FIVE major lenders have increased the period of time existing customers have to lock in a new mortgage deal as interest rates rise.
Barclays, First Direct, HSBC, NatWest and Nationwide have all extended the length of time in which borrowers can reserve a new rate.
1Mortgage owners will be able to lock in new deals earlier with six major lendersCredit: Getty
Co-op Bank says it plans to make a similar change later this year.
Around 1.8million mortgage customers are on fixed deals which are set to finish at the end of this year, according to UK finance.
When they come to look for a new deal they will find rates are higher than when they last locked in their rate.
The average two year fixed mortgage is now 4.78%, compared to 2.38% the same time last year, according to MoneyFacts.

The move by the five major lenders means mortgage customers can start their “product transfer” between four to six months before their current deal ends as opposed to traditionally three and under.
This is different to re-mortgaging, which involves changing your lender.
If you don’t fix a mortgage deal before your current one ends, you will be put onto a standard variable rate, which are usually higher.
And fixing a mortgage deal at a lower rate before interest rates go up again could save thousands of pounds a year on repayments.
By extending their product transfer windows, the five lenders are allowing customers to fix deals earlier.

It means they may be able to lock in a lower interest rate before they rise again.
The Bank of England (BoE) predicts interest rates could hit 6% next year.
The central bank has already hiked the base rate seven times in a row, since last December and most recently hiked it to 2.25%,
Lenders use the BoE rate to inform the interest rates it offers customers on loans, credit cards and mortgages.
The full list of lenders upping their transfer windows includes:

Barclays – was 3 months, now 5 months
First Direct – was 3 months, now 4 months
HSBC – was 3 months, now 4 months
Nationwide – was 5 months, now 6 months
NatWest – was 4 months, now 6 months

Co-op Bank said it is planning on moving its window from four months to six but did not confirm when it would make the change.
We also asked Halifax, Lloyds, Santander and Yorkshire Building Society if they are planning to increase product transfer windows.
A Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank spokesperson said its product transfer window has been six months for “a number of years”.
A Virgin Money spokesperson said it is not planning to change its window of four months for the time being.
Nicholas Mendes, technical manager at John Charcol mortgage advisers, said increasing the product transfer window was “welcome news” for homeowners.
He said: “In a volatile market where rates can increase daily let alone waiting three months could be a costly mistake.
“Increasing the window from three to six months has allowed great transparency for homeowners on their options on whether to re-mortgage to a new lender or stay where they are.
“This also allows homeowners to secure a rate earlier and avoid any further increasing in rates.”
How can I get the best mortgage rate?
There are some ways you can pick up the best mortgage deal, if you know how.
Brokers, who act a medium between the mortgage owner and lender, can help you find the best deal by searching the market.
This can help if you need someone with specialist knowledge, like if you are self-employed or find it tricky to prove what your income is.
You can use mortgage calculators as well – they let you compare the monthly cost of a mortgage based on the interest rate and any fees you’ll have to pay.

Or, you can use a comparison website to find deals across the market based on your level of deposit and whether you want a fixed or variable rate.
Either way, you should shop around for the best mortgage deals rather than opting for the first one you see.