Home Equity Loan Rates for April 2024Compare Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) Rates in April 2024
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LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

What Is a HELOC? Home Equity Lines of Credit Explained

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Content was accurate at the time of publication.

A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is a way to borrow money that works a lot like a credit card — you can access money when you need it, up to a certain limit. Your payments are based only on the amount you’ve used, and you can pay off the balance and reuse it for several years. But unlike a credit card, you risk foreclosure if you can’t make your payments because home equity loans use your house as collateral.

A HELOC is a secured loan tied to your home that allows you to access cash as you need it. You’ll be able to make as many purchases as you’d like, as long as they don’t exceed your credit limit. A home equity line of credit is a type of second mortgage: You can get a HELOC even if you still have a first (or primary) mortgage on your house, and the HELOC will be second in line to be repaid in a foreclosure.

Because a HELOC is a credit line, it functions differently from a “regular” installment loan like your first mortgage, a home equity loan or personal loan.

A HELOC has two phases: a set time period for you to use your credit line and another when you repay the balance you owe.

  1. Phase one: The HELOC draw period. Once you’re approved for a home equity line of credit, the draw period starts. This first phase usually lasts for 10 years, and you can borrow as much cash as you want each month up to your credit limit. To make withdrawals, you’ll use checks or a card you can swipe. Depending on your lender, you may have the option to make interest-only payments during this phase.
  2. Phase two: The HELOC repayment period. Once the HELOC draw period ends, you can’t borrow from the credit line and you have to repay your outstanding balance — both principal and interest. HELOCs can require repayment all at once or through monthly payments. A typical repayment period is 20 years.

Use our HELOC calculator to estimate how much money you might qualify for.

HELOCs have some major advantages over more expensive unsecured loans, like credit cards and personal loans. However, there are some pitfalls that can get you into trouble — much like a credit card, an open credit line can make it easy to spend beyond your means.

Benefits of a home equity line of credit

 Reusable. You can use the credit line as needed.
 Competitive rates. You’ll likely pay a lower interest rate than personal loan or credit card APRs.
 Low payments. You can typically make low, interest-only payments for a set time period.
 Tax benefits. You may be able to write off your interest at tax time if your HELOC funds are used for home improvements.
 No mortgage insurance. You can avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI), even if you finance more than 80% of your home’s value.

Disadvantages of a home equity line of credit

Fees. You may have monthly maintenance and membership fees, and could be charged a prepayment penalty if you try to close out the loan early.
Changing interest rates. Your HELOC rate is usually variable, which means your payments will change over time.
Closing costs. You’ll usually have to pay HELOC closing costs ranging from 2% to 5% of the HELOC’s limit.
Rising payments. Your payments could become unaffordable once you enter the repayment period.
Collateral. You could lose your home to foreclosure if you default on your HELOC.

A HELOC can be a good idea if you have ongoing expenses and a plan to pay off the loan. It can be a great funding source for home improvement projects, debt consolidation, education expenses or medical bills.

But a HELOC isn’t a good idea if you don’t have a solid financial plan to repay it. Even though a HELOC can give you access to capital when you need it, you still need to think about the nature of your project. Will it improve your home’s value or otherwise provide you with a return? If it doesn’t, will you still be able to make your home equity line of credit payments?

To qualify for a HELOC, you’ll need to provide financial documents, like W-2s and bank statements — these allow the lender to verify your income, assets, employment and credit scores. You should expect to meet the following HELOC loan requirements:

  • Minimum 620 credit score. You’ll need a minimum 620 score, though the most competitive rates typically go to borrowers with 780 scores or higher.
  • Debt-to-income (DTI) ratio under 43%. Your DTI is your total debt (including your housing payments) divided by your gross monthly income. Typically, your DTI ratio shouldn’t exceed 43% for a HELOC, but some lenders may stretch the limit to 50%.
  • Loan-to-value (LTV) ratio under 85%. Your lender will order a home appraisal and compare your home’s value to how much you want to borrow to get your LTV ratio. Lenders normally allow a max LTV ratio of 85%.

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HELOC minimum withdrawal requirements and fees

Many HELOC lenders require a minimum withdrawal — the amount will depend on your lender and credit limit. HELOC loan programs also often have fees, including one-time fees for closing costs and ongoing maintenance and membership charges. The minimum payment required can change depending on how much you’ve borrowed and the current interest rate.

Can I get a HELOC with bad credit?

It’s not easy to find a lender who’ll offer you a HELOC when you have a credit score below 680. If your credit isn’t up to snuff, it may be wise to put the idea of taking out a new loan on hold and focus on repairing your credit first.

 Don’t know your credit score? Get your free credit score on LendingTree today.

Home equity lines of credit often have variable interest rates, which means your interest rate can change each month. Because HELOC rates are tied to the prime rate, your rate will go up and down with the broader market.

Can I get a fixed-rate HELOC?

Fixed-rate HELOCs are possible, but they’re less common. They let you convert part of your line of credit to a fixed rate. You will continue to use your credit as-needed just like with any HELOC or credit card, but locking in your fixed rate protects you from potentially expensive market changes for a set amount of time.

How do I find the best HELOC rates and lenders?

It’s crucial to shop for the lowest HELOC rates, which can save you thousands over the life of your home equity line of credit. Some ways to get the best rate for your home equity line of credit include:

  • Get at least three to five quotes from HELOC lenders to compare costs — get started today with our list of top HELOC lenders below.
  • Improve your credit score.
  • Reduce the amount of home equity you borrow.

Summary of our picks for the best HELOC lenders

How Does LendingTree Get Paid?
LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

How Does LendingTree Get Paid?

LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.
LenderLendingTree rating and "best of" categoryAvailable loan termsLender review

High loan amounts

10-year draw period

20-year repayment period

Read our review

Quick closing

2- to 5-year draw period

5- to 30-year repayment periods

Read our review

HELOCs with no closing costs
Not disclosedRead our review


20-year draw period

20-year repayment period

Read our review

Fixed-rate HELOCs

Variable-rate HELOCs: 10-year draw period with a 20-year repayment period

Fixed-rate HELOCs: 5- to 30-year repayment periods

Read our review

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Your LTV ratio is a large factor in how much money you can borrow with a HELOC. The LTV borrowing limit that your lender sets based on your home’s appraised value is normally capped at 85%. For example, if your home is worth $300,000, then the combined total of your current mortgage and the new HELOC amount can’t exceed $255,000. Remember that some lenders may set lower or higher home equity LTV ratio limits.

HELOC calculator: How much can you borrow?

You can use our home equity line of credit calculator below to quickly estimate how much you could access with a HELOC.

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Falling home values will lower how much you can borrow

Borrowers should watch out for freezes or reductions in their available HELOC funds if home values drop significantly during the HELOC’s term, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Lenders may do ongoing home value checks and adjust how much you can borrow.

 The best ways to use a HELOC will usually generate some income for you, such as rental income from an investment property, profits from a business or increased home value. Sometimes, it could just save you money, like by reducing how much interest you’re paying on outstanding debts.

Common uses for HELOCs include:
Home improvements
Debt consolidation
Investing, including purchasing real estate
Education expenses
Medical bills
Wedding expenses

The worst ways to use a HELOC involve investing in depreciating assets like cars, boats or furniture. It’s also not a good idea to borrow against home equity to cover everyday expenses. If you’re having trouble affording daily life, you should seek a more permanent solution, like mortgage forbearance or a loan modification.

Getting a HELOC is similar to getting a mortgage or any other loan secured by your home. You need to provide information about yourself (and any co-borrowers) and your home.

Step 1. Make sure a HELOC is the right move for you

HELOCs are best when you need large amounts of cash on an ongoing basis, like when paying for home improvement projects or medical bills. If you’re unsure what option is best for you, compare different loan alternatives, such as a cash-out refinance or home equity loan.

But whatever you choose, be sure you have a plan to repay the HELOC.

Step 2. Gather documents

Provide lenders with documentation about your home, your finances — including your income and employment status — and any other debt you’re carrying.

Step 3. Apply to HELOC lenders

Apply with a few lenders and compare what they offer regarding rates, fees, maximum loan amounts and repayment periods. It doesn’t hurt your credit to apply with multiple HELOC lenders any more than to apply with just one as long as you do the applications within a 45-day window.

 Learn more about our picks for the best HELOC lenders to find the right lender for you.

Step 4. Compare offers

Take a critical look at the offers on your plate. Consider total costs, the length of the phases and any minimums and maximums.

Step 5. Close on your HELOC

If everything looks good and a home equity line of credit is the right move, sign on the dotted line! Make sure you can cover the closing costs, which can range from 2% to 5% of the HELOC’s credit line amount.

 Ready to compare top HELOC lenders?
Get Customized HELOC Rates and Offers Now

HELOC vs. Home equity loan

A home equity loan is another second mortgage option that allows you to tap your home equity. Instead of a credit line, though, you’ll receive an upfront lump sum and make fixed payments in equal installments for the life of the loan. Since you can usually borrow roughly the same amount of money with both loan types, deciding on a home equity loan versus HELOC may depend largely on whether you want a fixed or variable interest rate and how often you want to access funds.

Is a HELOC better than a home equity loan?

The answer to this question will depend on your needs. A home equity loan is good when you need a large sum of cash upfront and you like fixed monthly payments, while a HELOC may work better if you have ongoing expenses.

 See current home equity loan rates today.

HELOC vs. Cash-out refinance

A cash-out refinance replaces your current mortgage with a larger loan, allowing you to “cash out” the difference between the two amounts. The maximum LTV ratio for most cash-out refinance programs is 80% — however, the VA cash-out refinance program is an exception, allowing military borrowers to tap up to 90% of their home’s value with a loan backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Is a HELOC better than a cash-out refinance?

A cash-out refinance may be better if changing the terms of your current home loan will benefit you financially. However, since interest rates are currently high, right now it’s unlikely that you’ll get a rate lower than the one attached to your original mortgage.

A home equity line of credit may make more sense for you if you want to leave your original mortgage untouched, but in exchange you’ll usually have to pay a higher interest rate and likely also have to accept a variable rate. For a more in-depth comparison of your options for tapping home equity, check out our article comparing a cash-out refinance versus HELOC versus home equity loan.

Think a cash-out refinance could be right for you?

HELOC vs. Personal loan

A personal loan isn’t secured by any collateral and is available through private lenders. Personal loan repayment terms are usually shorter, though the interest rates are higher than HELOCs.

 See current personal loan rates today.

You can only deduct HELOC interest when you’re using the funds to buy, build or substantially improve the home that secures the loan. However, the amount you can deduct is capped, based on how you file taxes.

Here are some ballpark monthly payment examples at current HELOC rates:

  • During the draw period, interest-only payments on a maxed-out $50,000 HELOC might be around $225.
  • During the repayment period, initial payments on a $50,000 HELOC could be around $642.

However, keep in mind that HELOCs usually come with variable rates, so the amount of interest you pay will typically change on a monthly basis.

And, unlike with personal loans or home equity loans, HELOC payments are based only on how much you’ve spent, not your total credit limit. So if you have a HELOC with a $50,000 limit, how much your monthly payments will be depends on whether you spend up to your limit in one big purchase, or slowly over the course of your draw period.

No. HELOC rates are typically variable, but you can convert a variable-rate HELOC into a fixed-rate loan by refinancing your principal balance. You can do that with the same lender or a new one.

It can take two to six weeks from your first application submission to when you receive your HELOC card or checks in the mail.

You can cancel a HELOC for any reason within three business days after your closing (this three-day time period includes Saturdays, but not Sundays), though you’ll have to do it in writing. The lender must refund any fees you’ve already paid. However, if you can prove that the lender didn’t provide all of the required material about the HELOC, you could get up to three years to cancel the credit line.

If neither of these solutions apply, your best bet may be to refinance your HELOC by getting another loan. You could pay it off with your savings, another loan or even another HELOC. Look at your contract first to ensure you won’t face any prepayment penalties.

When you apply for a HELOC, your lender will do a hard credit pull that can temporarily cause your score to drop by a few points.

Once you’re approved, you can use as much of the credit line as you’d like without it affecting your credit utilization rate.  This is unexpected for many borrowers because it’s different from how credit cards work. But credit cards are unsecured, whereas HELOCs are secured by your home equity.

As with any loan, if you make regular, on-time payments a HELOC will help build your credit score. But, if you miss payments, your credit will suffer.

If you’re having trouble keeping up with loan payments, reach out to your lender. Lenders are often willing to work with customers who ask for help, and may modify some of the terms of your loan to make your payments more affordable. Even a relatively small change to your interest rate or loan term can reduce your payments enough to get you back on track.

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