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Bank of America. One of the largest companies in the world, Bank of America has operations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 40 other countries. So there’s a fair chance that you’ll find a branch not far from you. For a HELOC, the bank is currently offering a 12-month introductory rate of 2.990%. The rate rises to 4.430% after the introductory period.
Interest rates: While the shorter timeline will help, personal loans often come with higher interest rates than home loans, so you’ll need to evaluate your options carefully. If you have great credit and sufficient income to repay, you might expect a rate well below 10%. Credit cards are also a form of personal loan. Rates on credit cards range from 0% promotions to more than 20% APR for borrowers with bad credit.
"For those borrowers who do not have equity in their homes for a traditional home equity or second mortgage loan, borrowers can usually access some form of unsecured home improvement loan or revolving credit," says Ron Haynie, senior vice president of mortgage finance policy for the Independent Community Bankers of America, which represents the interests of the community banking industry. "Most banks will make an unsecured home improvement loan."
Your credit score: It’s smart to know what are your chances of qualifying before you apply for a loan. Get a free copy of your credit report from each of the major credit-reporting bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. You are entitled to one free report a year from each bureau. The most favorable rates go to borrowers with the best credit scores. Every lender you apply with will check your credit score and credit history.
Disclaimer: Views expressed may not necessarily reflect those of Citizens Bank. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only as a service to the public, and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel, nor does it constitute advertising or a solicitation. You should do your own research and/or contact your own legal or tax advisor for assistance with questions you may have on the information contained herein.
1 Your loan terms, including APR, may differ based on loan purpose, amount, term length, and your credit profile. Rate is quoted with AutoPay discount. AutoPay discount is only available prior to loan funding. Rates without AutoPay are 0.50% higher. Subject to credit approval. Conditions and limitations apply. Advertised rates and terms are subject to change without notice.
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HELOCs have two phases. During the draw period, you use the line of credit all you want, and your minimum payment may cover just the interest due. But eventually (usually after 10 years), the HELOC draw period ends, and your loan enters the repayment phase. At this point, you can no longer draw funds and the loan becomes fully amortized for its remaining years.
Before applying, be sure to check your credit history for inaccuracies, and if you find any, dispute them. You’ll want to make sure your credit is in tip top shape so you can get the best rate from lenders. If your credit score is subprime, consider a bad credit loan instead. It’s also important to get a few estimates prior to applying for a loan so you have an idea of how much money you need to get the job done.
A home equity loan is another way to tap your equity without refinancing. Instead of getting a line of credit, as you would with a HELOC, you’d receive a lump sum of money. A home equity loan could make sense if you don’t want to refinance your first mortgage — if it has a very low interest rate, for example. But the interest rate would probably be higher with a second mortgage like a home equity loan than with a cash-out refinance.

Doing a cash-out refinance means it will take you longer to pay off your home, but it also gives you access to the lowest possible borrowing rates to pay for home improvements. Lenders typically require homeowners to retain some equity after the cash-out refinance, commonly 20%, so you’ll need to have plenty of equity if you want to pursue this option. You’ll also need to be employed, have a good credit score and meet all the usual requirements to get a mortgage. (For more, see When (And When Not) to Refinance Your Mortgage)
The best time to apply for a home improvement loan is when you have a large renovation project you want to tackle. That could be adding another bathroom to your home, roofing your house or installing a pool, or any other major home-related project. This type of loan is a good option if you don’t have a lot of equity in your home to draw from but need or want to make home improvements.

A home equity loan lets you borrow a lump sum all at once, while a HELOC lets you draw on a line of credit as needed for a certain number of years, called the draw period. During the draw period, you only have to repay interest on the loan, which makes monthly payments quite small but can result in payment shock later when the draw period ends and the borrower has to start repaying principal too. In addition, a HELOC has a variable interest rate, while a home equity loan has a fixed interest rate. A HELOC’s initial rate may be lower than a home equity loan’s, but over time it can become higher if market conditions push interest rates up. (For more, see Choosing a Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit.)
The advent of online lending portals has made it easy for borrowers without collateral to get an unsecured personal loan from both national and local lenders. The rates for this type of debt are significantly higher than for home equity debt; on Bankrate, average APRs for personal loans range from a low of 10.3 percent for someone with excellent credit—a FICO cedit score of 720 and higher—to 32 percent for someone with poor credit.
Home improvement becomes necessary after few years. To update already existing home money is necessary which can be acquired through home improvement loans. General repairs, repainting, building a swimming pool or a deck, enlarging the existing area of the house or anything similar is done through home improvement loans easily. Home improvements also increase the value of the home. Sometimes though, over improvement is risky. It is difficult to rent a house that is more expensive than other houses in the neighborhood. Mainstream homebuyers do not go for very grand and expensive tastes. So these things have to be considered seriously.
In this scenario, you're replacing your current mortgage with a new one and at the same time taking cash out for your home improvements. This can help you take advantage of today's lower mortgage rates and fund big projects at the same time. Because of the long (30 years, usually) payout plan, you also get lots of time to pay back the loan, and your monthly payments will be lower than if you got a home equity loan or line of credit.

With a low home improvement loan rate available, now's the perfect time to get started on those remodeling projects you've been putting off. However, while you're renovating your home, be careful not to add things that would price your home out of the range of your neighborhood. For example, if you own a bungalow in a neighborhood where sale prices don't top $125,000, reconsider adding a master suite fit for a mansion. You may not recoup that investment when buyers can get very similar homes on the same street for less. Even in a neighborhood where homes sell for $1 million, adding exotic hardwood floors or marble drives and walkways could still push your home's price higher than the average, making it harder for you to sell someday.


A home equity loan lets you borrow a lump sum all at once, while a HELOC lets you draw on a line of credit as needed for a certain number of years, called the draw period. During the draw period, you only have to repay interest on the loan, which makes monthly payments quite small but can result in payment shock later when the draw period ends and the borrower has to start repaying principal too. In addition, a HELOC has a variable interest rate, while a home equity loan has a fixed interest rate. A HELOC’s initial rate may be lower than a home equity loan’s, but over time it can become higher if market conditions push interest rates up. (For more, see Choosing a Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit.)
Still, there are several other factors to consider. The first is that Marcus caps home improvement loans at $40,000, so if you need more to fund an extensive project, Marcus may not be the right lender for you. It can also take Marcus five business days to fund your loan, which means you’re in for a longer wait than you will be with lenders like Earnest.
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