Hand stacking piles of coins next to a small model home with Today's Mortgage Rates graphic at the top.

Image source: Getty Images.

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Mortgage rates on Dec. 18 are down on most loans except for 15-year fixed-rate mortgage. Take a look at today's average rates to see if locking in a loan might make sense for you.   

Mortgage Type Today's Interest Rate
30-year fixed mortgage 2.773%
20-year fixed mortgage 2.596%
15-year fixed mortgage 2.268%
5/1 ARM 3.178%


30-year mortgage rates

The average 30-year mortgage rate today is 2.773%, down .002% from yesterday's average of 2.775%. For each $100,000 borrowed at today's average rate, your monthly principal and interest payment would add up to $409. Over the life of the loan, your total interest costs would add up to $47,406 per $100,000 borrowed. 

Check out The Ascent's mortgage calculator to see what your monthly payment might be and how much your loan will ultimately cost. Also learn how much money you'd save by snagging a lower interest rate, making a larger down payment, or choosing a shorter loan term.

20-year mortgage rates

The average 20-year mortgage rate today is 2.596%, down .013% from yesterday's average of 2.609%. At today's average rate, the monthly principal and interest payment would add up to $535 per $100,000 in mortgage debt. Your total interest costs over the life of the loan would equal $28,302 per $100,000 borrowed. 

Although a 20-year loan has a lower average interest rate than the 30-year mortgage, the monthly payment is higher and total interest costs are lower. Since you're paying off your loan a decade sooner, you save over time but must pay more each month. 

15-year mortgage rates

The average 15-year mortgage rate today is 2.268%, up .012% from yesterday's average of 2.256%. At today's average rate, you'd pay $656 per month in principal and interest per $100,000 borrowed. The total costs of interest would add up to $18,066 per $100,000 borrowed at today's average rate.

A 15-year loan is paid off even sooner than a 20-year mortgage. That explains why payments are even higher and total interest costs even lower with this loan. 

5/1 ARMs

The average 5/1 ARM rate is 3.178%, down .014% from yesterday's average of 3.192%. You should consider an ARM, or adjustable-rate mortgage, only if you can qualify for a starting interest rate below what you'd pay on a fixed-rate loan and you either think rates will go down or plan to move or refinance before they begin adjusting.

Since rates are at record lows right now and unlikely to fall, and since average rates on a 5/1 ARM are higher than on a 30-year loan, this type of mortgage doesn't make much sense now. 

Should I lock my mortgage rate now?

A mortgage rate lock guarantees you a certain interest rate for a specified period of time -- usually 30 days, though you may be able to secure your rate for up to 60 days. You'll generally pay a fee to lock in your mortgage rate, but that way, you're protected in case rates climb between now and when you actually close on your mortgage.

If you plan to close on your home within the next 30 days, then it pays to lock in your mortgage rate based on today's rates -- especially since they're so competitive. But if your closing is more than 30 days away, you may want to choose a floating rate lock instead for what will usually be a higher fee, but one that could save you money in the long run. A floating rate lock lets you secure a lower rate on your mortgage if rates fall prior to your closing, and while today's rates are still quite low, we don't know if rates will go up or down over the next few months. As such, it pays to:

  • LOCK if closing in days
  • LOCK if closing in 15 days
  • LOCK if closing in 30 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 45 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 60 days

Before locking in, you should get rate quotes from at least three of the best mortgage lenders to ensure you're getting a loan at the most competitive possible rate.