Bank unlikely to sweeten refinance rate

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Dear Dr. Don,
When refinancing a loan, is it easier to refinance with the bank that originally had your loan?

I took a loan with E-LOAN but it is being serviced by Countrywide. If I want to refinance, who should I try to refinance with first? Would it be OK to seek another company that I would prefer to do business with?
— Don Denouement

Dear Don,
It’s pretty rare for originating lenders or loan servicers to offer deals to borrowers based on past or current loan agreements.

That said, it’s an easy phone call to make — just make sure you do some comparison shopping, too, so you know that the rate is competitive and they’re actually offering you a deal.

Bankrate lets you shop for interest rates in your market using its “Compare interest rates” feature. If you actually apply for loans, apply in a three- to four-week window so it’s obvious that you’re comparison shopping and it won’t negatively impact your credit score.

Your goal should be to minimize the total interest expense associated with the loan. Be sure to include closing costs in the equation. Use the Bankrate calculator “Will you save by refinancing your mortgage?” to determine how long you have to be in the house to recoup your closing costs through the lower payments.