Benefit from the Bank's decision to freeze interest rates

Take advantage of cheap mortgages and a stronger pound...

Updated: 
20 gbp

The Bank of England surprised economists and markets alike when it decided to hold the base rate at 0.5% yesterday.

With all the post-Brexit turmoil, the expectation had been for it to cut the rate to a new low of 0.25% - especially as Governor Mark Carney had hinted that a rate cut could be on the cards.

Many market watchers believe that the base rate will still fall, possibly next month.

Adrian Lowcock, head of investing at AXA Wealth, said: "The outlook for interest rates is still towards a further cut, possibly as soon as August."

In the meantime, however, there are a number of ways you can benefit from the Bank of England's decision to hold the base rate at 0.5%.

Change your foreign currency now

When the base rate falls, Sterling tends to follow. The value of the pound therefore surged against both the euro and the dollar on news of the Bank's decision.

Lowcock said: "The quick appointment of Theresa May has also helped stabilise things, providing support to the pound."

If you need holiday money for this summer, it may therefore make sense to change it now in case rates do fall next month.

Shop around for a better savings account...

There is no doubt that savers are having a torrid time of it at the moment. But with many accounts already paying 0.25%, shopping around for the best deal can make a big difference to your returns.

Anna Bowes at website SavingsChampion said: "There are still providers that want savers' cash and are willing to pay a competitive return for it. Keeping your cash on the move is a must to improve your returns."

Or shift your savings into shares

The returns on savings accounts look set to go from bad to worse in the current interest rate environment.

Experts are therefore advising savers looking for better returns to invest in the stock market instead. Of course, they will need to understand the risks involved in investing in shares, and ensure it suits their needs.

Maike Currie at investment bank Fidelity International said: "Savers and investors looking for a decent return on their investments may need to move money further up the risk spectrum.

"Our calculations show that if you had invested £15,000 into the FTSE All Share index 10 years ago you would now be left with £25,323. If, however, you had invested £15,000 into the average UK savings account, you would have a paltry £15,976."

Lowcock's fund recommendations for savers looking for better returns include Newton Global Income, Chelverton UK Equity Income and Schroder Asian Income.

Sell your home

The Bank's decision could convince property buyers who have been spooked by Brexit and were waiting to see if rates would fall to make their move.

Estate agent Portico said: "Now we have regained some political certainty and the Bank has announced its decision to leave interest rates unchanged, those holding off hoping to get a better rate may now decide to act."

Selling now could also help you escape any downwards impact on the housing market from Brexit, which is expected to hit London prices hardest.

"The prime central London market was showing signs of a slow down prior to the Referendum," Portico said. "This is likely to continue."

Switch to a variable-rate mortgage...

Investment bank Schroders does not now expect base rate to go above its current level of 0.5% until 2020.

Ben Brettell, senior economist at adviser Hargreaves Lansdown, agrees that low interest rates look set to be with us for a while, which should keep variable-rate mortgages cheap for years to come.

"Rates could conceivably remain at rock bottom for the next five to ten years," he said. "Clearly this is good news for those with variable rate mortgages."

Or take advantage of a cheap fixed-rate deal

Despite this week's decision, mortgage lenders are responding to the growing probability of a base rate cut by launching ever lower fixed-rate deals.

For true certainty over the longer term, you may for example want to look at HSBC's 10-year fix at 2.79%, or Coventry Building Society's 10-year deal at just 2.39%.


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