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Nationwide or Santander mortgage borrower? You've now only got four months to lock in a new rate ahead of your current deal ending

If you're a Nationwide or Santander mortgage borrower you can now only lock in a new rate up to four months ahead of your current deal ending – down from six months. It means you've less time to insure yourself against rates rising before your existing mortgage comes to an end. 

Nearly every UK mortgage lender had allowed existing borrowers to lock in a new rate up to six months before their current deal ran out following the introduction of the Government's 'mortgage charter' in June 2023. This support was designed to give borrowers greater flexibility at a time when mortgage rates were volatile.

But Nationwide and Santander are reducing this period, due to what they see as a stabilising mortgage market and a lack of borrowers locking in new rates so far in advance. Prior to 2022/23, four months had been a typical product transfer window. Ray Boulger, of broker John Charcol, said: "Now the panic on rates is over, I think it is fair for lenders to reassess the length of the product transfer window."

Fixed mortgage rates have risen steadily for much of 2024, though they've recently plateaued. Two- and five-year fixed deals currently start from 4.78% and 4.28% respectively. A cut to the Bank of England's 5.25% base could lead to a marginal drop in fixed mortgage rates, though a fall is not widely anticipated at the next meeting on 20 June. 

Need a new mortgage? Use our Product transfer tool to see the best new rates your lender is offering.

Other major lenders still let you lock in a new deal six months ahead

Most major lenders are still offering six-month product transfer periods, as you can see from the table below. 

Product transfer periods by lender

Lender Changed / changing its rules? How far in advance you can start the process
Barclays No Six months
Halifax No Six months
HSBC No Six months
Lloyds No Six months
Nationwide Yes Decreased to four months in May 2024
NatWest No Six months
Santander Yes Decreasing to four months on a staggered basis from June 2024
Virgin Money No Six months

Correct as of 10 June 2024. 

It's often sensible to start the mortgage-switching process early

If your mortgage deal is ending, check how far in advance you can lock in a new rate beforehand. This applies whether you're getting a new deal from your existing lender (a 'product transfer') or from a different lender entirely (a 'remortgage').

Not only does locking in early prevent you from rolling on to your lender's standard variable rate (SVR) – which is likely to be around 7.5% to 8.5%, it can also act as insurance against interest rates rising before your current deal ends. If rates fall, you can often ditch the mortgage you secured early without paying a penalty and get one at a lower rate. 

Watch to watch out for when locking in early

Before locking in a new mortgage deal early – be that a product transfer or remortgage – check the following: 

  • Do you need to pay fees upfront to secure the rate? If so, you're less likely to be able to ditch the rate penalty-free if a better rate comes along in the meantime. 
  • Do you need to ditch the rate within a set period? Most lenders won't let you ditch a deal 14 days or less before the new rate is about to start. So, factor this in.
  • Do you have two new mortgages set to start concurrently? This can happen if you lock in a new rate with your existing lender, then decide to get a new deal from a different lender, but forget to cancel the one you don't want. In this scenario, you may need to pay an early repayment charge (which can cost £1,000s) if you leave cancelling too late.

See our Product transfer mortgages guide for more on how a product transfer compares to a remortgage. If you're considering a remortgage, see our Getting ready to remortgage guide for information on what it involves.

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