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5 Tips for Finding the Best Refinance Mortgage Lenders

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Refinancing your home loan can save you money, but you have to choose the right refinance mortgage lender.

NOTE: Due to the coronavirus outbreak, refinancing may be a bit of a challenge. Lenders are dealing with high loan demand and staffing issues. If you can’t pay your current home loan, refer to our mortgage assistance resource. For the latest information on how to cope with financial stress during this emergency, see NerdWallet’s financial guide to COVID-19.

When you decide it’s time to refinance your mortgage, either with a better rate, lower payment or a change in terms — or to get some cash — it’s natural to think, “I’ll just go to my current mortgage lender.”

And that’s fine, as long as you take these five steps to make sure you're getting the best refi deal. Read more about each tip below the list of lenders.

How to find the best refinance mortgage lender

  1. Know your credit score. If your score increased since buying your home, you could get a better rate.

  2. Shop multiple refi lenders. Get a quote from your current lender plus others to avoid missed savings.

  3. Negotiate for lower refinance fees. Why pay higher origination fees than you have to?

  4. Examine the payment rate and APR. The annual percentage rate best reflects your loan's total cost.

  5. Match the refi lender to your situation. Make sure they have the refinance rates, products and services you want.

NerdWallet has researched some of the best available refinance lenders to help you quickly find the right one for your needs.

Summary of 5 Tips for Finding the Best Refinance Mortgage Lenders

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at Rocket Mortgage

Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans: NMLS#3030

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Min. Credit Score

620

National / Regional

National

at Rocket Mortgage


Why we like it

Good for: refinance borrowers who want a fully digital home loan experience powered by Quicken Loans.

Pros

  • Offers conventional and government-backed refinance mortgages.

  • Customized loan recommendations based on refinance goals.

  • Offers document and asset retrieval capabilities.

Cons

  • If you’re a “look me in the eye” type of customer, you’re out of luck.

  • Getting a customized interest rate requires a credit check, which can lower your credit score by a few points.

Read Full Review
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at Reali Loans

Reali Loans: NMLS#991397

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Min. Credit Score

620

National / Regional

Regional

at Reali Loans


Why we like it

Good for: borrowers looking for an online mortgage application experience.

Pros

  • Offers a completely online application process.

  • Provides customized rate quotes online.

Cons

  • No FHA, VA or USDA refinance products.

  • Available only in a dozen states.

Read Full Review

SunTrust: NMLS#2915

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Min. Credit Score

620

National / Regional

National


Why we like it

Ideal for the homeowner who wants to refinance but needs help figuring out which type of mortgage to choose. SunTrust offers a broad range of loan types, including FHA, VA, USDA and conventional mortgages.

Pros

  • Offers refinance loans with fixed and adjustable rates.

  • Offers a wide variety of loan options, including special programs for doctors, entrepreneurs and other professionals.

  • Offers a complete suite of online mortgage application tools and loan tracking.

  • Sample rates and fees are easy to find on the website.

Cons

  • Customized rates aren't available online without starting an application.

  • Branches are limited mostly to the Southeast.

Read Full Review
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at Guaranteed Rate

Guaranteed Rate: NMLS#2611

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Min. Credit Score

620

National / Regional

National

at Guaranteed Rate


Why we like it

Good for homeowners who are looking to refinance conventional, FHA or VA mortgages.

Pros

  • Offers the ability to securely upload and digitally sign loan documents.

  • Displays detailed sample rates for many of its refinance loan products.

Cons

  • Charges some fees, such as a lender fee which includes an application fee.

Read Full Review

Connexus: NMLS#649316

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Min. Credit Score

640

National / Regional

National


Why we like it

Good for: home buyers who want a low-down-payment conventional mortgage.

Pros

  • Offers a range of fixed-rate and adjustable-rate refinancing options in most states.

  • Displays sample rates for its entire array of loan products, and you don't need to provide personal information to get a custom rate quote.

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer government-backed refinance options, like FHA or VA.

  • Lacks document upload and online loan tracking capabilities.

Read Full Review

Alliant: NMLS#197185

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Min. Credit Score

NA

National / Regional

National


Why we like it

Good for: refinancers who prefer a digital application process.

Pros

  • Low- or no-down-payment options with no mortgage insurance.

  • Mortgages are available for non-warrantable condominiums.

Cons

  • Does not offer government-backed mortgages, like FHA and VA loans.

  • Does not offer renovation mortgages.

Read Full Review

5 tips for finding the best refinance mortgage lenders

To find a refinance lender that meets your needs, use these five tips.

1. Check your credit score for free

For the most part, your credit score determines your interest rate. The higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate. Maybe your score has changed, for better or for worse, since closing your original home loan.

If you are refinancing with a spouse or partner, the lender will likely consider the lowest middle score between the two of you.

Knowing your score can help you see where the next price break might be. For example, look at this FICO mortgage rate chart, broken down by credit score ranges. According to this, if your credit score is in the 680 to 699 range, it might be worth the time and effort to pay off a few credit cards and get your score above 700. The interest rate improvement looks pretty appealing.

Of course, every lender has its own method of pricing loans, so that FICO chart is not the law of the land. But it will help you narrow down the lenders offering you something close to the interest rate you deserve, based on your credit score.

2. Shop around for the best refi

Even if you go back to your current mortgage lender for your refinance, shop at least a couple of other lenders to see how interest rates and terms compare.

You might believe that going to your existing lender will save you time and hassle. “They know us, they’ve already got all of our paperwork,” you may think. If only that were true. It’s a new loan for them, just like it’s a new loan for any lender. The paperwork will be the same.

When lenders know you’re shopping around, they are more likely to compete.

3. Negotiate for the lowest lender fees

Yes, you can negotiate. Just as you did when you bought your house, everything can be negotiated. Third-party fees, like appraisals and attorney’s fees, are harder to bargain for — but not impossible. Lender fees are fair game.

Ask each lender, “What are all of the ‘origination charges’ that I will find listed on the Loan Estimate, under Loan Costs, Item A if we proceed?" Use those exact words and get the answer in writing. Now you can compare lenders' fees.

4. Know the difference between your payment rate and APR

You’ve been through the mortgage process before, so you’ve got an idea how all of this works. Still, some mortgage lenders can toss out a bunch of terms and conditions that can muddle the process. Interest rates are sometimes the most confusing.

As you compare lender offers, look for your payment rate — the rate your monthly payment is based on — and the annual percentage rate. Naturally, you’ll be very interested in the payment rate; that’s what every lender is hawking. But the APR wraps your payment rate together with all the fees you’re charged. This is an important consideration when choosing who gets your business.

Try out the NerdWallet Mortgage APR Calculator to see the relationship between interest rates and APR.

5. Consider how well lenders match your situation

You might like the “we’re your neighbors” vibe of a credit union or the ’round-the-clock convenience of an online lender. Lenders have specific personalities and capabilities. Some are well-versed in government loan refinancing; others are noted for outstanding customer service. You’re the customer, you decide what you need and what's most important.

We’ve assembled some of the leading refi lenders for different situations below. And for more options, see our complete list of the best refinance lenders.

More from NerdWallet

Last updated on July 2, 2019

Methodology

NerdWallet's star ratings for mortgage lenders are awarded based on our evaluation of the products and services each lender offers to consumers who are actively shopping for the best mortgage. The five key areas we evaluated include the variety of loan types and products offered, online conveniences, online mortgage rate information, and the rate spread and origination fee lenders reported in the latest available Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data. To ensure consistency, our ratings are reviewed by multiple people on the NerdWallet Mortgages team.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's 5 Tips for Finding the Best Refinance Mortgage Lenders