Best Mortgage Lenders

Learn which lenders have the terms, choices, and services that work best for you

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Shopping for a mortgage lender can feel like an overwhelming chore. It's as huge a decision as shopping for a home and a lot less fun. It's easy to spot the differences between homes—but a lot harder to identify a good lender or a good loan.

While you’re envisioning yourself in the homes you’re looking at, it’s smart to also envision your life with the mortgage you’ll need to buy that home. The mortgage one lender offers you might make your life unnecessarily challenging by wasting your money on a higher interest rate or closing costs than you could have paid if you’d shopped around. 

In the United States, literally thousands of mortgage lenders are competing for your business. Make them earn it by offering you an informative website and a convenient online application process. Make them be transparent about their fees and fight to offer you lower costs than their competitors. Don’t settle for a loan that will leave you strapped for cash. And don’t work with lenders that upset other borrowers so much that they took their grievances to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Mortgage lending discrimination is illegal. If you think you've been discriminated against based on race, religion, sex, marital status, use of public assistance, national origin, disability, or age, there are steps you can take. One such step is to file a report to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and/or with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). 

These are the criteria we had in mind when putting together this list of the best mortgage lenders. We hope it will help you shop for a mortgage with confidence and get a great deal. We were truly impressed by how far lenders have come in the last few years—and even the last few months—to make getting a home loan more convenient and less expensive than ever. It was often difficult to pick winners among many good choices. We’re confident that today’s homebuyers can have a great experience getting a mortgage.

Best Mortgage Lenders

Lender Best For
Quicken Loans and Rocket Mortgage Best Overall
CMG Best for First-Time Homebuyers
American Pacific Mortgage Best for Customized Mortgages
loanDepot Best for Cash-Strapped Borrowers
PNC Bank Best for Jumbo Loan Borrowers
U.S. Bank Best for Refinancing
Navy Federal Credit Union Best for Military Borrowers
Aimloan Best for Transparency

Best Overall: Quicken Loans and Rocket Mortgage

Quicken Loans

Website score: 4/4

Application score: 4/4

Customer satisfaction: 99.99%

Loan types offered: Conventional fixed 30-year, 15-year, 10-year, or any term from 8 to 29 years; FHA 30-year fixed; VA 30-year fixed; USDA; jumbo up to $2M

Minimum down payment: 3%

Pros
  • Customize your mortgage term

  • Consistent winner of J.D. Power awards

  • Electronic closings in all 50 states

  • Will probably be your loan servicer, too

  • Serves Spanish-speaking borrowers

Cons
  • No option to meet a loan officer in person

  • Doesn't offer adjustable-rate mortgages

  •  Doesn’t offer construction loans

  • May not be an option for borrowers with credit scores below 580

It’s not hard to understand why sister companies Quicken Loans and Rocket Mortgage are No. 1 in origination volume among the lenders in our survey, with more than half a million loans closed in 2019. They make it possible to do everything from application to closing online, and you can choose the exact loan term you want to fit your monthly budget and your long-term financial goals. In addition, the company's RateShield Approval helps you get the best interest rate.

Quicken Loans and Rocket Mortgage are especially popular among borrowers who need to refinance or get an FHA loan. The company automatically rolls closing costs into your loan, which will save money for borrowers who only keep their loan for a few years and be more expensive for borrowers who keep the loan for its full term. But you can ask to pay the costs up front if you prefer.

Best for First-Time Homebuyers: CMG

CMG

Website score: 2/4

Application score: 4/4

Customer satisfaction: 99.99%

Loan types offered: Conventional fixed 30-year, 25-year, 20-year, 15-year, or 10-year; ARM 3/1, 5/1, 7/1, 10/1; FHA; VA; USDA; jumbo up to $5M with 10% down; 203(k); low down payment; all-in-one loan (unique product for more sophisticated borrowers); Freddie Mac BorrowSmart (up to $1,500 toward your down payment); HomeReady; HomePossible; HomeFundIt (crowdfunded down payment and up to $1,500 toward closing costs)

Minimum down payment: 3%

Pros
  • Several loan options for first-time buyers

  • Mobile app allows secure document upload

  • HomeFundIt program allows crowdfunding down payments

  • Up to $1,500 in closing costs

  • Up to $1,500 toward down payment

  • Multiple ways to apply

Cons
  • Website doesn't show interest rates

  • Website doesn't show loan fees

  • BorrowSmart not available in every state

  • BorrowSmart requires loan counseling that isn't free

Saving for a down payment is one of the most difficult aspects of the homebuying process, especially for younger buyers. CMG Mortgage has two programs that can help you overcome this hurdle: a crowdfunded down payment program called HomeFundIt—which also gives you up to $1,500 toward your closing costs—and Freddie Mac’s BorrowSmart program, which provides up to $1,500 toward your down payment.

CMG is also a great choice for jumbo loans because it offers loans up to $5 million and down payments as low as 10% (not necessarily at the same time).

Best for Customized Mortgages: American Pacific Mortgage

American Pacific

Website score: 2/4

Application score: 3/4

Customer satisfaction: 99.99%

Loan types offered: Conventional fixed 30-year, 15-year; ARM 5/1, 7/1, 10/1; FHA; VA; USDA; 10-year interest only; jumbo; bridge; investor; high balance; expanded access (high debt); 203(k); HomeStyle; HomeReady; Home Possible; teachers and first responders; doctors; manufactured homes

Minimum down payment: 3%

Pros
  • Wide variety of loans to meet unique needs

  • Get fully preapproved before signing a purchase agreement

  • Lock in your interest rate before signing a purchase agreement

Cons
  • Website doesn't advertise interest rates

  • Website doesn't disclose loan fees

  • Online application process needs improvement

American Pacific Mortgage offers several specialty home loan programs that can benefit everyone from first-time buyers to DIYers to teachers. The ability to get fully preapproved before identifying a property allows you to offer sellers a fast closing and possibly beat out cash buyers in a competitive market. In addition, you can lock your interest rate before you find a property so you can feel secure in what you can afford.

American Pacific Mortgage also has loans that help borrowers qualify based on assets rather than income, help you purchase a new home before your old home sells, let you buy a home for up to $1.5 million with only 5% down, and more.

Where we'd most like to see them improve is in the online application process: You have to select a local loan officer to work with before you can apply online, and it's unclear whether you can complete the application process entirely online. If you don't choose a loan officer, you'll be directed to a contact form.

Best for Cash-Strapped Borrowers: loanDepot

loanDepot

Website score: 2/4

Application score: 1/4

Customer satisfaction: 100%

Loan types offered: Conventional fixed 30-year, 20-year, 15-year, 10-year; ARM 3/1, 5/1, 7/1, 10/1; FHA; VA; jumbo fixed; jumbo ARM 3/1, 5/1, 7/1; 203(k)

Minimum down payment: 3.5% FHA, 5% conventional

Pros
  • Possible appraisal fee waiver

  • Close in as few as eight days

  • No lender fees if you ever refinance with them

  • Digital verification of income, employment, and assets

  • Offers fixer-upper FHA 203(k) loans

  • Zero CFPB complaints in 2019

Cons
  • Doesn’t advertise interest rates

  • Doesn’t advertise fees

  • No online preapproval

  • Find a loan officer tool only lets you search by name

  • Must select a loan officer to apply online

This website offers FHA 203(k) loans for homebuyers who don’t have the cash for a fixer-upper.

And loanDepot’s proprietary technology—named mello smartloan for reasons we could not discern—is supposed to determine the loan options that will save you the most money and/or allow you to close the fastest, helping borrowers compete with all-cash buyers. The technology can eliminate the need for an appraisal in some cases, potentially saving you a few hundred dollars. But the website needs some work to provide a better user experience for borrowers.

Best for Jumbo Loan Borrowers: PNC Bank

PNC

Website score: 4/4

Application score: 4/4

Customer satisfaction: 99.99%

Loan types offered: Conventional fixed 30-year, 20-year, 15-year, 10-year; ARM 3/1, 5/1, 7/1, 10/1; FHA 15-year fixed, 30-year fixed; VA 15-year fixed, 30-year fixed; USDA; community loan; medical professionals; 80/10/10; jumbo

Minimum down payment: 15% with subordinate financing

Pros
  • Loans up to $5 million

  • Services most of the loans it originates

  • Has above-average customer satisfaction for loan servicing

  • Allows borrower DTI up to 43%

  • Apply online, by phone, in person, or at a branch

Cons
  • Advertised rates assume 30% down

  • Just average for customer satisfaction in mortgage origination

  • Website doesn't break down closing costs

PNC Bank has a customer-friendly website full of educational resources about home borrowing, but the company’s online efforts don’t stop there. It earned our top rankings for providing loan details on its website and making it easy to apply online.

Advertised jumbo loan rates, while highly competitive, assume 30% down, closing costs paid out of pocket, On such a large loan, it may be hard to come up with that much cash. Advertised rates also assume a maximum DTI of 36%, which is on the low side, and escrowed taxes and insurance. Some borrowers might prefer escrows for the convenience, while others might prefer greater control over their finances.

Best for Refinancing: U.S. Bank

US Bank

Website score: 4/4

Application score: 3/4

Customer satisfaction: 99.99%

Loan types offered: Conventional fixed 30-year, 20-year, 15-year, 10-year; ARM 3/1, 5/1, 10/1; FHA 15-year fixed, 30-year fixed; VA 15-year fixed, 30-year fixed; jumbo 15-year fixed, 20-year fixed, 30-year fixed; construction

Minimum down payment: 5.0%

Pros
  • Apply online, by phone, or in person

  • Upload documents securely through the U.S. Bank Loan Portal

  • Low fees: Advertised APR and interest rate are similar

  • Well-organized and informative website

  • Closing cost credit with U.S. Bank checking package

Cons
  • No 3% down conventional loans

  • No online preapproval

  • Checking package must be open before loan approval to get closing credit

  • Checking package may have monthly fee

U.S. Bank is the ninth largest lender by volume in our survey, and about half of the loans it closed in 2019 were refis. Of all the lenders in our survey we identified as doing a large volume of refis, U.S. Bank scored the highest.

You can get a closing cost credit with U.S. Bank checking package of $250 per $100,000 borrowed, up to $1,000, with a new or existing U.S. Bank Platinum, Gold, or Silver Personal Checking Package. You may incur a monthly fee from the checking package, depending on the plan you choose and your bank balances.

U.S. Bank doesn't appear to offer 3% down conventional loans, unlike many other lenders. Offers online prequalification, but not preapproval. This is less of an issue when refinancing than when purchasing, however.

Best for Military Borrowers: Navy Federal

Navy Federal

Website score: 4/4

Application score: 0/4

Customer satisfaction: 99.99%

Loan types offered: Conventional fixed 30-year, 15-year; jumbo 15-year, 30-year; VA 15-year fixed, 30-year fixed; ARM 3/5 or 5/5 conforming; ARM 3/5 or 5/5 jumbo; Military Choice 30; Homebuyers Choice 30; Military Choice Jumbo 30; Homebuyers Choice Jumbo 30

Minimum down payment: 0%

Pros
  • Broad selection of loan types

  • No-cost Freedom Lock feature helps you get the lowest mortgage rate

  • Online employment and asset verification

  • Online document upload

Cons
  • Opaque application process for non-members

Military homebuyers have particular needs because they tend to move frequently. They are also uniquely qualified to take out a 0% down home loan guaranteed by the Veteran’s Administration. We think working with a lender who understands these needs and is well-versed in VA loans is a smart choice for military homebuyers: smart enough that we made a whole category for it. They'll also give you cash back ($1,475 on a $250,000 home) when you work with a real estate agent they choose for you.

It may seem odd that we gave an award to a lender that earned no points in the application score category. We made this choice because the other two major military lenders we evaluated also had serious shortcomings: One didn't allow borrowers to start an application online, and the other's advertised interest rates were significantly higher than the competition. You have to log in to start an application, and you have to be a member to log in, so we couldn't evaluate how far you can get in the online application and preapproval process.

So, while we do think Navy Federal has room to improve, we still think it's a standout lender. So do borrowers: Navy Federal earned the second-highest score of all lenders in J.D. Power’s 2019 U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study, earning it the distinction “among the best.”

Best for Transparency: Aimloan

Aimloan

Website score: 4/4

Application score: 2/4

Customer satisfaction: 99.9%

Loan types offered: Conforming fixed 30-year, 25-year, 20-year, 15-year, 10-year; conforming ARM 5/1, 7/1, 10/1; jumbo ARM 10/1, 7/1, 5/1

Minimum down payment: 5%

Pros
  • Rate and fee transparency

  • Detailed loan estimate

  • Online rate lock

  • Close via mobile notary

  • Extensive borrower FAQs

Cons
  • No preapproval

  • Can't apply without a purchase contract

  • No government-guaranteed loans

  • Requires at least 5% down

Aimloan is an up-front mortgage lender, meaning it is transparent about its loan rates and fees. When you apply for a mortgage with Aimloan, it’s clear how your borrower characteristics (property location, credit score) the choices you make about your loan (purchase price, down payment, loan type, whether to escrow taxes and insurance) affect your interest rate and closing costs.

Aimloan provides a detailed estimate based on your location, purchase price, down payment, credit score, and loan type. We wish every lender would be so transparent with borrowers about loan costs. Some of the company's lending standards have tightened due to the pandemic—it isn't accepting self-employed borrowers due to COVID-19, for example—but the company expects these changes to be temporary. Aimloan requires a higher minimum down payment than other lenders (5% vs. 3%).

What Should You Do Before Applying for a Mortgage?

Before you apply for a mortgage, you should check your credit reports and scores with all three credit bureaus. Make sure no mistakes are hurting your scores. If your scores are below 620, learn what you can do to improve them. The closer you can get to an excellent score of 760, the less expensive your mortgage will be.

Make sure you have at least 3% saved for a down payment unless you’re eligible for a Veterans Administration loan. Ideally, you should save even more to pay for closing costs, keep an emergency fund after closing, and put more toward your down payment to save on mortgage insurance.

Which Factors Should You Consider When Choosing a Mortgage Lender?

Look for a mortgage lender that is straightforward about the fees it charges and interest rates it offers and is competitive on those costs. Consider how many complaints consumers have made about a lender with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but also put that number in perspective by knowing how many loans that lender makes.

If you’d rather apply online, look for a lender that makes it easy to do so, including uploading and signing documents. If you’d prefer to have a human being walk you through the process, look for a more hands-on lender that gives you the option to meet with a loan officer in person or talk on the phone.

Be aware that mortgage lenders commonly transfer their loans to mortgage servicers immediately after closing, so you may not be working with the lender long term. It’s most important that they can give you good pricing and close your loan on time.

How Does the Mortgage Process Work?

The mortgage process begins when you apply. You’ll give the lender information about your income and assets, along with supporting documentation such as W-2s, 1099s, tax returns, and bank statements. The lender will check your credit to learn about your debts and determine your debt-to-income ratio.

If you pass the initial approvals, the lender’s mortgage underwriter then takes a deep dive into your finances to make sure you can afford the loan you’re applying for and decide how much to let you borrow. Once you’re approved, the lender produces a bunch of documents for you to sign and have witnessed by a notary. Then, it wires the funds for your new loan, which is called closing.

What Are the Different Types of Mortgages?

Different types of mortgages exist to meet borrowers’ different financial circumstances and preferences.

Conventional Fixed Rate

Your interest rate and monthly payment are the same for the life of the loan, which is usually 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30 years.

Conventional Adjustable Rate

Your interest rate is fixed for an initial period, often five years, then adjusts on a predetermined schedule for the rest of the loan term, often once a year for 25 years.

FHA Loan

An option for borrowers who don’t qualify for a conventional loan. With an FHA loan, your interest rate can be fixed or variable, and you can get a loan with a low down payment and a loan if you have poor to fair credit.

VA Loan

An option for military service members, veterans, and surviving spouses. VA loans allow 0% down and have competitive interest rates.

USDA Loan

Also called an RHS loan, this is an option for low-to-moderate–income borrowers in less-populated areas.

Jumbo Loan

A jumbo mortgage is for people who want to borrow more than the conforming loan limit, which is $510,400 in most areas and up to $765,600 in high-cost areas.

How Are Mortgage Interest Rates Determined?

From an economic perspective, the most important factors that affect mortgage rates are inflation, economic growth, Federal Reserve monetary policy, the bond market, and the housing market. At the borrower level, your credit score, home location, home price, loan amount, down payment, loan term, loan type, points, and interest rate type (fixed or adjustable) determine your interest rate.

Can You Refinance Your Mortgage?

Yes, you can refinance your mortgage. Some situations where it makes sense to refinance are to get a lower interest rate, to cash out some equity, or to get rid of FHA mortgage insurance. When you refinance, you will generally have to pay closing costs again, so it can be more cost effective to get a great loan now that you’ll be happy to keep long term.

The Bottom Line

Getting a mortgage has never been more convenient, transparent, or affordable. If you’re shopping for a home loan today, many lenders will let you complete the entire application and underwriting process online, and sometimes you can even sign your closing documents electronically, too.

Thousands of lenders want your business, and they’re proving it by competing to give you the lowest fees and the most transparency. They’re offering mortgages for almost any type of buyer, whether you barely have enough cash to get into your first home or you can afford a $5 million mansion. Even if you don’t use one of the lenders that has earned our attention, these ratings can show you what lenders are offering and what to look for—as well as what not to settle for—when you want to get a mortgage.

Methodology

We started by creating a list of 82 nationwide lenders to evaluate. Since the first place many borrowers will turn for a mortgage is a bank they already work with or another company they have heard of, we put together our list of lenders from several sources, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)’s latest Mortgage Market Activity report (pp. 62–63) (top lenders by volume), Scotsman’s Guide’s report on the top mortgage lenders, and other “best mortgage lenders” lists.

With nearly 12,000 mortgage lenders in the United States according to the CFPB’s latest Mortgage Market Activity report (p. 11), our list of 82 is nonetheless a modest starting point for ranking lenders. Consumers should know that they have many options besides the ones we’ve examined; a mortgage broker can help you find some of these lesser-known options, which might be important if you have complicated circumstances that make it harder to qualify for the loan you want.

For each lender, we evaluated whether the lender’s website provides the basic information a consumer would want to know before submitting an application or their contact information: loan types offered, minimum down payment, current interest rates, and loan fees (if the lender provides APR in addition to interest rate, we credit them for disclosing loan fees).

We then examined whether the lender offers a convenient application process. We awarded full points where a borrower was able to fully apply and submit all loan documents securely online, and half points for being able to start but not complete an application online.

If the lender’s website wasn’t clear about how far customers could get in the application process through the website, we awarded no points. Lenders also received zero points if they only allow applications by phone or in person. We realize that some borrowers prefer a traditional, in-person or over-the-phone experience, but we feel that the inability to apply online is a major inconvenience to borrowers.

Next, we considered each lender’s reputation. We noted how many customer complaints each lender has in the CFPB mortgage complaint database from 1/1/2019 through 12/31/2019. Our sample excludes complaints related to reverse mortgages, home equity loans, and HELOCs. We divided the number of complaints by the number of loans originated for each lender to see if the lender had more unhappy customers than it should for its size. Loan originations come from the CFPB’s Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data browser.

Finally, we only allowed a lender to win “best of” in a single category because we wanted to showcase a variety of lenders that seem to be doing a great job for homeowners. That said, we think any of our best lenders could be a solid choice even if you’re looking for, say, an FHA loan from a company that won our award for a different category.

All lenders discussed lend in all 50 states unless otherwise noted.

Article Sources

Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. Federal Housing Finance Agency. "FHFA Announces Maximum Conforming Loan Limits for 2020" Accessed Sept. 11, 2020.

  2. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Seven factors that determine your mortgage interest rate." Accessed Sept. 11, 2020.