BNM OPR Rate Changes: How Will It Affect You?

Tags: , , ,
OPR increase

The Monetary Policy Committee  (MPC) of Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) meets every three months to announce decisions made in managing the country’s monetary policy. One of these decisions is whether to raise, maintain or decrease the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR).

What is the OPR rate?

The Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) is the interest rate at which a bank lends to another bank. This rate is set by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM). This rate has an effect on the country’s employment, economic growth and inflation. It is an indicator of the health of a country’s overall economy and banking system.

For example,  the OPR was reduced by a cumulative 125 basis points to a historic low of 1.75% to provide support to the economy during the pandemic.

In the last 15 years, the OPR rate has risen as high as 3.5% in 2006 and stayed within the range of 3.0% to 3.25% in the last 10 years. In 2020, the rate plunged drastically to 1.75%.

BNM OPR rate history

Historically, BNM’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) would not decrease or increase the interest rate by a huge margin in one go as it would hurt the market.

The most recent decreases during the lockdown due to the pandemic were delivered in 4 consecutive reduction of 25bps (basis points) each time, totalling 100bps drop in the rate.

OPR rate Malaysia


Subsequently, as you can see below, the OPR has been increased gradually since the all time low reached back in 2020.

DateChange in OPR (%)New OPR Level (%)
7 Mar 202403.00
24 Jan 202403.00
2 Nov 202303.00
7 Sep 202303.00
6 Jul 202303.00
3 May 2023+0.253.00
3 Nov 2022+0.252.75
6 Jul 2022+0.252.50
8 Sep 2022+0.252.25
11 May 2022+0.252.00
20 Jan 2020 to 3 Mar 202201.75

Source: BNM

How will OPR changes affect you?

So, will you be paying more interest for your loans if the OPR rate goes up? What happens when the OPR rate going down?

Basically, any changes will impact floating rate loans which are common for mortgages.

Impact of OPR rate increase

An increase in OPR will likely have a knock-on effect on the rates charged by banks for home loans. This is due to banks adjusting their lending rates by a similar quantum when OPR changes.

Historically, banks will raise about 20bps to 30 bps for a 25 bps hike in OPR.

For example, if the banks decide to pass on this hike to the consumers, the Base Lending Rate (BLR) will most likely increase by 25bps (0.25%). If a bank had previously set its BLR at 5.50%, this will increase to 5.75%.

For example, if your mortgage loan is pegged to the BLR, and the OPR hike will lead to a higher mortgage interest rate, which means that you’ll be paying higher monthly repayments.

Higher monthly loan repayments if the OPR rate increase

Here’s an example of how this works:

Loan amount
Loan tenure
30 years
BR: 2.80%
BR: 2.80% + 0.25%
= 3.05%
Home loan interest rate
(2.80% + 0.8%)
(3.05% + 0.8%)
Monthly repayment
Total interest paid over 30 years


Based on the example above, the 25 bps hike will result in an additional RM25,492.40 paid in interest over a 30-year loan tenure.

Borrowers won’t be impacted severely by this immediately as can be seen the sample above. It would raise their monthly repayments by about RM71.04. However, over the entire loan period, it comes up to a substantial amount.

Impact of  OPR rate decrease

With any basis point reduction in borrowing rates, consumers will be able to see a hike in their disposable income due to the reduction in interest payments. Consumers will have more cash on hand to spend, which will likely spur the domestic economy.  The main impact will be felt in the following areas:

1. Lower loan interest rates

Any changes in the OPR will impact loans that use the Base Rate (BR) or the Base Financing Rate (BFR). This is used to determine the interest rate by which it will lend to consumers.

For example, if your mortgage loan is pegged to the BR, and OPR reduction will lead to a lower mortgage interest rate, which means that you’ll be paying lower monthly repayments. Here’s an example of how this works if the OPR rate is reduced by 0.25%.

Loan amount
Loan tenure
30 years
BR: 2.80%
BR: 2.80% - 0.25%
= 2.55%
Home loan interest rate
(2.80% + 0.8%)
(2.55% + 0.8%)
Monthly repayment
Total interest paid over 30 years

2. Lower returns for savings accounts and fixed deposits

An OPR reduction is good news for those taking out property loans. However, savers looking for more returns on their savings accounts and fixed deposits will be disappointed. The interest rates for these savings instruments will be reduced in tandem with the OPR cut.

But this won’t affect any fixed deposits that you have placed prior to the bank’s revision of fixed deposit rates.

How will it affect the country?

Normally, OPR rate increases are related to headline inflation. Increasing the OPR rate is one of the measures used by the central bank to reign in the core inflation. These increases are designed to still remain supportive of the economy and is consistent with the current assessment of the inflation and growth prospects.

On the other hand, reducing the OPR rate is a measure used to provide monetary accommodation when growth outlook is weak. For example, the central bank reduced the OPR to help the economy recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Latest news on OPR rate Malaysia

For May 2024, analysts say that the MPC will likely keep rates unchanged.

The  recent MPC’s meeting in March 2024 had decided to maintain the OPR rate in Malaysia at 3.00%. The committee’s statement highlighted that “both headline and core inflation continued to moderate in the fourth quarter, mainly due to lower cost pressures amid stabilising demand conditions”.

The last time the MPC raised the OPR rate was back in May 2023.

This article has been updated on May 7, 2024.

Get free weekly money tips!

*Free of charge. Unsubscribe anytime.
newsletter image