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What are Interest Rates in Australia?

John Tran
September 19, 2022
What are Interest Rates in Australia?

Interest rates play a critical role in the economy and can greatly impact your finances. It is set by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), which is responsible for monetary policy in the country. The RBA uses interest rates to influence economic activity and inflation.

In this article, we'll look at what are interest rates in Australia, the different interest rate terms, and how you can calculate them.

What is an Interest Rate?

Interest rates in Australia are the rate at which banks and other financial institutions lend money to one another, like businesses and consumers. The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) sets the country's official interest rate, which is used as a benchmark by lenders when setting their rates.

Interest rates have a significant impact on investment and spending choices, which is important for the economy. People are less inclined to borrow money and spend it when interest rates are high since borrowing money is more expensive. Lessening economic growth may result from this. In contrast, people are more likely to borrow and spend money when rates are low, which can increase economic activity.

Interest rates are only one of the variables affecting consumers' spending and investing choices. Income levels, confidence levels, and tax rates are further considerations.

What are Interest Rates?

The sum of money a lender charges a borrower for utilising money is known as an interest rate. The cost may be assessed on a daily, monthly, or annual basis. A percentage of the total loan amount may also be used to calculate the interest rate. You must pay back the principal amount borrowed plus interest. The expense of borrowing money is the interest.

While applying for a mortgage, you should be aware with the following words related to interest rates:

What is Comparison Rate Home?

A comparative rate is the true cost of a loan when all expenses are taken into account. Comparing home loan rates is important, but the comparative rate provides you a better idea of what you'll actually pay.

Let's imagine, for illustration purposes, that you are comparing two house loans with interest rates of 5% and 5.5% annually. A loan with a lower interest rate could appear like a great deal at first glance. The total cost, however, can be more than with the loan with the higher rate if the loan contains higher costs.

The comparison rate takes all of these factors into account, so it's a good way to compare home loans and ensure you're getting the best deal.

What is a Variable Interest Rate?

Most people are familiar with the concept of a variable interest rate. It is when the rate on your loan can go up and down, along with the changes in the market. But what does this actually mean for borrowers in Australia?

To understand how a variable interest rate works, it's important first to understand what factors influence it. The most crucial factor is the cash rate, which is set by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA). The RBA meets monthly to discuss economic conditions and make any necessary changes to the cash rate.

When the RBA raises or lowers the cash rate, this usually has a flow-on effect on variable interest rates charged by banks and other lenders. If the cash rate goes up, variable interest rates typically go up too. And if the cash rate goes down, variable interest rates also usually go down.

If you have a loan with a variable interest rate, then your repayments will also change. This means that your repayments could increase if rates rise or decrease if rates fall.

What is a Fixed Interest Rate?

An interest rate that is fixed is one in which the interest rate does not change over time. It might range from one to five years. The interest rate will return to its initial variable interest rate after this predetermined time period. Given that they would know exactly how much they must pay each month, this gives borrowers some assurance regarding their repayment obligations. Also, you will continue to pay the lower, fixed rate even if interest rates increase throughout the fixed period.

However, if rates fall during the fixed period, you will not benefit from these lower rates, and your repayments will remain the same. There are pros and cons to having a fixed interest rate, so weighing these before deciding if it's the right option is essential.

If you're considering fixing your interest rate, you should speak to a mortgage broker who can help you compare different products and find the best deal for your needs.

What is the Cash Rate?

The Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) official interest rate is the cash rate. It influences the interest rates offered by banks and other financial institutions. The RBA reviews the cash rate eight times a year, with any changes taking effect the following day.

When the cash rate is increased, it becomes more expensive for banks to borrow money from the RBA. This often leads to increased customer interest rates, as banks pass on the higher costs to their borrowers. A higher cash rate can also lead to a stronger Australian dollar as investors seek out higher-yielding assets.

The RBA uses the cash rate as one of its main tools to influence inflation and maintain economic growth. By changing the cash rate, the RBA can make it more or less expensive for people to borrow money, which can help to keep inflation under control.

Will Interest Rates go up in 2022?

With back-to-back 0.50% hikes, the Reserve Bank of Australia has finally unwound its pandemic-era interest rate cuts. But how high is the central bank willing to go to contain inflation?

With prices rising across several key categories, including housing and energy, there are concerns that inflation could start to pick up further in the months ahead. As such, the RBA is now in a tight spot. If it raises rates too quickly, it risks stifling economic growth. But inflation could spiral out of control if it keeps rates low for too long.

According to a recent news release, ANZ and Westpac are both forecasting the RBA cash rate will increase to 3.35% by November and February (respectively) next year, meaning homeowners with variable rate mortgages can expect their repayments to rise.

So far, the RBA has been relatively tight-lipped on its plans for the future. However, with inflation expected to pick up in the months ahead, it seems likely that the central bank will continue to raise rates slowly to keep inflation in check.

How to Calculate Interest Rates?

When it comes to calculating interest rates in Australia, there are a few different methods that can be used. The most common way is to use the simple interest method of calculation. (source:squareup)

The formula for this method is:

(Principal x Rate x Time)/100 = The Amount of Simple Interest

For example, you took out a loan of $15,000 at an interest rate of 5% for a long term of one year. If we compute this using the simple interest formula, this is what you will get:

(15,000 x 5 x 1)/100 = $750

So throughout your loan, you will pay $750 of interest. If the loan period is extended, you will pay an additional $750 for every year your add.


When you shop for a loan, you will want to compare interest rates and fees from different lenders. Make sure you are comparing loans with similar terms and conditions. Otherwise, you won't be able to compare your options accurately.

Interest rates are essential in deciding whether to take out a loan. But keep in mind that they are not the only factor. You also need to consider the size of the loan, the repayment terms, and your financial situation.

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