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2020 Mortgage Lender Rankings & How To Choose A Lender



Looking for a lender? Start here

If you’re thinking about buying a new home or refinancing, you’re probably wondering which mortgage companies offer the best options.

Thanks to the recently released J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study, you’ll have a strong jumping-off point for your search. 

With a mix of tech-first lenders and major banks earning the highest ratings, there are a variety of options to choose from.

But don’t limit your search. Just because a mortgage company gets good reviews, doesn’t mean it’s the best company for you.

You still need to compare rates and fees from at least 3-5 lenders to make sure you’re getting the best deal in addition to great customer service.

Get matched with a lender (Nov 22nd, 2020)

The top-rated mortgage lender for 2020 is… 

At the top of J.D. Power’s list are some of the nation’s mega lenders:

  1. Rocket Mortgage
  2. Bank of America (tied for second)
  3. Chase (tied for second)
  4. Citi
  5. U.S. Bank
  6. loanDepot

Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans took home J.D. Power’s top rating for the 11th year in a row.

Rocket and its parent company Quicken receive high marks from borrowers for their quick and easy online application and customizable loan features.

In addition to being a leading lender for FHA and VA loans, Rocket Mortgage says it can provide a pre-approval decision in eight minutes. 

But Rocket and Quicken’s winning track record doesn’t mean this is the best mortgage lender for everyone.

To find the right mortgage lender for you, you need to do some homework.

Start by figuring out what type of loan you need. Then, compare rates and fees from a few different lenders that seem promising.

You might be surprised at which one can offer you the best deal.

Don’t miss the top mortgage lenders for veterans and service members

J.D. Power’s list primarily includes lenders that work with a broad range of consumers.

But if you look at the fine print, you can see that military service members and veterans have additional options.

In fact, the top military lenders consistently rank even higher than Quicken Loans for customer satisfaction. Only, they don’t show up at the top of the list because they’re not available to most borrowers.

This year’s top-rated mortgage lenders for military service members and veterans are:

  1. USAA
  2. Veterans United
  3. Navy Federal Credit Union

These lenders specialize in VA loans, which allow zero down payment and often have below-market interest rates for eligible service members.

Looking for a veteran-focused lender can also be a good idea if you have a rocky credit history or higher debts, and you want to work with a lender who can offer additional counseling or assistance to help you qualify for a mortgage.

Many military lenders (though not all) have special programs to help VA-eligible borrowers become homeowners.

If you plan to apply for a VA loan, you can compare the top VA lenders and request quotes from several to see who offers the most competitive rates and terms.

Get matched with a VA loan lender (Nov 22nd, 2020)

How to choose a mortgage lender

When thinking about how to find a mortgage lender, ratings can be a great place to start. If millions of other homeowners are singing a lender’s praises, it’s probably worth checking out. 

But rankings are just that — a place to start.

The right lender for you might not be one of the national banks or even appear on a best-of list.

You might be better off looking at local banks or credit unions that are hands-on throughout the loan process or who will work with you to help you qualify for a mortgage.

That’s especially true if you think you’ll have trouble qualifying for a home loan — maybe because you have a lower credit score, high debts, or non-traditional income.

Whatever the case, it’s crucial to find a lender that knows how to work with borrowers like you and can offer low rates for your situation.

Think about your unique needs

There are a number of factors that influence whether a lender will approve you for a loan.

Sometimes a smaller company has more bandwidth to help borrowers who have low credit scores or a limited credit history. 

Lenders may also specialize in a particular type of loan or may work primarily with a certain type of borrower.

  • Some are known for doing jumbo mortgages, which exceed the loan amount guaranteed by the government
  • Others work with bad credit or self-employed borrowers who might have a hard time qualifying for a mainstream loan
  • Still others do a large number of FHA, VA, or USDA loans and can offer expertise in those areas

Get matched with a mortgage lender (Nov 22nd, 2020)

What’s your borrower profile?

Understanding what your profile as a borrower looks like may help you choose the right lender for your circumstances. 

Here are some of the biggest factors mortgage lenders look at:

  • Credit score: The higher your score, the more home loan options you’ll have. However, some loan programs accept credit scores in the 500s and low 600s, and your score is only one part of the evaluation process
  • Debts: Lenders calculate all of your other debts plus your potential mortgage payment against your monthly income (this is known as your debt-to-income ratio) to determine how much you can afford
  • Income: Your income can also affect the types of loan programs you qualify for. USDA loans, for example, cap income at 15% above the local median. Income might also determine whether you qualify for down payment assistance programs, and not all lenders allow borrowers to use those toward their loans
  • Down payment: If you can put down 20% or more, you can avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI). But many lenders offer loans with as little as 3% down. FHA loans require just 3.5%, and VA and USDA loans allow 0% down

Before requesting quotes from any lenders, compile a short list of mortgage companies that seem like they’d be a good fit. Then research whether they offer the type of loan you’re looking for.

Many lenders will list the loan products they provide on their websites, and some will highlight special programs for first-time home borrowers or low credit applicants.

If you’re still not sure which lenders are best, you can ask your real estate agent for recommendations.

You might also consider hiring a mortgage broker. A broker identifies loans that work with your circumstances, as well as lenders that offer those products.

Verify your mortgage eligibility (Nov 22nd, 2020)

How to compare mortgage rates and fees

It’s a good idea to request mortgage quotes from several lenders so you can compare them side by side.

While interest rates will factor into your decision, there are a number of other aspects to consider, including: 

  • Closing costs: How much can you expect to pay in fees, appraisals, origination costs, and other expenses? 
  • Loan products: Do they offer mortgage options that suit what you’re looking for and what you can afford in terms of a down payment? 
  • Servicing: Does the lender service your loan after it closes — meaning they handle account management and payments — or do they sell it to another company? 
  • Special programs: Does the lender allow down payment assistance or do they offer loans designed to help first-time home buyers? 
  • Application process: Is the application process 100% online or do you work with a loan officer from approval to closing? 

As you get a sense of how different mortgage companies interact with borrowers, and the terms and products they offer, it will become easier to identify the lender that best suits your needs. 

A look back at the 2020 mortgage market 

Historically low interest rates sent home sales soaring to a 14-year high this year, and refinances are up 200%.

Many homeowners and buyers rushed to lock in rates at 3% or less while they lasted, which proved to be a smart move, as rates increased following President-elect Joe Biden’s win.

The Federal Reserve has said rates will remain low until 2023, though. So, you get can still get a great interest rate if you haven’t bought or refinanced yet.

Low rates caused snags in the mortgage process

Despite skyrocketing sales, the mortgage industry has had its fair share of issues in 2020.

J.D. Power reported that the spike in mortgage demand led to increased loan processing times, as well as problems with self-service application options.

The organization also noted that lenders struggled to cope with the influx in applications and increased current borrower inquiries, particularly with so many employees forced to work from home. 

What to expect from mortgage lenders in 2021

Lenders will likely try to course-correct moving into 2021 in order to remain competitive, according to J.D. Power.

If you’re concerned about hitting snags with online application programs, or you’re hoping to move quickly on your loan application, contact the lenders you’re considering and ask about their turnaround times for loan decisions.

You can also ask about their average time to close on a loan, as well as their customer support options for their online tools.

Getting a sense of how they handle potential issues can help you feel more confident when selecting a lender. 

Verify your new rate (Nov 22nd, 2020)

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Bad Credit

Can I be denied a job due to bad credit?



Can I be denied a job due to bad credit?
Image source: Getty Images

People often worry about their credit history when it comes to applying for a new credit card, a mortgage or a car loan. If you have poor credit, should you also be concerned about finding work? Can you be denied a job due to bad credit?

Let’s examine the facts.

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What is bad credit anyway?

Bad credit is basically a negative assessment of your finances based on your history of borrowing. Bad credit implies that you have a bad track record with lenders. This is most likely because you have a pattern of not paying your bills on time or defaulting on your loans.

Is it legal for employers to check my credit report?

Law and finance firms are legally required to perform credit checks on potential employees. However, other kinds of employers can also conduct credit checks on you before they hire you. But they must ask for your permission before they do so.

In many cases, a credit check will be performed by a company if the role you are applying for involves dealing with large amounts of cash.

Why might employers want to check my report?

There are many reasons an employer might want to check your report. For example, they might want to ensure that:

  • You are who you say you are.
  • You have a good track record of managing money.
  • It’s not too much of a risk to let your manage money.
  • Your financial behaviour will not affect your work performance.

Could you be rewarded for your everyday spending?

Rewards credit cards include schemes that reward you simply for using your credit card. When you spend money on a rewards card you could earn loyalty points, in-store vouchers airmiles, and more. MyWalletHero makes it easy for you to find a card that matches your spending habits so you can get the most value from your rewards.

Can an employer deny me a job due to bad credit?

Yes. According to credit reference agency Experian, if your prospective employer feels that your current financial situation could impact your ability to perform well in the role, or if your credit history shows poor financial planning, they may decide not to hire you.

Generally speaking, however, employers are more likely to be concerned about serious ‘red flags’ in your credit history, like bankruptcy rather than the odd missed payment.

In any case, employers only get access to your ‘public’ credit report. This contains your electoral roll information and any major red flags such as bankruptcies, individual voluntary arrangements and county court judgments.

They will not have access to your detailed credit repayments or your credit score.

How can I keep my credit history from affecting my ability to get a job?

If a prospective employer runs a credit check on you, ultimately you have no control over what they do with the information, including denying you a job due to bad credit.

The best thing you can do to minimise the impact of your credit on your chances of getting a job is to review your credit report beforehand.

You have the right to one free credit report per year from each of the three credit agencies (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). Before you apply for a job or attend an interview, request your report and review it for any errors so that you can have them corrected ahead of time.

Even if there are no errors, knowing what is on your credit report puts you in a good position to answer any questions that may arise during the hiring process.

Indeed, if there’s something in your report that employers might consider a ‘red flag’, don’t panic. Instead, begin preparing an explanation to give to them. If it was, for example, caused by financial hardship beyond your control, the employer may take this into account.

Alternatively, you can contact a credit reference agency and request that a notice of correction be added to your report. This is a brief note of up to 200 words in length that explains circumstances that a lender might otherwise question.

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Some offers on MyWalletHero are from our partners — it’s how we make money and keep this site going. But does that impact our ratings? Nope. Our commitment is to you. If a product isn’t any good, our rating will reflect that, or we won’t list it at all. Also, while we aim to feature the best products available, we do not review every product on the market. Learn more here. The statements above are The Motley Fool’s alone and have not been provided or endorsed by bank advertisers. John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Barclays, Hargreaves Lansdown, HSBC Holdings, Lloyds Banking Group, Mastercard, and Tesco.

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Refinancing Your Subprime Auto Loan



Refinancing is a wonderful way to save money on your monthly car loan payment – but it can cost you more in the long run if you’re not careful. Refinancing when you have a subprime auto loan isn’t always as easy as refinancing a vehicle when you have good credit. Working with the right lender can help, though.

What Is Refinancing?

Refinancing is when you replace your existing car loan with a different one for the same vehicle, which may have either a lower interest rate, a longer loan term, or both.

Qualifying for a lower interest rate is optimal for getting a lower monthly payment and saving money overall. If you only extend your loan term without getting a lower rate, you actually end up paying more in interest charges over the term of your loan.

Auto loans typically use a simple interest formula, meaning your interest charges add up daily. The longer your loan term, the more you pay the lender – it’s wise to choose the shortest loan term you can afford. If you only extend your loan term you may end up paying more than the vehicle’s value!

Refinancing can typically be done with your current lender or with another one. It’s a good idea to shop around for the best possible rate before going with the first offer you receive. When you shop for the same type of financing with multiple lenders in a two-week timeframe, it’s called rate shopping. When you do this only one credit inquiry impacts your credit score instead of multiple, minimizing the negative impact that hard pulls can have on your credit score.

Options for Bad Credit Borrowers

Taking out a subprime auto loan is a great way to improve your credit, so, if you’ve kept up with your loan to this point and just need a little wiggle room in your budget, refinancing could be for you. Your credit is an important factor in refinancing your auto loan because refinancing is typically reserved for people with good credit.

However, when a borrower already took out a subprime car loan, many refinancing lenders are willing to work with them as long as they’ve made improvements to their credit over the course of the loan. Better credit alone doesn’t qualify you for refinancing, though.

In order to qualify for refinancing, you, your vehicle, and your loan all need to meet the requirements of a lender. These vary, but in order to refinance your car you typically need to meet these qualifications:Refinancing Your Subprime Auto Loan

  • Have a better credit score than when you began the loan
  • Have had your auto loan for at least one year
  • Have an acceptable loan amount
  • Have no more than 100,000 miles on your vehicle
  • Car can’t be more than 10 years old
  • You must be current on your payments
  • There can’t be negative equity in the vehicle

Lenders that refinance typically prefer cars that are in good condition, that aren’t too old, and have lower mileage. Some lenders may not want to refinance a vehicle that’s at risk for breaking down or is depreciating quickly.

They’re generally looking for a loan that isn’t too new, or too close to being paid off as well. And, refinancers may also require that you haven’t missed a payment on your original car loan. A borrower whose current on their loan gives a lender confidence you’ll manage the new loan well.

Alternatives to Refinancing Your Subprime Auto Loan

If you’re not able to refinance your vehicle, you typically still have the option to trade it in for something more affordable. Even if you’re still paying on a loan, all you have to do is pay off the loan to release the lien on the car.

Even if it’s years from the end of your loan term, you may have a good chance at trading in your vehicle, especially now. Due to fluctuations in the auto market, used cars are in high demand currently, which means that dealerships may be willing to pay a higher price to get your used vehicle on their lot – even if you’re a bad credit borrower looking to trade-in.

If you still owe on an auto loan this gives you a better chance at selling your car for the amount you owe to the lender. It may even give you enough cash left over to put toward your next, more affordable vehicle!

Ready to Get Started?

If you think refinancing your subprime auto loan is the way to go, you can check out our resources, here. But, if you think that finding an affordable, used car with a lower monthly payment is the right choice for you, we want to get you started toward your goal today!

At Auto Credit Express, we’ve got a coast-to-coast network of special finance dealerships ready to work with borrowers who are struggling with credit challenges. To get connected to a dealer in your local area that’s signed up with subprime lenders, simply fill out our auto loan request form. It’s fast, free, and never carries any obligation.

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It’s Time to Break Up With Your First Credit Card



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Many of us got our first credit cards when we were either in college or in our early 20s. We likely did not have a full-time job with a steady salary, and if we did, it’s also likely we weren’t rolling in dough.

See: 13 Credit Cards That Every 30-Something Should Consider
Find: Surprising Uses for Your Credit Card Rewards

Given these circumstances, the first credit cards offered to us were probably of a particular kind: low credit limits, no prior credit history required, high annual percentage rate and overall easy to get. While these cards served us well as a way to build up our credit — and probably learn some lessons about money the hard way — it’s time to let go for a couple of reasons.

The Benefits of Upgrading Your Card

When you upgrade your card, it’s likely you will also upgrade the benefits. Some companies, like Discover, Credit One and Capital One, are popular choices as a first credit card. However, these companies have better options as you, and your finances, mature.

The Wall Street Journal suggests asking for an upgrade. “Customers need to phrase it as a ‘product change’ when they call the card company. A product change involves getting a new card with the same card provider and it typically allows a cardholder to keep everything else the same, including the account number and available credit.”

See: 10 Credit Cards That Have Gotten Better During the Pandemic
Find: Old-School Money Advice You Shouldn’t Follow Anymore

This could be a good idea for those who are not ready to jump ship from their first credit company just yet. It also removes the hassle of having to find a different provider, and probably the largest benefit of all — no hard credit check needed.

A “hard” credit check is when your credit is thoroughly examined, and it results in an inquiry showing up on your credit report. These are always necessary for opening a new line of credit, like a credit card or a mortgage, but too many inquiries can count against you and negatively affect your credit. A “soft” credit check, on the other hand, will not affect your credit score and is usually done for verification purposes, such as when you apply for new employment. Soft checks also happen with preapprovals.

See: Soft vs. Hard Credit Check — What’s the Difference?
Find: 30 Things You Do That Can Mess Up Your Credit Score

If you ask for a product change on a credit card, you won’t need to have that hard inquiry because the company already has a solid picture of your credit and has done an inquiry before. But it’s important to confirm that your credit history will be rolled over to the new card.

Switching credit institutions all together can be beneficial, depending on what you’re trying to achieve. While the rules of credit apply whether you have, for example, a Credit One or Chase credit card, it’s not a secret that certain credit cards have certain reputations — or that credit bureaus take notice.

For example, the Credit One Bank Visa card is “one of the most popular credit cards for people with bad credit, largely because it’s one of the few unsecured cards that applicants with poor credit scores can get approved for,” according to WalletHub.

See: Biden Wants to Shut Down Credit Bureaus – What Would That Mean for You?
Find: 10 Credit Score Myths You Need to Stop Believing

In contrast, American Express credit cards are best for people with credit scores over 700 and require at least “good” credit for approval, WalletHub adds. A good credit score is one that’s between 670 and 739, according to Fair Isaac.

So while both cards function the same way, the profile of those who own these cards might be different — or at least be perceived as such.

Theoretically, the same person could own both cards, but your money works for you more with an American Express vs. a Credit One. If you have a Credit One card but qualify for American Express, it might make sense to leave your old credit card behind. In addition to the immediate financial benefits, upgrading for a credit card company that has a reputation for being exclusive to those with good credit could help when you apply for a mortgage or apply for credit cards at specific stores.

See: This Is How Many Credit Cards You Should Have
Find: Credit Cards With the Best Incentives to Open in 2021

The first question you should ask yourself is, “What is my card doing best for me?” If the answer is helping you build your credit, getting you out of bad credit or allowing you to have credit when you otherwise would not be able to, then sticking with the same card, or at least the same credit card company, makes sense.

This allows you avoid a new credit inquiry on your credit report while still building and increasing your credit. Asking for a credit limit increase on your credit card if you’ve been with the same company for a while, you’ve been routinely paying off your card and you’re in good standing, is a good idea.

See: Expert Tips to Fix Your Credit on a Limited Income
Find: What Is a Credit Limit?

If you are shopping around for a new card that gives you rewards or benefits based on your purchases, starting small is paramount. It wouldn’t be prudent to go straight for a card that has a yearly fee, for example.

Start small, and start smart with credit limits, too. Going from a limit of $2,000 straight to a limit of $15,000 while your salary remains relatively unchanged is not always a good thing. Having a higher credit limit doesn’t necessarily mean that you are now richer or more responsible — it only means that you now have a greater risk of putting yourself into serious debt. Slowly increasing your credit limit makes your debt more manageable — and makes you look more responsible to credit bureaus.

Breaking up is hard to do, but if your finances have matured, it might be time to get a card that helps you reach your goals with cash-back rewards and points you can use for travel, groceries and other other items. Shopping around for a lower interest rate and a slightly increased credit limit can also help you move forward.

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This article originally appeared on It’s Time to Break Up With Your First Credit Card

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