VA loans are an excellent solution for military service members and their families when looking to buy a home. However, for active military and veterans, finding the lender with the best rates can be a challenge, especially when considering the wide variety of VA loan providers to consider.
We’ve taken the guesswork out of the process by comparing the best available VA loan rates available through the most popular lenders. This guide will cover the fundamentals of VA loans and what you need to know when choosing between these top VA lenders.
The 5 Best VA Loans
- Veterans United: Best Customer Satisfaction
- New American Funding: Best for Low Credit
- Quicken Loans: Best Online Experience
- Navy Federal Credit Union: Best for Additional Services
- Veterans First Mortgage:Best Overall Customer Service
|Lender||30-Year APR||15-Year APR||Min. Credit Score||Min. Down Payment|
|New American Funding||3.138%||3.116%||580||0%|
|Navy Federal Credit Union||3.281%||3.351%||620||0%|
|Veterans First Mortgage||3.498%||3.575%||600||0%|
What is a VA Loan?
A VA loan, also known as a Veterans Affairs loan, is a mortgage option backed by the United States government that requires no down payment and easier qualifications for military service members and their spouses. Private lenders issue these loans, and they are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. These loans were designed specifically for active Military homebuyers, many of which have difficulties getting approved for standard loans due to low or no credit. However, it’s important to note that VA loans have less stringent eligibility requirements than traditional loans, some lenders will have their own set of criteria, such as a small down payment, higher credit or a more extensive credit history. Understand the requirements for qualification with each lender before you apply.
VA Loans vs Conventional Loans
When considering whether or not a VA loan makes sense for you, there are a few things you should know when comparing it against a conventional loan.
VA loans are typically only able to be used for your primary residence, while conventional loans can be used for primary homes, second homes or investment properties. Overall, VA loans are much easier to attain than conventional loans, requiring no money down and much more lenient application requirements.
Another benefit of VA loans is that they usually have a lower interest rate by default compared to conventional loans. While these VA loan rates vary from one lender to the next, typically, conventional loan APR rates are anywhere between 3% to 6% higher.
VA Loans vs FHA Loans
An FHA, also known as a Federal Housing Administration Loan, is another form of mortgage loan backed by the U.S. government. However, there are some differences between FHA and VA loans to consider.
When looking at credit score requirements, FHAs are a bit more flexible than VAs, with FICO requirements only being 580 instead of 620. However, VA loans are still more lenient when it comes to eligibility requirements like bankruptcies and short sales. While both FHA and VA loans provide great financing options for active military, FHA loans still require a 3.5% down payment. This pales in comparison to the fact that VA loans require no money down.
VA Loans vs USDA Loans
USDA loans, otherwise known as the United States Department of Agriculture loans, are another form of government-sponsored financing option offered through private lenders. Although similar to VAs, there are some subtle differences to note when deciding if a USDA loan makes sense for you.
The most significant difference between VA and USDA loans is eligibility. While VA loans are only eligible to active military personnel and their spouses, USDA loans are available to the general public. USDA loans do, however, have income limits, while VA loans are generally unrestricted. Unlike VA loans, though, USDA loans can be used for general building repairs, renovations, home relocations and utility setups.
The Best VA Loans
Veterans United: Best customer satisfaction
While certain private lending companies focus on a variety of services, Veterans United limits its focus to only VA loans, and it does it very well.
As you would expect, Veterans United requires no minimum down payment to secure a VA loan and has an easy-to-use online application process. The company also offers free credit counseling and has credit advisors available in all branches of the armed forces. This VA loan lender provides both 30-year and 15-year fixed loans with competitive APR percentages and one of the best-reviewed customer service departments.
New American Funding: Best for low credit
New American Funding sets itself apart by its willingness to work with applicants with below-average credit ratings. Most VA loan providers limit their applicant approvals to a FICO score of at least 620, but New American Funding is different. It has been known to take credit scores as low as 580 for VA loans and is considered to be one of the more flexible lenders to work with. Along with this flexibility, New American Funding offers surprisingly competitive rates for its VA loans at 3.138% for 30-year fixed and 3.116% for 15-year fixed. It also provides convenient online rate quotes, document uploads and loan tracking.
Quicken Loans: Best Online Experience
Quicken Loans prides itself on creating a seamless online user experience for customers who prefer a more self-service approach to their banking, while also having access to real mortgage providers when needed. Originally started in 1985 as a brick-and-mortgage lender, Quicken Loans is now among the nation’s leading lenders in terms of volume, operating completely online.
Quicken Loans offers VA loans to qualified veterans, service members, and their spouses with adjustable interest rates and a range of available loan terms. The company makes it very easy for applicants to see if they qualify by listing their minimum qualifications right on their site. In order to be approved for a VA loan, applicants need to maintain a minimum FICO score of at least 620 and have a debt-to-income ratio (DTI) of no more than 60%. Quicken Loans’ VA loan rates are 3.25% with variable APR ranging from 3.721% – 4.087% on 15-, 25- and 30-year fixed mortgages.
Navy Federal Credit Union: Best for additional services
Navy Federal doesn’t publish a minimum credit score for its loans; however, on average, customers with a FICO score of at least 620 are approved. The company does, though, have below-average APR rates when compared to other VA loan providers. Navy Federal applies 3.281% APR on 30-year fixed loans and 3.351% on 15-year fixed mortgage loans, which aren’t the greatest rates compared to other VA loan companies. However, unlike many other loan providers, Navy Federal Credit Union specializes in more than just VA and FHA loans and is a great financial solution for a variety of banking and borrowing products.
Veterans First Mortgage: Best overall customer services
Although Veterans First Mortgage doesn’t offer conventional home loans, it specializes in VA loans and has given more than $21 billion in loans to more than 100,000 customers over the years.
Veterans First Mortgage’s VA loan options require no money down and are offered with 100% financing. Applicants are not required to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI) and are not slapped with penalties when paying off their loans early. Veterans First Mortgage does asses a one-time funding fee to cover administrative costs when applying to the VA home loan program. This fee is variable depending on whether the applicant is in regular military service or part of the military reserve. Although Veterans First Mortgage does not publish their interest rates, they do offer a great online application experience and are known to be more competitive than many other lending providers.
The Final Word
VA loans have been around since 1944 and are an excellent solution for active military personnel who are looking to purchase a home. While these particular loans may be the right choice for new home buyers, it’s important to note that there are more restrictions on what they can be used for when compared with FHA and USDA loans. That being said, there are many VA loan providers with competitive rates to choose from. All things considered, our top choice of providers is New American Funding due to their impressively low APR rates, 0% down payment, and low credit flexibility.