Who has the best mortgage rates? 24 top lenders, ranked

Maggie Overholt
The Mortgage Reports editor

Who has the best mortgage rates?

When you want to find the best mortgage rate, it helps to know where to start looking.

We analyzed data on every loan from the 24 biggest lenders in 2018 and 2019, looking for the lowest interest rates and fees.1,2

These lenders topped the list for best 30-year mortgage rates:

  • USAA — Best mortgage rates and fees combined (military only)
  • Bank of America — Lowest average rate (bank)
  • Guaranteed Rate — Lowest average rate (non-bank)

But remember, rates vary a lot from person to person. Rates also depend on factors like your down payment and loan term. 

So there’s a good chance your best rate will come from a company not listed above.

Luckily, rates are near all-time lows right now. It’s a good time to shop for your lowest offer.

Find and lock a low mortgage rate (Apr 9th, 2021)

In this article (Skip to…)

Finding the lowest mortgage rate for you

Mortgage rates are highly individualized. Variables such as your credit score and debt-to-income ratio will have a big impact on the rate you get.

That means the company with the lowest average rates won’t always be the cheapest lender for everyone.

For example: Among the 24 biggest mortgage lenders, USAA had the lowest average mortgage rate in 2019, at just 3.98%.

But average rates tell only part of the story. Overall, USAA’s 30-year mortgage rates ranged from 2.875% to over 6%. So some people got much lower rates than others.

To find your best offer, you have to request loan estimates from more than one company and compare. 

Check your mortgage rates (Apr 9th, 2021)

Average mortgage rates from top lenders

Note, the average rates shown in this table are from 2019 — the most recent data available.

Mortgage rates have fallen quite a bit since then, so your own rate is likely to be lower.

However, last year’s averages can still be used as a tool to compare lenders side by side.

Mortgage Lender

Average 30-Year Mortgage Rate in 2019

USAA* 3.98%
Veterans United* 4%
Navy Federal CU* 4%
Bank of America 4.05%
Guaranteed Rate 4.12%
PNC 4.13%
Caliber Home Loans 4.15%
loanDepot 4.15%
Freedom Mortgage Corp. 4.15%
Guild Mortgage Co 4.15%
New American Funding 4.16%
Quicken/Rocket 4.16%
Finance of America Mortgage 4.21%
Chase 4.22%
Wells Fargo 4.22%
Movement Mortgage 4.24%
Stearns Lending 4.24%
Flagstar Bank 4.28%
HomeBridge Financial Services 4.28%
Academy Mortgage Corp 4.30%
Fairway Independent 4.33%
PrimeLending 4.36%
Mr. Cooper 4.44%
US Bank 4.66%

*These mortgage lenders only serve eligible veterans and service members

Which mortgage lender has the lowest closing costs?

Closing costs are around 2% to 5% of the loan amount on average. On a $200,000 loan, that’s $4,000 to $10,000 at the closing table. But just like mortgage rates, you can shop around for the lowest closing costs to minimize your out-of-pocket fees.

When you’re shopping, note that some closing can’t be negotiated, because they’re set by third parties (like appraisal and credit reporting fees).

But lenders do have wiggle room when it comes to setting other closing costs. So if you get multiple offers, you might have some leverage to negotiate your costs down.

Some homebuyers even get the seller to cover some — or possibly all — of their closing costs. But that’s not a guarantee, so you should still plan ahead for these costs.

Here’s how the top mortgage lenders stack up for total loan costs, according to 2019 data from HMDA.

Average loan costs from top lenders

Mortgage Lender

Average Loan Costs in 2019 (% of Loan Amount)

Example: Costs for a $250,000 Loan

PNC 0.88% $2,205
Chase 1.01% $2,531
Wells Fargo 1.10% $2,752
Guaranteed Rate 1.25% $3,133
Bank of America 1.26% $3,153
Veterans United 1.47% $3,667
Finance of America Mortgage 1.50% $3,751
Flagstar Bank 1.52% $3,794
US Bank 1.53% $3,823
Fairway Independent 1.55% $3,871
USAA 1.57% $3,913
Caliber Home Loans 1.65% $4,128
HomeBridge Financial Services 1.70% $4,257
Navy Federal CU 1.71% $4,285
loanDepot 1.72% $4,304
Stearns Lending 1.79% $4,487
Movement Mortgage 1.80% $4,490
PrimeLending 1.81% $4,517
New American Funding 1.84% $4,593
Freedom Mortgage Corp. 1.93% $4,830
Quicken/Rocket 2.00% $5,008
Guild Mortgage Co 2.05% $5,124
Academy Mortgage Corp 2.15% $5,368
Mr. Cooper 2.30% $5,745

The best mortgage rates and fees combined

It’s just as important to upfront compare loan costs as it is to compare mortgage rates.

Your interest rate might seem much more important, since it’s with you for the life of the loan.

But upfront fees can make a big difference — especially if you’ll only be in the house a few years.

Take a look at how the top mortgage lenders rank when you look at upfront fees plus interest, versus interest rate alone.

*() or () indicates how a company’s ranking changes when comparing its rates alone to its rates and fees combined.

Lender Average Interest Rate Lender Cost of Interest + Fees Over 7 Years
USAA 3.98% USAA $68,978
Veterans United 4% Veterans United $69,073
Navy Federal CU 4% Bank of America () $69,412
Bank of America 4.05% Navy Federal CU () $69,691
Guaranteed Rate 4.12% PNC () $69,831
PNC 4.13% Guaranteed Rate () $70,587
loanDepot 4.15% Chase () $71,697
Caliber Home Loans 4.15% Wells Fargo () $71,918
Freedom Mortgage Corp. 4.15% Caliber Home Loans () $72,096
Guild Mortgage Co 4.15% loanDepot () $72,272
Quicken/Rocket 4.16% New American Funding () $72,732
New American Funding 4.16% Finance of America Mortgage () $72,746
Finance of America Mortgage 4.21% Freedom Mortgage Corp. () $72,798
Chase 4.22% Guild Mortgage Co () $73,092
Wells Fargo 4.22% Quicken/Rocket () $73,147
Movement Mortgage 4.24% Flagstar Bank () $73,988
Stearns Lending 4.24% Stearns Lending $73,995
Flagstar Bank 4.28% Movement Mortgage () $73,998
HomeBridge Financial Services 4.28% HomeBridge Financial Services $74,451
Academy Mortgage Corp 4.30% Fairway Independent () $74,921
Fairway Independent 4.33% Academy Mortgage Corp () $75,904
PrimeLending 4.36% PrimeLending $76,082
Mr. Cooper 4.44% Mr. Cooper $78,684
US Bank 4.66% US Bank $80,546

Remember that most people who get a 30-year mortgage don’t keep their loan the full 30 years. In fact, homeowners keep 30-year loans for just 7 years on average.

When you’re only paying interest over a short period, those upfront fees start to carry more weight compared to your interest rate.

In addition, lenders will sometimes emphasize one number or the other to make an offer look more attractive than it is.

Lenders might emphasize either low closing costs or low rates to make an offer look more attractive, while raising the other number.

For instance, lenders might advertise low- or no-fee mortgages, saying they’ll cover the upfront costs for you. But these loans typically have a higher interest rate.

Other lenders might emphasize ultra-low interest rates, but charge higher origination fees to make up for it.

So when you’re shopping for a mortgage, read your rate quotes thoroughly. Look at rates, upfront fees, and your total estimated closing costs to make sure you’re getting the best deal overall.

The next section explains how to do that.

Check your rates (Apr 9th, 2021)

How to shop for mortgage rates

Shopping for the best mortgage rate — and the lowest fees — is easy enough if you know what you’re doing. There are five basic steps:

  1. Make sure your credit and budget are polished up, so you’re getting your best possible offer
  2. Figure out which type of mortgage loan you need
  3. Find lenders offering the type of loan you’re looking for
  4. Select your preferred lenders based on advertised rates, recommendations, customer reviews, and expert reviews
  5. Request Loan Estimates (“quotes”) from those lenders and compare the rates and fees in each offer

That last step — comparing Loan Estimates — is key to finding the best mortgage rate and most affordable mortgage overall.

A Loan Estimate is a standard document you’ll get with any mortgage offer. It lists everything you need to know about a mortgage before signing on, including the interest rate, lender charges, loan length, repayment terms, and more.

By comparing multiple Loan Estimates side by side, you can tell instantly which lender is offering you the most affordable home loan.

How to compare mortgage rates — The Mortgage Reports

Sample loan estimate, Page 1. Image: CFPB

The first page of the Loan Estimate (shown above) clearly states your rate and projected monthly payment.

Those are the numbers people tend to pay most attention to when getting a home loan.

But the interest rate isn’t the only part worth looking at.

You should also compare the estimated closing costs with each lender, as well as the closing cost breakdown shown on page two.

How to compare closing costs — The Mortgage Reports

Sample loan estimate, Page 2. Image: CFPB

At the end of the day, the best mortgage rate alone doesn’t make for the best offer.

The rate and closing costs both have to be factored in. Their relative weight will depend on your goals, and how long you plan to stay in the house.

For instance, if you’re only going to own the house for a few years, a higher rate but lower upfront costs might make sense.

But if you’ll stay the full 30-year duration of the loan, you likely want the lowest interest rate possible. In that case, you might accept slightly higher upfront costs for a lower rate.

Check your rates (Apr 9th, 2021)

Tips to get the best mortgage rate

If you want the best mortgage rate, you have to shop around. That’s the number one rule. But there are other strategies you can use to get lower offers from the lenders you talk to.

  • Try for a last-minute credit boost. If you’re reading this, you’re probably past the point where “start improving your credit a year in advance” is helpful advice. But see what you can do in the short term. Your credit score makes a big difference in your mortgage rate, and improving it just a few points could lead to real savings. See: 5 ways to improve your FICO score today
  • Consider discount points. If you can afford it, you can pay a little more upfront for a better mortgage rate over the life of the loan. This could be especially smart if you plan to keep your home a long time. “Discount points” cost 1% of the loan amount, and typically lower your rate by 0.25%
  • Negotiate your rate. Negotiating with a lender probably sounds intimidating (after all, they’re the experts). But trust us when we say it can be done. Mortgage lenders have flexibility with the rates they offer, and they want your business. A lower rate quote from a different company might be the only leverage you need to negotiate a better offer with the lender you want
  • Negotiate your closing costs. Some closing costs are non-negotiable, like the third-party appraisal and credit reporting fees. But the fees your lender charges can sometimes be negotiated to save you moeny on the front end. Learn more about negotiating your closing costs here
  • Know when to lock your rate. Mortgage rates are tied to the U.S. and worldwide economies, so they move up and down every day — just like stocks. If you want to get the lowest possible rate, keep an eye on daily rate movements and be ready to lock when they fall

Getting mortgage quotes might not be the most enjoyable way to spend a day. But a few hours of effort are likely worth the thousands you could save in the long run.

One study found that people who compare just 3 lenders save $300 per year on average. And if you’re a savvy shopper, you could save a lot more.

Verify your new rate (Apr 9th, 2021)

Can a down payment affect mortgage interest rates?

A bigger down payment can help you qualify for low mortgage rates. 

For instance, conventional loans only require 3% down. But if you’re able to put down 20%, you’ll get a better rate and avoid mortgage insurance. So your loan costs will be much lower overall.  

For government mortgage programs — like FHA, VA, and USDA loans — your down payment won’t have as big of an impact on your rate.

Even though a big down payment can lower your mortgage rate, it doesn’t always make sense to save for a 20% down payment.

Tying up most of your savings in your home can put you in a tight spot if emergency expenses arise. It can also leave new home buyers short on cash for repairs and home improvement projects that are sure to come up.

Oftentimes, it makes sense to put down a smaller down payment and take a slightly higher rate and/or mortgage insurance. This puts you in a house and lets you start building equity sooner.

Then, you can refinance to a lower rate and no mortgage insurance a few years down the line.

Other factors that impact your mortgage rates

There are lots of different variables that affect the mortgage rates you’re offered. 

You’ll have little to no control over some of those factors. For example, nobody anticipated a coronavirus pandemic would drive down mortgage rates in early 2020.

In other years, economic forces push the Federal Reserve to raise borrowing rates.

And although the Fed doesn’t control mortgage interest, banks and credit unions offer mortgage and refinance rates that reflect the broader interest market.

Because you can’t control everything, it’s important to control what factors you can when applying for a loan. Those include things like:

  • Your credit score and report: Credit repair takes time, but every point in your credit score can help. If possible, pay down your credit cards to about 30% of their credit limits before applying for a new home loan. Borrowers with excellent credit get the best rates
  • Your debt-to-income ratio: Lenders check how much you owe in other monthly payments compared to your income to find out much a new home loan would impact your budget. A debt-to-income ratio above 45 percent could give lenders cause for concern. Pay off a couple existing loans, if possible, to improve your debt-to-income ratio
  • Your loan terms: Shorter-term loans like a 15-year mortgage tend to offer lower rates than 30-year mortgages. Adjustable-rate mortgages can offer a lower introductory rate, but when that expires the loan’s mortgage rate fluctuates with the market
  • Your home’s price: Knowing your price range will keep your debt-to-income ratio on track and open up more types of mortgages — especially for first-time homebuyers. Use a mortgage calculator to experiment with different loan amounts to find your price range  

If you do well in the four areas above, you’ll have access to some of the best mortgage rates on the market.

Verify your new rate (Apr 9th, 2021)

Your monthly mortgage payment: More than an interest rate 

Home shoppers often think in terms of interest rates when shopping for a home loan. But interest is only one piece of the puzzle.

Your total mortgage payment will also include some of all of the following costs:

  • Property taxes: Cities and counties levy property taxes each year. Home buyers often break these annual payments down into 12 monthly installments
  • Homeowners insurance: This annual expense can also be prorated and added to your monthly payment
  • PMI or MIP: Unless you put 20% down on a conventional loan, you’ll need to add mortgage insurance onto your monthly payments. That could be private mortgage insurance (for a conventional loan) or mortgage insurance premium (for an FHA loan). Mortgage insurance normally adds around 1% of your loan balance to your payments each year
  • HOA dues: Some neighborhoods charge additional fees to fund a Homeowners Association which protects property values. You could add these fees onto your monthly payment

As you calculate how much home you can afford, be sure to add in these extra costs so you’re budgeting accurately.

What types of mortgage work for you?

The type of loan you use will also have a big impact on your mortgage rate.

To choose the right loan type for you, you’ll have to think about your credit, down payment, home price, and location.

  • FHA loans: The Federal Housing Administration backs borrowers who may struggle to find cash for a down payment or qualify for a conventional loan. Most lenders require a credit score of 580 and at least 3.5% down for an FHA loan
  • USDA loans: This program helps borrowers in rural and suburban areas qualify for homeownership. Some borrowers can get a loan with no down payment and a credit score as low as 640
  • VA loans: Most military members and veterans can qualify for a VA loan which the Department of Veterans Affairs backs. VA loans offer no down payment options with no PMI required. Borrowers do pay an upfront VA funding fee
  • Conventional loans: These loans depend more heavily on your credit score because they aren’t backed by the federal government. You can avoid PMI premiums by putting 20% down, but you can borrow with as little as 3% down
  • Jumbo loans: You’ll need a jumbo loan to buy a high-value property. These loans exceed conventional loan limits — which max out at $548,250 in most areas — as usually require at least 10% down (though some lenders will go as low as 5%). You’ll likely need a credit score of 720 or higher

Not all lenders offer all these loan products, and not every loan type works for all properties. For example, you can’t use an FHA loan or a VA loan to a vacation home or rental property.

If you’re not sure which loan will work best for you, talk with a loan officer or mortgage broker about your options.

Along with mortgage rates, ask about what you’re likely to qualify for as well as the short- and long-term costs of each loan type.   

Find your best mortgage rate

Finding your best interest rate will always be part of the home buying process. Comparing loan offers from a variety of lenders will be key to finding your best rate.

But there’s more to the home buying process than just looking at advertised rates. 

Getting the right loan type — and saving money on closing costs and other fees — can help you lower your overall borrowing costs.   

Verify your new rate (Apr 9th, 2021)

1Top 24 lenders for 2018-2019 sourced from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s  Mortgage Market Activity and Trends report

2Rate and fee data were sourced from self-reported loan data that all mortgage lenders are required to file each year under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. Averages include all 30-year loans reported by each lender for the previous year. Your own rate and loan costs will vary.