The national average mortgage rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage is 3.91%. Depending on your credit score, loan term, and location, you can find the best mortgage rate available in today’s market here.
Your mortgage is an important investment that involves a lot of planning and attention to detail. Whether you’re a first time home buyer or an experienced real estate investor, we’ll provide useful advice for making the best decision. Now, let’s take a look at some of the lowest rates from some of today’s best mortgage lenders.
The Best Mortgage Rates of 2020
- Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans— Best for online loan applications
- New American Funding— Best for non-traditional mortgage loans
- Bank of America— Top in their class for customer service
- Chase— Best for low mortgage rates on 15-year loans
- USAA Mortgage— Best for military members and their families
- SunTrust Mortgage— Best for customers in the southeastern United States
The Best Mortgage Rates from the Best Mortgage Lenders
There are a lot of mortgage lenders out there competing for your business, and more than one lender might provide good options for you. Home loans aren’t one size fits all. Depending on where you live, what kind of loan you’re seeking, and other financial circumstances, mortgages are a custom product. As you begin your research and comparison shopping, our list of the best mortgage lenders below provides a clearer path to the best mortgage for you. These are some of the biggest and most reputable mortgage lenders in the industry today.
For each lender, we’ve included quoted interest rates as well as the annual percentage rate (APR), which factors in other costs of the loan. Rates current as of December 2019.
Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans — Best for online loan applications
|Mortgage Type||Interest Rate||APR|
|30-year fixed FHA||3.49%||4.483%|
This is the largest online mortgage lender in the country, so they obviously know what they’re doing. Quicken Loans is known for very fast processing and excellent customer service ratings (five out of five rating with J.D. Power). They offer many different kinds of loans, including FHA loans, VA loans, USDA loans, and, of course, conventional mortgages, so they can also offer some of the lowest mortgage rates compared to other lenders.
There is no Quicken Loans office you can go to where you can look somebody in the eye and shake their hand. It’s all done online. For many people, that’s not a negative; that’s just the way of the world. Others may find it unsettling. After all, this is a house you’re buying, one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make.
New American Funding — Best for non-traditional mortgage loans
|Mortgage Type||Interest Rate||APR|
|30-year fixed FHA||2.750%||3.551%|
New American Funding is based in California, but this mortgage lender services clients in every state, except for Hawaii and New York. They offer all of the standard loans, including VA loans and conventional fixed-rate and adjustable mortgages. New American also offers FHA 203k loans, which are ideal for buyers who want to renovate a home that they already own or are looking to buy another property, as well as non-qualifying mortgages, which are great for self-employed buyers who want to purchase a home. And, of the rates offered by the lenders on this list, New American Funding’s rates were consistently the lowest across the board.
The one downside to New American Funding is their undisclosed fees. Whether it’s underwriting fees or rate lock fees, it’s unlikely that buyers will know the full range of charges until they speak with a broker.
Bank of America — Top in their class for customer service
|Mortgage Type||Interest Rate||APR|
Bank of America’s name is one of the most recognizable of the lenders on this list. They offer the standard fixed- and adjustable-rate loans at some of the best home loan rates, and they’re also at the top of their class in customer service. The five out of five score that they received for their problem resolution capabilities on the 2018 J.D. Power study is proof.
Bank of America also offers a ton of other perks, like an easy-to-access online home loan navigator tool and a no-cost, no-obligation prequalification that takes just five minutes to fill out. Given the ease of prequal and applying, Bank of America’s mortgage process is one of the more pleasant options for customers who are looking to find the best home mortgage rates around.
Chase — Best for low mortgage rates on 15-year loans
You’re likely familiar with Chase Bank because they’re massive, but you should also familiarize yourself with them because they offer some of the lowest mortgage rates on the market for 15-year fixed APRs. This makes them an attractive lending option for buyers who are not focused on long-run nor short-term ownership, but have plans to land somewhere in the middle of that equation.
Chase is backed by an experienced staff of mortgage professionals, and they offer competitive rates across the board on mortgages that are likely to fit the needs of a wide range of buyers, including 15- and 30-year fixed-rate loans and 5- and 7-year adjustable-rate mortgages. This mortgage provider is reliable and serves clients across the United States.
With those benefits in mind, it’s also worth noting that there may be some down sides to this lender. Chase charges applicants a $395 fee in order to apply for a loan, and it isn’t uncommon for this lender to tack on other charges, such as origination fees, underwriting fees, rate lock fees and third-party fees to the total cost of your mortgage.
USAA Mortgage — Best for military members and their families
|Mortgage Type||Interest Rate||APR|
|30-year VA loan||3.250%||3.536%|
|5/1 ARM VA loan||—%||3.843%|
|30-year VA jumbo loan||3.375%||3.642%|
USAA is a highly respected financial services institution for members of the military and their family members, and routinely ranks among the best in customer satisfaction. Given its military connection, if you want a VA loan, this is the place to go. USAA can offer some of the lowest mortgage rates to its members because of its VA backing.
SunTrust Mortgage — Best for customers in the southeastern United States
|Mortgage Type||Interest Rate||APR|
|FHA 30-year fixed||3.250%||4.3514%|
As a subsidiary of SunTrust Bank, SunTrust Mortgage may be a solid option for customers who are located in the southeastern United States. SunTrust offers all of your conventional home loan options, including fixed-rate mortgages, adjustable rate mortgages, USDA loans, VA loans and jumbo loans. They also offer slightly less traditional mortgage-related services, such as loan refinancing, HomeReady and Home Possible loans for lower-income loanees and home equity lines of credit for customers wanting to borrow against the equity they have built up in their home.
Though SunTrust is well-liked thanks to the wide range of mortgage options, their reputation for client satisfaction isn’t the best. J.D. Power’s 2018 U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study ranked SunTrust as average for customer service, scoring just three out of five on overall customer satisfaction.
Tips to Get the Lowest Mortgage Rate
1. Improve your credit score.
It’s simple. Your credit score tells lenders how responsible you are with your finances, so the higher your score, the better your chances of securing the lowest mortgage rate possible. Improving your credit score takes time. There are some shortcuts that can give your credit score a quick, if modest, boost, but the benefits to your financial health can be huge in your search for the best mortgage rate. A 100-point difference in your credit score can save you hundreds of dollars per month on the same mortgage and tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. If you can’t improve your credit and need additional financing, a bad credit loan may be a solid option for you.
2. Beef up your down payment.
Saving up for a 20% down payment (that’s what we recommend) can be difficult, but it’s one of the most influential factors in getting the lowest mortgage rate and saving you a lot of money down the road. It’s not just the lower rate that will save you money. If you can put down 20% or more, you won’t have to pay extra mortgage insurance.
3. Consider how long you’ll be in your home.
If you don’t plan on living in your new home for more than a few years, an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) can get you the lowest mortgage rate available. Adjustable-rate mortgages generally have low, fixed initial interest rates for the first several years (typically the first five, seven, or 10 years), then adjust to the current market rate every year afterward. While your rate (and with it, your monthly mortgage payment) could potentially increase dramatically down the road, homeowners who don’t plan to stay in their home longer than the introductory period can take advantage of those low rates.
If ARMs seem like too much of a risk to you, look into a shorter-term fixed-rate mortgage. Your monthly payments will be higher, but you’ll get one of the lowest interest rates, pay much less over the life of the loan, and build equity in your home faster.
Tips for Finding the Best Lender
Here are three tips that will help you find lenders not only with the best home loan rates, but those with seamless customer support too.
1. Do your homework.
Reading through comments sections isn’t a bad idea, but you should probably take those experiences with a grain of salt. We recommend balancing out your research with insight from a recognized leader like J.D. Power and Associates. Its 2018 annual mortgage lender customer-satisfaction survey found Quicken Loans had the most satisfied customers for the fifth year in a row, followed closely by other industry heavyweights like TD Bank, USAA, SunTrust Mortgage, and Capital One.
2. Ask friends and family about their experiences.
Local lenders might not have a helpful presence on the web, so asking around can be crucial in helping you find the best mortgage companies in your area. Conduct a quick survey of your family and friends, particularly if they’ve recently purchased or refinanced a home. Ask whether they felt they understood the lending process and whether their agent was responsive and courteous.
3. Take note of how you’re initially treated.
Your mortgage might be the most significant financial transaction of your life, and you should feel comfortable with your lender. If you call for information and don’t receive it quickly, consider that a red flag. Any lender who is unwilling or unable to answer your questions — or acts like it’s an inconvenience to do so — will probably be less than pleasant to deal with further down the line.
Common Types of Mortgages
A 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage with a 20% down payment isn’t the only way to finance a home purchase. Before you pull the trigger, consider a few of the most common types of mortgages and determine which one could offer you the most benefit.
What is a fixed-rate mortgage?
A fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) is the most common type of home loan. One of the main benefits is that even though the proportion of principal versus interest on your bill will change over the course of the loan, you’ll still pay the same amount every month. Your interest rate is locked in when you close on the loan, so you aren’t vulnerable to sudden increases in interest rates.
Of course, while you aren’t vulnerable to interest-rate increases, you’ll lose out if rates decline — you’ll be stuck paying the higher rate unless you can refinance. It can also be harder to qualify for a fixed-rate mortgage if your credit score is less than stellar.
Fixed-rate mortgages are offered for 10-, 15- or 30-year terms, with the latter being the most popular choice. Longer terms mean lower payments, but they also mean it will take longer to build equity in your home. You’ll also pay more interest over the life of the loan.
What is an adjustable-rate mortgage?
ARMs make buying a home more accessible by offering lower initial interest rates and payments. The interest rate remains constant for a certain period of time — generally, the shorter the period, the better the rate — then it can rise or fall, depending on market factors. Generally, ARMs offer the lowest mortgage rates available for home loans.
The main downside is obvious: If your ARM begins to adjust when interest rates are rising, your escalating payments could start to squeeze your budget. It can also make annual budgeting tricky, and if you want to refinance with a fixed-rate loan, the cost can be quite steep. Ultimately, with an ARM, you’re accepting some of the risk that your mortgage lender would absorb with a fixed-rate loan.
There are several kinds of ARMs. One-year ARMs typically offer the lowest mortgage rates, but they’re also the riskiest because your interest rate adjusts every year. At slightly higher rates, hybrid ARMs offer an extended initial fixed-rate period. Common hybrid loans include 5/1 mortgages, which offer a fixed rate for five years and then and an annually adjustable rate for the next 25 years.
What is an FHA loan?
Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans are government-backed mortgages that require much smaller down payments than their conventional counterparts. In fact, you may qualify for an FHA loan with as little as 3.5% down, but you’ll likely be on the hook for mortgage insurance each month in order to help the lender blunt some of the risk. These loans are ideal for those who can’t afford a huge down payment, and may not have a great credit score, but have a steady income.
What is a VA loan?
VA (Department of Veterans Affairs) loans are also government-backed mortgages available with low (or even no) down-payment options, and they don’t require the mortgage insurance that FHA loans do. However, the VA typically charges a one-time funding fee that varies according to down payment. You must have a military affiliation to get a loan — active-duty members, veterans, guard members, reservists, and certain spouses may qualify.
More Mortgage FAQs
What are closing costs?
With any loan, the moment you complete the process and receive your money is known as “closing,” or “settling.” When you close a loan, there are additional fees charged by the lender and any other parties involved to finalize the process. These are known as “closing costs.”
Mortgages are complex, with multiple parties involved. As a result, closing costs of your mortgage are likely to cost thousands of dollars. But they’re a necessary step in receiving the financing for your house.
Here are some of the possible fees that go into closing costs:
- Prepaid interest
- Title deed transfer fees
- Real estate agent fees
- Property surveys/appraisal costs
- Homeowners association fees
- Legal fees
- Fees for purchasing interest points to lower your rate
Can I lower my closing costs?
Yes. Luckily, there are ways to lower your closing costs.
Some methods, such as forgoing an attorney, might end up costing you more in the long run. But others won’t come with any cost at all:
- Shop around: Even if you have average to poor credit, you need to do your homework before selecting a lender. Some may offer low closing costs, as well as more favorable rates.
- Close near the end of the month: You prepay interest from the day you close to the end of the current month. Closing on April 27 means you prepay interest for three days, while closing on April 15 means you’ll prepay for 15.
- Know your fees: Mortgage lenders may pad their loans with a number of unnecessary fees, which can cost hundreds of dollars.
What is a good interest rate for a mortgage?
The Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey says the average rate for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage in September 2019 is 3.64% with 0.5 fees/points.
First-time buyers with a low down payment can expect to pay a bit more for their mortgages; meanwhile, if you’re able to pay some interest upfront in the form of points, you can get that average rate down even lower.
How does your credit score affect your mortgage?
Your credit score is the metric lenders use to determine your creditworthiness. A lower credit score means you’re considered a higher risk for default, so you won’t nab as low of a mortgage rate as someone with excellent credit.
There are two primary types of credit scores: FICO and VantageScore. Their ranges vary slightly, but a credit score of 700 or above is considered good for both. Check out our guide for several smart ways to improve your credit score, which can also help you secure the lowest mortgage rate.
What is a lock period, and how will it affect my mortgage rate?
A mortgage rate lock period is an agreement between lender and borrower to prevent an interest rate from going up or down during a predetermined amount of time.
Usually, mortgage lock periods (also known as mortgage lock-ins) are designed to protect both lender and borrower from fluctuations in the economy while the mortgage is processed.
Often, lock-ins only last for about 30 to 60 days. Once that period is up, you can ask the lender to extend the lock, but there are a few downsides: Locks tend to come with a 1-point increase in your rate, and there can be additional lock fees. The longer the lock, the higher the fee will be.
But if you’re looking to avoid last-minute budget issues, or lock a refinancing loan, a lock period can be a powerful tool in your arsenal.
Why is my monthly mortgage payment higher than I expected?
Your monthly mortgage payment is comprised of four parts:
Principal is the original amount borrowed, and interest is what you pay for the privilege of borrowing that money. However, local property taxes and homeowners insurance are also lumped into your mortgage payment. A portion of your monthly payment typically goes into an escrow account, from which your lender pays those bills on your behalf.
What is escrow, and will it affect my mortgage?
When borrowers take out a mortgage, lenders often require them to pay into an escrow account. Lenders control the escrow account, and use it to pay property taxes and homeowners insurance on the borrower’s behalf. Each month, borrowers pay down principal and interest, while contributing to the escrow account.
If you place a down payment of 20% or more, your lender may choose to waive the escrow account. If they do, you can choose to pay your taxes and insurance yourself. Your lender may offer a lower interest rate if you choose to establish an escrow account, however.
Other lenders may require you to pay into an escrow account, which may or may not affect your interest rate. If your lender requires an escrow, they must follow the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s rules on maintaining escrow accounts.
An escrow may not affect your interest rate and will not change the type of mortgage. Since the tax and insurance rates are variable, it’s possible the amount you pay into escrow can change from month to month or year to year, even if you have a fixed-rate mortgage.
If you are unable to make a down payment of at least 20%, lenders may add private mortgage insurance (see “What is private mortgage insurance?” below) to your escrow payments.
Your location also affects monthly escrow payments. If you live in an area prone to flooding or fires, for example, your insurance payments may be higher. Your escrow will increase as a result.
How can I get pre-approved for a mortgage?
When you’re pre-approved for a mortgage or other home loan, it means a potential lender or underwriter has looked at your financial history and they’re confident in your ability to repay the loan.
Typically, lenders examine your credit score, current debt vs. income, pay stubs, and tax history, but the process always varies from lender to lender.
How can I prepare?
In order to have the best chance at pre-approval, as well as the most favorable rates, you need to have and maintain a good to excellent credit score. Always be sure to pay your bills on time and consistently, and never borrow more money than you need.
Additionally, lending advisers or brokers will ask for some basic financial information, including about your savings, debts, employment history, etc. Be sure to have all that information handy.
What’s the process like?
There are generally three steps when it comes to mortgage pre-approval: Pre-qualification, pre-approval, and commitment.
- Pre-qualification: During pre-qualification, a potential lender assesses your financial history and determines what loans you might qualify for — this is in no way a commitment for either party.
- Pre-approval: In pre-approval, things get a bit more serious. Lenders are actively underwriting your finances to determine the exact type of mortgage they’re willing to offer. Here, you’re required to provide tax returns, pay stubs, and allow a hard pull on your credit report.
- Approval: By this point, your banker, broker, or credit union will have made an official offer. It’s up to you whether or not you want to proceed.
We do recommend shopping around — but with no more than three mortgage lenders. Because the pre-approval process requires a hard credit pull, as opposed to a soft pull, your score is likely to drop.
What is private mortgage insurance?
Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is a type of insurance designed to cover the lender should you default on your mortgage. You may have to pay PMI if you take out a conventional mortgage and make a down payment of less than 20%. You may also have to pay PMI if you refinance with less than 20% equity in your home.
PMI generally costs between 0.5% to 1% of your mortgage per year. You can pay a monthly premium, pay a one-time premium upfront at closing, or pay with a combination of the two. At first glance, 0.5% to 1% of your mortgage doesn’t sound like a lot. But assuming a mortgage of $250,000, and you’re looking at about $100 to $200 in added costs each month:
What are piggyback mortgages?The good news is that you can remove PMI once you build up enough equity. When you have paid down the mortgage balance to 80% of your home’s original appraised value, you can submit a written request asking your lender to cancel PMI coverage. Once the balance reaches 78%, mortgage lenders and servicers are required to cancel PMI automatically.
If you’re unable to make that 20% down payment but still want to purchase a home without paying PMI, there is an alternative. A piggyback mortgage is also known as an 80-10-10 mortgage.It involves taking out one mortgage for 80% of the home’s value and piggyback another for 10% of the home’s value. The result leaves you with a 10% down payment on your original mortgage.
Bear in mind that the piggyback mortgage strategy has drawbacks and risks. For example, taking out two mortgages means paying closing costs twice. Also, you’ll likely pay a higher interest rate on the second mortgage.
Comparing Different Types of Mortgage Lenders
While you’re looking for the best possible mortgage rate and mortgage type, take into consideration the different types of mortgage lenders on the marketplace today. While you shouldn’t find anything drastically different between lenders, the details are still important. We’ve narrowed mortgage lenders into three categories:
This category includes mortgage bankers that work for the major banking institutions (Bank of America, Wells Fargo, etc.). Mortgage bankers can provide direct links between lenders and the organizations that provide the capital for their mortgage.
There’s more security in using a mortgage banker, and if already have a good history with the bank, you might be able to obtain a lower interest rate than on the marketplace.
Mortgage brokers are essentially middlemen between borrowers and lenders. Using a broker means that you’ll have more access to competitive repayment terms and interest rates outside of specific financial institutions.
Credit unions are essentially banking institutions brought back to the basics, and their mortgages reflect that. Mortgage rates through a credit union tend to offer lower rates than either bankers or brokers. (This is because credit unions are owned by account holders, as opposed to separate investors.)
Credit unions can be an appealing choice for anyone looking to find a mortgage with average to bad credit. They tend to operate as nonprofits and tend to keep loans in-house as opposed to utilizing third parties.
Non-bank lenders, such as Quicken Loans, specialize in mortgages and don’t offer other traditional consumer banking services. They represent a fast-growing segment of the mortgage market.
Find the best mortgage rate for you
No matter what type of mortgage you’re considering, comparison shopping is the only way to find the best mortgage rates for yourself. Now that you know more about how to find the best home loan rates, you can put that knowledge to work by trying the rate comparison tool below.