the deposit.

How safe is a term deposit?

You may have heard that a term deposit is a type of investment, different to a traditional savings account. All investment comes with inherent risk, so it’s important to know how safe a term deposit is before committing.

Term deposits offer a fixed interest rate which is guaranteed, so you do not have to worry about rising or falling interest rates when investing. You can add up how much interest you will earn over your fixed term, and this will be paid into your account per the conditions of your term deposit.

Term deposits with authorised deposit-taking institutions are also guaranteed for up to $250,000 by the Financial Claims Scheme, so you don’t have to worry about the bank collapsing either.

The only inherent risk of a term deposit is if you may need to break it early. If this happens, you will need to pay a breakage fee and possibly sacrifice some of your interest as a penalty. But if you know you can invest a certain amount of money for a fixed period of time, you can rest assured that a term deposit is a safe investment option.

Are term deposits worth it?

Ultimately, whether term deposits will work for you will depend on your particular financial needs.

Term deposits can be a great way to get your money working for you. By locking it away and forgetting about it for a period of time, it can earn interest for you. If you have the interest paid on a regular basis, rather than at maturity, you can either have some extra spending money or you can reinvest it into the term deposit to compound.

Of course, locking your money in a term deposit means you cannot access it for the length of the term, without paying a penalty for early withdrawal. This can remove the temptation to spend the money, while it also earns interest.

How do term deposits work?

Term deposits are flexible, low-risk, and earn you interest over time. But before you apply to open a term deposit, you might be wondering: how do term deposits work?

A term deposit is an agreement you make with a financial institution. This agreement will specify a certain amount of money that you will give the bank for a certain amount of time. In return, you’ll earn a fixed amount of interest on your deposit throughout your term.

Term deposits work as an exchange between a financial institution and an individual. You can think of your term deposit as a loan to the bank. Because you’ve loaned the bank your money, they’re willing to pay you interest on your deposit.

Can I negotiate a fixed term deposit rate with the bank?

“Can I negotiate a fixed term deposit rate with the bank?” you may be wondering.

Many banks welcome negotiation when it comes to term deposit rates, especially with deposits of over $100,000. Even if your deposit is lower than $100,000, it may be worth a discussion with your bank.

Negotiating with your bank could secure you a higher fixed rate, which will earn you extra interest over your term. You may also discover bonuses or special offers you can acquire through your bank.

Securing the highest interest rate possible is the key to making the most of your term deposit. You may have compared deposits online or discussed your options with a financial adviser, but you also might be wondering about negotiation in order to get a better rate.

How do I pay tax on term deposits?

Just like your regular income, the interest you earn on term deposits is taxable. You might be wondering, “How do I pay tax on term deposits?” The tax you pay on your interest will depend on the length of your term and when your interest is paid.

You should pay tax on any interest that you have received within the current financial year. For example, if you receive monthly interest payments, these payments should be claimed on your tax return. However, if your term deposit is longer than one year and you will only receive interest at maturity, then you will pay tax on your interest in the year that you receive it.

Paying tax on your interest is much like paying tax on your income. The money you have made in interest should be claimed on your tax return along with any other income in that year.

What is a term deposit?

A term deposit is an investment savings account. A term deposit usually pays a higher rate of interest than a regular savings account, with the interest rate fixed for the term (or duration) of the deposit.

You can open a term deposit account for one month or up to five years depending on your investment goal, and invest as little as $500 to start earning a profit.

With a term deposit, you get to decide how much you want to invest (the principal or deposit), for how long (the term or duration) and the frequency of interest payments.

A term deposit represents a secure form of investment, unlike trading in shares or purchasing real estate. And a term deposit up to $250,000 is protected by the government guarantee.

Can you add money to a term deposit?

When you open a term deposit, you agree to lock your money away for a set period and earn a fixed amount of interest during that period.

Where everyday transaction accounts give you the flexibility to deposit and withdraw funds as frequently as you like, term deposits trade flexibility for higher interest rates.

Once your funds are deposited in a term deposit, they’re fixed for the length of the term, meaning you can’t add additional funds midway through the term.

When the term deposit matures, you may have the option to add additional funds and roll the funds over for another term, or you may choose to withdraw the money at that point.

If you have extra funds to invest, you could consider opening an additional short term deposit account or a high-interest savings account.

It’s worth noting that you can withdraw the funds midway through the term, but a penalty is likely to apply.