Guaranteed Rate Mortgage Review 2021

Good for borrowers seeking conventional or government-backed loans, and a totally online experience.
Kate WoodNov 3, 2021

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Our Take

4.5

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line:

An early player in the online mortgage realm, Guaranteed Rate continues to offer a fully digital application experience. Detailed rates are easily viewed for many of the loan types it offers.

Guaranteed Rate

at Guaranteed Rate

Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

Loan Types and Products

Purchase, Refinance, Jumbo, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA

Pros & Cons

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.

Compare to Other Lenders

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Credit Score

640

Min. Down Payment

3%

Min. Down Payment

3%

Min. Down Payment

3%

Loan Types and Products

Purchase, Refinance, Jumbo, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA

Loan Types and Products

Purchase, Refinance, Home Equity, Jumbo, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA

Loan Types and Products

Purchase, Refinance, Home Equity, Jumbo, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA

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Full Review

The coronavirus pandemic introduced some new challenges to getting a mortgage. Many lenders facing high loan demand and staffing issues increased their fees, adjusted minimum required credit scores or temporarily suspended certain loan products. While some products and business practices have returned to pre-pandemic levels, you might still find delays and limited options. If you can’t pay your current home loan, refer to our mortgage assistance resource. For information on how to cope with financial stress during this pandemic, see NerdWallet’s financial guide to COVID-19.

Guaranteed Rate at a glance

Headquartered in Chicago, Guaranteed Rate offers a completely online mortgage experience, with both conventional and government-backed options for purchase and refinance loans. Sample rates are readily accessible, and you don't need to give out your contact information to see personalized rates.

  • Variety of loan types: 5 of 5 stars

  • Ease of application: 5 of 5 stars

  • Rates and fees: 3 of 5 stars

  • Rate transparency: 4 of 5 stars

Guaranteed Rate mortgage loan types

Guaranteed Rate offers purchase and refinance loans, including FHA, VA, jumbo and interest-only mortgages. Keeping rates low while making the process more transparent and accessible helps customers be active participants in the lending process, says Kasey Marty, executive vice president of secondary marketing at Guaranteed Rate.

"Other firms have put their gloves up and said that potential compliance and regulation issues make it difficult for them to offer FHA or VA loans because of delinquencies and defaults," Marty says. "We feel the opposite. We’re very tight with our guidelines, and we want to enrich the [lending] experience and make lenders accountable."

Guaranteed Rate ease of application

Guaranteed Rate lets you take care of the loan application process entirely online. On its website, you begin by choosing whether you're looking to purchase or refinance, then go from there. You'll answer basic questions about where you are in the homebuying process (for a purchase) or what's most important to you (like a lower rate or getting cash out) for a refinance. After some additional questions, you'll be shown several loan options with personalized mortgage rates for each. If you choose one, you can begin filling out the full digital application. Document upload, e-signature and an interactive checklist help you keep track of your loan's progress.

Guaranteed Rate mortgage rates and fees

One of the most important considerations when choosing a mortgage lender is understanding what the loan will cost. To provide consumers with a general sense of what a lender might charge, NerdWallet scores lenders on two factors regarding fees and mortgage rates, according to the most recently available Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data:

  • Guaranteed Rate earns 2 of 5 stars for average origination fee.

  • Guaranteed Rate earns 3 of 5 stars for offered mortgage rates compared with the best available rates on comparable loans.

Borrowers should consider the balance between lender fees and mortgage rates. While it's not always the case, paying upfront fees can lower your mortgage interest rate. Some lenders will charge higher upfront fees to lower their advertised interest rate and make it more attractive. Some lenders just charge higher upfront fees.

You can decide to buy discount points — a fee paid with your closing costs — to reduce your mortgage rate.

Deciding whether you want to pay higher upfront fees is a matter of considering how long you plan to live in your home and how much cash you have to apply toward closing costs when you sign the loan paperwork.

Guaranteed Rate mortgage rate transparency

Guaranteed Rate lets you see detailed rate information for many of their products. These spell out all of the assumptions used to determine that rate (like the property location, the borrower's credit score, the amount of the down payment and even whether taxes and insurance will be escrowed).

In order to get personalized rates, you'll have to click through several screens and answer questions about your homeownership plans, credit score and the property you're hoping to purchase or refinance. It's not as simple as a calculator where you can enter your own details, but you don't have to provide your contact information.

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