In a Nutshell
- Compare loan alternatives in one single place
- Excellent variety of loan repayment terms
- Extensive educational resources
- Works better for customers with higher credit
- Little information on loan amounts and rates
Bankrate at a Glance
Originally established as “Bank Rate Monitor” in 1976, Bankrate has gone from a print publication for the financial industry to one of the most widely-read financial services assessments available online. The company offers information and loan comparisons in several different industries, including mortgages, refinancing, personal loans and auto loans. Bankrate places a high premium on education; it hosts a comprehensive knowledge base and guides related to personal finance topics, applying for credit, and even understanding credit scores. With an extensive list of well-known lending partners and an impressive reputation behind it, Bankrate is one of the strongest names in mortgage lending.
- People who prefer to compare their alternatives
One of Bankrate’s biggest strengths is that it gives prospective borrowers the ability to shop around for mortgages in an obligation-free environment. This includes helpful overviews of lending partners.
- Customers looking to learn about the lending and mortgage process
In general, a company like Bankrate is incredibly useful for first-time homeowners and other customers who may not be informed or educated on the mortgage process.
Bankrate also has an extensive library of articles, guides, and other tutorials designed to cover personal finances, credit, and financial services.
The company is not directly a lender, instead connecting customers to the right mortgage provider efficiently. Customers can take advantage of the company’s marketplace model, where they can evaluate a variety of mortgage options depending on their desired terms and rates based on their financial circumstances. Additionally, they can learn about mortgages in one of the most well-rounded educational centers available in the industry, which includes a wide range of articles and guides, and a variety of calculators such as mortgage repayment, housing prices, and amortization. Apart from its educational focus, the company’s partners provide a variety of loan types for both purchasing and refinancing, including Federal Housing Administration loans, VA loans, and HARP loans. The company also lists all of its partners in an easy-to-navigate page that includes loan terms and monthly payments, letting users easily determine which offer would best fit their needs.
Highlights for Bankrate:
- An expansive educational center for first-time borrowers
- An easy-to-use comparison tool for mortgage shopping
- A wide variety of loan alternatives and repayment terms
- A broad range of calculators to help you find the right loan amount
- Assessments of every loan partner in Bankrate’s network
- Both adjustable and fixed-rate loans - Purchasing and mortgage refinance loans available
- Jumbo loans accessible for larger home purchases
The Application Process
Unlike many marketplace lenders, Bankrate stands out because it connects borrowers to lenders instead of taking an active role in the application process. The company does not have an application and will show potential loan options to any visitor. Bankrate sets a limit on credit scores, offering loans to customers with better credit scores who are likely to receive final approval. As such, the company’s comparison tool shows options that start with credit scores as low as 660. Specific application requirements will vary from lender to lender depending on the option selected by the borrower. It’s important to note that because Bankrate is not directly a lender, it does not list the specific borrower requirements for each of the individual mortgage lending partners listed on their website.
Loan Terms – A Marketplace Filled With Education
As a marketplace, Bankrate does not originate any of the loans listed on its website. Because of this distinction, it cannot guarantee any of the terms listed by the lending partners taking part in the market. However, it does show an impressive range of loan alternatives thanks to its extensive network, and most customers that meet the credit score requirements can find an applicable option that fits their needs well. The company’s comparison tool is also incredibly useful. Instead of requiring an application, customers can simply select the terms they would like along with their credit score range and a few other criteria before being shown representative deals and potential terms from Bankrate’s partners.
Another aspect that separates Bankrate from its competition is the company’s dedication to educating its customers. The mortgage portal includes several advice sections for both first-time and veteran homeowners, and guides on a variety of topics like federally-funded loan programs, various aspects of the mortgage process, and even subjects covering credit scores and creditworthiness. Furthermore, potential borrowers can visualize the full impact and possibilities of a mortgage thanks to several calculators underlining potential repayments, amortizations, how much customers can afford, and more.
Prospective borrowers can select from an impressive range of repayment terms when shopping for a mortgage through Bankrate’s marketplace. The company’s partners offer both fixed-rate and adjustable-rate terms while providing a great degree of flexibility for borrowers. Fixed-rate mortgages can be 10-, 15-, 20-, 30-, and 40-year durations. Adjustable rate mortgages come in 1, 3/1, 5/1, 7/1, and 10/1 alternatives. Some partners also offer interest only mortgages, which come in 3/1, 5/1, and 7/1 adjustable rates, or 30-year fixed, 0-point varieties. Keep in mind that the repayment terms listed on Bankrate’s website are only representative. Not all the company’s partners may offer these rates and terms and not all customers may be eligible to receive them due to the criteria set by individual lenders.
How Safe is It?
One of the biggest areas where Bankrate stands out is customer security. Because accessing the marketplace does not require an application or any sort of registration, customers do not have to share any sensitive data or financial information. Bankrate is strictly a hub that has built a network of lending partners, and as such, it does not require any information from curious borrowers. It does collect some non-identifiable information, but it is used mostly for operational purposes and improving overall levels of service.
Help & Support
Customers can contact Bankrate via an email ticket on the company’s website or through a toll-free number. The support service center responded to calls quickly and with minimal wait times. We found that the staff was able to answer our questions effectively and professionally. Email requests were also replied to very quickly, with wait times generally between one and two business days. For customers seeking their own answers to commonly asked questions, Bankrate’s website hosts an impressive collection of information that is able to satisfy most inquiries.
Deep Dive into Pros and Cons
We found some areas where Bankrate could improve its services:
- The company could list more information regarding representative loan amounts offered as well as interest rates
- The company works more exclusively with customers that have higher credit scores
- Bankrate does not feature an FAQ section for customers to find quick answers to common questions
Even with some minor drawbacks, Bankrate shines in several areas:
- The marketplace page delivers an impressive comparison tool for customers to make an informed and responsible borrowing decision
- Bankrate offers an extensive number of educational resources and calculators to help educate first-time home buyers
- Partners offer a vast range of loan terms available in both adjustable and fixed-rate alternatives
- Customers can compare loan alternatives without an application and no obligation
So, Should you Borrow with BankRate?
Bankrate is one of the best-known names in education and mortgages for a good reason. The company offers customers an impressive comparison tool that requires no application and no obligation, making it easy to shop around and find the right borrowing solution. In addition, its extensive library of educational resources lets borrowers feel comfortable with their decision and fully understand the impact of their choices before applying for a mortgage. With outstanding support to go along with these value-added features, Bankrate provides prospective borrowers with one of the more unique and reliable ways to uncover the best available mortgage options.
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