Money & Finance

Best Online Mortgage Lenders: Rocket Mortgage vs LendingTree vs GuaranteedRate vs Reali & More

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Want an easy way to finance your new home purchase? Or considering refinancing your existing mortgage for a better rate? You might be surprised how the best online mortgage lenders have become.

Rocket Mortgage, for example, one of the largest mortgage loan providers in the U.S. — is entirely online.

Why Use An Online Mortgage Company?

  • They offer some offer the best rates you can find.
  • Streamlined online mortgage approval process.
  • Customer service reps to assist you along your path.

Learn more about our recommendations for the best online mortgage lenders with and all of the details you need to find the right fit for you and your lending needs.

Jeff Butler is our financial guru, holding an undergraduate degree in Finance from Malone University. He has a diverse background in small business ownership, accounting and property management. With his expertise in personal finance, Jeff consults on and reviews our investing and financial content, including this article.

What Is An Online Mortgage Lender?

Online mortgage lenders let you request mortgage pre-approval online, apply for mortgage online and assist you through the process. There are four types of online mortgage lenders:

  1. Direct lenders do their own underwriting, process your application and issue your loan directly to you.
  2. Mortgage loan marketplaces, also called lead-generation websites, take your information and find lenders that will offer you a loan. Depending on your financial situation, you could get multiple offers — some better than others.
  3. Traditional lenders, such as Wells Fargo and CitiMortgage, are moving some of their mortgage applications online. We haven’t included traditional lenders/banks in our reviews because their rates are typically higher and they’re not strictly Internet-based.
  4. Peer-to-peer lenders where people borrow from other people.

Are Online Mortgage Lenders Legit?

Not all online mortgage lenders are created equal. But you can make sure the company is legitimate if it holds a license from the National Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS). You’ll likely be able to find the company’s NMLS lender number displayed on their website. Or you can search the NMLS database to verify if the online lender holds a license. All of the online mortgage lenders we review here are NMLS licensed. 

Why Don’t We List Mortgage Rates?

Mortgage rates fluctuate regularly based on market trends. Your rate will depend on many factors, including:

  • Your income to debt ratio and credit history
  • Loan amount, loan type, loan term and amount of down payment
  • Location and state of residence

Best Online Mortgage Lenders

We chose our top winners based on 7 criteria:

  1. Competitive rates
  2. Customer support
  3. Ease of online process
  4. Transparency
  5. Reputation
  6. Online resources
  7. Consumer feedback

Winner: Rocket Mortgage/Quicken Loans Review

Rocket Mortgage logoRocket Mortgage, part of the online powerhouse lender Quicken Loans, wins our top spot as the best online mortgage lender. This company is the third largest provider of mortgage loans (online and off) in the U.S., originating a massive $79 billion in 2015 alone.

There’s a reason they’re number one online — Rocket/Quicken makes the application and approval process as seamless as it gets. They offer extremely competitive rates and have earned the highest customer satisfaction rating by J.D. Power for seven years in a row. We highly recommend checking out Rocket Mortgage.



  • Extremely easy application and approval process
  • Competitive interest and APR rates
  • Widest variety of loan types and terms out of companies we’ve reviewed
  • Many purchase and refinancing loans available
  • Available in all 50 states
  • Excellent customer support via live chat, phone and email 7 days/week
  • BBB rating: A+
  • Minimum credit score of 620 (580 for FHA loan)
  • No physical branches
  • No set fees listed on website (varies by state)
  • Doesn’t offer home equity loans

Read our in-depth Rocket Mortgage Review

Runner-Up: GuaranteedRate Review

GuaranteedRate has been in business for more than 15 years and has built a solid online mortgage lending track record. They offer an impressive number of loan types for refinancing and purchase, and their website has a ton of information and tools to help you choose the best loan type for you.

GuaranteedRate also has 170 local branches in all 50 states if you’d prefer to hand over your personal documents instead of securely uploading them. Once you get your offer, you can lock in your rate for 40 days. We did find some online buzz about problems with customer service, but the company boasts a 95% customer satisfaction rate.



  • Competitive interest and APR rates
  • User-friendly platform and application process
  • Wide variety of loan types, including fixed, adjustable, FHA, VA and more
  • Home buyer and refinancing loans available
  • Physical branches located in all 50 states
  • BBB rating: A
  • Expensive appraisal and lender’s fees
  • Several consumer complaints about poor customer service
  • No live chat and no Sunday customer support hours
  • No home equity loans available

3rd Place: Sebonic Financial Review

Sebonic Financial logoSebonic rounds out our top three picks for the best online mortgage lender. Sebonic is a division of Cardinal Financial, a full-service mortgage lender in business for 30 years. Sebonic stands out for its Expanded Loan, an excellent option for home buyers who don’t have the best credit record.

You might be able to qualify with a credit score as low as 560, which is a lot lower than other companies require. Sebonic also gets great reviews for its customer service. The issue we have with Sebonic, which kept them out of our top two spots, is a lack of transparency on their website — they have no information about their interest rates and fees.



  • User-friendly platform and application process
  • Wide variety of loan types, including fixed, adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA and more
  • Expanded loan available for borrowers with lower credit
  • Home buyer and refinancing loans available
  • Available in all 50 states
  • Consumers report excellent customer service
  • BBB rating: A+
  • Fees and interest rates not disclosed on their website
  • Minimum credit score for FHA loans is higher than most
  • No live chat and undisclosed customer support hours
  • No home equity loans available

Comparison Table

Check out our side-by-side comparison table to quickly view the types of mortgage loans and other features each company offers.

Winner: Rocket Mortgage 2nd Place: GuaranteedRate 3rd Place: Sebonic Reali Lending Tree SmartPath Mortgage
Winner: Rocket Mortgage 2nd Place: GuaranteedRate 3rd Place: Sebonic Reali Lending Tree SmartPath Mortgage
Years in Business 32 18 30 4 20 20
BBB Rating A+ A A+ Not Accredited A+ A+
NMLS Licensed Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark
Type of Company Direct Lender Direct Lender Direct Lender Direct Lender Loan Marketplace Direct Lender
Home Purchase Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark
Home Refinance Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark
Home Equity Loans Checkmark
Fixed Rate Loans Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark
Adjustable Rate Loans Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark
Jumbo Loans Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark
FHA Loans Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark
VA Loans Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark
USDA Loans Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark
Reverse Mortgage Loans Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark
HARP Loans Checkmark
Availability in U.S. 50 States 50 States 50 States 12 States 50 States 22 States
Minimum Credit Score 620 (580 FHA) 620 (580 FHA) 620 (600 FHA) 640 Varies Unlisted
Secure Document Upload Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Depends on Lender Checkmark
E-Signatures Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Unlisted Depends on Lender Checkmark
Lender/Origination and Other Upfront Fees Varies Varies Unlisted None Varies Unlisted
Online Resources Excellent Excellent Few Few Excellent None
Customer Support 7 Days/Week; Live Chat, Phone, Email M-Sat.; Phone, Email Hours/Days Unlisted; Phone, Email Hours/Days Unlisted; Live Chat, Phone, Email M-Sat.; Phone, Email 24/7; Phone, Email

What About Reali And LendingTree?

Although Reali and Lendingtree didn’t make it into our top three picks, they’re still worthy of consideration.

Reali | LendingTree

Reali Review

Reali Loans Logo

Reali acquired Lenda in 2019 (a startup that launched in 2013) and is now available in 12 states. They currently only offer refinancing loans online with plans to expand to home purchases soon (although you can call them about a home purchase mortgage).

Their products are limited, and they require a higher credit score than some competitors. But a significant advantage with Reali is much lower fees upfront — they fold their fees into interest rates. And Reali gets good reviews from consumers for its easy process and competitive loan rates.



  • Competitive refinancing rates
  • No upfront origination fees
  • Intuitive interface and easy application process
  • Offers cash out refinancing
  • Good customer service via live chat, phone and email
  • Doesn’t offer home purchase loans online (only refinancing)
  • Only available in CA, OR and WA
  • Doesn’t offer adjustable rate loans
  • No physical branches
  • Not BBB accredited

LendingTree Review

LendingTree logo

LendingTree is a well-known mortgage loan marketplace (they also offer personal and small business loans). There’s a lot to like about LendingTree — they have a good reputation, excellent customer service, and a wide variety of loan types. The thing that stands out with LendingTree is that you get choices.

Once you pre-qualify via their website, they present you with several offers from their 300 lending partners. Interest rates, terms and fees differ with each lender, so you can “shop around” for the best deal. And it’s entirely free to see your offers. The downside is, you don’t know upfront what the interest rates and fees are. And you ultimately work with the lender for your mortgage, not Lending Tree.



  • Can get several offers from various lenders for free
  • Wide variety of loan types, including fixed, adjustable, FHA, VA, and more
  • Home buyer and refinancing loans available
  • Home equity loans available
  • Available in all 50 states
  • Consumers report excellent customer service
  • BBB rating: A+
  • Interest rate, fees, terms, etc. vary widely
  • Minimum qualifications to be approved vary widely
  • May not be able to complete the loan process online, depending on lender
  • No live chat

Read our in-depth LendingTree Review

When’s The Right Time To Buy?

One of the best things you can do if you’re concerned about hitting rates while they’re down is to keep a vigilant eye on how they’re trending. An excellent source is The Mortgage Reports. Traditional mortgage loans and mortgage loans online follow the same trends.

Some of the companies we’ve reviewed here, including our top two picks Rocket Mortgage and GuaranteedRate, have tools on their websites to help you compare their rates to other lenders. Based on what we’ve observed, both of these online mortgage lenders offer lower than average rates. But be sure to do your homework.

Which Type Of Mortgage Loan Do You Need?

Check out the video below by that does a fantastic job of explaining the different types of mortgage loan products and which type may be best for your situation.

There’s An Online Loan For Just About Every Need

Mortgages aren’t the only type of loan available online. Many peer to peer lending sites have popped up over the past few years that offer personal and business loans. If you’re interested in one of those products, check out our peer to peer lending comparison to learn more.

Sally Jones

While attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s graduate school for journalism and public relations, Sally began a long career researching and writing about hard-to-understand topics, such as insurance and finance. Her additional experience in marketing, fundraising, public relations and financial planning at various foundations and nonprofit organizations over the years has given her the practical tools to inform consumers about making the smartest business and personal financial decisions. Her work has appeared in many notable media outlets, including The Washington Post, Entrepreneur, People, Forbes, Huffington Post, and more. Speaking of smart living — growing up in the (at-the-time) per-capita murder capital of the U.S. (Richmond, VA) taught her a thing or two about the need for personal and home safety. Sally stays on top of all the latest gadgets and services to protect her and her teenage daughters from potential predators and thieves. And she brings this knowledge to every article she writes.
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