Mozo guides

Should you get a fixed rate or variable rate home loan? Pros and cons

Two women with a house representing fixed vs. variable rate home loans

One of the main decisions borrowers make when comparing home loans is whether to opt for a fixed interest rate or a variable interest rate

These interest rate types can have different advantages and impacts on home loan costs. But how do you know which is better for you? 

Let’s get into the key facts and traps to know. Fixed vs. variable: which interest rate is best?

Home loan interest rate types

Fixed, variable, and split rate infographic

First, some quick definitions. What are the three main types of home loan interest rates

  • A variable interest rate changes at the home loan lender’s discretion. 
  • A fixed interest rate stays the same for a set amount of time, called a fixed term. In Australia, the maximum fixed term tends to be 5 years.
  • A split home loan uses both variable and fixed interest rates to calculate your interest payment. For example, 60% of your interest rate payment could be fixed – the rest would be variable.

Now we’ve defined our terms, let’s get into them in more detail.

Pros and cons of variable home loans

Woman excited about the variable rate mortgage on her house

The majority of home loans in Australia use variable interest rates. This is because variable home loans have more flexibility and interest-saving features than fixed home loans.

Pros of variable home loans

Variable home loans come with features designed to save the borrower money. These can include:

  • Offset accounts. Offset accounts are savings accounts that ‘offset’ the loan balance remaining, saving borrowers interest on mortgage repayments
  • Free extra repayments. Extra repayments let borrowers pay off their principal, which decreases their debt and interest owed over time. 
  • Redraw facilities. Redraw facilities let you dip back into extra funds you’ve put towards your home loan. 

Because variable interest rates can change over time, too, they also drop when official interest rates decrease – i.e. when the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) cuts the cash rate. This can give you significant potential savings on monthly repayments. 

Variable mortgages can also be easier to refinance, though this will depend on the lender and loan discharge fees. 

Cons of variable home loans

Unfortunately, variable interest rates are susceptible to rate hikes. If the RBA increases the cash rate, mortgage lenders pass these added costs to borrowers. Even a 0.25% rate hike can add a hundred dollars to your monthly repayments.

All the extra features you get with variable home loans may also come with additional fees or usage conditions. Read the product disclosure statement (PDS) and target market determination (TMD) to see if a home loan has these T&Cs. 

Loan details

Your remaining loan amount ($)
Your remaining loan term (years)

Rate change

Repayment change if rates go up

Are variable home loans better?

Variable home loans can be great for borrowers seeking flexibility, but they’ll need to compare home loans to find the best deal for them.

Rate hikes are an added uncertainty. Can your household budget absorb the increase in payments if rates rise by 0.25%? 1%? 3%? This is something important to know. 

Pros and cons of fixed home loans

Woman excited about the fixed rate mortgage on her house

Fixed interest rates don’t make up the majority in Australia, but they’re still an important option to consider when comparing mortgages. This is mainly because fixed home loans can be the ultimate shield against rate hikes. 

Pros of fixed home loans

Interest-saving features like offset accounts and redraws are pretty rare for fixed rates. This is because the fixed rate is already a savings feature.

Fixed interest rates don’t change during the fixed term, typically 1 to 5 years in Australia. Not only does this protect you from rate hikes, but it gives you greater budgeting certainty, especially if you’re already juggling new homeownership costs

Once the fixed term expires, you can roll onto a variable rate or fix it again. 

Cons of fixed home loans

Fixed home loans tend to have higher interest rates than variable home loans, but this will depend on the loan, lender, and borrower type. Compare fixed home loans to see which deal could be best for you.

Fixed home loans can also be significantly harder to refinance, especially if you want to leave before the fixed term expires. Breaking a fixed-term early comes with break costs – and these fees can be steep.

Are fixed home loans better?

Fixed home loans can be great for borrowers who want consistent mortgage repayments. Just keep in mind this certainty comes with relative inflexibility and (typically) higher interest rates, as well as a break cost if you want to leave early. 

Fixed home loan vs. variable home loan

Here are the pros and cons of fixed vs. variable home loans, laid out simply. 

Variable Home Loan
Fixed Home Loan
Pros
Cons
Pros
Cons
Interest savings
Rate hikes
Consistent payments
Lack of features
Flexible features
Harder to budget
No rate hikes
Higher rates
Lower rates
Sneaky feature fees
Great for budgets
Harder to refinance
Easier to refinance
Fixed terms 1-5 years

Keep in mind these pros and cons are general. You may be able to find individual home loan deals that break the mould.

Should you get a fixed or variable home loan?

The best home loan for you depends on your wants, needs, and situation. Variable rates suit borrowers who want flexibility (and can also flexibly absorb changing costs), while fixed rates suit borrowers keen to have a consistent and stable budget.

You can compare home loan interest rates in our home loan comparison hub, or the table below.

Compare home loans - last updated 19 April 2024

Search promoted home loans below or do a full Mozo database search. Advertiser disclosure
  • Mozo Expert Choice Badge
    Express Home Loan

    Owner Occupier, Principal & Interest, LVR <90%

    interest rate
    comparison rate
    Initial monthly repayment
    6.01% p.a. variable
    6.14% p.a.

    Get fast online approval from the award-winning Bendigo Bank Express Home Loan. Multiple offset accounts and redraw available. 100% offset on variable rate loans and partial offset on fixed rate. Flexible repayment options. New home loans only.

    Compare
    Details
  • Flex Home Loan

    Fixed, Owner Occupier, Principal & Interest, LVR <60%

    interest rate
    comparison rate
    Initial monthly repayment
    5.99% p.a.
    fixed 3 years
    6.37% p.a.

    Competitive Fixed rate. Multiple offset accounts available. Borrowers can also make extra repayments. Redraw facility available. Simple online application process. 40% deposit required.

    Compare
    Details
  • Discounted Home Value Loan

    Owner Occupier, Principal & Interest, LVR 70-80%

    interest rate
    comparison rate
    Initial monthly repayment
    6.09% p.a. variable
    6.09% p.a.

    Enjoy competitive rates for owner occupiers. Enjoy unlimited free extra repayments. Flexibility to redraw additional payments for free. No ongoing monthly service fee. Settlement fee waived on new borrowings from $50,000 (T&Cs apply).

    Compare
    Details
  • Neat Home Loan

    Owner Occupier, Principal & Interest, LVR <60%

    interest rate
    comparison rate
    Initial monthly repayment
    6.14% p.a. variable
    6.16% p.a.

    Competitively-priced variable rate loan. Ideal for owner occupiers and investors. No service fees to pay. Make free extra repayments and redraws. Flexible repayment schedule available.

    Compare
    Details

* WARNING: This comparison rate applies only to the example or examples given. Different amounts and terms will result in different comparison rates. Costs such as redraw fees or early repayment fees, and cost savings such as fee waivers, are not included in the comparison rate but may influence the cost of the loan. The comparison rate displayed is for a secured loan with monthly principal and interest repayments for $150,000 over 25 years.

** Initial monthly repayment figures are estimates only, based on the advertised rate. You can change the loan amount and term in the input boxes at the top of this table. Rates, fees and charges and therefore the total cost of the loan may vary depending on your loan amount, loan term, and credit history. Actual repayments will depend on your individual circumstances and interest rate changes.

^See information about the Mozo Experts Choice Home Loan Awards

Mozo provides general product information. We don't consider your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and we aren't recommending any specific product to you. You should make your own decision after reading the PDS or offer documentation, or seeking independent advice.

While we pride ourselves on covering a wide range of products, we don't cover every product in the market. If you decide to apply for a product through our website, you will be dealing directly with the provider of that product and not with Mozo.

Evlin DuBose
Evlin DuBose
RG146
Senior Money Writer

Evlin is RG146 certified for Generic Knowledge and has become a leading voice in finance news since joining Mozo two years ago. She is regularly featured in Google's Top Stories alongside major publications like News.com.au and Yahoo Finance, and seasoned journalists. Despite being in the industry for just two years, she is Mozo's go-to writer for all things RBA and her research has been referenced by the Victorian Government. With a Bachelor of Communications degree from UTS, where she won the Dean's Merit Award and acted as the Director of Student Publications.