An offset account is a bank account linked to your home loan.
Rather than accumulating interest within the account, the money in the offset account is offset daily against your mortgage, reducing the interest payable on your mortgage. For example, if you have $20,000 in your offset account and a mortgage of $400,000, you will only be charged interest on $380,000 rather than the full $400,000. This can drastically reduce the length of your mortgage and the amount you need to pay in the long term.
As you are not earning compound interest from the money in the offset account, you are not liable to pay tax on that money. Instead you are increasing the equity in your property.
As the mortgage account is like any other transaction account, you can deposit and withdraw funds such as your salary without incurring access fees. As the offset amount is calculated daily, you can keep a lump sum in the account for emergencies while reducing interest on your loan.
However, some lenders do place restrictions such as minimum transaction amounts and withdrawal fees which could end up costing more than the interest you save.
The people who benefit most from offset accounts are those who can keep a significant sum of money in an accessible account over the long term. If you are instinctively a saver, an offset account is preferable to having to pay tax on interest, as you are making significant gains through equity. It also gives you a flexible alternative to paying extra money directly into the mortgage, as you can still access the funds quickly and without penalty in case of emergency.
Even having your salary deposited into your offset account ensures that for one day at least you will reduce the interest payable on your mortgage for that day. However, if you are only keeping a small minimum balance in the offset account, the interest savings will not be so significant.
Talk to your mortgage broker or financial advisor about whether an offset account would be suited to your current circumstances. And before opening an offset account, make sure you are fully aware of any fees or conditions that may have a negative impact on the long term benefits.
If you would like more information about how an offset account could work for you, contact us today for a personal appraisal.
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