What Are Points in Mortgage Loans?

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When it comes to mortgage loans, understanding the various terms and concepts is crucial. One such concept that often arises is “points.” Points play a significant role in mortgage loans and can have a substantial impact on your overall loan experience. In this article, we will delve into the world of mortgage points, exploring what they are, how they affect mortgage rates, and what you need to know before making any decisions.

Understanding Points in Mortgage Loans

Definition of Points

Points in mortgage loans refer to upfront fees paid to the lender at closing in exchange for a lower interest rate. Each point typically costs 1% of the total loan amount. For instance, on a $200,000 mortgage, one point would equal $2,000. These points are an additional expense borrowers incur when securing a mortgage.

Different Types of Points

There are two primary types of points you may encounter in mortgage loans: origination points and discount points.

  1. Origination Points: Origination points are fees charged by the lender to cover the cost of processing the loan. These points are typically used to compensate loan officers or brokers involved in the mortgage process. Origination points are usually negotiable and can vary from lender to lender.

  2. Discount Points: Discount points, on the other hand, are paid upfront to “buy down” the interest rate on the loan. By paying discount points, borrowers can secure a lower interest rate, which can result in significant interest savings over the life of the loan. Discount points are optional and can be a beneficial strategy for those planning to stay in their homes for an extended period.

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How Points Affect Mortgage Rates

Understanding how points influence mortgage rates is essential in making informed decisions about your mortgage.

Explaining the Relationship

When you pay points, you essentially buy a lower interest rate. The more points you pay, the lower your interest rate becomes. Lenders offer different rate reductions for each point paid, so it’s essential to evaluate the potential interest savings against the upfront cost of points.

The Connection between Points and APR

It’s crucial to consider the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) when evaluating mortgage loans. APR takes into account both the interest rate and any associated fees, including points. While points can lower your interest rate, they can also increase your APR. Therefore, it’s essential to compare APRs when comparing mortgage offers to get a comprehensive understanding of the total cost of the loan.

Pros and Cons of Paying Points

Paying points can have both advantages and disadvantages, depending on your specific financial situation. Let’s explore some of the pros and cons:


  • Lower Monthly Payments: By paying points, you can secure a lower interest rate, resulting in reduced monthly mortgage payments.
  • Long-Term Savings: Over the life of the loan, the interest savings from paying points can be substantial, potentially outweighing the upfront cost.
  • Tax Deductibility: In some cases, points can be tax-deductible, providing potential tax benefits.


  • Upfront Costs: Paying points requires an upfront payment, which can be a significant expense at closing.
  • Time to Break-Even: It’s crucial to calculate the “break-even point” – the point at which the interest savings from paying points outweigh the upfront cost. If you don’t plan to stay in the home long enough to reach the break-even point, paying points may not be financially advantageous.
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Calculating Points and Costs

Before deciding to pay points, it’s important to understand how the costs are calculated and evaluate the overall financial impact.

How Points Are Calculated

Calculating points is relatively straightforward. Each point typically costs 1% of the loan amount. For instance, on a $300,000 mortgage, one point would cost $3,000. However, it’s crucial to confirm the specific calculations with your lender, as practices may vary.

Determining the Total Cost of Points

To determine the total cost of points, multiply the loan amount by the number of points paid. For example, paying two points on a $200,000 mortgage would amount to $4,000. This cost is in addition to other closing costs associated with the mortgage loan.

Considering the Breakeven Point

To assess the financial benefit of paying points, it’s important to calculate the break-even point. This is the point in time when the interest savings from paying points outweigh the upfront cost. Divide the total cost of points by the monthly interest savings to determine how many months it will take to break even. If you plan to stay in the home beyond the break-even period, paying points may be financially advantageous.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Points in Mortgage Loans

What are the benefits of paying points?

Paying points can lead to lower monthly mortgage payments, long-term interest savings, and potential tax benefits.

Can points be negotiated or waived?

Origination points may be negotiable, while discount points are typically set by the lender. It’s worth discussing with your lender to explore available options.

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Are points tax-deductible?

In certain cases, points can be tax-deductible. Consult with a tax professional for specific information regarding your situation.

How do points affect the loan term?

Points do not directly affect the loan term. However, by securing a lower interest rate through points, borrowers may have the option to pay off the loan faster by making higher monthly payments.

Can points be refunded or transferred?

Points are typically non-refundable. If you refinance your mortgage, any unused discount points may be lost. However, consult with your lender to understand any potential options for transferring points.

Do points vary based on the type of loan?

The availability and cost of points may vary based on the type of loan and the lender. It’s essential to discuss specific loan options with your lender to understand the points associated with each.


In conclusion, points in mortgage loans are an additional cost borrowers may incur to secure a lower interest rate. Understanding the impact of points on mortgage rates, APR, and overall loan costs is crucial when making informed decisions about your mortgage. By carefully evaluating the pros and cons, calculating the break-even point, and considering your long-term plans, you can determine whether paying points aligns with your financial goals. Remember to consult with a mortgage professional for personalized advice tailored to your unique situation.

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