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Mortgages

Refinancing your mortgage could save you thousands — here are some of the best refinance lenders

When you refinance your mortgage, you're basically trading your current mortgage for a new one.

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Mortgage refinancing gives homeowners flexibility as their financial circumstances and needs change.

When you refinance your mortgage, you may be able to lock in a lower interest rate and get rid of private mortgage insurance, which can lead to significant savings over the life of the loan. It also allows you to switch from an adjustable-rate mortgage to a fixed-rate mortgage (and vice versa) or go from a government-backed loan to a conventional loan.

You can even shorten your loan terms by refinancing your mortgage, so you can pay off your loan even faster. Or, you can use refinancing to tap into the equity in your home to pay off debt, pay for a huge renovation or purchase another property.

CNBC Select evaluated home loan lenders based on the types of loans offered, customer support and minimum down payment amount, among others (see our methodology below).

The best mortgage refinance lenders

Best for cashing out full equity

Rocket Mortgage Refinance

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    Apply online for personalized rates

  • Types of loans

    Conventional loans, FHA loans, VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL) and jumbo loans

  • Fixed-rate Terms

    8 – 29 years

  • Adjustable-rate Terms

    Not disclosed

  • Credit needed

    580 if opting for FHA loan refinance or VA IRRRL; 620 for a conventional loan refinance

Terms apply.

Pros

  • Can use the loan to refinance a single-family home, second home or investment property, or condo
  • Can get pre-qualified in minutes
  • Rocket Mortgage app for easy access to your account
  • Allows borrowers to cash out 100% of their home's equity

Cons

  • Doesn't offer USDA loans, HELOCs, construction loans, or mortgages for mobile homes

Rocket Mortgage is a great option to consider if you're looking to maximize the equity you can cash out of your home.

One of the advantages of refinancing is being able to tap into your home's equity to pay for large expenses, like home improvements or a second property, or to consolidate debt. This is called a cash-out refinance. The total amount you're able to borrow will depend on your home's value and equity.

Most lenders only allow homeowners to cash out 80–90% of their home's equity. But according to its website, Rocket Mortgage allows borrowers who are refinancing to cash out 100% of their equity, as long as they have a minimum FICO score of 620. This means you'll have access to more cash when you refinance. Rocket Mortgage also offers a fast, online pre-approval process.

Best for no lender fees

Ally Home

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    Apply online for personalized rates; fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages included

  • Types of loans

    Fixed-rate, adjustable-rate and jumbo loans available

  • Fixed-rate Terms

    15 – 30 years

  • Adjustable-rate Terms

    5/6 ARM, 7/6 ARM, 10/6 ARM

  • Credit needed

    Not disclosed

Terms apply.

Pros

  • Doesn't charge lender fees (no application, origination, processing, or underwriting fees)
  • Provides custom quotes in just a few minutes with no impact to your credit score
  • Online support available
  • Existing Ally customers can receive a discount that gets applied to closing costs
  • Cash-out refinancing available

Cons

  • Doesn't offer FHA loans, USDA loans, VA loans or HELOCs, however, Ally allows borrowers to refinance from an FHA, USDA, or VA loan to a conventional loan
  • Mortgage loans are not available in Hawaii, Nevada, New Hampshire, or New York

As with its home purchase loans, Ally Bank's mortgage refinances don't come with lender fees. In other words, borrowers won't pay application, origination, processing, or underwriting fees. Keep in mind, however, that you'll still have to pay other charges like title checks and appraisal fees. Still, cutting lender fees out of the equation still gives borrowers a chance to save some money on an already-expensive process.

Ally offers both fixed-rate and adjustable-rate loans in addition to jumbo loans for refinancing. While this lender doesn't offer any FHA, VA, or USDA loans, borrowers who currently have these loan types and wish to refinance to a conventional loan may do so through Ally Bank.

Best for a no-frills lender

Better.com Mortgage Refinance

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    Apply online for personalized rates

  • Types of loans

    Conventional loan, FHA loan and jumbo loan

  • Fixed-rate Terms

    15–30 years

  • Adjustable-rate Terms

    Not disclosed

  • Credit needed

    Not disclosed

Terms apply.

Pros

  • No origination fee
  • No prepayment penalties for refinance
  • Receive a loan estimate in as little as 3 days
  • The Better Buying Guarantee provides up to $3,500 in lender paid credits to offset "covered fees," which include: Lender’s Title Insurance Policy Fees; Owner’s Title Insurance Policy Fees; Appraisal Fees (includes second appraisal fee, appraisal re-inspection fee and appraisal recertification fee, if applicable); Flood Certification Fees; Credit Report Fees; and Other Settlement Fees (discount points are excluded)

Cons

  • Doesn't offer VA loans or USDA loans
  • The Better Buying Guarantee is not available in Washington state

Better.com offers a straightforward refinance service with a few ways for borrowers to save money. Individuals who are refinancing their mortgage won't be charged prepayment penalties for paying off the new loan early. Its pre-approval process can be completed in as little as three minutes and won't impact your credit score.

This lender also offers a Better Buying Guarantee, which provides borrowers with up to $3,500 in lender-paid credits to offset "covered fees." Those fees include: Lender’s Title Insurance Policy Fees; Owner’s Title Insurance Policy Fees; Appraisal Fees (includes second appraisal fee, appraisal re-inspection fee and appraisal recertification fee, if applicable); Flood Certification Fees; Credit Report Fees; and Other Settlement Fees (discount points are excluded). See their Terms and Conditions for rules around eligibility.

Better.com offers mortgage refinance terms that range from 15 to 30 years, and boasts the ability to provide potential borrowers with a loan estimate in as little as three days.

Best for saving money

SoFi Mortgage Refinance

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    Apply online for personalized rates

  • Types of loans

    Conventional loans and jumbo loans

  • Fixed-rate Terms

    10 – 30 years

  • Adjustable-rate Terms

    Not disclosed

  • Credit needed

    620

Terms apply.

Pros

  • Provides access to Mortgage Loan Officers for guidance
  • Access to account via the mobile app
  • Members save $500 on processing fees for a cash-out refinance

Cons

  • Doesn't offer FHA, VA or USDA loans
  • Available in all states except Hawaii

SoFi is known for offering a plethora of savings opportunities to members who use their financial products and services. When it comes to mortgage refinancing, this lender gives members the opportunity to save $500 on the loan processing fee as long as they also have a SoFi Personal Loan, SoFi Student Loan or have a minimum balance of $50,000 in their SoFi Invest accounts at the time of their application submission.

Mortgage refinance terms range from 10 years to 30 years, and SoFi offers an app to help customers have easy access to managing their account details.

Best for availability

PNC Bank Mortgage Refinance

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    Apply online for personalized rates; fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages included

  • Types of loans

    Fixed-rate, adjustable-rate, FHA loans, VA loans and jumbo loans

  • Fixed-rate Terms

    10 – 30 years

  • Adjustable-rate Terms

    Available in periods of 7 and 10 years for a fixed rate, followed by an adjustment period when the interest rate may increase or decrease on an annual or semi-annual basis

  • Credit needed

    Not disclosed

Terms apply.

Pros

  • Refinance available for primary and secondary homes, and investment properties
  • Offers a wide variety of loans to suit an array of customer needs
  • Offers refinancing for VA and FHA loans
  • Available in all 50 states
  • Online and in-person service available

Cons

  • Doesn't offer home renovation loans

PNC Bank is one of the most accessible lenders on this list since it provides services and mortgage products in all 50 states — both in-person and online. This lender offers fixed-rate loan terms that range from 10 years to 30 years. For jumbo loans, though, the loan terms go from 15 years to 30 years. Adjustable-rate terms are also available.

To make sure you're fully prepared to begin the application process, PNC Bank has an application checklist on their website that lists all of the documents you'll need if you want to refinance your mortgage.

Best for a credit union

PenFed Credit Union Mortgage Refinance

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    Apply online for personalized rates

  • Types of loans

    Rate-and-term refinance (for conventional, FHA and VA refinances), VA Interest Rate Reduction Loan (IRRRL), cash-out refinance, home equity line of credit (HELOC)

  • Fixed-rate Terms

    Not disclosed

  • Adjustable-rate Terms

    N/A

  • Credit needed

    Not disclosed

Terms apply.

Pros

  • Covers cost of VA funding fees, title fees, recording fees, transfer taxes, appraisal fee, credit report and flood certification where applicable
  • Offers jumbo loan refinance up to $3 million
  • Online support available
  • Available in all 50 states

Cons

  • Doesn't offer USDA loans
  • Doesn't offer adjustable-rate terms

PenFed cuts out some major closing costs for homeowners looking to refinance their mortgage. It will cover the cost of VA funding fees, title fees, recording fees, transfer taxes, appraisal fee, credit report and flood certification wherever applicable. This could save borrowers anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars in closing costs.

Of course, you'll want to make sure you have a PenFed membership in order to apply for this lender's mortgage products. Membership is open to everyone but you'll need to open a savings account and make an initial deposit of at least $5.

FAQs

What do you need to refinance your mortgage?

As with any other line of credit, mortgage refinancing requires a decent credit score. Lenders typically like to see a minimum credit score of 620 or higher. The higher your credit score, the more likely you are to be qualified for a lower mortgage interest rate. Borrowers should also have at least 20% equity in their home in order to refinance. You'll also need to provide documents, such as bank statements, pay stubs, W-2s, 1099s, tax returns, employment verification and proof of homeowner's insurance.

How do you refinance your mortgage?

To refinance your mortgage, you'll want to make sure you have all the required financial documents and meet your desired lender's qualifications. You'll use this information to submit an application (either online or in-person, depending on the lender you'd like to go with). Lenders typically also offer the help of mortgage refinance experts who can walk you through the process, answer any questions you have and make sure you submit a complete application.

How often can you refinance your mortgage?

There is no limit on the number of times you can refinance a home loan. Refinancing can be valuable when your circumstances change. For instance, if you were to change careers and take a pay cut, refinancing into a mortgage with a longer loan term would allow you to receive lower monthly payments.

Just be aware that refinancing is not free and every time you refinance, you'll have to pay a slew of closing costs and other fees, and your credit score could take a hit every time the lender runs a hard inquiry.

What are the different types of mortgage refinances?

A rate-and-term refinance is one of the most common types of mortgage refinancing since it involves simply changing the loan term (how long you have to repay the balance) or the interest rate.

Borrowers can also do a cash-out refinance where the borrower takes out a loan that's larger than what they currently owe and can use the difference between the two loans to receive cash. Borrowers can then use that cash for a large expense, a down payment on another property, debt consolidation and more.

As the name suggests, FHA Streamline Refinance is meant for borrowers who are looking to refinance their FHA loan. A VA Streamline Refinance is similar except it's meant for VA loan borrowers.

Does refinancing hurt your credit?

As with any other form of credit you apply for, applying for a mortgage refinance means the lender will run a hard inquiry on your credit. Hard pulls do temporarily lower your credit score by a few points. However, making on-time monthly payments and avoiding applying for too many new lines of credit all at once can help your credit score recover.

Reasons not to refinance your mortgage

Refinancing isn't for everyone. If you already have a low, fixed interest rate with affordable monthly payments, refinancing your mortgage might not save you money. In fact, due to closing costs, refinancing can actually wind up costing you more than you anticipated.

You should also avoid refinancing if you have bad or fair credit since you could end up with a higher interest rate, which will make the loan even more expensive.

It's also not a good idea to refinance if you're already several years into a mortgage. Refinancing essentially replaces your loan with a new one and you'll have to start all over with payments. So if you're already, say, 15 years into a 30-year mortgage, refinancing to another 30-year mortgage means you'll still be on the hook with the mortgage for another 30 years.

Bottom line

Refinancing can be instrumental for those who want to have lower monthly payments or a lower interest rate, or want to tap into some of the cash in their home. Just make sure you run the numbers so you can be sure they make sense for your situation, since there are some instances when refinancing may not be a good idea.

Our methodology

To determine which mortgage lenders are the best, CNBC Select analyzed dozens of U.S. mortgages offered by both online and brick-and-mortar banks, including large credit unions, that come with fixed-rate APRs and flexible loan amounts and terms to suit an array of financing needs.

When narrowing down and ranking the best mortgages, we focused on the following features:

  • Fixed-rate APR: Variable rates can go up and down over the lifetime of your loan. With a fixed rate APR, you'll lock in an interest rate for the duration of the loan's term, which means your monthly payment won't vary, making your budget easier to plan.
  • Types of loans offered: The most common kinds of mortgage loans include conventional loans, FHA loans and VA loans. Lenders may also offer USDA loans and jumbo loans. Having more options available means the lender can to cater to a wider range of applicants. We've also considered loans that would suit the needs of borrowers who plan to purchase their second home or a rental property. 
  • Closing timeline: The lenders on our list are able to offer closing timelines that vary from as promptly as two weeks after the home purchase agreement has been signed to as many as 45 days after the agreement has been signed. Specific closing timelines have been noted for each lender.
  • Fees: Common fees associated with mortgage applications include origination fees, application fees, underwriting fees, processing fees and administrative fees. We evaluate these fees in addition to other features when determining the overall offer from each lender. Though some lenders on this list do not charge these fees, we have noted any instances where a lender does. 
  • Flexible minimum and maximum loan amounts/terms: Each mortgage lender provides a variety of financing options that you can customize based on your monthly budget and how long you need to pay back your loan.
  • No early payoff penalties: The mortgage lenders on our list do not charge borrowers for paying off the loan early. 
  • Streamlined application process: We considered whether lenders offered a convenient, fast online application process and/or an in-person procedure at local branches. 
  • Customer support: Every mortgage lender on our list provides customer service via telephone, email or secure online messaging. We also opted for lenders with an online resource hub or advice center to help you educate yourself about the personal loan process and your finances.
  • Minimum down payment: Although minimum down payment amounts depend on the type of loan a borrower applies for, we noted lenders that offer additional specialty loans that come with a lower minimum down payment amount. 

After reviewing the above features, we sorted our recommendations by best for overall financing needs, quick closing timeline, lower interest rates and flexible terms.

Note that the rates and fee structures advertised for mortgage refinances are subject to fluctuate in accordance with the Fed rate. However, once you accept your mortgage agreement, a fixed-rate APR will guarantee your interest rate and monthly payment remain consistent throughout the entire term of the loan, unless you choose to refinance your mortgage at a later date for a potentially lower APR. Your APR, monthly payment and loan amount depend on your credit history, creditworthiness, debt-to-income ratio and the desired loan term. To take out a mortgage, lenders will conduct a hard credit inquiry and request a full application, which could require proof of income, identity verification, proof of address and more.

Catch up on Select's in-depth coverage of personal financetech and toolswellness and more, and follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to stay up to date.

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Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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