Refinancing your mortgage can reduce your interest rate and your monthly mortgage payment.
What is the minimum credit score you need to refinance your mortgage
But even if you have had some credit issues in the past, there are refinance programs for homeowners with bad credit.
Know Your Credit Score
Your FICO credit score is the most important factor when it comes to refinancing your current mortgage loan. The higher your score, the better interest rate you will receive. A low score will yield a higher rate, that is if you get approved to refinance at all.
There are several websites and apps that will give you your credit score for free. But remember, the score you are able to view yourself online is different than the score mortgage lenders use. But these online scores give you a really good idea of your score.
Top sites to check your credit score for free
How Your Score is Calculated
Your credit score is broken down into 5 scoring factors.
Payment History 35% – Your payment history includes paying your bills on time each month. Late payments and collection accounts will severely damage your payment history and lower your score.
Amount Owed 30% – The amount of debt you are using up on your open credit accounts is the second largest factor in your credit score. For example, if you have a total of $10,000 in available credit on your credit c cards and you total balance is $6,000, your credit utilization ratio is 60%, which is considered high.
Length of Credit History 15% – The length of time you have had credit makes up 15% of your overall score. Having a long history of credit helps to boost your score, this is why you should never close credit cards if you can avoid it.
New Credit 10% – New credit includes new accounts that you open as well as credit inquiries. It’s important to try to limit the amount of credit applications you fill out.
Credit Mix 10% – Having a healthy mix of different types of credit accounts will help improve your score. Credit cards, loans, auto loan, mortgage, etc.
What is considered a good, or bad score?
A score of 720 or higher is considered good credit. A credit score below 620 is generally considered to be poor.
- 720+ = Excellent credit
- 680-719 = Good credit
- 620-679 = Fair credit
- 580-619 = Poor credit
- 579 and lower = Bad credit
FHA Streamline Refinance
If you have an FHA loan there is a program to help you refinance into a lower rate without a ton of paperwork.
An FHA streamline refinance is a type of refinance with less paperwork and documentation required than your standard refinance loan.
An FHA streamline also has relaxed credit score requirements, usually a borrower will need to have a 620 credit score or higher to qualify.
Streamline Refinance Eligibility
- Must have an FHA-insured mortgage
- There is a 210 day waiting period
- You must be current on your payments
- 620 or higher credit score
Streamline Refinance Benefits
- Home appraisal not required
- Reduce your monthly mortgage payment
- No income verification
- Little documentation needed
- Fast process
- Take advantage of todays low interest rates
- Lower your MIP rate
- No loan-to-value limits (You can be underwater on your mortgage)
Home Equity Loans
A home equity loan is when you take the equity you have and use it as collateral for a new loan. Also referred to as a second mortgage.
A home equity loan, or home equity line of credit, is a second loan on your home that is paid back with a separate monthly payment. Because the first mortgage takes priority over the second, there is more risk involved for the lender.
Because of the increased risk, the credit score requirements are more strict. Most lenders require you to have at least a 680 credit score to qualify.
Rate Search: Check Current Refinance Rates
Getting Cash Out with Credit Issues
If you have poor credit then a home equity loan is probably out of the question. However, you may qualify for a cash-out refinance even with credit issues.
The reason cash-out refinances have lower credit requirements is because your current mortgage is paid off and a new loan that includes extra cash, up to 80% of the LTV ratio of the home. So there is just one payment each month.
- Low interest rate
- Pay off high interest debt
- Make home improvements or repairs
- Mortgage payments may be tax deductible
- Single loan re-payment
- High closing costs
- Reduces the equity you have in your home
- Home at risk of foreclosure if you cannot afford new payment
Credit Score Minimums by Refinance Program
The minimum credit score required to refinance will depend on several factors, including the lender you are working with.
Some lenders may be able to help you refinance with a score below 600, while others can’t. Here are typically credit score minimums by refinance type.
- FHA Streamline Refinance – 620 credit score
- Traditional Refinance – 620 credit score
- Home Equity Loan – 680 credit score
- Cash-out Refinance – 640 credit score
- 203k Refinance – 680 credit score
Having good credit is the key to getting the best refinance rate possible. While there may be some refinance programs designed to help people with bad credit, it is best if you can improve your credit as much as possible before applying.
If you are considering refinancing your mortgage, our lenders are here to help you explore your options.
Randall has over 15 years of experience in the mortgage and credit industries. He spends a chunk of time helping consumers understand their credit, advise them on how to increase their credit, and lending his mortgage expertise to help them find the right type of loan. Randall lives in Dallas, Texas with his two sons.