Whether you're a first-time buyer, home mover or are remortgaging, there are pros and cons to taking out a fixed-rate mortgage versus a variable-rate deal - but some mortgages offer a taste of both.
These so-called 'hybrid' mortgages start off with a fixed-rate period, then switch to a discounted variable rate for a set timeframe afterwards.
So, are there benefits to this type of mortgage? Or would you be better off opting for a straightforward fixed-rate or discount deal instead?
Which? explains the ins and outs of hybrid mortgages, and how these types of deal measure up.
With a standard two-year fixed-rate mortgage, for example, you would lock your interest rate in for two years. After that, you would generally start paying the lender's until you either remortgage or pay off the loan.
With a hybrid deal, you would also have a two-year fixed-rate period - but would then shift to a discounted rate (set at a percentage below the SVR) for a further period, often three years. Only after that would you move onto the SVR.
These loans remain very rare, making up just 4% of the total market. Six providers currently offer these (links take you to our review of each provider):
To find the lowest-rate deals that combine fixed rates with a discount period, Which? Money analysed thousands of deals on Moneyfacts.
The cheapest deal is from Yorkshire Building Society, which offers a 1.79% initial rate, fixed for two years. Afterwards, you pay 4.25% for a further three years (a 0.74% discount on the SVR). The overall APRC is 4.2%.
Accord Mortgages, meanwhile, offers a 1.97% initial rate for two years, followed by a 4.25% discounted rate for three years. The APRC is 4.5%.
You can see the best-rate deal from each provider for a two-year fixed-rate mortgage at 90% LTV below:
|Provider||Initial rate (two years)||Revert rate (three years)||APRC||Fees|
|Yorkshire Building Society||1.79%||4.25% (discount of 0.74%)||4.2%||£1,495|
|Accord Mortgages||1.97%||4.25% (discount of 0.74%)||4.5%||£995|
|Skipton Building Society||2.09%||3.99% (discount of 1%)||4.5%||£995|
|Chelsea Building Society||2.11%||4.25% (discount 0.74%)||4.3%||£495|
|Newcastle Building Society||2.28%||4.49% (discount of 1.5%)||5.1%||£498|
|Hinckley & Rugby Building Society||2.39%||4.49% (discount of 1.65%)||5.1%||£999|
|Leeds Building Society||2.44%||4.69% (discount of 1%)||5%||£999|
If you're looking to buy a home, you may be better off opting for a standard two-year fixed-rate product instead.
Not only are many of the initial rates cheaper, but the SVRs offered by larger banks and building societies tend to be lower than even the discounted rates offered by their smaller rivals.
So, for example, at a 90% LTV, you could take out a two-year fixed rate deal from Barclays at just 1.44%, which reverts to 4.24% - below the discounted rate offered by Yorkshire Building Society. The overall APRC is a comparable 4.2%.
Indeed, the existing borrower rates offered by Newcastle Building Society, Leeds Building Society and Hinckley & Rugby are in the bottom quarter of all mortgage lenders. So even a discount may make your rate higher than you would pay on other providers' SVRs.
If you opt for a fixed-rate deal, you'll only have one rate change over the course of a five-year period, not two. So you won't experience a shock when your discount period ends and your monthly payments suddenly jump up.
Then again, a hybrid deal may allow you to put off remortgaging (switching to a new deal) for five years, rather than doing it after two, as you will still pay less than the SVR after your fixed term expires.
Understanding the different types of mortgages can be tricky, but it's worth getting your head around the pros and cons of each before you apply for a loan.
Keep in mind that both fixed-rate and variable-rate deals tend to be offered for specific time periods, usually two or five years. After this, you'll usually pay the lender's (unless you opt for one of the hybrid products).
Pros: Your interest rate will stay the same for a specified time, protecting you from unexpected increases. You can budget for your monthly repayments in advance, safe in the knowledge they're unlikely to change.
Cons: If you want to repay before the end of the term - for example, because you're selling up - you may face an early repayment charge, which could be hefty. These types of deals may also be more expensive than variable-rate products.
Pros: You'll benefit if interest rates drop. You may pay lower interest than with a fixed-rate deal (though not always). These deals are usually flexible, meaning you may not have to pay an early repayment charge if you move house and exit the mortgage early.
Cons: Your interest rate could increase at any time, so you could find your monthly payments jump up without warning. This could make it tricky to budget into the future, and could strain your household finances.
If you're confused about your options, or you want to save time by getting an expert to recommend the best mortgage for you, it's worth speaking to an expert mortgage broker.