Minimize your interest payments and own your home faster.
A 15-year mortgage isn’t the most popular term because the monthly payments are much higher. But if you can make the payments, you stand to save thousands in interest over the life of the loan.
Lenders that offer 15-year mortgages
How does a 15-year mortgage rate compare?
As you may have guessed, 15-year mortgages are paid off in 15 years — half the time as the typical 30-year mortgage. While it’s not the most popular option, this product is attractive for a few reasons.
The most significant selling point is lower interest rates.
In most cases, 15-year mortgages have a fixed rate. Lenders are concerned with calculated risks, and the risk of someone defaulting on a loan over 30 years is far greater than 15. If you apply for a 15-year mortgage, expect to score a rate that’s up to one point lower than the standard interest rate. Since it’s a shorter term, you’ll also be paying less interest overall over the course of your mortgage.
But the trade-off for lower interest and a quicker payoff period is higher monthly payments. Let’s say you’re looking at a $200,000 15-year fixed rate mortgage, with an interest rate of 4%. You’ll pay $1,479 each month and a total of $66,288 in interest over the life of the loan.
If you compare this with a 30-year fixed rate mortgage at 4.5%, you might pay $1,013 per month – but a staggering $164,813 in interest over time. And this doesn’t consider the closing costs and ongoing expenses like HOA fees, utilities and maintenance fees, and mortgage insurance if you put less than 20% down.
For a $200,000 mortgage …
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A 15-year mortgage suits those who want to pay less interest over the life of their loan and can afford the higher monthly payments.
What are the benefits of a 15-year mortgage?
- Lower interest. You’ll score lower interest rates and pay less interest over the life of the loan.
- Shorter payoff period. Pay off your home twice as fast as you would with a 30-year mortgage.
- Build equity faster. Pay down the principal balance and increase your equity at a quicker pace.
- Stable payments. Opt for a fixed-rate mortgage and your monthly payment won’t fluctuate, even if the market does.
- Fewer fees with government-sponsored programs. For example, the FHA charges lower mortgage insurance premiums for 15-year borrowers.
What should I watch out for?
- Higher monthly payment. You’ll typically pay hundreds more per month than you would for a fixed rate loan with a longer term.
- Modest or limited options. Since the payments are higher, you may qualify for a less expensive property than if you’d stretched the loan out over 20, 25 or 30 years.
- Stricter eligibility requirements. You’ll need to prove you have a strong credit history and sufficient income to make your higher monthly payments.
- Fewer tax perks. Less interest means a lower mortgage interest deduction, and you’ll lose the deduction sooner.
ARMs vs. fixed rate 15-year mortgages
Is a 15-year mortgage right for me?
With a 15-year mortgage, you need to be disciplined with your budget. If you can afford the monthly payments while still saving for the future, a 15-year mortgage may be the right fit for you.
This term could be attractive to borrowers who want to be debt free by the time they retire. It could also be beneficial for those who want to tap into the equity in their home to cover large expenses such as renovations and college tuition.
On the other hand, if your income is unstable or you’re interested in investing more of your money, you may want to opt for a longer mortgage term.
Which banks offer a 15-year mortgage?
A handful of banks and credit unions offer 15-year mortgages, including:
- Bank of America
- Citizens Bank
- Ally Bank
- CF Bank
- Quicken Loans
- Beth Page Federal Credit Union
A 15-year mortgage is ideal for those who want to slash their interest payments and pay off their loan faster. While borrowers benefit from lower interest rates, the trade-off is higher monthly payments.
Compare other mortgage terms with our guide to mortgages.