Your Mortgage Gold AwardBest Standard Variable Bank - Mortgage of the Year Awards 2012

ME Bank’s Member Package Ultimate Offset Account has successfully defended its 2011 title of Best Standard Variable product offered by a bank. 

A low interest rate is available to eligible members of ME Bank affiliated super funds and unions, so if you fit the bill or are able to sign up, a good deal on a home loan may be awaiting you.

Featuring a 100% offset account with direct salary crediting, the Member Package Ultimate Offset Account gives members the opportunity to pay far less interest over the life of the loan, for an annual fee of $395.

Lending amounts start at a low $50,000, and that’s one of the key elements of the ME Bank product that separates it from its rivals, as borrowers can enjoy the benefits of a packaged loan without having to borrow the minimum $250,000 that’s a common condition with the majority of lenders.

The maximum LVR is 95% with LMI, giving first home buyers an opportunity to enter the market with a small deposit. The maximum LVR without LMI is a standard 80%.

The loan can be accessed through phone and internet services and there’s free unlimited access of funds via ME Bank, Westpac, St George and Bank SA ATMs, over the counter at Australia Post outlets – or at any EFTPOS terminal.

ING’s Orange Advantage loan registered a handy second overall, with an interest rate of 6.59% (comparison rate 6.7%).  The low interest rate is part of an ING deal offering a rate reduction of 0.25% for loans of more than $300,000. The ongoing annual fee of $199 is less than the ME fee and allows access to all the perks of a featured loan. There’s a 100% offset account, unlimited extra repayments and loan redraw, and free use of any ATM – provided you withdraw a minimum of $200 in a single transaction. The loan also gives you the option to pay either interest only (IO) or principal and interest (PI).

NAB dropped to third place in 2012 for its NAB Choice Package product, featuring an attractive interest rate of 6.61% (comparison rate 6.8%). The loan includes a fee-free credit card and the option to make unlimited extra repayments, although these come with a fee of $360 each time. An annual fee of $395 offsets a $0 start-up cost. As a bonus, borrowers can get discounts on term deposits, margin lending and insurance, as well as a free transaction account.