The best mortgage refinance lenders for 2020
We chose the following lenders as the best refinance companies because they have lots of experience, good loan options, and strong customer satisfaction ratings.
We recommend comparing a few of these lenders to see which one is best for your situation.
The best refinance company for you will depend on your current loan, your finances, and your long-term goals.Check your refinance rates today (Dec 1st, 2020)
|Company||J.D. Power 2019 Customer Satisfaction Score1||Complaints Per 1,000 Customers2||Miminum Credit Score|
|Fairway Independent Mortgage Co.||865/1,000||0.08||580|
|Guild Mortgage Company||864/1,000||0.28||620|
|Navy Federal Credit Union*||882/1,000||0.74||580|
*USAA and Navy Federal Credit Union only serve current and former U.S. military members and their spouses
Editor’s note: The Mortgage Reports may be compensated by some of these lenders if you choose to work with them. However, that does not affect our reviews. See our full editorial disclosures.
In this article (Skip to…)
- Best mortgage refinance lenders
- Best VA refinance companies
- Refinance rates today
- Find the best refinance for you
- Getting approved
- When to refinance
- Mortgage refinance FAQ
- Refinance glossary
The best refinance companies: Our reviews
To find the eight best mortgage refinance lenders, we started with a list of the 25 most popular mortgage companies in the U.S.
Then we narrowed the selection based on a few key criteria:
- Experience — How many refinances the company handled in the previous year, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
- Service — An “average” or better score in J.D. Power’s 2019 Mortgage Origination Study
- Customer satisfaction — A low number of customer complaints filed with the CFPB
Here’s why our picks for the best mortgage refinance company stood out above the rest.Find the best refi lender for you (Dec 1st, 2020)
The 8 best mortgage refinance companies
1. Quicken Loans
>> Read the full Quicken Loans review
Quicken Loans has grown rapidly to become one of America’s biggest mortgage and refinance lenders. And you can see why.
In 2019, Quicken topped the J.D. Power U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study for the 10th consecutive year. And it has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Besides great customer service, there are a number of benefits to refinancing with Quicken:
- Loan options — Quicken offers a broad range of refinance options, including FHA and VA loans. Plus, it offers 30- and 15-year loans, jumbo loans, and a product called “YOURgage” that lets you pick your own loan term
- Borrower requirements — Quicken says customers can refinance with credit scores starting at just 580 and a debt-to-income ratio as high as 50 percent, although actual requirements will vary by borrower
Customers may also be able to refinance with a high loan-to-value ratio if they’re eligible for an FHA streamline refinance.
Rocket Mortgage is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Quicken Loans. So we’re lumping both in together.
The main difference between the two is that Rocket is even more geared to online applications and loan processing.
If you’re a technophile, you might love Rocket Mortgage. It’s possible to get your refinance quickly and easily with little or no human contact. But if that’s your idea of a nightmare, stick to Quicken.
2. Fairway Independent Mortgage
Fairway came second in the J.D. Power 2019 rankings, close behind Quicken Loans. So here’s another lender that knows how to satisfy its customers. It offers:
- A wide portfolio of refinance products, including FHA, VA, USDA, conventional, jumbo and fixed- and adjustable-rate loans
- Slick online processing, backed up by comprehensive information on its website
- Easy phone access to professional advisers
- A great mobile app
- Loans to those with credit scores as low as 620
The only gripe? You have to hand over a whole lot of personal information before you can get a refinance rate quote from Fairway. But with such stellar customer service scores, it may be worth the extra effort.
3. Guild Mortgage Company
Guild came in just one point behind Fairway in the 2019 J.D. Power survey. So you can assume its customer service is similarly exceptional.
Guild is smaller than both Quicken and Fairway, but is still among America’s top-10 mortgage lenders. It delivers:
- A fairly comprehensive portfolio of refinance loan types, similar to the others. But it’s not big on jumbo loans
- Licensed to originate mortgages in 48 states
- Opportunities for face-to-face meetings with branches in 31 states, in the west and south of the country
- Approvals with a minimum 620 credit score — or 580 for VA loans and 600 for USDA ones
- Will consider alternative credit sources that others often ignore
One drawback to note: Guild’s lender fees are often higher than some other lenders’.
4. US Bank
>> Read the full US Bank review
US Bank comes a highly respectable fourth in the J.D. Power customer satisfaction survey.
But more of its customers complain to the CFPB compared to other lenders on this list. And that’s relative to the number of mortgages it originates.
Still, it’s a credible choice for your short list because it offers:
- A 3,000-strong branch network for those who prefer a personal mortgage service
- Highly functional online and mobile services for those who prefer a digital application process
- A broad range of refinance loans
- A minimum credit score of 620 for most loans
- Will look at alternative credit sources if necessary
The downside? We found that US Bank’s advertised rates and costs weren’t always the cheapest in our price comparison.
>> Read the full loanDepot review
Digital-first loanDepot is among the fastest-growing mortgage lenders in the country.
Its growth was largely built on technological innovations backed by “high-touch customer care,” meaning plenty of personal support from professionals.
LoanDepot’s offerings include:
- “mello smartloan,” a proprietary technology that the company claims can slash the time it takes to process a loan and close
- A comprehensive range of refinance products, though not USDA loans
- A branch network of 200 sites, which provides a face-to-face alternative to those who live near one
- A minimum credit score of 580, though you’ll likely need a higher one for most loan products
As for drawbacks, this is another lender that wants to know a lot about you before giving you even a hint about the deal for which you might qualify.
6. Guaranteed Rate
>> Read the full Guaranteed Rate review
Every company on our list of the best mortgage refinance lenders has a first-class reputation for customer service. And Guaranteed Rate is no exception.
But this lender offers something more: refinance rates that aren’t just competitive but are actually better than many others.
Guaranteed Rate’s key features include:
- Better rates than many of its competitors, but only for those with good or great credit
- Licensed to lend in 50 states and operates physical branches in 46
- Great online technologies for those who prefer to work in cyberspace, as well as good telephone support
- Broad portfolio of refinance products
Before seeking loan offers from Guaranteed Rate, know that this lender works best with well-qualified borrowers.
If your credit is on the lower end of the spectrum, you may want to look for mortgage refinancing options elsewhere.
The best VA refinance companies
Most mortgage companies have no problem servicing and refinancing VA loans. But there are a few lenders that specialize in VA lending — and they’re some of the best refinance companies out there.
- USAA Federal Savings Bank — Scores 900 on the J.D. Power survey, compared to Quicken Loans’s 880. Read the full USAA review
- Navy Federal Credit Union — Scores 882, and has some of the lowest VA rates we’ve seen. Read the full Navy Federal mortgage review
We didn’t include USAA and Navy Federal alongside other top refinance companies because these lenders restrict membership to military personnel.
To qualify for a mortgage or refinance with one of these lenders, you’d have to be an active military member or veteran, or an eligible spouse.
If that does apply to you, then we recommend starting with one of these companies in your search for the best refinance rate.
Refinance rates today
Refinance rates plummeted along with other mortgage interest rates in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic shook the economy.
Qualified homeowners have been able to refinance for huge savings — including those who only bought a year or two ago, when rates were already thought to be ‘historically low.’
Keep in mind that that refinance rates, like home purchase rates, are unique to each customer. Your own rate depends on your loan size, credit, debts, and a host of other factors.
If you’re a “top-tier” borrower with stellar credit, a large down payment, and few debts, you might be offered a much lower refinance rate than the averages you see advertised.
Likewise, expect to see higher interest rates if you have a lower credit score, higher debt levels, or very little equity.
Find your actual refinance rates using the link below.Verify your refinance rate here (Dec 1st, 2020)
Refinance rate forecasts
You might not be starting your refinance this week or even this month. In that case, you’re likely wondering what refinance rates will look like next year.
To give you an idea of what to expect, we pulled 2021 refinance rate forecasts from some of the top housing authorities in the U.S.
Refinance rates in 2021 — forecasts from leading authorities
|Housing Authority||30-Year Mortgage Rate Forecast For 2021|
|Mortgage Bankers Association||3.3%|
Long-term interest rate forecasts are never ironclad, of course.
In 2019, for example, these agencies expected rates to stay around 3.6% to 3.8% throughout 2020. Nobody anticipated the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on mortgage markets.
But this we know for certain: With rates sitting at historic lows, now is an excellent time to refinance an existing mortgage.Find and lock a low refinance rate (Dec 1st, 2020)
The best mortgage refinance company for you
The whole idea of this article is to tell you about the best mortgage refinance companies.
But let’s be honest: The best lender for one person may not be the best for another.
That’s because your refinance rates will be unique to you. They’re based on factors like:
- Your credit score and credit report
- The size of your down payment relative to the home’s market value
- How much of your monthly income goes toward other debts
And each company weighs those factors differently — which means your refinance costs will vary from one lender to the next.Compare estimates from top refinance lenders (Dec 1st, 2020)
How are refinance rates determined?
Your refinance rate is based on three main factors:
- The market — Are rates generally trending up or down at the time you refinance?
- The lender — Can the lender offer a low rate for the loan you want? Some refinance lenders cater to specific customers or loan types, so you have to find one that will work for your circumstances
- You — Your rate depends on individual factors, too, like your credit score, debt-to-income ratio, home value, home equity, and so on. You’ll get the lowest rates with a high credit score (think 720 and up), low debts, and at least 20% equity in your home
This means your current lender may not be your best bet for refinancing.
If your personal circumstances have changed since you bought your home, a different home loan company may now be better geared to look after you.
And the same applies to recommendations you receive from family and friends. Unless their borrower profile happens to be very similar to yours, their perfect lender probably won’t be yours.
Shop around for the best refinance lender
In fact, the only way to find the best mortgage refinance companies for you is to shop around.
After all, few of us check only one retailer when buying a new car, TV or washer. And the savings you stand to make by choosing the best mortgage refinance are way bigger than those.
In 2018, Freddie Mac conducted a survey that concluded:
“Our research indicates that borrowers could save an average of $1,500 over the life of the loan by getting one additional rate quote and an average of about $3,000 for five quotes.
“Borrowers could save an average of $1,500… by getting one additional rate quote and an average of about $3,000 for five quotes.” –Freddie Mac
“Yet nearly half of consumers don’t shop for better rates before taking out a mortgage to buy or refinance a home. Worse, many consumers do not seem to realize that the rates offered by lending institutions vary widely.”
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau agrees, saying: “Bureau research suggests that failing to comparison shop for a mortgage costs the average homebuyer approximately $300 per year and many thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.”
How to get approved by the best mortgage refinance companies
Getting approved for the best deals from the best refinance lenders is easy enough in theory. But it can be harder when it comes to the practicalities.
There are three basic strategies:
- Boost your credit score — Pay every bill on time, don’t run up high credit card balances and don’t open new accounts or close existing ones in the months leading up to your application
- Pay down debts — The lower the proportion of your income you have to pay out to keep current with your existing debts the better
- Build up savings — If you can pay closing costs at the table, you won’t have to roll them into the loan or accept a higher interest rate
Pay down debts and build up savings? That might take some sacrifices. Just remember, your lender’s likely to reward you for making those.
The other way to get the best possible refinance rate is to comparison shop — and to carefully compare the offers you receive.
>> Related: How to get the best refinance rate
Will checking refinance rates hurt my credit score?
You’ve probably read that every time you apply for a loan, your credit score takes a small hit. And that’s true in most cases. But not when you’re shopping for a mortgage loan. At least, not if you do so over a focused period.
FICO® is the company behind America’s most widely used credit scoring technologies. And it explains how its latest version works:
“For these types of loans [mortgages and mortgage refinances], FICO Scores ignore inquiries made in the 30 days prior to scoring. So, if you find a loan within 30 days, the inquiries won’t affect your scores while you’re rate shopping.
“If you find a loan within 30 days, the inquiries won’t affect your scores while you’re rate shopping.” –FICO
In addition, FICO Scores look on your credit report for rate-shopping inquiries older than 30 days. If your FICO Scores find some, your scores will consider inquiries that fall in a typical shopping period as just one inquiry.“
Still, you may prefer to make all your requests for refinance quotes within 14 days. That’s because FICO’s old versions used that period, and some lenders still employ those.
When to refinance your mortgage
Most homeowners refinance for one of two reasons:
- To get a lower mortgage rate and also to reduce their monthly payment
- To extract some of the equity they’ve built up in their home using a “cash-out refinance“
Read on for other equally legitimate reasons to refinance. But first, let’s briefly look at these two.
You can cut your monthly mortgage payments by refinancing to a lower interest rate. Just make sure the amount you save justifies the amount you’ll pay in closing costs on your new loan.
Use our refinance calculator to determine your monthly savings with a lower rate.
Often, you can cut your monthly payment even if you don’t get a substantially lower rate. That’s because you’ll be resetting the clock on your mortgage.
Suppose you’ve had your existing 30-year loan for 10 years. If you refinance to a new 30-year mortgage, you’ll be spreading the cost of buying your home over 40 years rather than 30.
More payments = lower payments. That’s just basic arithmetic.
But remember: Resetting the clock costs you in the long term because you’re paying interest for longer.
Trading an ARM for a fixed-rate mortgage
If you have an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) and your low introductory rate is set to expire, you may want to transition to a fixed-rate mortgage by doing a refinance.
After their intro rates expire, adjustable loan rates change each year with the broader mortgage markets. That means you run the risk of your interest rate and payment going up if the markets change direction.
Now, of course, is a great time to lock in a fixed rate for the long term.
If you’ve built up some worthwhile equity in your home, you can take some of it out in the form of cash (or, more likely, a check or bank transfer).
And you can spend the money on anything you want: from a major remodel or purchasing a second home, to starting up a new business.
But don’t expect to be able to extract all your home equity.
Many programs and lenders will want you to keep an equity “cushion.” That could be 20% of the home’s market value. But rules vary.Check your cash-out refinance eligibility (Dec 1st, 2020)
Refinance to pay your loan off sooner
The longer you owe a large sum of money, the more you’ll pay in interest charges. And that applies even with a low mortgage rate.
That’s why some homeowners refinance to a shorter term.
You may want to trade in your 30-year mortgage for a 10-, 15- or 20-year loan. And some lenders will give you even more flexibility, pretty much letting you pick your own loan repayment term.
This is a great way to save money over the long term. But it’s not open to everyone, because it means your monthly payments will shoot up.
So you’ll need to have plenty of spare cash at the end of every month to think seriously about this option.
How much? Use refinance calculator to find out
Refinance to get rid of mortgage insurance
When your home’s market value is at least 20% higher than your mortgage balance, you can usually ask your lender to stop charging you mortgage insurance.
But that doesn’t work with all programs, including FHA loans.
If you have one of those, you need to refinance to a different program to be free of those dreaded mortgage insurance premiums.
Refinance with little or no equity
All the options above are likely to require you to have at least some equity, and perhaps quite a lot. And you’ll probably need a decent credit score, too.
But some mortgage programs offer help for homeowners with little equity or low credit.
You may even be able to refinance if you’re “underwater” — meaning you owe more on the home than it’s currently worth.
If this describes you, look into one of these refinance programs:
- FHA Streamline Refinance
- VA Streamline Refinance (IRRRL)
- USDA Streamline Refinance
- Fannie Mae High-LTV Refinance Option
Streamline refinance loans require no credit checks and no home appraisals.
That means you may be able to lower your monthly payments, even if your mortgage balance is higher than the market value of your home. And even if your credit score has fallen.
But be aware — you won’t be able to take cash out using these programs. And you’ll need to have made on-time mortgage payments for a period before you qualify.
Still, for many, these refinance programs are incredibly valuable.Check your streamline refinance eligibility (Dec 1st, 2020)
Mortgage refinance FAQ
Should I refinance with my current mortgage company?
Your current mortgage company may offer you the best refinance deal. Indeed, some lenders reward homeowners’ loyalty with lower rates if they stick around to refinance.
However, you are not required to refinance with your current mortgage company. Many homeowners save thousands by shopping around and finding a refinance company that can offer them a lower rate. How long does it take to refinance?
It usually takes between 35 and 45 days to refinance a home. But how long it takes you to refinance will depend on many factors — including the efficiency of your lender and how quickly you turn in paperwork.
In fact, late documents are one of the biggest refinance delays. So gather together all the paperwork you may need in advance. And be sure to answer questions and requests as quickly as possible to speed the process up.What are the average refinance closing costs?
For a mainstream refinance, expect to pay roughly 2% to 5% of the value of your home in closing costs.How soon can you refinance your mortgage?
Often, you can begin a new refinance before the ink’s dry on your last one. Many of the best mortgage refinance companies (and other lenders) don’t set limits between refinances. However, you’ll likely have to wait six months before refinancing if you have a VA-, FHA-, or USDA-backed loan. Some lenders enforce this limit for non-government loans, too.Does refinancing hurt your credit score?
Checking refinance rates will not hurt your credit score, as long as you get all rate quotes within two weeks to a month of each other. The only way your credit score could be hurt is if your mortgage is your only credit-based loan. That could impact your “average age of accounts” (AAoA). However, AAoA is only 15% of your credit score. And most people have other credit lines outside their mortgage. So it’s not worth losing sleep over.What if my existing mortgage has a prepayment penalty?
It’s not likely, but it is possible your existing mortgage came with a prepayment penalty — especially if you got the loan before 2014.
If this is the case, you’ll need to balance the penalty into your cost analysis. If your savings from refinancing exceed your costs to borrow, you can still save with a new loan.
Mortgage refinance glossary
These definitions might help you navigate our reviews:
Mortgage origination — The successful setting up of a new mortgage or refinance. So “originator” and “originate” are just variations on that
Government-backed refinances — Include those partly guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA loans), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA loans) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA loans)
Jumbo mortgages —Jumbo mortgages let you borrow more than standard loan limits (currently $510,400 and up, depending on where you live). So you can borrow several million dollars, if you qualify
Debt-to-income ratio — Your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) is the proportion of your monthly income that goes out on keeping up with all your debts, including your new mortgage. The lower that is, the better
Loan-to-value ratio — Your loan-to-value ratio (LTV) is the proportion of the market value of your home that you’re borrowing. Think of it as the opposite of your down payment (for a purchase) or the amount of equity you’re leaving in (for a refinance). So, if your down payment is 3%, your LTV is 97%, and if you’re putting down 20%, your LTV is 80%
Minimum down payment — The minimum amount you can put down to finance the home. Varies by mortgage product:
- VA and USDA loans — zero down payment
- FHA loans — 3.5% of the home’s market value or more
- Conventional loans — 3% of the home’s market value or more
- If you put down 20%, and sometimes less, you can avoid mortgage insurance
Still unclear? Click the links in each description for more detailed explanations.
Start your refinance today
Most homeowners will find what they need with one of the eight best refinance companies listed above.
To get the best refi rate and low closing costs, make sure you compare loan estimates from a few different companies before settling on one.