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9 Best VA Mortgage Lenders for Streamline Refinance (IRRRL) of 2020

NerdWalletJanuary 2, 2020

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These lenders are all experts at VA loans and among the best for a VA streamline refinance, or IRRRL, in 2020.

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.

The VA's IRRRL — Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan — is loved by military borrowers for its easy efficiency. It's also called a "VA streamline refinance" because of its stripped-down processing requirements: No appraisal is needed, and underwriting is simplified.

Shop around when looking for an "Earl" — VA lenders vary in requirements and costs. Here are lenders that excel at IRRRL refinancing in five key ways.

Summary of Best VA Mortgage Lenders for Streamline Refinance (IRRRL) of 2020

LenderNerdWallet Rating Minimum Credit Score Minimum Down PaymentLearn More

Quicken Loans: NMLS#3030

at Quicken Loans

Best for online experience

620

3%

at Quicken Loans

Fairway Independent Mortgage: NMLS#2289

at Fairway

Best for online experience & customer service

620

3%

at Fairway

Veterans United: NMLS#1907

at Veterans United

Best for overall

660

0%

at Veterans United

Guaranteed Rate: NMLS#2611

Best for overall

620

3%

Read review

Veterans First Mortgage: NMLS#3122

Best for customer service

600

0%

Read review

Bank of America: NMLS#399802

Best for traditional banking lender

620

3%

Read review

Citibank: NMLS#412915

Best for traditional banking lender

N/A

3%

Read review

Navy Federal: NMLS#399807

Best for low-credit-score borrowers

N/A

0%

Read review

Alterra: NMLS#133739

Best for low-credit-score borrowers

620

3%

Read review
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at Quicken Loans

Quicken Loans: NMLS#3030

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Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

at Quicken Loans


Why we like it

Ideal choice for convenience and quick-response customer service. Quicken Loans provides just about all the services your neighborhood lender does — with online convenience.

Pros

  • Quicken Loans couples a fully online application with available mortgage advisors for those who want a human touch.

  • Instantly verifies employment and income for more than 60% of working Americans.

  • Offers custom fixed-rate loan terms that are between eight and 30 years.

  • Provides FHA-backed loans, USDA loans as well as products offered by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae that require down payments as low as 3%.

Cons

  • Quicken Loans doesn't offer home equity loans or HELOCs.

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

  • Doesn’t consider alternative credit data. It just looks at credit scores and debt-to-income ratios, the way most mortgage lenders always have.

Read Full Review
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at Fairway

Fairway Independent Mortgage: NMLS#2289

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Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

at Fairway


Why we like it

Ideal for borrowers who want lots of options and a quick turn time. Fairway Independent Mortgage offers a full selection of home loans along with a comprehensive mobile app for a fast and easy application process.

Pros

  • A robust suite of loan products.

  • Licensed in all 50 states.

  • Close in as little as 10 days using the Fairway app.

Cons

  • Limited branch locations.

  • Mortgage rates not posted on website.

Read Full Review
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at Veterans United

Veterans United: NMLS#1907

Logo

Min. Credit Score

660

Min. Down Payment

0%

at Veterans United


Why we like it

Ideal for veterans and active-duty service members. Veterans United is the nation's largest VA home purchase lender but also offers an excellent selection of other government and conventional loans.

Pros

  • Also offers FHA, USDA and conventional loans.

  • Offers 24/7 customer service.

  • You can complete a loan application and pre-qualify online.

  • Registers a low volume of complaints filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

  • Offers free credit score education and assistance.

  • Provides a client advocate team staffed by former senior enlisted leaders from each branch of the armed forces.

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer home equity loans or HELOCs.

  • Loans are available in all 50 states, but Veterans United has offices in only about half.

Read Full Review

Guaranteed Rate: NMLS#2611

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Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%


Why we like it

Good for borrowers seeking conventional or government-backed loans, and a totally online experience.

Pros

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

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

Cons

  • Doesn't offer home equity loans or lines of credit.

Read Full Review

Veterans First Mortgage: NMLS#3122

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Min. Credit Score

600

Min. Down Payment

0%


Why we like it

Ideal for veterans and active military members interested in a VA or FHA home loan.

Pros

  • Specializes in VA loans and working with military borrowers.

  • Offers several low-down-payment government loan options so borrowers can choose the best fit.

  • Website helps borrowers estimate their VA loan fees.

Cons

  • You can’t get an instant rate quote online.

  • Doesn’t offer conventional home loans.

  • Has only five loan centers in a handful of Western states.

Read Full Review

Bank of America: NMLS#399802

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Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%


Why we like it

Ideal for borrowers who prefer a traditional bank. Bank of America offers a wide array of mortgages and online account management tools. It also has first-time home buyer loans with low down payments and no mandatory mortgage insurance.

Pros

  • Allows borrowers to apply entirely online.

  • Offers down payment and closing cost assistance programs.

  • May give existing customers a discount on mortgage lender origination fees.

Cons

  • Does not offer renovation loans.

Read Full Review

Citibank: NMLS#412915

Logo

National / Regional

National

Min. Down Payment

3%


Why we like it

Good for: Borrowers wanting to compare mortgage rates online for a variety of loan options.

Pros

  • Offers a wide variety of loan options, including low-down-payment mortgages and jumbo mortgages.

  • Provides customizable mortgage rates on its website.

  • Offers low rates and fees compared with other lenders.

Cons

  • Charges a mortgage application fee.

  • Requires help from a mortgage loan officer to complete the loan application online.

Read Full Review

Navy Federal: NMLS#399807

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National / Regional

National

Min. Down Payment

0%


Why we like it

Good for: Military members and their families looking for low-down-payment mortgages.

Pros

  • Offers a wide range of affordable mortgage products designed for military members.

  • Has an online application for preapproval.

  • Offers low rates compared with most lenders.

Cons

  • Website does not provide customized mortgage rates based on credit score or other factors before you apply.

  • Credit union membership is limited to veterans and current military members, their families, and certain federal employees, retirees and contractors.

Read Full Review

Alterra: NMLS#133739

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Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%


Why we like it

Ideal for Latino and other minority borrowers, millennials, foreign nationals, as well as those seeking a full array of purchase and refinance loans, including jumbo mortgages.

Pros

  • Offers an ITIN qualification path for undocumented immigrant borrowers.

  • Has a digital application process.

  • Offers several mortgage options for low- to moderate-income borrowers.

  • Has a full Spanish-language version of its website and bilingual loan officers.

  • Borrowers can qualify with income from self-employment and other nontraditional sources.

Cons

  • No mortgage rates published online.

  • Doesn't lend in all states.

  • No home equity loans or lines of credit.

Read Full Review

More from NerdWallet:

VA IRRRL Refinance FAQ

What is a VA IRRRL?

A VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL) lets eligible borrowers refinance a VA loan quickly and easily. Nicknamed the “VA streamline” loan, an IRRRL’s attractions include a stripped-down approval process, lower fees and no appraisal.

With a VA IRRRL refinance, you can add the closing costs to your loan balance or accept a higher interest rate to pay for them.

How can you use a VA IRRRL?

An IRRRL can be used only to refinance from a VA loan to a VA loan. Taking cash out is generally not allowed, with an exception, which we explain below.

Borrowers typically must use an IRRRL to reduce their monthly mortgage payments or lower the mortgage interest rate. But here’s another quirk: It’s OK to bump up your interest rate when converting an adjustable-rate VA mortgage to a fixed-rate IRRRL.

Who is eligible for a VA IRRRL?

Here’s what it takes to be eligible for an IRRRL:

  • You’re an active-duty member of the military, reserve or National Guard, or a veteran or surviving spouse.

  • You’ve served for a minimum length of time without dishonorable discharge.

  • You meet the lender’s minimum credit score requirement and certify that you’ve previously lived in the house.

Can you get cash out with a VA streamline refinance?

In one case only. You may be able to get a limited amount of cash for making energy-efficient improvements to the home. You may need to get a home energy audit to show the investment will lower your utility costs.

Last updated on January 2, 2020

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 Best VA Mortgage Lenders for Streamline Refinance (IRRRL) of 2020