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 5 steps to make sure you get the best refi deal.
How to find the best refinance mortgage lender
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.
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» MORE: Calculate your refinance savings
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.
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.
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.
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.
Best refinance lenders for the online mortgage experience
These lenders offer easy-to-use web portals and online support for borrowers who want to apply for, track and close a refinance online.
- The biggest online mortgage lender in the U.S.
- Fully automated process that imports employment and income data, credit scores, property info and more
- Gives a loan decision in minutes
- Rocket Mortgage review
- Offers refinance mortgages with no origination fees or broker commissions
- Minimum 620 credit score qualification
- Automated suggestion engine will determine if there are things you can do to lower your rate
- Lenda review
Best refinance lenders for customer service
If quality customer service is a top priority, look into one of these lenders.
- Flexible options for borrowers with low down payments and nontraditional credit histories
- Offers assistance at every point during the mortgage process
- Provides customer service in its physical locations, online and via chat or phone
- SunTrust Mortgage review
- Has hundreds of positive reviews on sites such as the Better Business Bureau, Yelp and LendingTree
- Boasts a more than a 95% customer satisfaction rate
- Provides a completely digital mortgage platform for both refinance and purchase customers
- Guaranteed Rate review
Best credit union refinance lenders
If a big bank or online lender just isn’t for you, consider joining and refinancing through a credit union.
- A national lender with nine branch locations in four states
- Get a no-hassle mortgage comparison by filling out an online form. A loan officer will respond within two days.
- Considers alternative credit data when underwriting
- Connexus Credit Union review
- A smaller lender that offers more personalized service
- One of the leading digital-first credit unions in the country
- A portfolio lender with flexibility in its lending criteria
- Alliant review
Best mortgage refinance lenders: summary
- Rocket Mortgage: Best for online experience
- Lenda: Best for online experience:
- SunTrust Mortgage: Best for customer service
- Guaranteed Rate: Best for customer service
- Connexus Credit Union: Best for credit union lenders
- Alliant Credit Union: Best for credit union lenders
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