Mortgage Rates by Credit Score: Everything You Need to Know

Irina Tsymbaliuk
Mortgage Rates by Credit Score

Securing a mortgage is a significant milestone for many individuals and families, marking a crucial step towards homeownership. However, the process can be complex. Not only do mortgage rates dynamically change depending on various external conditions, but there are also a bunch of factors that influence your personal terms of loan. One such factor is your credit score.

Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned homeowner looking to refinance your existing mortgage, it’s essential to understand how credit scores and mortgage rates relate. This guide will shed light on mortgage rates by credit score to help you make financial decisions with confidence and clarity.

What is a Good Mortgage Rate, and How Does Credit Score Impact It?

What is a Good Mortgage Rate

There is no straightforward answer to this question since, first and foremost, mortgage rates change over time, and the notion of a good rate is relative. Thus, the average interest rate of 6.81% on a 30-year mortgage in 2023 is good compared to the average rate of 10.13% back in 1990. Yet, it’s high against 2.96% in 2020 or even 5.34% in 2022. Obviously enough, for a borrower, the lower the rate, the better. And securing a good individual mortgage rate is due in no small part to a personal credit rating.

Your credit score is a representation of your creditworthiness, reflecting your history of borrowing and paying debts. It is authentic evidence of your diligent financial behavior and financial stability, demonstrating the likelihood of repaying your mortgage on time and in full. It’s no wonder your credit rating is a prime point on the list of things a lender uses to assess risks associated with a mortgage loan.

Mortgage Rates Based on Credit Score

Lenders adjust interest rates based on the estimated level of financial risk. Generally, borrowers with higher credit scores are perceived as lower-risk applicants and offered lower rates. Conversely, lower credit ratings entail higher interest rates to compensate for the increased risk they pose to lenders.

Most mortgage lenders rely on FICO ratings to evaluate the borrower’s financial health and paying capacity. Thus, mortgage rates for an 800 credit score will be the lowest while individuals with scores going beyond 669 will struggle to win low interest rates enabling them to save thousands of dollars over the life of their loan. All in all, a sweet spot for lower homeowner loan rates is anything that goes above 670. Statistically, 67% of Americans have a good FICO score.

Benefits of Higher Credits Scores for Mortgage Borrowers

Above a lower mortgage rate based on credit score, higher credit ratings will ensure a few other valuable benefits for financially sound borrowers.

  • Greater approval odds: A higher credit score provides greater flexibility. You're more likely to qualify for the mortgage amount you need to purchase your desired home.
  • Favorable loan terms: Enjoy lower fees, smaller down payments, and no need for private mortgage insurance (PMI), which can save you money upfront and make buying a home more affordable.
  • More mortgage choices: A higher credit score gives you access to a variety of mortgage options, whether you’re looking at conventional loans, FHA loans, VA loans, or others, allowing you to find the best fit for your needs.

Other Factors That Determine Mortgage Rates

Other Factors That Determine Mortgage Rates

At this point, it’s clear that your credit is one of the key factors determining your mortgage rate. Though you don’t necessarily need an 800 credit score for the mortgage rate with the best conditions, your rating should fall within a “good” FICO range to assure leaders of your strong financial standing.

At the same time, there are a set of other factors lenders take into account. You should be aware of them to navigate the mortgage market more effectively and potentially secure better terms of loan.

Your Employment and Income

Lenders want to see stability and your ability to repay the loan. Steady employment and consistent incomes usually result in lower interest rates and less strict lending criteria. If you have irregular income or frequently change jobs, you won’t be able to get a good mortgage rate, and you might fail to qualify for a loan at all.

Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI)

Your DTI is a measure of your monthly debt payments relative to your gross monthly income. Lenders evaluate this ratio to determine how well you can handle new debt. A lower DTI suggests you have more income free for mortgage payments, making you appear as a less risky borrower.

Loan-to-Value Ratio (LTV)

LTV is the ratio of your loan amount to the property's current value. Lenders use this ratio to estimate the loan risks. A lower LTV means you have greater equity in the property, thereby decreasing the risk for the lender in the event of default.

Loan Type and Length

The type of loan you choose also impacts mortgage rates and credit score required. Thus, conventional loans with fixed interest rates call for a higher credit score of above 670. FHA loans, on the other hand, set a lower score requirement of 500+ yet require a substantial down payment and come with higher rates. Jumbo loans are the most demanding in terms of credit. To qualify for a loan over $500,000 and get a good rate, a rating of 720+ is required.

Additionally, shorter loan terms typically have lower interest rates but higher monthly payments, while longer terms may have higher rates but lower monthly payments.

Down Payment Amount

A larger down payment demonstrates financial stability and reduces the lender's risk, potentially leading to lower interest rates. Meanwhile, a smaller down payment may result in higher rates and additional costs, such as PMI, to mitigate the lender's risk associated with higher loan-to-value ratios.

Market Conditions

Along with borrower-specific factors aside, lenders can’t disregard broader market and economic factors such as inflation, overall economic growth, general credit market changes, and monetary policy decisions by the Federal Reserve. Fluctuations in these factors can ripple through mortgage rates regardless of individual credit scores.

Credit Score Improvement Tips

Credit Score Improvement Tips

To increase your chances of qualifying for a better mortgage rate by credit score and secure good terms of loan, you can improve your rating before applying for a mortgage.

  • Check your credit report by obtaining it from Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. Watch for any errors or inaccuracies that could be dragging down your score and get them corrected.
  • Pay your bills on time, including credit cards, loans, utilities, and rent, to demonstrate your diligence and maintain a healthy payment history.
  • Keep your credit card balances low, ideally below 30% of your credit limit. Consider focusing on paying off high-interest credit card balances first to lower your overall credit utilization ratio.
  • Avoid applying for new credit cards or loans in the months before your mortgage application.
  • Diversify your credit mix to showcase the ability to skillfully juggle different types of borrowing.
  • Maintain inactive accounts rather than closing them. This will help build a longer credit history.


Though only one piece of a puzzle when it comes to securing a mortgage, a higher credit score is undeniably an advantage, enabling borrowers to enjoy lower interest rates, reduced monthly payments, and greater access to various mortgage products. So, the significance of responsible financial management and credit health cannot be emphasized enough.