If you have at least 20% equity in your home, you may be able to get a home equity line of credit. Find out how much you could borrow with a home equity line of credit, based on your home’s value and your mortgage balance, using NerdWallet’s HELOC calculator.
Home equity is the market value of your home minus what you owe on your mortgage. A home equity line of credit — often referred to as a “HELOC” (HE-lock) — lets you borrow against that home equity.
Check out some of our best HELOC lenders
How our HELOC calculator works
The NerdWallet HELOC calculator lets you see if you could qualify for a HELOC and how much you might be able to borrow in total.
Plug in these numbers:
- Your home’s current market value. Use our Home Value Estimator to get an idea of what it’s worth.
- The outstanding balance on your mortgage. This is how much you’d owe if you paid off the mortgage today. You can check your latest mortgage statement for an estimate.
- Your credit score. Unsure where you stand? You can sign up with NerdWallet for your free credit score.
The calculator will give your current loan-to-value ratio — the percentage of your home’s value that you owe to your mortgage lender — and whether you might qualify for a HELOC or need to wait. If it looks like you qualify, the HELOC calculator estimates how much you might be able to borrow.
The amount you can borrow with a HELOC usually depends on how much home equity you have and your credit score. Typically lenders won’t let you tap into your home equity if you still owe more than 85% of your home’s value. However, there are exceptions; some lenders will let you borrow against your home equity at higher loan-to-value ratios.
More ways to use the home equity line of credit calculator
Our HELOC calculator gives you answers based on a current estimate of your home’s value, the outstanding mortgage balance and your credit score. But you can also run what-if scenarios, such as:
- What if you improve your credit score? Generally lenders require a credit score of at least 620 for a HELOC. Select a higher score to see how improving your credit affects your ability to qualify.
- What if the housing market slumps? Over the long haul, home prices generally rise, but they can take big dips, too. Plug in a lower home value to see its effect on your borrowing capability.
- What if you pay down your mortgage balance? You probably won’t qualify for a HELOC if you owe more than 85% of your home’s value. See how that might change as you pay down your mortgage.
Is a HELOC a good idea?
Our HELOC calculator will tell you whether you might qualify and how much you could be able to borrow through a home equity line of credit. But no calculator can tell you whether tapping into that money is a good idea.
Getting a HELOC can make sense for projects that may increase your home’s value, such as major repairs or remodeling. But drawing from home equity is risky for other uses, such as covering vacation expenses, paying off credit card debt or buying a car. No matter the reason, your home is the collateral for the HELOC, so failure to make payments could lead to foreclosure.
How are HELOC payments calculated?
Calculating the monthly payment on a HELOC is tricky, because the amount you owe each month will vary depending on several factors.
Current interest rates: Home equity lines of credit have adjustable rates, so the amount of interest you’re paying will vary. See today’s HELOC rates.
Age of the loan: HELOCs have two parts. First is the draw period, during which you borrow money and make payments against the interest. Then comes the repayment period, when — as the name implies — you repay the principal and interest. Unless you make payments toward your principal during the draw period, your monthly payment will likely be substantially higher during the repayment period.
Rate caps: The adjustable rates on a home equity line of credit come with two key parameters. One is the lifetime cap, which is the highest interest rate you could possibly pay. The other is the periodic cap, which is how often the interest rate can change.
Find the best HELOC lender for you
It pays to shop around when searching for the best deal on a HELOC. Check with your primary bank or current mortgage lender, which might offer a discount. Take that quote and compare it with quotes from at least two other lenders.
Pay attention to all the terms being offered by the lender. You may have a low-interest introductory period (sometimes referred to as a “teaser rate”), but you’ll want to look at the lifetime cap to estimate how high your monthly payment could get. You may be able to negotiate with the lender so part of the HELOC has a fixed rate or for the ability to partially pay down the principal during the draw period.