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VA loans are backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for veterans and active service members to use to purchase a home to live in as a primary residence. These loans are affordable, come with little to no down payment, and no private mortgage insurance. Spouses of veterans who died in service or from a service-connected disability, are missing in action, or are prisoners of war can qualify for a VA loan if they did not remarry before their 57th birthday or before Dec. 16, 2003.
The best VA loan rates are competitive and come from reputable mortgage lenders who specialize in VA loans and know the ins and outs of the programs including the borrower qualifications. They offer streamlined application processes and available agents to answer any questions along the way.
Best Overall : Veterans United
Veterans United won best overall for VA loan rates because it specializes in VA loans, veterans are their primary clients, and they have many loan program options.
Comprehensive loan offerings
Veterans United Realty
Few physical branches
No online chat support option
Founded in 2002 and built for veterans, Veterans United Home Loans was honored in 2019 by the Department of Veterans Affairs for issuing the official 24 millionth VA mortgage for the VA program which began in 1944. Veterans United claims to have closed more VA loans than any other lender in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.
Veterans United won best overall because it was founded for veterans and service members and continues to be solely focused on this consumer category. The company’s website and support staff lead veterans from loan eligibility to credit counseling if necessary and then quoting. It has programs tailored for first-time homebuyers and those without money for a down payment.
The company offers nine VA loan programs. Its nine programs include a fixed-rate program, a streamlined interest rate reduction refinance loan (IRRRL), VA cash-out, VA fixed jumbo, streamline jumbo, and cash-out jumbo in terms of either 15 or 30 years.
The Lighthouse Program offers free credit counseling as well as tools to improve your credit score and financial profile.
Veterans United Realty is a nationwide network of veteran-friendly real estate agents. These independent partners specialize in the VA loan process, so the real estate agent and bank are in sync throughout your entire home-buying experience.
To apply, you first need a loan pre-approval. The loan process takes between 30 and 45 days once you’re under contract on a home. Then you need to obtain your certificate of eligibility (COE) from your lender or on your own. Lastly, you need to finalize your loan application and provide all necessary paperwork like W-2s, tax returns, and financial information.
Borrowers have the option to buy down their interest rate by purchasing discount points. When you purchase discount points, you are essentially paying interest upfront to receive a lower rate over the life of the loan. Once your loan is set up, you can sign up for automatic payments.
Consumers can get service online or by phone 24/7 from one of Veterans United's operators at 1-800-884-5560.
Best 30-Year Fixed : PenFed Credit Union
PenFed Credit Union earned our top spot for best 30-year fixed because its rates tend to be low, carries no lender fees, and provides 24/7 account access online.
24/7 access online
No autopay discount
Must be a member
PenFed, established in 1935, is now a credit union with a global presence, 24/7 account access, and is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).
Its 30-year fixed interest rate is low with the availability of discount points, which keeps closing costs low, earning PenFed our award for the best 30-Year fixed loan. PenFed serves members in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Okinawa.
The PenFed Foundation is a nationally recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit. The foundation helps people through financial education, credit-building, homeownership, and short-term financial assistance. Financial assistance and resources are available to service members, veterans, and Wounded Warriors who need continuing treatment or financial assistance in buying or keeping their homes.
In addition to a 30-year fixed, PenFed also underwrites a 15-year fixed program. The 15-year rate is competitive as well.
You begin the process by clicking the "Apply Now" button. You then have a choice to either complete a form so a loan officer can call you back to discuss your options or you can complete an online pre-approval form.
Like other lenders, once you are pre-qualified you will apply for your Certificate of Eligibility online. PenFed will order an appraisal of the home you want to buy and then review the appraisal result when it’s ready alongside your credit and income information. Finally, rates and terms are locked in, and PenFed works with you to select a title company, most likely its own company, PenFed Title, LLC, and it schedules your closing to transfer ownership. The entire process takes from about four weeks to six weeks.
PenFed has an autopay process, but it does not come with a discount. Consumers can get service through online forms, or by calling 800-970-7766. There are branches in the Washington, D.C., area where you can schedule an appointment to meet in person.
Best 15-Year Fixed : Navy Federal Credit Union
This credit union offers competitive fixed rates for 15 and 30 year VA loans.
Rate Match Guarantee
Homesquad and Realty Plus
Must be a member and open an account
Contact for minimum credit score requirements
No autopay discounts
NFCU is a member-owned, not-for-profit credit union founded in 1933 and federally insured by the NCUA. It earned our nod for best 15-year fixed-rate loan because its rates are among the lowest available. NFCU also stands out because of its unique service programs that support a low rate.
NFCU’s exclusive Home Squad and Realty Plus programs assist you with your loan, finding a real estate agent, title services, and loan services through the life of the loan. Realty Plus matches you with a local, specially trained real estate agent and gets you $400 to $9,000 cash back on your loan. It offers Freedom Lock, which allows you to lock in new, lower rates at no cost, no PMI requirements, and no down payment.
The NFCU Homesquad offers professional step-by-step guidance and advice to keep you on track as you work through the loan pre-approval, certificate of eligibility, appraisal, and credit and income history analysis. NFCU works exclusively with military personnel and families and shows high ratings in customer service and satisfaction. You can set up automatic payments for your mortgage but there are no discounts for this. For consumer service, stateside reps are available 24/7 at 888-842-6328. International and overseas customer service options are also available. You can contact NFCU by secure message, website chat, social media, and in person as well.
Best Jumbo Loan : USAA
USAA offers personalized service during the jumbo loan process, and you can finance the VA funding fee.
Full service banking and lender
Offers insurance products
Must be a member
No loans more than $3 million
No auto pay discount
USAA offers military members and their families a comprehensive range of financial products and services that are competitively priced. It offers benefits, insurance, advice, banking, investment products, specialized financial resources, and member discounts.
USAA lends nationwide to veteran borrowers seeking a jumbo home loan up to $3 million without needing to pay private mortgage insurance, and wrapping the VA funding fee into the loan.
USAA’s VA loan products include a fixed-rate 30-year purchase loan, a jumbo fixed-rate purchase loan, and a VA refinance option: the VA IRRRL. USAA also has non-VA loan options.
To service your loan, USAA offers an autopay process, but there are no discounts for using the program. Customer service is available through online chat, mobile app, and by telephone at 800-531-USAA (8722).
Best ARM Loan : LendingTree
Lending Tree offers multiple types of loans including VA loans with ARMS of varying lengths.
Fill out one application and lenders compete
User-friendly online form
Need to contact for rates and terms
Contact for minimum credit score requirements
LendingTree is an online loan marketplace for mortgages, auto loans, small business loans, personal loans, credit cards, and more. Starting in 1996 with the goal of making comparison shopping for loans easy, it puts the rates online to make banks compete. The company seeks to empower its customers with choice, education, and support through its website services.
Fewer lenders offer the adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) product compared to the fixed-rate purchase and refinance loans. Therefore, we chose LendingTree as the best source for finding a competitive ARM loan because you fill out a single application and many lenders will see your application and offer the best terms. The large supply of lenders on LendingTree provides the borrower with more choices to compare.
You can find all of the VA loan products we’ve reviewed so far at LendingTree. You cannot see rates without doing LendingTree's survey and soliciting offers. You can find 5-year, 7-year, and 10-year ARMs. VA ARM loans cap the initial and subsequent caps to 1% yearly on hybrid ARMs that adjust in less than five years. Different lenders will be willing to work with different credit scores. Interest rates will be much higher for borrowers with lower credit scores, however.
Regardless of which lender you choose on LendingTree, the loan process for a VA loan will require an eligibility certification; evaluation of the borrower’s credit, income, and debt situation; an appraisal; and a home inspection. Plan on four to six weeks for the entire process.
You’ll find auto payment options for your mortgage, but don’t expect a discount for using it. Customer care can be reached at 800-813-4620, or you can start the process online.
All of the VA lenders that offer the best VA loan rates have positive and negative features. Some offer low-interest rates and multiple ways to contact customer service and others offer two mortgage terms to choose from. Overall, we recommend checking out Veterans United. It has continuously closed more VA loans than any other lender, has a positive reputation, and offers competitive rates.
Compare The Best VA Loan Rates
|Company||Starting Interest Rate||Loan Terms||Minimum Credit Score||Maximum Loan Amount|
|Veterans United Best Overall||4.990%, Updates Daily||15 & 30 years||Contact for details||None|
|PenFed Credit Union Best 30-Year Fixed||Contact for rates||15 & 30 years||Not disclosed||Contact for details|
|Navy Federal Credit Union Best 15-Year Fixed||4.125%||15 & 30 years||Not disclosed||Contact for details|
|USAA Best Jumbo Loan||5.855%||10, 15, 20, or 30 years||Not disclosed||$3 million|
|Lending Tree Best ARM Loan||Contact for details||Contact for details||Contact for details||Contact for details|
Guide to Choosing the Best VA Loan Rates
Are You in Need of a VA Loan?
Assess your needs to determine if you currently require and qualify for a VA loan. If you’re a veteran, active service member, or the spouse of a veteran who died in service or from a service-related injury, you may qualify for a VA loan which often can offer more competitive rates and lower down-payments than other loans.
VA loans can be used to purchase a home or multi-family property (as long as you live in one unit) or build a home. It also can be used to repair or improve a home or refinance your current mortgage.
Compare VA Loan Rates & Lenders
When shopping for a VA loan, you will want to get the best rate to save the most money. Keep the following in mind when comparing VA loan rates and lenders:
- Loan amounts: Know the loan limits and make sure the home you want to purchase fits within those parameters. You don’t want to find a $1 million home and realize the lender offers loans up to only $750,000.
- Minimum credit score: Does the lender have a minimum credit score required to qualify? Know what your credit score is so you know if you qualify, should look for another lender, or should improve your credit before applying.
- Interest rates: Rates fluctuate based on market conditions and vary based on your FICO score and overall financial profile. Know the rate upfront so you can compare it to other lenders.
- Customer service: How can you contact customer service if you have a question? Find out their hours and how responsive they are. This is a big purchase and you want to be confident with who you’re dealing with.
Apply for a VA Loan
After you have made your VA loan selection, you will need to provide your COE to show that you’re eligible to qualify for a VA loan. You can get it through your eBenefits portal or by requesting it through the mail. Next, you will work with a loan officer and complete an application, have your credit run, and get pre-qualified for the loan. You will need your social security number and identification and also may need proof of income such as a tax return. It makes the process easier if you’re organized and have all of your documents handy.
What Is a VA Loan?
A VA loan is backed by the government and is open to active and former service members and their surviving spouses in some cases. One can use a VA loan to purchase or build a home, improve and repair a home, or refinance a mortgage. Significant benefits include reduced credit score requirements, no private mortgage insurance, no down payment requirement, and competitive rates.
You can apply for a VA loan more than once, but the funding fee increases when using a VA loan after your first time. The VA funding fee is a one-time charge that you pay when you get a VA-guaranteed mortgage to purchase or refinance your home. In many cases, you’ll have the option to roll the VA funding fee into your loan. The typical funding fee ranges from 1.4% to 3.60% of the loan amount.
You will need a COE, which you can obtain from the VA website, or your lender can assist you with this. To get this certificate, you’ll have to produce service-related documentation, which can vary based on whether you are on active duty or a veteran.
Do VA Loans Vary by Lender?
The two main ways a VA loan can vary slightly from lender to lender are the rate and the minimum credit score. The VA does not underwrite the loan; it provides a guarantee to the lenders who offer the loan program. The lenders determine the rates they will offer, as well as the other underwriting guidelines they will adhere to, such as your credit history and debt-to-income ratio.
Credit score minimum requirements differ slightly from lender to lender, with most settling on 620 as their accepted minimum. Credit limits are not set by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. The VA’s only credit requirement is for the borrower to be considered a satisfactory credit risk by a lender.
The benefits of a VA loan are the same no matter which lender you choose. The key benefits of the program are no down payment requirement, no PMI requirement, and no prepayment penalties, with a VA funding fee taking the place of the PMI.
Why Do Sellers Seem to Dislike VA Loans?
The VA has what are called “minimum property requirements.” These include non-negotiable items like construction defects, termite infestation, leaks, decay, dampness, and continuing settlement in or near the foundation. While sellers engaged with buyers who bring a non-VA loan to the purchase can negotiate the repair costs of these types of items, the VA program requires these items to be fixed before they will give the lender the approval to back the lender’s mortgage loan to the borrower. That puts pressure on the seller to fix these issues primarily at their cost if they want to be able to sell their home to the buyer who presents with a VA loan in their pocket.
What Problems Arise in a VA Home Inspection?
If you are purchasing a home with a VA loan, you will be required to obtain a home inspection. The cost will vary by location but ranges from about $300 to about $500. You also will need to obtain an appraisal for the property. The VA inspection is much more in-depth than the home appraisal. The inspector will look at the home's structural integrity, plumbing and electric systems, HVAC, roof, attic and crawl spaces, wood-destroying insects, fungus and dry rot, radon gas, and if applicable, the well and septic systems.
The primary defective concerns the VA will have if discovered during the home inspection include construction defects, poor workmanship, foundation problems, dampness, leaks, decay, and termites.
How We Chose the Best VA Loan Rates
We researched and reviewed 18 lenders to arrive at the best loan rates and terms for VA loan programs. The key criteria we reviewed were the length of the loans, the rates, the minimum credit scores lenders accept, the application process, autopay features, and the customer service channels available.