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No-Closing-Cost Refinance: What You Should Know

Updated on:
Content was accurate at the time of publication.

A no-closing-cost refinance may be worth considering if you’re short on cash for closing costs, or if you’d prefer not to dip into your savings account to cover them. It’s also a good option if you plan to move within the next few years.

Don’t let the name fool you, though — a no-closing-cost refinance isn’t free. Understanding how it works will help you decide if this short-term benefit is worth the long-term cost.

A no-closing-cost refinance allows you to replace your current mortgage with a new one, minus the upfront fees. Instead of bringing cash to the closing table, you’ll have the option to either:

  • Roll your closing costs into your loan amount, or
  • Have your lender cover the closing costs and, in return, increase your interest rate

A no-cost refi doesn’t mean you aren’t paying those closing costs — essentially, you’re just choosing to finance them. The lender is offsetting the costs by charging you a higher interest rate or adding the costs to your loan amount. As a result, your monthly payments — and total interest paid — will be higher for the life of the loan than if you paid the costs with cash. If you choose the option that increases your loan amount, you’re also using up home equity, which means you’ll make less when you sell your home in the future.

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The best way to understand how a no-closing-cost refinance works is to see the numbers in action. We’ll compare the short-term and long-term savings of rolling $5,000 worth of costs into the loan amount, versus adding them to the interest rate, for a 30-year fixed-rate refinance of a $300,000 loan.

Refinance with closing costsNo-closing-cost refinance with higher loan amountNo-closing-cost refinance with higher interest rate
Loan amount$300,000$305,000$300,000
Interest rate6.86%6.86%7.36%
Monthly payment (principal and interest)$1,967.78$2,000.58$2,068.96
Total interest costs$408,400.99$415,207.68$444,825.38
Total cost paid at closing$5,000$0$0

The table below shows the dollar cost and savings of each no-closing-cost option, compared to paying the closing costs with cash.

Refinance with closing costsNo-closing-cost refinance with higher loan amountNo-closing-cost refinance with higher interest rate
Out of pocket cost$5,000$0$0
Extra monthly payment costN/A$32.80$101.18
Extra long-term interest costN/A$6,806.69$36,424.39
Equity cost$0$5,000$0

What you can see in this example is that if you’re trying to decide between the two no-closing-cost refinance options, you’ll need to keep the following in mind:

  • Your monthly payment and total interest charges are highest if you choose the no-cost refi with a higher interest rate.
  • Your monthly payment and total interest charges are lower for the no-cost refi with the higher loan amount, but you borrow an extra $5,000 of your home equity.
  • Your out-of-pocket cost is the highest for the refi with closing costs, but you’ll also have the lowest monthly payment and total interest charges — plus, you won’t tie up any extra home equity in the refinance.

Common refinance closing costs

Mortgage refinance closing costs can range from 2% to 6% of your loan amount — this adds up, especially if you have a larger loan. For example, if you’re refinancing $300,000 and closing costs equal 2% of your loan amount, you’ll pay $6,000 in closing costs.

Standard refi closing costs include:

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Don't forget to budget for property taxes and insurance

If you prefer to have your property taxes and insurance included in your monthly payment, you may want to budget to pay those costs out of pocket, instead of adding them to your no-closing-cost refinance. Your current lender is required to refund any escrow balance to you within 20 days of paying off your loan balance, so you may end up getting back the bulk of what you’ll spend.

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ProsCons

  You’ll keep your cash in the bank

  You won’t have to wait to recoup your closing costs

  You won’t use up additional home equity if you choose a no-closing-cost refinance with a higher rate

  Mortgage rates are typically lower than home equity loan rates

  You’ll free up cash you can use for other financial priorities

  You won’t be financially drained by your refinance, which can make keeping essential safety nets, like your emergency fund, intact

  Your monthly payment will be higher

  Your total interest charges will be higher

  You’ll use up home equity if you go with a higher loan amount on a no-closing-cost refinance

  You won’t benefit as much — or potentially at all — if you’re planning to stay in your home long term

  You could end up having to pay for mortgage insurance if you tap too much home equity

  You might see extra costs if adding to your loan amount pushes your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio over 40%

Here are some scenarios where a no-closing-cost refinance is a good option.

  You want to save money immediately. When you refinance a mortgage, you don’t actually start saving money on your monthly payment until you recoup the costs you paid at closing. This is known as your “break-even point,” and it’s calculated by dividing your total costs paid in cash by your monthly savings. Since you don’t pay your costs in cash, your monthly savings start right away.

  You plan to sell your home in the near future. If you’re outgrowing your home and plan to sell soon, a no-closing-cost refinance allows you to save money without having to recoup your costs. Just remember: If you choose to add your closing costs to your loan amount, you’re using up some of the equity you could net when you sell your home.

  You don’t want to deplete your cash balances. A low balance in your checking account or an underfunded emergency fund may be good reasons to choose a no-closing-cost refinance. You can even use the extra monthly savings to build up your cash reserves over time.

Boost your credit score. The better your credit score when refinancing, the better chance you have to get the best no-closing-cost rate. You can improve your credit score by maintaining on-time payments, paying down debt and disputing errors on your credit reports. Aim for a 780 credit score or higher to get the best rate.

Shop around with multiple lenders. While you might be tempted to refinance with your current lender, take the time to shop around for no-closing-cost options from a variety of lenders. You could potentially save tens of thousands by comparison shopping.

Negotiate lower costs and fee waivers. Talk to your lender about lowering your closing costs, even if you’re applying for a no-closing-cost refinance option. Some refinance transactions may qualify for an appraisal waiver, which can save you $300 to $500 or more and should result in a lower no-closing-cost interest rate offer. If you end up working with your existing lender and the same title insurance company, ask about a reissue rate for a discount on the lender’s title policy.

Keep your DTI under 40%. Your DTI ratio compares your monthly debt obligations to your monthly gross income. Although many lenders will accept a DTI as high as 43%, an ideal DTI is 30% or lower. In general, the lower your DTI the better you’ll look to lenders.

Avoid taking cash out. If you don’t have a good reason to take cash out when refinancing, it makes more sense not to — cash-out refinance rates are typically more expensive than rate-and-term refinances, since lenders view them as more risky.

Today's Refinance Rates

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