UK interest rates are at a 325-year low, at 0.1%. In normal times that’d mean super-cheap mortgages, yet we don’t live in normal times.

Lenders have toughened up their acceptance criteria, so rates are cheap, but tough to get. And many are struggling to pay, so the regulator has confirmed ANOTHER three-month extension to mortgage payment holidays.

All in all, there’s a lot to think about, but get it right and savings could be huge… Mortgage payment holidays have been extended till 31 October.

On Thursday 4 June, the regulator the Financial Conduct Authority’s new rules came into play that extend mortgage payment holidays. These do two things…

Mortgage holders who haven't yet applied for a payment holiday have until 31 October

The application deadline was 20 June, but that’s now been extended to 31 October. So, those who were holding off applying, have a bit more time to decide as to whether they need it or not. The ban on repossessions has been extended until this date too.

Mortgage holders already on a payment holiday should be able to extend it for a further three months

If you can't start making payments on your mortgage once your initial deferral comes to an end, you can ask to extend it or have a partial payment holiday. If the lender thinks this would land you in financial difficulty, it’ll be able to deny the payment holiday but should offer other help.

Only take a mortgage holiday if you really need it – it can hurt your credit score

A mortgage holiday only defers your payments. You still have to catch up later, and crucially interest still accrues during the payment holiday. That means once you start repaying, you’ll pay more than you were.

For example, if your mortgage payments are £700/mth, and you’ve 20 years left on the term – take a full mortgage holiday and pay nothing for six months – then at the end of it your monthly payment is recalculated to include the missed payments and the interest accrued, over the remaining 19 years and 6 months, so you’d then pay roughly £725/mth.

Plus, when mortgage payment holidays were first announced a big play was made of the fact it won’t go on your credit file, that’s still true, but it can still affect your ability to get future credit. I revealed this on my site after investigating a tip off in early May. Having then checked it out and discussed it with the regulator, it included it in its official extension announcement.

The issue is lenders can look at other factors such as open banking or your payment history to see you’ve had a payment holiday – what’s still open to question is how much it’ll impact your ability to get future deals we’re yet to see.

So, if you’re really struggling with finances and need it, then do take a mortgage payment holiday, both to help cashflow and because if you ended up missing payments without agreeing a holiday it’ll destroy your ability to get a future cheap mortgage. Yet if you don’t need it, don’t do it – it’s not worth it, or at least minimise it, and get a partial repayment holiday.

Everyone still check if you can cut the cost of your existing mortgage 

Mortgage rates are still very cheap. The big issue is to get a decent deal, or even a deal at all, you’ll need a decent chunk of equity in your house. Those with less than 10% equity, so looking for a mortgage with a Loan-To-Value (LTV) of 90% or more will struggle.

Yet if you do have equity there are 2-year fixes from 1.14% if you’ve decent equity and 5-year fixes from 1.35%. For someone on a typical 4% standard variable rate with a £100,000 mortgage there’s a saving of £1,800/year in repayments, switching to a 2yr fix at 1.14%.

Three steps to see if you can cut mortgage costs

1) Ask your existing lender what its best deals are. As you're not switching between lenders, you may not need to pay costly fees - and it can set a benchmark for what to beat.

2) Use a whole of market comparison site to benchmark deals. Use one that includes all deals, including ‘direct only’, those that aren’t offered by a broker. These include my That also automatically factors in fees too – as the smaller your mortgage, the bigger the impact of fees.

3) Use a mortgage broker to finesse which is the best deal. What really counts is not ‘what’s the cheapest mortgage’ but ‘what’s the cheapest mortgage I’ll be accepted for’. This includes affordability and credit scoring too. And right now, it’s tougher for many, as if you’re on furlough, expect them to use that as the income to calculate affordability. Plus, sadly, if you’re in one of the industries which is harder hit, like hospitality or travel, again that can make things tough.

Yet the information about which mortgage will accept you isn’t available to the general public. That’s where a good fee-free broker can help as they have that information.

Should you go for a fixed or variable rate

The advantage of a fix is you get price and budgeting certainty that the rate won't move for a set time – so if that’s important for you – which it is for many right now - err on the side of fixing, and fixing for longer. Of course things could get cheaper – so this is more about peace of mind you know what you’ll pay.

Whereas variable deals move with the UK interest rate (and sometimes just at the provider's whim). Generally, you pay a little more to fix, but not much.

Martin Lewis is the Founder of

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