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What is an interest-only mortgage?

An interest-only mortgage is one where you only pay off the interest on a home loan, rather than repaying any of the capital you borrowed. You can also get interest-only remortgages. 

Interest-only mortgages cost far less each month than repayment mortgages because your monthly repayments don't reduce the overall debt. At the end of the term, you'll still owe all the capital you originally borrowed - and you'll have to pay it back in full.

Here's an example. If you take out a £180,000 interest-only mortgage over 25 years with an interest rate of 3.5%, the monthly interest repayments would be £525 (£157,644 in total). But when the mortgage ends, you'll still owe £180,000.

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Who is Mojo?

Mojo is a free online mortgage broker. We partner with them so you can get all the mortgage support you need in one place.

Mojo will find out about your circumstances, check your eligibility, and search across the whole of market to help you secure the best mortgage for your circumstances.

An expert will be on hand to offer help and advice and you will be supported through each step of your mortgage application.

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How do interest-only mortgages work?

With interest-only mortgages, you need to find a way to pay off the balance at the end of the term. When you apply for an interest-only mortgage, you need to tell the lender how you plan to do this.

If you're a landlord, you might have a buy-to-let interest-only mortgage (BTL). This is the most common interest-only mortgage nowadays and is taken out for a rental property. You can sell the property at the end of the mortgage term and use the money you make to pay off the capital you owe.

Alternatively, you might have an interest-only residential mortgage for a property you live in. If that's the case, you'll either need to save up or invest during the mortgage term in order to repay the balance when the term ends. 

You might be able to pay off your interest-only mortgage using a lump sum of cash you've inherited. But you'll usually need to save up using either:

  • A savings account or ISA

  • An investment fund

  • An endowment policy

If you don’t have the funds, you’ll need to sell off your property to pay back the lender, but you'd need to find somewhere else to live. This might work for you, for instance, if you’re planning to downsize. Alternatively, you could try and take out a new mortgage – either on an interest-only or repayment basis.

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Can I get an interest-only mortgage?

Interest-only mortgage deals haven't been easy to get since the financial crisis in 2008. Lenders are now more cautious about offering these deals as they’re seen as much riskier.

There's only a handful of lenders who will offer interest-only mortgages. To get an interest-only mortgage, you need to meet tough affordability criteria. This includes having a large deposit and a solid repayment plan in place for how you'll pay off the balance at the end of the term.

If you do manage to get an interest-only mortgage, your lender may want to check from time to time that your repayment plan is on track.

However, when it comes to getting an interest-only mortgage, buy-to-let customers are in luck. There are still lots of interest-only mortgages available to landlords. That's because lenders have the security that the home can be sold at the end of the term.

What are the best interest-only mortgages?

The best interest-only mortgages are the ones that offer affordable monthly payments and low repayment charges. Interest-only mortgages will charge higher interest rates than a standard repayment mortgage.

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What’s the difference between interest-only and repayment mortgages?

Most property purchases are made using a repayment mortgage. This is when each monthly repayment pays off a portion of the amount borrowed, plus some interest. At the end of the mortgage term, you're guaranteed to owe nothing, and you’ll own your house in full.

By comparison, interest-only mortgages don’t make inroads into the capital amount that you owe - they only require you to pay off the interest each month. This means you will still owe the original amount borrowed once your mortgage term has come to an end.

Interest-only mortgages are not cheaper than repayment mortgages overall, but they typically cost less each month. You can work out how much you'd pay using an interest-only mortgage calculator.

Repayment mortgages usually cost more each month, but less over the mortgage's term. You'll find it easier to get a low-interest mortgage for repayment than you will to get an interest-only deal.

Advantages of interest-only mortgages

  • The monthly payments are likely to be far lower 

  • You may have spare cash, which you could use to improve your home and increase its value

  • Buy-to-let landlords can save their rent profits and put it towards paying off the mortgage at the end

  • You could make a profit if your investments perform well, which could help you pay off your mortgage early

Downsides to interest-only mortgages

  • Interest-only mortgages cost you more in the long run because you'll pay interest on the whole amount borrowed for the entire term 

  • You won't officially own your house, even when your mortgage ends. You still have to pay off the capital sum

  • There's an element of risk if you're hoping your property will be worth enough to pay off the balance at the end 

  • The strict criteria for getting an interest-only mortgage means not everybody can get one and you may need a bigger deposit

The 7 ways to save up for a deposit?

What happens at the end of an interest-only mortgage term?

As interest-only mortgages allow you to pay off just the interest each month, you will still owe the original amount borrowed once your mortgage term has come to an end.

This means you still need to repay the capital. This could be from savings, an inheritance or selling the property. Or you may be able to get another mortgage instead.

Nisha Vaidyaquotation mark
If you're looking to become a landlord and have a repayment strategy for your mortgage in place, an interest-only deal might be right for you to save on costs.
Nisha Vaidya, Mortgage Editor

Interest-only mortgage FAQs


Overall representative example

Based on borrowing£170,000 over 25 yearsThe overall cost of comparison4.46% APRC Representative
Initial rate3.34% fixed for 2 years (24 instalments of £884.45pm)Subsequent rate (SVR)4.66% variable for the remaining 23 years (276 instalments of £944.66pm)
Lender fee£517Total amount payable£282,470.34
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