The best mortgage refinance companies for 2021

Peter Warden
The Mortgage Reports editor

The best mortgage refinance lenders for 2021

What do you look for in the best refinance companies?

A low mortgage rate is essential. But you should also pay attention to their customer service, expertise, and variety of loan options. Our 8 best refinance companies rank highly in all these categories.

The best lender for you will depend on your personal finances, the type of loan you want, and your refinance goals.

Check your refinance rates today (Jul 27th, 2021)
Average Customer Review (out of 5)1Minimum Credit Score to RefinanceBest Feature(s)2
Freedom Mortgage4.5550 (FHA, VA)Best interest rates on average
Movement Mortgage5580 (FHA, VA, USDA)Best customer satisfaction 
Better Mortgage4.3620Lowest upfront fees on average
Guaranteed Rate4.6620Low rates, high customer satisfaction 
Bank of America4.6620Low rates, high customer satisfaction 
Supreme Lending4.9580 (FHA)Low fees, high customer satisfaction 
loanDepot4.2580 (FHA)Low interest rates on average 
Homepoint3.7580 (FHA, VA)Low interest rates on average 
Check your refinance rates today (Jul 27th, 2021)

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.


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Our methodology

To find the eight best mortgage refinance lenders, we started with a list of the 40 most popular mortgage companies in the U.S. 

Then we narrowed the selection based on four key criteria:

  1. Cost — Average mortgage rates and closing costs
  2. Experience — How many refinances the company handled in the previous year, according to Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data  
  3. Service — A respectable score on customer review forums
  4. Customer satisfaction — A low number of customer complaints filed with the CFPB

We cite average 30-year mortgage rates and loan costs below. Those are for 2020, and rates today are likely to be different.

However, it’s often the case that a lender with low rates or fees one year will have similarly competitive costs the next. So you can use these numbers as a general guide.

Here’s why our picks for the best mortgage refinance company stood out above the rest.

Find the best refi lender for you (Jul 27th, 2021)

The 8 best mortgage refinance companies

1.    Freedom Mortgage

Freedom Mortgage stood out for having the lowest average mortgage rates among our top refinance companies.

Through 2020, Freedom’s average interest rate was just 2.92% for a 30-year loan.

It’s also highly experienced with refinance loans — in particular, VA and FHA home loans, for which Freedom Mortgage is one of the biggest lenders in the nation.

Of course, Freedom’s average interest rates could be skewed a little toward the low end. That’s because VA loans tend to have lower mortgage rates, and Freedom originates a high share of those.

But if you need one of the loan types it specializes in, Freedom should likely be high on your list.

This lender can also help those with credit score challenges. It considers applications for VA and FHA refinances from borrowers with scores as low as 550or 620 for conventional loans.

Note, Freedom is not one of those all-digital companies. You’ll deal with human beings throughout the refinance process. But if you don’t mind that, this is a great lender to consider.

2.    Movement Mortgage

If you prefer a digital mortgage process over a person-to-person one, you should check out Movement Mortgage.

True, it had a higher average mortgage rate in 2020 (3.24%), along with higher loan costs. But it didn’t originate as large a share of low-rate VA loans as Freedom, so keep that in mind when comparing average rates between refinance companies.

Movement Mortgage also wins near-universal praise from its customers.

It scored highest of all on our list for online customer reviews. And, it had one of the lowest numbers of complaints made about it to federal regulator the CFPB.

You can see why. On its website, Movement says, “… over 75 percent of our loans are processed in just 7 business days.” And who’s going to complain about that?

To refinance with Movement, expect to need a credit score of 580 or better for FHA, VA and USDA loans — or 620 for conventional ones.

3.    Better Mortgage

Better Mortgage (better.com) is one of the newer mortgage refinance companies on the market; it was founded as recently as 2014. Yet here it is already in our No. 3 slot.

That’s largely because Better’s 30-year mortgage rates in 2020 averaged 3.03%, which was the second lowest on our list. And its average loan costs were lowest of all.

One drawback to working with Better Mortgage is that it doesn’t offer government-backed VA or USDA loans. So borrowers wanting a VA Streamline Refinance (IRRRL) or a USDA Streamline refinance will have to look elsewhere.

To refinance an FHA or conventional loan with Better, you typically need a minimum credit score of 620.

This company’s online customer reviews were slightly worse than some other on this list, but not bad by any means. And if you’re primarily looking for a low-cost mortgage, you might not care.

4. Guaranteed Rate

Guaranteed Rate is famous for its user-friendly and highly effective technologies.

And people seem to like that, because Guaranteed Rate came in second for online customer review scores. Better yet, it tied for first for the smallest number of complaints made by customers.

Meanwhile, Guaranteed Rate’s average mortgage rate in 2020 (3.17%) came in a very respectable third place. However, its upfront loan costs were higher than most.

Expect to need a credit score of 620 or better to refinance with Guaranteed Rate.

Although this lender offers great online functionality, it also has 400 branches across the country. So it could also be a good choice for technophobes or those who prefer to work with real people.

5.    Bank of America

If customer service is your priority, Bank of America may be your first choice.

BoA scored a whopping 860 in the J.D. Power 2020 Mortgage Satisfaction Study, the highest of any on our list. And it did well in our readings of online customer reviews.

Bank of America’s mortgage rates in 2020 were, at 3.19%, just a bit higher than the average for our list, as were its loan costs. But we’re talking relatively small amounts here.

You’ll likely need a 620 credit score to refinance with Bank of America. But then you can choose how to interact with it. Because it has a vast branch network as well as excellent online and mobile services.

6. Supreme Lending

Supreme Lending does exceptionally well for online customer reviews.

For those, it missed out on the top spot by only the smallest amount. And it’s equal-first for smallest number of complaints filed against it with the CFPB. So, we’re looking at excellent customer satisfaction here.

Better yet, Supreme Lending has the lowest average loan fees of any refinance lender on our list.

So why isn’t it in the top spot? Well, Supreme Lending’s average mortgage rate in 2020 (3.2%) was higher than most of the others. However, the differences between its rates and most of those others’ is negligible.

Supreme says you’ll need a 580 or higher credit score for an FHA refinance or 620 or better for a conventional one.

7.    loanDepot

loanDepot scored an impressive 844 in the J.D. Power study, which is the second highest of the four on our list that were included. And it must be doing something right because that year it was the second biggest originator of refinances of our eight.

It came equal-third in our survey for low mortgage rates (3.17%) in 2020. But its loan costs were higher than most.

However, those are just averages. And you won’t know how low your loan costs and mortgage rates could be unless you ask loanDepot for a quote.

8.    Homepoint

Homepoint is an exciting newcomer that has managed to become “the third-largest wholesale lender and 7th-largest non-bank lender in the country” in just five years, according to its website.

When it comes to average refinance rates (3.18%) and loan costs in 2020, Homepoint tends to be competitive rather than lowest.

But, again, you may qualify for a lower-than-average rate and costs if you ask for a quote.

Homepoint looks for a minimum credit score of 580 for FHA and VA refinances and 620 for conventional and USDA ones.

As we’ve already mentioned, the top lender on our list may not be best for you personally. And, equally, the bottom may not be worst.

Your perfect lender will be different from other people’s. Certainly, any lender who makes it onto our list of the eight best mortgage refinance companies is worth careful consideration.

Find the best refi lender for you (Jul 27th, 2021)

Refinance loan types 

There’s a wide range of mortgage products for homeowners looking to refinance. The right one for you depends on your current loan and your refinance goals.

Refinance options might include:

  • A standard rate-and-term refinance — for a lower interest rate
  • A cash-out refinance — available with conventional, FHA, and VA loans
  • A Streamlined refinance — available with FHA, VA, and USDA loans
  • A jumbo refinance loan — for high-value real estate and large loan amounts

How to choose the right refinance option for you

Keep in mind that when you refinance, your new mortgage does not have to be the same type of loan as your old mortgage. In fact, there are often benefits to switching to a different loan type.

For instance, FHA homeowners may be able to cancel mortgage insurance by refinancing.

If your current mortgage is FHA backed — but you have at least a 620 credit score and 20% home equity — you may qualify for a conventional loan with no PMI. This could significantly reduce your monthly payments and total loan costs.

Some homeowners refinance to switch from an adjustable-rate mortgage to a fixed-rate mortgage.

If you have an ARM and the initial fixed rate period is about to expire, you might want to lock in a new loan with a low fixed rate for the long term.

One other good option is refinancing to a shorter-term loan.

If you want to pay off your mortgage early, refinancing from a 30-year loan to a 15-year one, for example, could help you shave years off your loan term. This has multiple benefits, including:

  • Pay off the house early
  • Drop your interest rate further
  • Save money on total interest costs

But the downside is that shorter loan terms come with higher mortgage payments. So not everyone can afford this strategy.

The bottom line is: Explore the different types of mortgages available to you. Your loan officer or mortgage broker can help you understand your options.

You might be surprised at how different your savings look depending on the mortgage product you choose.

Check your refinance options (Jul 27th, 2021)

Refinance requirements

Mortgage refinancing involves a similar application process to when you bought your home.

In most cases, you’ll need to fill out a full application with a mortgage lender and go through underwriting. That means the lender will check and verify your:

  • Credit score
  • Credit history
  • Debt-to-income ratio (DTI)
  • Current income and employment
  • Current home value (which requires a new appraisal)
  • Loan-to-value ratio (LTV)

Of course, how ‘easy’ it is to qualify for a refinance depends on the type of mortgage you choose.

For instance, credit score requirements for an FHA refinance start at just 580, while cash-out refinancing might require a credit score of at least 640. And a jumbo loan refinance might require a FICO score of 680-700 or higher.

Luckily, it’s easy to figure out if you’re refi eligible. You can get a pre-approval to verify your eligibility and refinancing options.

Many lenders offer online applications and can pull your documents online during underwriting. Some will even do a full ‘online mortgage’ complete with digital signing on closing day.

In short, it takes much less time and effort to refinance a mortgage today than in the past. 

Start your refi application today (Jul 27th, 2021)

How to find the lowest rates

The only way to find the best rate when you refinance is to shop around with different lenders.

As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says, “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.”

To maximize your refinance savings, apply with at least 3-5 refinance lenders and compare their rate quotes (“Loan Estimates”) side by side.

Don’t just look at the interest rate when you comparison shop. Also pay attention to:

  • Loan type — Make sure all your quotes are for the same loan product (conventional, FHA, VA, jumbo, etc.) as well as the same loan type (fixed-rate mortgage or adjustable-rate mortgage). Both things impact your rate, closing costs, and loan terms
  • Discount points — Does the quote include an extra fee up front in order to lower your rate?
  • Mortgage origination fees — The loan origination fee is one of your most expensive closing costs and it varies a lot from lender to lender. You might be able to negotiate your lender fees down if you get more than one estimate
  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR) — This rate includes your interest and loan fees, so it’s a good way to compare the ‘total’ cost of two loans
  • Monthly payment — Your LE will list the total monthly mortgage payment, including loan principal and interest as well as property taxes and homeowners insurance. You can easily compare estimates to see which loan offer is cheaper month-to-month

It’s also worth checking rates from more than one type of mortgage lender.

Try getting a quote from a big bank, online lender, and credit union — maybe even a mortgage broker. Each will be able to offer you a different rate and fee package depending on your unique circumstances.

Does refinancing hurt your credit?

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.

FICO® is the company behind America’s most widely used credit scoring technologies. And it explains how its latest version works:

“For [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.

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. 

And VantageScore, which is FICO’s main competitor, still gives you only two weeks.

Mortgage refinance rates today

See today’s live refinance rates here 

Thanks to a regulatory change in 2020, refinance rates now tend to be a little higher than mortgage rates for home purchases.

But, aside from that, 2020 was an excellent year for mortgage and refinance rates generally.

Mortgage interest rates started 2021 at a new all-time low of 2.65% for a 30-year, fixed rate loan according to Freddie Mac. By June 10, 2021, they were back up to 2.96% and had barely moved over several weeks.

Contrary to popular belief, mortgage and refinance rates are not set by the Federal Reserve, although the Fed can influence them.

Instead, mortgage rates are determined by the price investors are willing to pay for “mortgage-backed securities” (MBSs), which are traded in a special bond market. And that’s why they can go up and down several times a day — just like stock prices.

Keep in mind that that refinance rates are unique to each customer. Your own rate depends on your loan size, credit, debts, and a host of other factors.

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 later in the 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 rate forecasts from leading authorities

Housing Authority30-Year Mortgage Rate Forecast For 2021
Fannie Mae3.0%
Freddie Mac3.2%
Mortgage Bankers Association3.5%

Long-term interest rate forecasts are never ironclad, of course. And it’s especially hard to make accurate predictions when there’s so much up in the air.

For example, if inflation proves persistent, the Fed may have to stop keeping mortgage rates artificially low. And, if economic recovery is as strong as many expect, that could push rates even higher.

Meanwhile, there are various threats to the pandemic recovery.

For instance, the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant that’s vaccine resistant could slow or reverse it. And that could bring lower mortgage rates.

But right now, it’s looking more likely that mortgage and refinance rates will rise — possibly sharply — than fall. So if you can get a good deal now, you might want to grab it while you can.

Check your refinance rates today (Jul 27th, 2021)

Mortgage refinance FAQs

Should I refinance with my current lender? 

Your current mortgage company might offer you the best refinance deal. Indeed, some lenders reward homeowners’ loyalty with lower rates if they stick around to refinance. However, you shouldn’t go with your current lender until you’ve seen quotes from a few others. 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?

In May 2021, it took 53 days on average to refinance a home, according to ICE Mortgage Technology. But that varies a lot depending on how busy and efficient lenders are. Over the previous year, the average number of days to close a refinance varied between 42 and 62. How long it takes you to refinance will depend on many factors — including how quickly you turn in paperwork. In fact, late documents are one of the biggest refinance delays. So stay on top of requests from your loan officer.

What are average refinance closing costs?

For a mainstream refinance, expect to pay roughly 2% to 5% of your loan amount in closing costs. Streamline refinances tend to be less costly.

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.

How does a cash-out refinance work?

Cash-out refinancing means you take out a new loan worth more than what you currently owe on the home. First, this loan is used to pay off your existing mortgage. Then the leftover amount is returned to you as cash-back. The cash can be used for any purpose; popular uses include consolidating high-interest credit card debt and completing home improvements.

Can I refinance if I have a home equity loan?

It’s possible to refinance if you have a home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC) in addition to your first mortgage. It will be more difficult to do a cash-out refinance, however, because your second mortgage reduces the equity available in your home. Some homeowners refinance to combine their first and second mortgage into a single loan.

How much home equity do I need to refinance?

Only 3-5% equity may be needed to refinance a conventional loan, and 3.5% is required to refinance an FHA loan. This means you may be able to refinance even if you bought the home recently and made a small down payment. Refinancing with at least 20% equity could help you cancel mortgage insurance.

What if my existing mortgage has a prepayment penalty?

It’s not likely, but it is possible your existing mortgage came with a penalty for early repayment— 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. 

Find your best reifnance company

To recap, the best mortgage refinance companies for 2021 are:

  1. Freedom Mortgage — Best interest rates (average)
  2. Movement Mortgage — Best customer satisfaction
  3. Better Mortgage — Lowest fees (average)
  4. Guaranteed Rate — Low rates (average), high satisfaction
  5. Bank of America — Low rates (average), high satisfaction
  6. Supreme Lending — Low fees, high satisfaction
  7. loanDepot — Low rates (average)
  8. Homepoint — Low rates average)

Many homeowners will find what they need with one of the eight best refinance companies listed above. But that’s not a guarantee — your own best lender could be different.

To get the best refi rate and low closing costs, make sure you compare loan offers from a few different companies before settling on one.

Verify your new rate (Jul 27th, 2021)

1Average customer review scores sourced from LendingTree.com, Zillow.com, Bankrate.com, and J.D. Power’s most recent Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study where available for each lender

2 Average interest rates and loan fees based on the most recent self-reported data all lenders are required to file under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA)