Our goal is to give you the tools and confidence you need to improve your finances. Although we receive compensation from our partner lenders, whom we will always identify, all opinions are our own. By refinancing your mortgage, total finance charges may be higher over the life of the loan.
Credible Operations, Inc. NMLS # 1681276, is referred to here as "Credible."
When mortgage rates fall, homeowners may start crunching the numbers to see if refinancing makes sense. By getting a new mortgage with a lower interest rate, refinancing could potentially save you money in the long term. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to help make this happen.
Here are 11 ways to help get the best refinance rates:
- Scan your credit report for errors
- Boost your credit score
- Reduce your credit utilization
- Cut down on your monthly debt
- Save up to pay closing costs upfront
- Compare multiple lenders to find the best refinance rates
- Set a limit on your loan amount
- Get fixed rate for stable savings
- Opt for a shorter loan term
- Buy mortgage points to lower your interest
- Lock in the best refi rate
1. Scan your credit report for errors
It pays to know what’s in your credit reports before applying for a mortgage refinance. In a study commissioned by the Federal Trade Commission, a quarter of consumers had errors on their credit reports that might affect their credit scores — and some of those errors could result in less-favorable loan terms.
To check your reports, head to AnnualCreditReport.com, where you can get a free copy once a year from each of the credit bureaus. Make sure to scan your credit report for:
- Incorrect information, such as closed accounts reported as open.
- Duplications, such as one account listed twice.
- Signs of identity theft, such as accounts you don’t recognize.
2. Boost your credit score
Most lenders pull your credit history during the refinance process, so it’s a good idea to check your credit score to see if it needs work. Generally, most loans require a score around 620, but a 740 or higher will result in much more competitive rates. Here’s a quick glance at how your credit score impacts your interest rate and the long-term costs of your loan:
|Credit score||Interest rate||Monthly payment||Total interest paid|
|Note: All numbers here are for demonstrative purposes only and do not represent an advertisement for available terms. This example is based on a $200,000, 30-year loan and the interest rates as of Jan. 13, 2022. Calculations were made using the MyFico loan savings calculator.|
If you need to improve your credit score, follow these tips:
- Pay all your bills on time. Set up reminders or automatic payments to help.
- Pay down some or all of your debt. If you need to increase your income, consider getting a side hustle.
- Don’t close any credit cards. This will help you maintain a long credit history.
- Avoid hard inquiries. Generally, try not to apply for any credit before refinancing your home. Applying for new credit can generate a hard inquiry and affect your credit score.
Comparing prequalified refi rates with Credible won’t impact your credit score. You can compare several of our partner lenders and see personalized rates in just three minutes — all without leaving our platform.
3. Reduce your credit utilization ratio
Your credit utilization ratio is a measurement of how much credit you’re using compared to the amount of credit you have available. Lowering your credit utilization ratio before applying for a refinance loan may help you qualify for lower refinance rates. A good target ratio to aim for is 30% or less.
Paying down debt will naturally lower your credit utilization. But you can also ask your card issuer to increase your credit limit, which can help lower your credit utilization ratio. Your debt-to-income ratio, or DTI, is another factor your lender might look at during the refinance process. This number is expressed as a percentage and measures how much of your income goes toward debt payments every month. A lower DTI can help you qualify for a great refinance rate or make up for a less favorable credit score. Mortgage lenders calculate two types of DTI. Your front-end DTI ratio only includes your housing costs, while your back-end ratio includes all debts. While most lenders only require a DTI of 43%, one under 36% may help you get you a better rate. Before refinancing, consider saving up for the closing costs. These typically reach $5,000 on average and may include: Some lenders offer loans called no-closing-cost refinances, which can save you this upfront charge. Typically, though, they’ll bundle closing costs into your loan or make up for it with a higher interest rate, so you’ll have to check whether you still come out ahead in the deal. Every lender has a different way of setting interest rates, so it pays to shop around. According to a Freddie Mac survey, borrowers save an average of $3,000 over the life of their mortgage by getting five rate quotes. When looking at offers, be sure to compare both the interest rate and the annual percentage rate with each lender. The APR is a better indicator of the total cost of the loan because it includes the interest rate along with any fees the lender charges. With some refinance loans, such as cash-out refinances, you take out a loan amount that’s higher than your current mortgage balance and pocket the difference. But this generally leads to a higher interest rate because you’re increasing your loan-to-value ratio (LTV). An LTV ratio measures how much equity you have in your home compared to your mortgage balance. If you decide to do a cash-out refinance, for $240,000, for example, then your LTV increases to 80%. Setting a limit on the loan amount may help you get a good refinance rate. One part of refinancing is deciding between a fixed interest rate or an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM). A fixed rate won’t change throughout the life of the loan. An ARM, on the other hand, starts with a fixed interest rate for a set period of time, typically three, five, seven, or 10 years. Once that period ends, the interest rate can move up or down for the remainder of the loan — so there’s a chance your monthly payments will increase in the future. Refinancing into a fixed-rate loan will make budgeting easier and generally lead to more reliable long-term savings. Learn More: When to Refinance a Mortgage Refinancing to a shorter loan term (e.g., from a 30-year to a 15-year mortgage) typically helps you score a lower interest rate and save more interest over the life of the loan. But because you’re paying off the loan in a shorter time frame, your payments will increase. Before refinancing into a shorter loan term, make sure you can handle the higher payments. A mortgage point is an optional fee you can pay the lender to lower your interest rate. Typically, 1 point equals 1% of the loan amount, and the exact amount you save with each point varies by lender. The key benefit is that you keep the lower rate for the life of the loan. But before refinancing, you’ll need to see if the savings are worth the fee. When you find a great refinance rate, you can ask your lender to “lock” the rate. A mortgage rate lock is a guarantee from your lender that your interest rate won’t rise while the loan is being processed. The amount of time you can lock the rate varies by lender — it could be 30 days to more than 90. Before locking the rate, ask your lender whether it charges for the rate lock, either as a percentage of the loan or a dollar amount, and how long it will last. If you think refinancing is the right move, Credible makes it easy. You can compare multiple lenders and see prequalified rates in as little as three minutes — all without leaving our platform.
4. Cut down on your monthly debt
5. Save up to pay closing costs upfront
6. Compare multiple lenders to find the best refinance rates
7. Set a limit on your loan amount
8. Get a fixed rate for stable savings
9. Opt for a shorter loan term
10. Buy mortgage points to lower your interest
11. Lock in the best refi rate
While most lenders only require a DTI of 43%, one under 36% may help you get you a better rate.
An LTV ratio measures how much equity you have in your home compared to your mortgage balance.
Learn More: When to Refinance a Mortgage
But before refinancing, you’ll need to see if the savings are worth the fee.