If you’re a member of the military, a veteran or an eligible spouse, the government has made it easy for you to obtain a low-cost mortgage in the form of a VA loan. There are many mortgage lenders that offer VA loans, which come with some key advantages, including no down payment and no mortgage insurance requirement. Bankrate has evaluated dozens of mortgage lenders to determine the best lenders for VA loans. Here is our guide to the best VA mortgage lenders in 2023.

Best VA mortgage lenders

Veterans United Home Loans

Veterans United Home Loans mortgage review

Availability Available in all U.S. states
Loans offered Conventional, jumbo, FHA
Credit requirements 620 for conventional and FHA loans
Down payment minimum 3% for conventional loans; 10.01% for jumbo loans; 3.5% for FHA loans
Where to find Online
  • No fees
  • Can close as fast as three weeks
  • No VA or USDA loans
  • No home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) or home equity loans (second mortgages)

 

Cardinal Financial

Cardinal Financial mortgage review

Availability Available in all U.S. states
Loans offered Conventional, FHA, VA, USDA
Credit requirements 620 for conventional loans; 580 for VA loans
Down payment minimum 3% for conventional loans; none for VA loans
Where to find Online and in-person
  • Works with affordable housing, first-time homebuyer and down payment assistance programs nationwide
  • Offers specialized loan products

LowRates.com

LowRates.com mortgage review

Availability Available in 48 U.S. states (not available in GA or MA)
Loans offered Conventional, jumbo, FHA, VA, USDA
Credit requirements 620 for conventional loans; 700 for jumbo loans; 500 for FHA and VA loans
Down payment minimum 3% for conventional loans; 3.5% for FHA loans; none for VA and USDA loans
Where to find Online
  • No fees
  • Can close as fast as 20 days
  • Offers HELOCs and home equity loans

Navy Federal Credit Union

Navy Federal Credit Union mortgage review

Availability Available in all U.S. states
Loans offered Conventional, jumbo, VA
Credit requirements 620 for conventional and VA loans
Down payment minimum 5% for conventional loans; none for VA loans
Where to find Branch locations and online
  • Can close as fast as 30-35 days
  • No FHA or USDA loans
  • No HELOCs or home equity loans
  • Limited to armed forces members and families

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo mortgage review

Availability Available in all U.S. states
Loans offered Conventional, jumbo, VA, USDA
Credit requirements 620 for conventional and VA loans
Down payment minimum 3% for conventional loans; none for VA loans
Where to find Branch locations and online
  • Will consider non-traditional credit references in the application process
  • Offers low-down payment options to assist lower-income borrowers

Summary: Best VA mortgage lenders

Lender Credit requirements Down payment minimum Bankrate review
Veterans United Home Loans 620 for conventional and FHA loans 3% for conventional loans; 3.5% for FHA loans; none for VA and USDA loans Veterans United Home Loans mortgage review
Cardinal Financial 620 for conventional loans; 580 for VA loans 3% for conventional loans; none for VA loans Cardinal Financial mortgage review
LowRates.com 620 for conventional loans; 700 for jumbo loans; 500 for FHA and VA loans 3% for conventional loans; 3.5% for FHA loans; none for VA and USDA loans LowRates.com mortgage review
Navy Federal Credit Union 620 for conventional and VA loans 5% for conventional loans; none for VA loans Navy Federal Credit Union mortgage review
Wells Fargo 620 for conventional and VA loans 3% for conventional loans; none for VA loans Wells Fargo mortgage review

How to choose the best VA mortgage lender

Every borrower’s needs and circumstances are different, so explore different VA mortgage lenders. Be mindful of each lender’s credit score requirements, fees, application processing times and quality of customer service.

Note that some VA mortgage lenders have been caught engaging in less-than-reputable practices, particularly making misleading claims about low rates and closing costs. Be sure to do thorough research and review testimonials and ratings from the Better Business Bureau or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau before committing to a lender or loan offer.

Here are more tips to help you find the best VA mortgage lender.

How to apply for a VA loan

You can apply for a VA loan through a VA mortgage lender, often online or by phone. If your lender has branch locations, you might be able to apply in-person. Keep in mind that not every bank or lending institution offers VA loans, but many of them do. If you need help, you can contact a VA Regional Loan Center for guidance.

Here are more tips to help you apply for a VA loan.

VA loan FAQ

  • VA loans are available only to borrowers who meet these criteria:
    • Be an active duty service member or veteran who was honorably discharged and meets minimum service requirements;
    • Have served 90 consecutive active days, at minimum, during wartime or at least 181 consecutive active days during peacetime, or served for six years or longer in the National Guard or Selected Reserve; or
    • Be a surviving spouse

    To qualify for a VA loan, you must also:

    • Secure a VA Certificate of Eligibility (COE)
    • Meet your lender’s minimum credit score requirement, generally 620
    • Meet your lender’s debt-to-income (DTI) ratio requirement, generally no more than 41 percent (unless there are “compensating factors” that the lender can use to qualify you)
    • Demonstrate proof of income

    The following requirements also apply:

    • You’ll be charged an upfront VA funding fee, which you can roll into your loan or ask the home seller to pay for. This fee ranges from 1.4 percent to 3.6 percent of the amount of the loan.
    • You must move into the home within 60 days of closing the loan, although there’s some flexibility with that time frame.
    • The loan must be for your primary residence only (no investment properties, second homes or vacation homes).
  • There at least two significant advantages of opting for a VA loan over a conventional loan, even if you qualify for both:
    1. Unlike a conventional loan, you are not required to put money down with a VA loan.
    2. You won’t have to pay for mortgage insurance. With a conventional loan, you’ll have to pay for this coverage if you put less than 20 percent down.

    Together, these perks can fast-track your dreams of purchasing a home and save you thousands over the life of your loan.
    There is also another benefit to a VA loan over a conventional loan: It could be easier to refinance down the line. That’s because of a program called the VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL), or VA streamline refinance, which allows you to refinance without a credit check, and usually without an appraisal.
    In addition, there are generally no loan limits with VA loans.

    However, if you have 20 percent for a down payment, it could be more sensible to get a conventional loan instead of a VA loan. You won’t have to pay for mortgage insurance on the conventional loan, and you’ll avoid the VA funding fee.

  • VA loan rates are typically lower than their conventional counterparts. Use Bankrate’s table to compare rates.

Methodology

To determine the best VA mortgage lenders, Bankrate evaluated lenders based on several criteria, including affordability (APR, discounts and/or incentives); availability (approval/closing timelines, loan products); and experience (application process, customer service).