Money Advice Service

Interest rates can have an impact on a wide range of areas including mortgages, borrowing, pensions and savings. The Bank of England sets the bank rate (or ‘base rate’) for the UK, which is currently 0.75%. This, in turn, can influence the cost of borrowing or the rate of interest charged when financial institutions, such as banks, lend money.

What does an interest rate rise mean?

Interest rates in the UK are set by the Monitory Policy Committee (MPC) of the Bank of England (BoE). This is the interest rate at which banks borrow from the BoE.

When you hear on the news that interest rates have gone up, it means the MPC has decided to increase the base rate.

What happens when interest rates rise?

Banks are not obliged to follow Bank of England interest rate decisions, but they can influence the cost of borrowing, or how much interest you earn on savings.

Impact of interest rates rise on mortgages

Did you know

18% of mortgage holders don’t realise an interest rates rise might increase repayments

Source: Harris Interactive, 2017

When, and if, your mortgage repayments are affected by an interest rate change will depend on what type of mortgage you have and/or when your current deal ends.

If you have a variable rate tracker mortgage, linked to the BoE base rate you are likely to see an immediate impact on your mortgage repayments if there is an interest rate rise.

Those on standard variable rate mortgage will probably see an increase in their rate in line with any interest rate rise. How much is decided by your lender, so this isn’t guaranteed. If you are unsure, check your mortgage terms and conditions in your original mortgage offer document.

People with fixed rate mortgages are likely to be affected once they reach the end of their current deal. An interest rate rise could make re-mortgaging more expensive.

Have a financial plan in place

It’s a good idea to have a financial plan in place to deal with any potential interest rate changes. Current forecasts indicate that changes are likely to be small, but steady, so while a 0.25% rate rise might not set alarm bells ringing, several consecutive raises could have a significant impact.

The table shows how much more you’d have to pay on a £200,000 mortgage (where the current interest rate is 2.5% and monthly repayments are £897) if interest rates increase.

0.25% 0.5% 0.75% 1% 2%
Monthly payment £922.62 £948.42 £974.63 £1,001.25 £1,111.66
Monthly increase £25.39 £51.19 £77.40 £104.02 £214.43

Seven tips for managing an interest rate rise on your mortgage

1. Find out what mortgage you’re on

How you will be affected by an interest rate rise depends on what mortgage you’re on and when your deal comes to an end. If you don’t know, check your paperwork or with your mortgage provider to find out. Read our guide for more help understanding the different types of mortgages.

2. Work out how an interest rate rise will affect you

Now you know what mortgage you’re on you are in a better position to find out how this will affect your finances and when you’re likely to see this change. Use the Money Saving Expert Calculator to work out the impact.

3. Work out what you can afford

If your mortgage repayments are likely to go up, work out if you can afford the increase. Create a budget and see if there are any areas you might be able to cut back. If the increases are likely to be in the future, then start building up a savings buffer so you will be able to afford them when they hit.

4. If you’re worried about how to afford this

You don’t have to be in debt to seek help. A debt adviser can help you budget and assess your income/expenditure early before you get into any financial difficulty. Use our debt advice locator tool to find free debt advice.

5. Build up your credit score

It might seem like a strange time to be focusing on this, but by working to improve your credit score, you will be able to get a better deal when your deal comes to an end or you remortgage.

6. Make sure you’re on the best deal

If you’re current deal is coming to an end you should definitely be looking switching to make sure you’re on the best rate. But it can also be worth looking if you’ve got some time left on your current deal. You might have to pay some fees, but if the savings are worth it you should still switch. For more information on comparing mortgage deals read our page on reviewing your mortgage regularly.

7. Overpay your mortgage

It might be a little while before an interest rate rise hits you in the pocket, so take advantage of the low rate you’re currently enjoying and pay extra. There are limits on how much you can overpay and there might also be charges, so you should check with your mortgage provider first. Read our page on paying off your mortgage early.

Impact of interest rates rise on borrowers

Other forms of borrowing (non-mortgage), both secured and unsecured, could be affected by an interest rate rise. This might include any current borrowing you have in the form of loans, credit cards and overdrafts.

If you already have borrowing

Most unsecured borrowing such as a personal loan, for example, finance to buy a car, won’t usually be affected by an interest rate change. This is because you agreed to a fixed rate of interest when you took out the loan.

It’s also possible for the interest rate on your credit card or overdraft to rise, although they are not directly linked any change in the BoE base rate. However, you will be given notice before this happens, subject to the terms and conditions of your account.

You have the option to cancel the credit card and repay the outstanding balance within 60 days. Any interest added during this time will be charged at the lower rate.

Check out our guide to credit cards for more information.

On future borrowing

If you are looking to take out a personal loan after an interest rate rise, you may find the cost of new borrowing has increased.

Impact of interest rates rise on savers

It’s not all bad news when interest rates go up. If you’re a saver you could see an increase in the rates you are getting on variable rate saving accounts and Cash ISAs.

Banks and building societies will compete to offer the best interest rates on savings accounts. This means it’s very important to shop around to make sure you are on the right account for you with the best interest rate.

Interest rates rises and pensions

Interest rate rises can be good news for people about to buy an annuity. Annuities rates are link to gilt yields and pay a guaranteed income for life. The income you receive can be locked in on the day you purchase your annuity (subject to indexing etc.), so current annuity rates can make a big difference to your long-term financial security.

If you’re looking to buy an annuity, an interest rate rise can be very good news as it means you’ll get a better rate of return.

Everything you need to know about using your pension pot to buy an annuity.

People who have already taken out an annuity cannot switch, however, you can still benefit from better interest rates by putting the money from the annuity into a savings account.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.