1. Comparison shop for the best rate

Shoppers looking for the lowest interest rate have a lot of options today. Plenty of websites aggregate national rates and provide up-to-date information on terms and different aspects of mortgage loan offerings.

If you're a member of a credit union through your job, ask to see its current rates. Credit unions typically offer competitive rates, although the application process may be slower and the underwriting guidelines may be stricter.

If you’re not currently a member of a credit union, find a nonprofit credit union in your area that opens its membership to local residents.

The right homeowners insurance policy protects you, your loved ones and your home.

Find the coverage you need at the most competitive rate in your area. Compare quotes from over 200 insurance companies with SmartFinancial.

Compare Now

2. Boost your credit score

A better credit score brings better mortgage rates.

So, take some steps to raise your score. Pay down debt, especially on credit cards. Don't open new credit cards, but don't close old ones either. Doing that will reduce your available credit — which could hurt your score.

Get your hands on your credit reports and make sure there are no errors that could be dragging down your credit score.

A 2012 study from the Federal Trade Commission found that 20% of U.S. consumers had errors on their credit reports that needed correcting.

3. Consider a larger down payment

Homebuyers who can make larger down payments tend to land lower 30-year mortgage rates.

If you're willing to put more skin in the game, a lender will see you as a better risk and reward you with a better rate. As an added bonus, you won't be forced to buy private mortgage insurance, or PMI, if you can make a down payment of at least 20% of your home's purchase price.

Don't have that kind of down payment cash? If you're a first-time homebuyer, down payment assistance may be available in the form of a government grant or low-interest loan.

Private mortgage insurance is different from homeowners insurance, which you will definitely need.

More: How much should you put down on a house?

Compare current mortgage rates from top national lenders. Get the best rate for your purchase or mortgage refinance.

Compare Rates

4. Pretend your loan has a shorter term

One smart interest-cutting strategy is to treat your 30-year home loan like a mortgage with a 15- or 20-year payback.

Use a loan calculator to see what your payment would be under a shorter-term scenario, then add the difference as a principal pay-down each month.

You'll still have the lower minimum payment of a 30-year mortgage but will have the control to pay more on your principal if you choose.

While this won't reduce your annual percentage rate, it will cut your effective interest rate, meaning you'll pay less interest over the life of the loan because you've steadily reduced your principal balance.

More: Information on 20 years mortgage rates

How 30-year fixed-rate mortgages work

fixed-rate-mortgage-definition

Get peace-of-mind on your home insurance

Homeowners insurance buys you peace of mind. But are you sure you’re not paying too much for home insurance?

SmartFinancial compares quotes from over 200 insurance companies to check for discounts and help you find lower rates in your area.

Use SmartFinancial right now and stop overpaying for home insurance.

About the Author

Doug Whiteman

Doug Whiteman

Former Editor-in-Chief

Doug Whiteman was formerly the editor-in-chief of MoneyWise. He has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and CNBC.com and has been interviewed on Fox Business, CBS Radio and the syndicated TV show "First Business."

What to Read Next

Disclaimer

The content provided on MoneyWise is information to help users become financially literate. It is neither tax nor legal advice, is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. Tax, investment and all other decisions should be made, as appropriate, only with guidance from a qualified professional. We make no representation or warranty of any kind, either express or implied, with respect to the data provided, the timeliness thereof, the results to be obtained by the use thereof or any other matter.