Best 15-year mortgage lenders of 2022

We compared dozens of lenders to find you the best in the country.

Derek Silva

By

Derek Silva

Derek Silva

Senior Editor & Personal Finance Expert

Derek is a former senior editor and personal finance expert at Policygenius, where he specialized in financial data, taxes, estate planning, and investing. Previously, he was a staff writer at SmartAsset.

Published|6 min read

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A home is the biggest investment most Americans will make in their lifetimes, so it’s important to choose the right mortgage lender. With the right lender, not only will the homebuying processes go smoothly, but so will the payment process over the next 15 years (or more). To help you avoid headaches down the road, we compared more than two dozen lenders across factors like what types of loans they offer, their average rates and fees, plus how many complaints have been filed against them by consumers.

Unsure if a 15-year mortgage is right for you? Also consider our best 30-year mortgage lenders.

Best 15-year mortgage lender overall

NBKC Bank

4.4

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

NBKC Bank logo

NBKC Bank scores as our top mortgage lender for 2022 because it offers below-average APRs, some of the lowest average origination fees, and no CFPB complaints from borrowers or applicants. The bank offers conventional loans, FHA loans, and VA loans. It also has other banking products, like checking and money market accounts, but you can find better rates from some of this year’s best banks and credit unions.

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Best 15-year mortgage lender, runner-up

Fairway Independent Mortgage

4.3

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Fairway Independent Mortgage logo

Fairway has just about all the loan options you could want, including conventional, FHA, VA, and USDA loans. You can also get a variety of fixed-rated and adjustable-rate mortgages, in addition to refinances and reverse mortgages. Prefer to talk with an agent in person? Fairway can help with that because it has physical branch locations in just about every state. The lender also works hard to take care of its customers with online learning resources and programs like COVID-19 payment assistance plans.

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Best mortgage lender for low origination fees

Guaranteed Rate

4.3

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Guaranteed Rate logo

Guaranteed Rate scores as one of this year’s top mortgage lenders because its average interest rates and origination fees are below average. The low number of CFPB complaints against Guaranteed Rate also helps it earn top marks. Guaranteed Rate provides a handful of online tools for prospective homebuyers, as well as a variety of loan options, including interest-only mortgages (which aren’t right for everyone but could make sense in certain situations).

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Best mortgage lender for customer satisfaction

Movement Mortgage

4.3

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Movement Mortgage logo

Movement ranks as our top mortgage lender for customer satisfaction thanks to a low number of CFPB complaints. The company aims to create a simple and transparent mortgage process for buyers, which includes providing online calculators and other resources to help you feel comfortable with the loan you’re getting. If you're looking for a mortgage process that's strictly online, Movement also ranks as one of this year's best online mortgage lenders.

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Best new mortgage lender

Zillow

4.1

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Zillow logo

Zillow is pretty new in the mortgage lending spaces, though the company has already spent years helping buyers to shop for their next home. In addition to helping you find an affordable loan — the company has some of the lowest interest rates and origination fees — Zillow’s plethora of online tools and learning guides will help you feel comfortable about the buying process. And if you still have questions, you can ask the local lender that Zillow will connect you with.

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Best mortgage lender for total savings

Better

3.9

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Better logo

Anyone open to working with an online mortgage lender should consider Better for its low overall costs. Better offers the lowest average APR out of the 15-year mortgage lenders we considered. It also charges no application fees, origination fees, or underwriting fees. However, it lacks some of the loan options offered by more established lenders.

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Best mortgage lender for lowest interest rates

AmeriSave

3.8

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

AmeriSave logo

Amerisave has very low average interest rates, which is even more impressive since Amerisave is one of the highest-volume 15-year mortgage lenders we looked at. The low rates pair nicely with Amerisave’s wide range of loan programs, including multiple options for low- and middle-income homebuyers. Once you have your home, Amerisave can also help you earn federal tax credits for converting your home to use solar energy. (Learn more about other tax credits you may qualify for this year.)

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15-year vs. 30-year mortgages

The primary difference between a 30-year and 15-year mortgage is that a 30-year mortgage gives you lower monthly payments, though it can cost you more in the long run because more interest will accrue over the course of the loan (and you will need to pay all interest in addition to the loan amount). So if you can afford the higher payments in the first 15 years, you can save money in the long term with the shorter mortgage term.

Also consider the rest of your finances when choosing a mortgage term. If you have other savings goals — like building an emergency fund or savings for your child’s college — the lower monthly payments of a 30-year mortgage will leave you with more money each month to put into other types of savings.

A longer mortgage term can also help you afford a more expensive home by spreading the cost over more years. Just make sure you can actually afford whichever home you apply to buy. For more help understanding how much house you can afford, try our mortgage calculator.

What type of mortgage do I need?

The two most common types of mortgages are conventional loans and FHA loans. When most people think of mortgages, they think of conventional loans, but FHA may work better for people who can’t afford a big down payment or don’t have a perfect credit history.

A conventional loan is insured by a bank, credit union, or similar financial institution. These loans usually require a relatively high credit score and a down payment of close to 20%. Because FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), they require lower down payments — as low as 3.5% — and have lower credit score requirements — you can get an FHA loan with a credit score in the 500s.

FHA loans come with a couple of caveats, though. FHA loans have a stricter application process. There are multiple home inspections and homes that require extensive repairs or otherwise don’t meet FHA standards won’t qualify for a loan. FHA loans likely won’t save you money on closing costs, and in some cases it’s possible that they may be more expensive over the lifetime of the loan. If your down payment on an FHA loan is less than 10%, you have to pay mortgage insurance for the whole term of the loan, unless you refinance into a conventional mortgage. Conventional loans generally only require mortgage insurance until you have paid at least 20% of the home value.

Need more help deciding? Start with this full guide on FHA loans vs. conventional loans.

Less common types of mortgages to consider

If you can’t afford a down payment at all, there is the possibility of a USDA loan, though they have strict requirements and may be more costly than a conventional loan in the long term. Active duty servicemembers and veterans may also qualify for a VA loan, which is insured by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Mortgages from nonbank lenders are also becoming increasingly common. Nonbank lenders allow you to complete the entire mortgage process online — they may not even have physical locations — but it’s important to research the lender to make sure they are legitimate and won’t give you problems a decade down the road.

Mortgages vs. second mortgages

A mortgage is a loan you take to help finance the purchase of a home. A second mortgage is a line of credit that you take using the equity you already have in your house. Second mortgages — also called home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) — can work similarly to a first mortgage and have a term of five to 30 years.

Second mortgages may be a good option if you need money to make major home renovations or if you would have access to much better interest rates now compared to when you got your original mortgage. However, a second mortgage does put your house on the line; it’s collateral for the loan and if you can’t make payments, you could lose your house. To avoid putting your home at risk, you may want to consider a longer mortgage term if it guarantees you make the monthly payments. However, as with a first mortgage, a shorter term will mean you pay off the loan sooner and avoid extra interest charges in the long term.

Methodology

Using data collected in accordance with the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act and released by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (a division of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau), we examined millions of mortgage applications initiated in 2020 and issued a rating for each lender using Policygenius’ unique scoring model.

We compared each lender across five metrics: the interest rates offered by the lender, the origination fees charged by the lender, the number of complaints made to the CFPB about the lender, the lender's loan offerings, and availability across the country. Each metric was scored on a scale of 1 to 5, and then each lender's five scores were averaged into a single rating. Below are breakdowns of each metric.

Interest and fees methodology

To calculate the scores for lenders’ average interest rates and origination fees, we reviewed only originated mortgages that met the following criteria.

  • Loan type: Conventional

  • Loan purpose: Home purchase, refinance, or cash-out refinance

  • Loan amount: $250,000 to $1,000,000, which covers a mix of FHA mortgages, conforming mortgages, and jumbo mortgages

  • Household income: $100,000 or higher

  • Term: 15 years

We did not include any interest-only mortgages, mortgages that included a balloon payment, lines of credit, reverse mortgages, or mortgages for a business or commercial purpose.

Our interest rates and fees scores don’t necessarily reflect what the lender is offering on its website. Rather, they are the rates and fees recorded by the FFIEC among mortgages that conformed to our criteria. Borrowers may be offered a range of incentives to receive a lower APR or pay lower fees, so our scores indicate a baseline measure and your actual experience with your lender may vary.

Complaints to the CFPB

We also looked at how often borrowers or applicants complained to the CFPB about the lender. These complaints could mean anything from having trouble applying or paying for a mortgage to experiencing outright fraud or discrimination. This score covers the total number of complaints about the lender for the year 2020 divided by the number of applications (not just originated mortgages), since many would-be borrowers encounter an issue during the application process. Although all lenders have relatively few complaints against them, some had much larger proportions than others.

Offerings

Most lenders offer a variety of types of home loans. For the purposes of this scoring model, we looked at the four mortgage types defined by the FFIEC:

  • Conventional loans

  • FHA loans

  • VA loans

  • USDA/RHS loans

The vast majority of loans originated by the lenders we reviewed were conventional mortgages, meaning that they are not backed by any government program, as FHA, VA and USDA/RHS loans are. Government-backed loans may be more affordable than conventional loans, but they often have strict income or residency requirements.

We gave higher scores for offering more products. However, we did not consider fixed-rate mortgages, adjustable-rate mortgages, jumbo loans, refinances, or home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) as distinct mortgage types.

Availability

Lenders were scored based on the number of states in which their loan products were available, with lenders available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia receiving the highest score.