At a Glance
A home equity loan is a popular way to tap into the available value of your home and use it as collateral for additional funds. But, in order to get approved for a home equity loan, you typically need to have good credit. While bank requirements can vary, a good benchmark minimum credit score needed for a home equity loan is typically around 650. This is the same minimum requirement set by the Home Equity Line of Credit product from Bank of America, one of the most popular home equity providers nationwide. On the other hand, borrowers typically need a score of just 620 to qualify for a conventional mortgage.
It’s important to note that even if you qualify with this baseline score, you may end up paying more interest depending on how high your score goes. A higher credit score gives lenders more confidence when approving an application, so strive for that top-tier credit rating before applying for a home equity loan.
In this article, you’ll learn:
What credit score do you need for a home equity loan?
The credit score required for a home equity loan can vary depending on the lender and the loan’s terms. However, as a general rule, a good credit score is typically considered to be in the range of 700 or higher.
Lenders use credit scores to evaluate an applicant’s creditworthiness, and a higher credit score can indicate to the lender that the borrower is less likely to default on the loan. As a result, borrowers with higher credit scores are usually able to qualify for better terms and lower interest rates on their loans.
That being said, credit score requirements can vary depending on the specific lender and the loan’s terms, and some lenders may have more relaxed credit score requirements for home equity loans. Additionally, other factors, such as your income, employment history, and debt-to-income ratio, can also impact your ability to get approved for a home equity loan.
So, while 700 is often considered a good credit score for a home equity loan, it’s always best to check with individual lenders to get an accurate estimate of the credit score needed for approval.
Can you get a home equity loan with bad credit?
Yes, it is possible to get a home equity loan with bad credit, although it may be more difficult and come with higher interest rates and fees. If your score falls into the fair or poor credit range, you may have trouble qualifying for a home equity loan with favorable terms.
However, if you have bad credit, you may still be able to find a lender who is willing to offer you a home equity loan. Some lenders specialize in working with borrowers who have less-than-perfect credit, and they may offer home equity loans with higher interest rates and fees to compensate for the added risk.
Learn more: Getting a Home Equity Loan with Bad Credit
Other home equity loan requirements
In addition to credit score, there are several other requirements that you’ll need to meet in order to qualify for a home equity loan. Requirements can vary depending on the lender, but common ones include:
- Home ownership: You must own a home and have built up equity in it in order to use it as collateral for a home equity loan.
- Home value: The value of your home must be sufficient to cover the amount you want to borrow, as well as any outstanding mortgages or liens.
- Income: Lenders will typically want to see that you have a stable income and can repay the loan. You may need to provide proof of income, such as pay stubs or tax returns.
- Employment of existing mortgage: If you already have a mortgage on your home, you’ll need to show that it is current and in good standing.
- Debt-to-income ratio: Lenders will look at your debt-to-income ratio, which is the amount of debt you have relative to your income, to determine if you can afford to take on a home equity loan.
- Loan-to-value ratio: Lenders will also look at your loan-to-value ratio, which is the amount of your home equity loan relative to the value of your home, to determine the risk of lending you the money.
- Age of the property: Some lenders do require that your property is of a certain age before they’ll offer a home equity loan.
Learn more: What’s Required for a Home Equity Loan?
Alternatives to a home equity loan
If you find that a home equity loan is not the route that you want to take, there are plenty of alternatives out there that can give you the funds you need.
1. Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)
A Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) is another way to use the equity in your home to borrow money. Unlike a home equity loan, which provides a lump sum of money that you repay with interest over a fixed term, a HELOC is a revolving line of credit that allows you to borrow money as you need it, up to a predetermined limit.
With a HELOC, you only pay interest on the amount of money you actually borrow, and you can withdraw funds as many times as you like, up to the credit limit, during a specified draw period. After the draw period ends, the remaining balance becomes due, and you’ll typically need to repay the remaining balance over a fixed term, typically 10 to 20 years.
One advantage of a HELOC is that it provides more flexibility and convenience than a home equity loan, as you can access funds as you need them instead of having to take out a large lump sum upfront. Additionally, because you only pay interest on the amount you actually borrow, a HELOC can be a more cost-effective option if you only need to borrow a small amount of money.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that the interest rates on HELOCs are often variable, meaning they can change over time, which can make it difficult to budget and plan your monthly payments. Additionally, because a HELOC is a line of credit, it can be tempting to use it as a source of ongoing debt, which can lead to financial problems if you’re not careful.
2. Personal loans
A personal loan is an unsecured loan that you can use for a variety of purposes, including debt consolidation, home improvements, and unexpected expenses. Unlike a home equity loan, which is secured by the equity in your home, a personal loan is not tied to any collateral and is based solely on your creditworthiness and ability to repay the loan.
One advantage of a personal loan is that it’s easy to obtain and doesn’t require you to put up collateral, which can be beneficial if you don’t own a home or don’t want to use the equity in your home as collateral. Additionally, personal loans often have fixed interest rates and a set repayment term, which can make it easier to budget and plan your monthly payments.
Another advantage of a personal loan is that it can offer a more flexible use of funds compared to a home equity loan, which is typically tied to specific purposes, such as home improvement projects. However, it’s important to keep in mind that personal loans can have higher interest rates than home equity loans, especially if you have bad credit, and that you’ll need to have a good credit score in order to qualify for a personal loan with favorable terms.
Compare: Best Personal Loans
3. 0% APR Credit cards
Using a 0% APR credit card can be an alternative to a home equity loan if you need to finance a small purchase or want to consolidate existing debt. So start, you’ll need to look for a credit card that offers a 0% introductory APR on purchases or balance transfers. Some credit cards also offer a 0% APR for a certain period of time, such as 12 months or 18 months.
If you need to finance a purchase, you can use the 0% APR credit card to make the purchase and avoid paying any interest during the promotional period. If you have existing high-interest debt, you can use the 0% APR credit card to transfer the balances to the new card and save on interest payments. To take advantage of the 0% APR, you’ll need to make timely payments each month. Be sure to pay at least the minimum due by the due date to avoid late fees and to keep your 0% APR in good standing.
Once the promotional period ends, the 0% APR will likely be replaced with a higher rate, so it’s important to pay off the balance in full before the promotional period ends.
Related: Credit Cards with Low Interest Rates
4. Cash-out refinance
A cash-out refinance is a type of mortgage refinancing in which you replace your current mortgage loan with a new one that is larger than your current mortgage balance. The difference between the two loans is paid to you in cash, which you can use for a variety of purposes.
A cash-out refinance can provide an alternative source of funds if you choose not to use a home equity loan, as it allows you to tap into the equity you’ve built up in your home. This can be beneficial if you need a large amount of money for a specific purpose, such as paying off high-interest debt or making home improvements.
One advantage of a cash-out refinance is that it can provide a lower interest rate than a home equity loan, as mortgage interest rates are often lower than other types of loans. Additionally, because a cash-out refinance replaces your existing mortgage, you may be able to lower your monthly mortgage payment, as well as the total amount of interest you pay over the life of the loan.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that a cash-out refinance can be more complex and time-consuming than a home equity loan, as you’ll need to go through the process of refinancing your mortgage, which can take several weeks to complete. Additionally, a cash-out refinance will likely require you to pay closing costs, which can be substantial, and may also result in a longer loan term, which can increase the total amount of interest you pay over the life of the loan.
Learn more: How Does a Cash-Out Refinance Work?
The minimum credit score required for a home equity loan can vary depending on the lender and other factors such as your income, debt-to-income ratio, and the value of your home. However, in general, lenders may require a minimum credit score of 620 or higher for a home equity loan.
Having a lower credit score can make it more difficult to qualify for a home equity loan, as lenders may see you as a higher risk borrower. If you have a lower credit score, you may still be able to qualify for a home equity loan, but you may need to provide additional documentation or collateral, or you may be required to pay a higher interest rate.
The time it takes to get a home equity loan approved can vary depending on a number of factors, including the lender, your credit score, the value of your home, and the amount of equity you have.
Typically, it can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to get a home equity loan approved. The process may go more quickly if you have a good credit score, a high level of home equity, and all of the necessary documentation in order.
Once you’ve submitted your application and all required documentation, the lender will typically perform a credit check and an appraisal of your home to determine its value and the amount of equity you have. This process can take several days to a week or more, depending on the lender.
Once the lender has reviewed your application and determined that you meet the requirements for a home equity loan, they will usually provide you with a loan approval and a loan agreement that outlines the terms and conditions of the loan. You’ll then be able to sign the loan agreement and receive the funds, typically within a few days to a week.
A HELOC and a home equity loan are two types of loans that allow you to access the equity in your home. However, there are some key differences between the two:
- Loan structure: A home equity loan is a lump-sum loan, meaning you receive the entire amount of the loan in a single disbursement. With a HELOC, you have a revolving line of credit that you can access as needed, similar to a credit card.
- Repayment: With a home equity loan, you make fixed monthly payments over a set period of time to repay the loan. With a HELOC, you only make payments on the amount you borrow, and the interest rate and monthly payment can vary depending on the loan balance and interest rate changes.
- Interest rate: Home equity loans typically have a fixed interest rate, while HELOCs have a variable interest rate that can change over time. This means that the interest rate on a HELOC can go up or down based on market conditions, while the interest rate on a home equity loan remains the same over the life of the loan.
- Loan terms: Home equity loans typically have a set loan term, while the repayment period for a HELOC is more flexible and can last for several years.
- Uses: Both home equity loans and HELOCs can be used for a variety of purposes, including home improvements, debt consolidation, and major purchases. However, because a HELOC is a revolving line of credit, it may be a more flexible option for ongoing needs or unexpected expenses.
Learn more: Home Equity Loans vs. HELOC