As mortgage brokers, we get asked loads of questions and we love it! One frequently asked question in the Australian mortgage broking business is "what is a mortgage offset account and how can it benefit me?" With all the different mortgage options available and the mortgage offset account often touted as a major feature of the loan, it pays to know how to use it to save money and get ahead on your mortgage repayments.
Mortgage offset accounts or home loan offset accounts may save you money, reduce the amount of time it takes you to pay off your loan and help to insulate you against interest rate rises.
So, how does an offset account work?
A mortgage offset account is effectively a savings account that's attached to your home loan. It has all the usual benefits of a regular savings account, allowing you to make deposits and withdrawals, giving you a credit card attached to the account, plus it pays you interest. However, unlike a normal savings account, these accounts pay interest at the same rate as your home loan. This is usually more than a regular savings account and it's where you can make big savings on your mortgage.
Just like the name implies, the money in your mortgage offset account is deducted from your loan balance daily. For example, if you have a $200,000 loan and $15,000 in your offset account, you will only be charged interest against $185,000. This can considerably reduce the amount of interest you need to pay, so your monthly mortgage repayments reduce the loan amount faster.
It will even work for you if you don't have a lump sum to deposit. Just by depositing your salary into the offset account each month and using it like a regular account to make payments and withdrawals etc, you can save thousands over the life of your loan.
An added benefit is that they're completely tax-free. Where you would have to pay income tax on the interest paid on a regular savings account, these accounts carry no such penalties.
What to look for in an offset account
With interest rates so low, lenders are being more competitive by offering some great features to mortgage offset accounts to make their loans more attractive. When we help you look for a loan, we consider the accounts that give you as much flexibility as possible, preferably with the following features:
How does it help to cut down on the term of my loan?
Usually your monthly loan repayment pays part interest and part capital on the loan. When you have a mortgage offset account, the balance is deducted from the loan so that the amount of interest you pay each month is less. If your mortgage repayment stays the same, you are therefore paying more off the capital of the loan, reducing it quicker.
Here's an example (calculated on a 3.72% interest rate).
Let's just say you have a home loan of $400,000 over 30 years. With a mortgage offset account containing a balance of $5,000 for the life of the loan plus a regular monthly offset account deposit of $250, it would save you $65,072 in interest repayments plus 6 years and 4 months on the loan term.
Obviously, the more money you have in your offset account, the more you will save and the quicker you will pay off your loan. What's more, your mortgage offset account will give you the additional flexibility of having money on hand if you need it.
How do I find the right loan with the right offset account?
With Australian interest rates currently at historical lows, many lenders are offering great mortgage offset accounts to make their loan products more attractive. There are literally hundreds of loan products on the market, tailored to a variety of different uses. You can get loans with mortgage offset accounts for regular home loans, property investment loans and even for construction and renovation purposes.
That's where we come in. With access to a wide variety of lenders, we can pick and choose. We do all the legwork to find you the right product for your particular needs and personal financial circumstances. To find out more about our home loan solutions, simply enquire online or call 1300 661 991 for a chat.
PS: If you're in need of some extra cash to cover related expenses such as removalist costs, lawyers fees, insurance, new appliances etc, we offer small cash loans $1,000 - $5,000. The application process is quick and easy - so apply online today!