The dream of owning a home might more accurately be described as the dream of paying off a mortgage. It might seem like a no-brainer to get rid of your home loan as quickly as possible, but before you raid your bank account to make payments ahead of schedule, here’s what to consider.

Benefits of having a mortgage

While it likely takes up a good portion of your monthly budget, having a mortgage payment isn’t all downside. Here’s why:

It boosts your credit score

Although your credit might take a temporary hit when you get your mortgage, over time, paying down the balance can help improve or maintain your credit score. A higher credit score translates to everything from better interest rates to more loan options.

You might see some tax benefit

If you itemize deductions rather than claim the standard deduction, you could include the mortgage interest deduction, which allows you to deduct the interest on up to $750,000 of total mortgage debt on qualified homes. (If you bought the home prior to Dec. 15, 2017, that amount increases to $1 million.) If you itemize, you can also deduct property taxes.

You could put the extra funds to work elsewhere

To pay off your mortgage early, you might need a large sum of cash. If you continue to pay your mortgage at a steady monthly rate instead, you can put that money toward other financial goals, including saving for retirement or investing.

Drawbacks of having a mortgage

It’s still debt

When you take on a mortgage, you’re committing to repaying that debt for a long time, often decades. Even if you’ve eliminated all other forms of debt, having a mortgage stands in the way of completing shedding the burden.

The longer you have it, the more interest you’ll pay

Hanging onto a mortgage for the full term means you’ll pay the entire interest amount. If you pay off your loan early, you could save yourself a bundle on these charges.

You’ll likely pay more if your rate is variable

If you have an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), you’ll almost certainly pay more over time as your rate changes. This can squeeze your monthly budget or, worse, make your payments completely unmanageable.

Alternatives to getting a mortgage

The alternative to getting a mortgage is buying a home with cash. The upsides there: You don’t have to qualify with a lender or make any monthly loan payments, nor pay interest like you would with a mortgage.

To compare, if you were to buy a $390,000 home with a 7.6 percent, 30-year loan, and make a 3 percent down payment, the interest over the life of the loan would total about $583,000 — money you’re spending in addition to the purchase price of the home. With a cash purchase, you’d spare yourself that cost.

Cash has drawbacks, however. One problem is that your liquidity is limited — when real estate is owned free and clear of all mortgage debt, it can be difficult to extract cash. You can get a second mortgage, but that raises all the issues associated with obtaining a mortgage, including getting approved and paying closing costs.

Owning a home without a mortgage might not be as “free” as it seems, either. The cash you used to purchase the home is now money that can’t be used for possibly better alternatives, such as investing, starting a business or paying for education. Because you paid in all-cash, you might not have as much left over for home improvements or maintenance and repairs.

How to make the right financing decision for you

Ultimately, the decision to take out or continue paying a mortgage hinges on whether you have the funds on hand and, if so, whether there’s something better your money could be doing. Can you keep making your monthly payment and put the remaining money in investment vehicles that’ll help it grow? If so, you might want to stick to your repayment schedule. If you value peace of mind more than anything and want to own your home outright, it might be worth making payments ahead of time.