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What is an Offset Account

17 October 2023
• 4 minute read
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The world of home loans is filled with specialist jargon you may or may not be familiar with. But if there’s one phrase someone looking to buy a property should make it their business to understand, it’s ‘offset account’. Why? Because if you’re in a position to do so, using one or more offset accounts could save you thousands over the life of your loan.

In this article, we take an in-depth look into how an offset account works, the potential benefits of using one, factors to consider before setting one up, and more.

What is a mortgage offset account?

A mortgage offset account is a transaction account linked to your home loan. While you can make deposits and withdrawals like any other transaction account, the difference is that the balance is ‘offset’ against the balance of your home loan. This means you only pay interest on the balance of your home loan minus the balance of your offset account.

We appreciate that this may still be a little confusing, so let’s look at an example.

How does an offset account work?

If you had a home loan balance of $500,000 with $40,000 sitting in an offset account, you would only pay interest on a home loan balance of $460,000 (i.e. $500,000 minus $40,000). Depending on the amount you keep in your offset account, this could save you a substantial sum over the life of your home loan and help you pay it off sooner.

To get an idea of what this might mean for you, why not crunch some numbers with our home loan repayment calculator?

Benefits of a mortgage offset account

The main reason to use an offset account is to reduce the amount of interest payable on your home loan. But there are a number of additional benefits worth considering.

  • Reducing your tax bill
    Interest earned on savings is taxable. However, any saving you make on home loan interest as a result of money in an offset account isn’t, as it’s not counted as income.
  • Increased savings over time
    Although an offset account doesn’t earn interest, the amount you’ll save over the life of your home loan is comparable to, and may even be greater than, the interest you’d earn if your money were in a savings account instead.
  • A convenient source of funds
    As we mentioned earlier, an offset account is just an everyday transaction account at heart. This means it’s a significantly cheaper and more convenient source of funds should you find yourself short than, say, a personal loan or credit card.

Having said this, it’s worth repeating that the less in your offset account, the less you save on home loan interest.

Factors to consider

While an offset account will normally save you money, there are a couple of caveats to be aware of.

  • Fees outweighing savings
    Some lenders charge monthly or annual fees for home loans with a linked offset account, while others charge for the offset account itself. And there’s often an establishment fee to consider too. It’s definitely a good idea to do your sums in advance to avoid paying more in fees than you save in interest.

How to apply for an offset home loan

To apply for a Great Southern Bank Offset Variable Home Loan, you must be at least 18 years old and a permanent resident of Australia. There are also different eligibility criteria depending on whether you’re an owner-occupier or an investor.

When it comes to applying, you will also need:

  • Proof of identity, such as a passport or driver’s license.
  • Details of your income and expenses.
  • Financial details, including what you own and what you owe.
  • If you are applying with another person, both applicants need to be present.

You can either apply online or, if you’d rather talk to someone, give us a call on 133 282. If you’re more of a face-to-face kind of person, don’t worry. You can always pop into your local branch for a chat.

Important Information

Eligible everyday accounts are Everyday, Everyday 55+, Everyday Business, Prime Access, Freedom Plus, Platinum Plus and Special Purpose accounts. A Mortgage Offset facility is not available on any account that has an overdraft facility and is not available on all home loan products.

The offset facility can only be established if all parties to the offset account are parties to the qualifying loan.

You must maintain a minimum balance of $500 in each offset account to obtain the benefit of the offset from that account. No credit interest will accrue to your offset account.

Customers can offset up to six (6) eligible everyday accounts against their qualifying home loan. However, each offset account can only be linked to a single qualifying loan account. The maximum number of accounts you can use as offset accounts on each qualifying loan is determined at GSB's discretion and may be subject to change.

To request an offset account be linked to your existing eligible home loan, contact us on 133 282, visit your nearest branch, or send us a secure message in Online Banking as a Home Loan Enquiry. For further information, refer to your Essential guide to your Great Southern Bank loan document, and the Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) booklet.

Conditions, fees and charges apply. This is general information and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs.  Consider the appropriateness of the information, including the Terms & Conditions (T&Cs) booklet, before acting on it.  The Financial Claims Scheme may apply to this product; refer to the T&Cs for more information.

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