You only pay the interest on the loan, not the principal, usually for the first one to five years although some lenders offer longer terms. Many lenders give borrowers the option of a further interest-only period. Because you’re not paying off the principal, your monthly repayments are lower. These loans are especially popular with investors who pay off the principal when the property is sold, having achieved capital growth.
If you pay more than the required regular repayment, the extra amount is deducted from the principal. This not only reduces the amount you owe but lowers the amount of interest you repay. Making extra repayments regularly, even small ones, is the best way to pay off your home loan quicker and save on interest charges.
Instead of a regular monthly repayment, you pay off your home loan weekly or fortnightly. This can suit people who are paid on a weekly or fortnightly basis, and will save you money because you end up making more payments in a year, cutting the life of the loan.
This is a savings account linked to your home loan. Any money paid into the savings account is deducted from the balance of your home loan before interest is calculated. The more money you save, the lower your regular home loan repayments. You can access your savings in the usual way, by EFTPOS and ATMs. This is a great way to reduce your loan interest, as well as eliminate the tax bill on your savings. Lenders provide partial as well as 100% offset accounts. Be aware the account may have higher monthly fees or require a minimum balance.
This combines a home loan with a cheque, savings and credit card account. You can have your salary paid into it directly. By keeping cash in the account for as long as possible each month you can reduce the principal and interest charges. Used with discipline, the all-in-one feature offers both flexibility and interest savings. Interest rates charged to these loans can be higher.
Home loans over a certain value are offered at a discounted rate, combined with discounted fees on other banking services. These can be attractively priced, but if you don’t use the banking services you may be better off with a basic variable loan.