Understanding different types of mortgages

When choosing a mortgage, don’t just focus on the interest rate and fees you’ll be charged. You also need to consider what type of mortgage you want. Read my guide to find out the pros and cons of various mortgage types.


Mortgages fall into two main categories:
  • Fixed rate – the interest you’re charged stays the same for a number of years, typically between two to five years
  • Variable rate – the interest you pay can change

Fixed rate mortgages

The interest rate you pay will stay the same throughout the length of the deal no matter what happens to interest rates. You’ll see them advertised as ‘two-year fix’ or ‘five-year fix’, for example, along with the interest rate charged for that period.


  • Peace of mind that your monthly payments will stay the same, helping you to budget


  • Fixed rate deals are usually slightly higher than variable rate mortgages
    If interest rates fall, you won’t benefit
    Watch out for
  • Charges if you want to leave the deal early – you are tied in for the length of the fix

The end of the fixed period – you should look for a new mortgage deal two to three months before it ends or you’ll be moved automatically onto your lender’s standard variable rate which is usually higher.

Variable rate mortgages

With variable rate mortgages, the interest rate can change at any time. Make sure you have some savings set aside so that you can afford an increase in your payments if rates do rise.

Variable rate mortgages come in various forms:

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Standard variable rate (SVR)

This is the normal interest rate your mortgage lender charges homebuyers and it will last as long as your mortgage or until you take out another mortgage deal. Changes in the interest rate may occur after a rise or fall in the base rate set by the Bank of England.


  • Freedom – you can overpay or leave at any time


  • Your rate can be changed at any time during the loan

Discount mortgages

This is a discount off the lender’s standard variable rate (SVR) and only applies for a certain length of time, typically two or three years. But it pays to shop around. SVRs differ across lenders, so don’t assume that the bigger the discount, the lower the interest rate.


Two banks have discount rates.

Bank A has a 2% discount off a SVR of 6% (so you’ll pay 4%)

Bank B has a 1.5% discount off a SVR of 5% (so you’ll pay 3.5%)

Though the discount is larger for Bank A, Bank B will be the cheaper option.


  • Cost – the rate starts off cheaper which will keep monthly repayments lower
    If the lender cuts its SVR, you’ll pay less each month


  • Budgeting – the lender is free to raise its SVR at any time
  • If Bank of England base rates rise, you’ll probably see the discount rate increase too.
  • Watch out for Charges if you want to leave before the end of the discount period

Tracker mortgages

Tracker mortgages move directly in line with another interest rate – normally the Bank of England’s base rate plus a few percent. So if the base rate goes up by 0.5%, your rate will go up by the same amount.

Usually they have a short life, typically two to five years, though some lenders offer trackers which last for the life of your mortgage or until you switch to another deal.


  • If the rate it is tracking falls, so will your mortgage payments


  • If the rate it is tracking increases, so will your mortgage payments
  • You may have to pay an early repayment charge if you want to switch before the deal ends
  • Watch out for “The small print” – check your lender can’t increase rates even when the rate your mortgage is linked to hasn’t moved. It’s rare, but it has happened in the past

Capped rate mortgages

Your rate moves in line normally with the lender’s SVR. But the cap means the rate can’t rise above a certain level.


  • Certainty – your rate won’t rise above a certain level. But make sure you could afford repayments ihome-167734_640f it rises to the level of the cap
  • Your rate will fall if the SVR comes down


  • The rate is generally higher than other variable and fixed rates
  • The cap tends to be set quite high
  • Your lender can change the rate at any time up to the level of the cap

I offer a comprehensive range of mortgage products from across the market for first charge mortgages only. I do not offer deals that you can only obtain direct to a lender. The lenders I offer mortgages from are available as an appendix which I attach with my Important Information About My Services document which I will be provided at the first meeting.

For those seeking to increase their existing borrowing, alternative finance options may be available and more appropriate for your needs. For example, a further advance from your existing lender, a second charge mortgage or an unsecured loan (e.g. a personal loan). For those seeking a ‘Retirement Interest Only Mortgage’, a ‘Lifetime Mortgage’ may be available and more appropriate for your needs. Please note that this service is offered by referral to a third party.