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13th May, 2024

How to minimise your mortgage with an Interest Free Credit Card and an Offset Home Loan

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Offset accounts can significantly enhance the financial benefits of a mortgage loan, especially when used in tandem with simple tools like an interest-free credit card. This article explores how coupling offset accounts with the clever use of interest-free credit cards can create a powerful saving strategy, particularly for those with substantial mortgage balances and good household incomes.

Understanding Offset Accounts

An offset account is a bank account linked directly to your mortgage that has the usual functionality of an everyday account such as being able to have a debit card, Apple/Android Pay, branch withdrawals and deposits etc. The money held in this account is offset daily against the mortgage balance, and interest is charged only on the net balance. It is important to note that the offset account itself does not earn interest – it offsets it’s balance against your home loan. For instance, if you have a mortgage of $1,000,000 and an offset account balance of $50,000, you will only be charged interest on $950,000. This setup can lead to significant interest savings over time, reduce the term of your mortgage, and increase your equity. Offset accounts are particularly beneficial as they provide flexibility in accessing funds, unlike direct repayments into the mortgage which may be less frequent and require a higher level of discipline to action each month.

Multiple Offset Accounts

There are a handful of banks and lenders who offer multiple offset account structures that enable you to aggregate the combined account balances against a single mortgage account. This is great if you like better financial control and have funds put aside for large bills, your children’s education costs, taxation provisions, savings for a holiday or any other purpose you can really think of. Multiple offset account structures are a great tool for both saving on interest and maintaining purpospeful liquidity for day-to-day needs.

The Role of Interest-Free Credit Cards in Financial Management

Interest-free credit cards have been around for a long time now and of course offer a period during which no interest is charged on purchases, typically ranging from 30-55 days. When used wisely, these cards can manage cash flow without incurring extra costs, thus allowing any spare cash to sit in your offset account for as long as possible, further reducing the mortgage balance subject to interest. The key to maximizing the benefit from interest-free credit cards lies in responsible spending and consistent repayment within the interest-free period. This ensures that all your available cash can remain in the offset account, working to decrease your mortgage interest obligations, without accruing additional debt from credit card use.

Using Offset Accounts with Interest-Free Credit Cards

Utilizing both an offset account and an interest-free credit card together can significantly amplify your savings. Here’s how to synchronize these financial tools effectively:

  • Direct Income into an Offset Account: Route all of your income directly into your offset account. This increases your average daily balance, which reduces the interest on your mortgage each month – this can have a powerful compounding effect over time.
  • Use Credit Card for Expenses: Use your interest-free credit card for daily expenses. This approach keeps more money in your offset account for a longer period during the month, maximizing the interest savings on your mortgage. There is of course the added benefit that many credit card companies offer customers frequent flyer points affiliated with the major Australian Airlines Qantas and Virgin – you may be surprised at how quickly you will rack up those frequent flyer points for your next trip!
  • Pay Off Credit Card From your Offset Account: Before the end of the interest-free period on your credit card (typically 30-55 days), pay the balance using the funds from your offset account. This method ensures you avoid interest charges on your credit card while keeping your offset account balance high throughout the month. Many credit card companies enable you to have an automatic sweep of the monthly balance due to automate and streamline the efficiency of paying the card bill on the very last day its due. This maximizes the benefit of the money in your control and minimizes the manual effort required to administer the money smart procedure.

Case Study: $1,000,000 Mortgage with an Offset Account

Consider a hypothetical scenario: a homeowner with a $1,000,000 mortgage at a 6.0% annual interest rate over a 30-year term. Suppose this homeowner maintains an average of $50,000 in their offset account and spends $3,000 monthly using an interest-free credit card, which they pay off at the end of each month from the offset account.

Calculation: Without the offset account, the monthly interest would be calculated as $5,000 initially ($1,000,000 x 6% / 12 months). With $50,000 in the offset account, the interest reduces to about $4,750 monthly ($950,000 x 6% / 12 months), saving $250 per month or $3,000 annually. Over the life of the loan, this strategy alone could save approximately $90,000 in interest.

So as you can see having a basic understanding of how offset accounts work and how they can help save your thousands in interest. Not all offsets are created equaly though as many lenders limit customers to only one offset (not multiple) or ‘partial offset’ arrangements rather than 100% offset so it pays to get qualified advice.

Offset home loans are typically marginally more expensive because of a slight loading on the interest rate charged or the fees payable so if you have limited monthly cashflows there maybe diminishing returns for having an offset account. Some loans in certain entities like trusts or companies or for expat / overseas borrowers are not always allowed to have offset accounts linked.

Overall offset home loans are a fantastic feature that may be able to help you pay off your loan sooner. Why not book a time with us today to discuss your needs and to determine if an offset home loan is suitable for you. We have over 30 major banks and non bank lenders that we can compare for you today.