Best HELOC and Home Equity Loan Lenders in Illinois

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Despite the recent cooldown in the real estate market, homeowners in the state of Illinois have still benefited from a sizable increase in property values. 

According to data from the Illinois Realtors Association, the median statewide home sales price in July went up 4% compared to a year ago. Areas in the Chicago metro location saw a higher increase of 4.8% in the same time frame. 

As a homeowner in the Prairie State, an increase in home values likely means you have more equity in your property. With that comes the ability to tap into said equity for cash, which can then be used to pay for things like home improvements, debt consolidation, and more

To tap into this home equity, many borrowers use a home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC). But with a seemingly endless number of lenders, it can be challenging to know which one to choose. 

To simplify the process for you, we’ve done the research to provide you with our picks for the best home equity loan and HELOC lenders in Illinois. 

Editorial Independence

As with all of our home equity loan and home equity line of credit (HELOC) lender reviews, our analysis is not influenced by any partnerships or advertising relationships. For more information about our scoring methodology, click here.

Best National Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) and Home Equity Loan Lenders in Illinois 

Good for wide nationwide availability
U.S. Bank
U.S. Bank
Good for wide nationwide availability
U.S. Bank
  • Products offered:
    Home equity loan, HELOC, rate-lock HELOC
  • Home equity loan terms:
    Up to 30 years
  • HELOC terms:
    10-year draw period, unspecified repayment period
  • Maximum LTV allowed:
    80%

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Rate discount for setting up autopay from a U.S. Bank checking or savings account (home equity loans only)
  • Extensive availability nationwide (47 states for both home equity loans and HELOCs)
  • Can apply online, over the phone, or in person at a branch
  • Good price transparency
  • Many customer support options
Cons
  • There may be an annual fee for HELOCs if you don’t have a U.S. Bank Platinum Checking Package
  • Not available in TX, DE, SC
  • Potential early closure fee if you close your HELOC within 30 months of opening
The Bottom Line

Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. Bank is the fifth largest banking institution in the U.S. It offers both home equity loans and HELOCs in 47 states, with the option of interest-only HELOCs  available to qualified borrowers. You also have the option to lock all or part of your outstanding HELOC balance into a fix-rate option during your draw period. Available loan amounts for HELOCs and home equity loans range from $15,000 to $750,000, and up to $1 million for properties in California.

There are no closing costs on home equity loans or HELOCs from U.S. Bank, but you’ll be charged an early closure fee of 1% of the line amount ($500 max) if you close your HELOC within 30 months of opening. In addition, HELOC borrowers may be charged an annual fee of up to $90, which can be waived with a U.S. Bank Platinum Checking Package. U.S. Bank offers a rate discount of 0.5% for home equity loan borrowers who set up automatic payments from a U.S. Bank personal checking or savings account.

You can apply for a home equity loan or HELOC through an online application, by phone, or by visiting a U.S. Bank branch in person. If you want a loan estimate for a home equity loan — which includes the estimated interest rate, monthly payment, and total closing costs — without completing a full application, you can get one by speaking with a banker over the phone. 

We like U.S. Bank because of its extensive nationwide availability, many customer support options, and excellent price transparency — meaning you can get a personalized rate quote and fee information just by filling out some basic information, no credit check required. 

Connexus Credit Union: 2022 Mortgage Lender Review
Connexus Credit Union: 2022 Mortgage Lender Review
Connexus Credit Union: 2022 Mortgage Lender Review
  • Minimum Credit Score:
    640
  • Minimum Down Payment:
    3% to 5%
  • Can Apply Online:
    Yes
  • Operates In:
    47 States (for mortgages)

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Mortgages available in 47 states
  • Discount on closing costs
  • Offers conventional and refinance mortgages with various loan terms
  • Offers home equity products
Cons
  • Must become a Connexus member before taking out a mortgage
  • Limited mortgage menu and no government loans
The Bottom Line

Across 47 states, Connexus offers conventional purchase loans, two types of refinance loans, home equity loans, and HELOCs. Because it’s a credit union, it may offer lower rates than banks and online lenders — but it’s only a good fit if you’re looking for a conventional mortgage product and don’t mind joining as a member. 

Good for online application user experience
Spring EQ
Spring EQ
Good for online application user experience
Spring EQ
  • Products offered:
    Home equity loan, HELOC, interest-only HELOC
  • Home equity loan terms:
    5 to 30 years
  • HELOC terms:
    10-year draw period, 20-year repayment period
  • Maximum LTV:
    90% for home equity loans, 97.5% for HELOCs

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • No credit check required to see personalized rates
  • Available in 38 states
Cons
  • Origination fee of $995
  • Minimum credit score of 620 required
  • No specified rate discounts
The Bottom Line

Spring EQ may be a relatively new bank founded in 2016, but it has already earned a positive reputation from customers across the 38 states it serves. Spring EQ offers home equity loans, HELOCs, and interest-only HELOCs, providing borrowers with flexible loan options. Home equity loan amounts range from $5,000 to $500,000, while HELOC line amounts range from $50,000 to $500,000.

Spring EQ loans may be subject to an origination fee of $995 and an annual fee of $99 in some states. Spring EQ does not specify any rate discounts.

The Spring EQ loan application process is transparent and easy to understand. Customers can see an extensive breakdown of their loan term and rate options without needing to undergo a credit check or provide their social security number. To be eligible for a home equity loan or HELOC with Spring EQ, you’ll need a credit score of 620 or higher, along with a debt-to-income ratio of 45% or less.

We ranked Spring EQ highly because of the lender’s price transparency, which allows potential borrowers to get pre-qualified for a loan with only basic information. This makes it easy to compare rates without needing to provide sensitive personal information or undergo a hard credit check. Additionally, the online experience is user-friendly and the application’s breakdown of rates, fees, and terms is easily digestible for customers.

Good for wide range of product offerings
KeyBank
KeyBank
Good for wide range of product offerings
KeyBank
  • Products offered:
    Home equity loan, HELOC, interest-only HELOC, rate-lock HELOC
  • Home equity loan terms:
    5 to 30 years
  • HELOC terms:
    15-year draw period, 15-year repayment period
  • Maximum LTV:
    80% for standard home equity loans and HELOCs, 90% for high-value home equity loans and HELOCs

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Interest-only and rate-lock HELOC options
  • Streamlined application process for existing KeyBank customers
  • Smooth online user experience and website
Cons
  • High closing costs if you plan to use a closing agent
  • Annual fee for HELOCs
  • Origination fee for home equity loans
The Bottom Line

Based in Cleveland, Ohio, KeyBank has been around for nearly 190 years. KeyBank offers home equity loans to customers in 15 states and HELOCs to customers in 44 states. Aside from a standard HELOC, KeyBank also offers interest-only and rate-lock options. Home equity loan amounts of $25,000 and up are available, while HELOCs have line amounts of $10,000 and up. 

KeyBank HELOCs come with an annual fee of $50, but no closing costs unless your closing is performed by a closing agent. In that case, your closing fee could be up to $400. KeyBank offers a 0.25% rate discount for clients who have eligible checking and savings accounts with KeyBank. Additionally, home equity loans have an origination fee of $295.

The KeyBank application allows you to apply for multiple products at one time. If you’re not sure whether KeyBank loans are available in your area, the application will tell you once you input your zip code. If you’re an existing KeyBank customer, you’ll have the option to skim through the application and import your personal information from your account. 

We like KeyBank because of its extensive product offerings. The streamlined application process for existing customers is helpful, but both existing and new customers will likely be pleased with the online user experience and availability of customer service that KeyBank offers.

Good for rate match guarantee
Third Federal Savings & Loan
Third Federal Savings & Loan
Good for rate match guarantee
Third Federal Savings & Loan
  • Products offered:
    Home equity loan, 5/1 home equity loan, HELOC
  • Home equity loan terms:
    5 year, 10 year, 5/1 adjustable rate (6-30 years)
  • HELOC terms:
    10-year draw period, 20-year repayment period
  • Maximum LTV:
    80%

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • No application, closing, or origination fees
  • Lowest rate guarantee
  • Smooth online application process
Cons
  • Limited geographic availability for home equity loans
  • $65 annual fee on HELOCs (waived the first year)
The Bottom Line

Opened in the midst of the Great Depression in 1938, Third Federal Savings & Loan sought to help unemployed and underemployed Ohio residents achieve home ownership. Since its opening, Third Federal has expanded significantly, now offering HELOCs in 26 states and home equity loans in eight states. Home equity loans and HELOCs are available in amounts from $10,000 to $200,000.

Home equity loans and HELOCs with Third Federal come with an annual fee of $65 (waived the first year) but no application fees, closing fees, or origination fees. If you set up autopay from an existing Third Federal account before closing, you’ll be eligible for a 0.25% rate discount. Additionally, Third Federal offers a lowest rate guarantee on its HELOCs and home equity loans, meaning Third Federal will offer you the lowest interest rate relative to other similar lenders or pay you $1,000.

You can apply for a home equity loan or HELOC on the Third Federal website. Both applications are included on the same page along with multiple rate and term options, allowing the customer to assess what will be best for them. Third Federal also provides helpful tools and tips on its application page to answer questions that borrowers may have. You won’t have to register an account to apply, but you’ll still be able to save your application and return to it later.

We like Third Federal’s application process and the lender’s price transparency. If you’re not sure what kind of home equity product you’re looking for, the website provides useful information to help you decide. Third Federal also offers a unique product not commonly found among other lenders: a 5/1 adjustable-rate home equity loan, where the rate is fixed for the first five year and then adjusts annually, much like how an adjustable-rate mortgage works. However, you won’t be eligible for this product unless you live in one of the eight states in which Third Federal offers home equity loans.

Good for HELOCs with longer repayment periods
PNC Bank
PNC Bank
Good for HELOCs with longer repayment periods
PNC Bank
  • Products offered:
    HELOC, rate-lock HELOC
  • Home equity loan terms:
    N/A
  • HELOC terms:
    10-year draw period, 30-year repayment period
  • Maximum LTV:
    89.90%

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Variable and fixed-rate HELOC options
  • 30-year repayment period on HELOC
  • Option to choose a custom loan term
  • User-friendly website
Cons
  • Don’t offer home equity loans
  • $50 annual fee on HELOCs
The Bottom Line

PNC Bank is the sixth-largest bank in the U.S. by consolidated assets, according to the Federal Reserve. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, PNC serves 44 states. Though the bank does not offer home equity loans, it offers both variable-rate HELOCs and fixed-rate HELOCs. You can even switch between variable and fixed-rate interest over the course of your draw period. Another benefit of a PNC HELOC is that the repayment period is 30 years, unlike most other lenders who have 20 year terms. A longer payment period generally means lower monthly payments (but more interest paid in the long run), which can be beneficial to those who want to borrow large amounts. Line amounts from $10,000 to $1,000,000 are available on a PNC HELOC.

PNC offers a 0.25% interest rate discount to borrowers who set up and maintain automatic payments from a qualifying PNC checking account. There is a $50 annual fee for HELOC borrowers, except in Texas. 

The PNC website is user-friendly, giving customers the ability to estimate their home equity with an easy-to-use calculator. It also provides several useful graphics and videos to help borrowers better understand how their HELOCs work. PNC allows potential borrowers to see their rate and term options early on in the application process, indicating good price transparency. PNC also gives customers the option to choose a custom loan term. 

We like PNC Bank because its application is straightforward and the bank is very transparent about its rates, fees, and terms without requiring a credit check. Though PNC doesn’t don’t offer home equity loans at all, its wide nationwide availability for HELOCs is noteworthy.

Good for rate discounts
Regions Bank
Regions Bank
Good for rate discounts
Regions Bank
  • Products offered:
    Home equity loan, HELOC, rate-lock HELOC
  • Home equity loan terms:
    7,10, 15, or 20 years
  • HELOC terms:
    10-year draw period, 20-year repayment period
  • Maximum LTV:
    80%

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • No closing costs for home equity loans
  • Options to apply online, in-person, or over the phone
  • Accessible customer service options
Cons
  • Closing costs for HELOCs
  • Limited nationwide availability (15 states)
The Bottom Line

As one of the nation’s largest banking, mortgage, and wealth management service providers, Regions Bank serves customers across the South, Midwest, and Texas.  Regions offers home equity loans and HELOCs in 15 states. Its HELOC offerings also come with a rate-lock option for customers who want it. Home equity loans have loan amounts of $10,000 to $250,000 and HELOCs have line amounts ranging from $10,000 to $500,000.

For home equity loans and HELOCs, Regions offers rate discounts between 0.25% and 0.5% to those who elect to have their monthly payments automatically debited from a Regions checking account. For home equity loans, there are no closing costs. HELOCs, however, can have closing costs between $150 and $2,000, but Regions will pay these costs if the HELOC amount is $250,000 or less. 

You can apply for a Regions home equity loan or HELOC online, in-person, or over the phone. You’ll have to create an account with Regions to apply. Before you create an account, though, you can use the bank’s own rate calculator to estimate your rate and monthly payment amount. 

We like Regions because of the variety of application options it offers and the ease of applying online. Regions provides several ways to contact customer service, ensuring that customers can get questions answered quickly. Though Regions only offers its products in 15 states, it gives customers in these states the flexibility to choose between home equity loans, HELOCs, and rate-lock HELOCs.

Good for existing Citizens Bank customers
Citizens Bank
Citizens Bank
Good for existing Citizens Bank customers
Citizens Bank
  • Products offered:
    HELOC, interest-only HELOC
  • Home equity loan terms:
    N/A
  • HELOC terms:
    10-year draw period, 15-year repayment period
  • Maximum LTV:
    Not specified

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Rate discount options for existing and new customers
  • No application or closing fees
  • Good online user experience
Cons
  • Does not offer home equity loans
  • Limited nationwide availability
The Bottom Line

Based in Providence, Rhode Island, Citizens Bank is a regional bank that serves 19 states across New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest regions. Citizens offers standard and interest-only HELOCs to borrowers in 19 states. However, the bank does not offer home equity loans at all. HELOC line amounts start from $17,500. 

Opening a HELOC with Citizens Bank won’t require any application fees or closing costs, but you will have to pay a $50 annual fee every year except the first during the draw period. According to Citizen Bank’s website, obtaining the best rate requires having a Citizens consumer checking account with automatic monthly payments set up. In states where Citizens does not offer checking accounts, customers can get the same discount with automatic payments set up from any checking account. 

You can apply for a HELOC on the Citizens Bank website, but you also have the option to speak to a loan specialist on the phone. You’ll need to sign up with a phone number and email to access the application. 

Citizens has good price transparency and responsive customer service, but its products are limited to 19 states. In addition, though Citizens offers multiple HELOC options, it does not offer home equity loans at all.

Good for high loan-to-value ratio options
BMO Harris Bank
BMO Harris Bank
Good for high loan-to-value ratio options
BMO Harris Bank
  • Products offered:
    Home equity loan, HELOC, interest-only HELOC, rate-lock HELOC
  • Home equity loan terms:
    5 to 20 years
  • HELOC terms:
    10-year draw period, 20-year repayment period
  • Maximum LTV:
    85% for HELOCs; 89.99% for most home equity loans

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Available in 48 states
  • No hard credit check required
  • Flexible product offerings
  • Option for 100% CLTV for borrowers who meet certain qualifications
Cons
  • Limited customer service options
  • Can only receive personalized rates on the phone
  • $75 annual fee for HELOCs
The Bottom Line

As the 8th largest bank by assets in North America, BMO Harris Bank (a subsidiary of the Canadian financial services company Bank of Montreal) serves more than 12 million customers globally.  Currently, BMO Harris products and services are available in 48 states (all but New York and Texas). BMO Harris offers home equity loans and three variations of a HELOC. Loan amounts for home equity loans start at $5,000 and up while HELOC lines start at $10,000 and up. 

The normal maximum combined loan-to-value ratio allowed is 85% for HELOCs and 89.99% for home equity loans, but a 100% max CLTV option is available for low-to-moderate income borrowers or Low to Moderate Income Census Tract customers who need to make home improvements.

There is no application fee for a home equity loan or line of credit with BMO Harris. In addition, BMO Harris will pay closing costs for loans secured by an owner-occupied 1 to 4-family residence, but borrowers will have to pay a $75 annual fee for a HELOC. If you authorize auto pay from a BMO Harris checking account, you’ll be eligible to receive a 0.50% rate discount.

You can apply for a home equity loan or HELOC online or in-person, but in order to get personalized rates, you’ll have to speak with a representative on the phone. Getting personalized rates does not require a hard credit check. 

We like that BMO Harris offers both home equity loans and three types of HELOCs almost nationwide, but the lender fell short because of its low price transparency. Additionally, the online application requires your social security number and has some elements that could be confusing for customers. 

Good for 24-hour customer support
Flagstar Bank
Flagstar Bank
Good for 24-hour customer support
Flagstar Bank
  • Products offered:
    Home equity loan (in some areas), HELOC, interest-only HELOC
  • Home equity loan terms:
    10, 15, or 20 years
  • HELOC terms:
    10-year draw period, 20-year repayment period
  • Maximum LTV:
    80%

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Available in 49 states
  • Accessible customer service, including 24-hour phone support
  • Flexible product offerings
Cons
  • No online application (can only request a phone call)
  • Unable to get personalized rate quote through website
The Bottom Line

Flagstar Bank has the highest nationwide availability yet, offering home equity loans and HELOCs in 49 states (all but Texas). Though both products are offered in 49 states, the availability of home equity loans may be limited depending on your area. Available loan amounts for home equity loans and HELOCs are $10,000 to $1,000,000.

HELOCs with Flagstar require a $75 annual fee, but it is waived the first year. To avoid closing fees, you’ll have to keep your HELOC open for at least 36 months. Additionally, there is a 0.50% rate discount for borrowers who have monthly automatic payments set up from a Flagstar Bank deposit account.

Flagstar doesn’t have a full online application, only a form where you can submit your information to be contacted by a representative later.  Flagstar does not provide rates on its website, you can get a custom rate based on a soft credit check and some additional information. 

While its nationwide availability for HELOCs is strong, Flagstar’s tedious application process and lack of transparency may be frustrating for customers seeking a quick, easy process. The lender does offer several customer service options, including 24-hour loan support via phone, so this may be appealing to those who enjoy accessible communication with customer service. 

Good for no fees or closing costs
Discover
Discover
Good for no fees or closing costs
Discover
  • Products offered:
    Home equity loan
  • Home equity loan terms:
    10, 15, 20 or 30 years
  • HELOC terms:
    N/A
  • Maximum LTV:
    Not specified

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • No origination fees or closing costs
  • Home equity loans are available in 48 states
Cons
  • Limited customer service options available
  • Home equity loans not available in Iowa and Maryland
  • Does not offer HELOCs
The Bottom Line

A financial services company known primarily for its credit cards, Discover also offers home equity loans as part of its suite of banking products. Home equity loans are available in 48 states, but the lender does not offer home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) at all. For Discover’s home equity loans, possible loan amounts range from $35,000 to $300,000. The lender charges no origination fees, application fees, appraisal fees, and mortgage taxes. 

You can apply for a home equity loan from Discover online or over the phone. The application process takes approximately six to eight weeks in total, according to Discover’s website. 

Discover offers wide nationwide availability for its home equity loans and good price transparency, but its lack of HELOC offerings may be a limiting factor for consumers looking for additional product options. In addition, Discover offers limited customer service options — your only option to get help is by phone, with no in-person service or online options like email or live chat. 

Good for unique product offering
Figure
Figure
Good for unique product offering
Figure
  • Products offered:
    Non-traditional HELOC
  • Home equity loan terms:
    N/A
  • HELOC terms:
    5, 10, 15, or 30 years
  • Maximum LTV:
    95%

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Wide nationwide availability
  • Good online user experience
  • 0.75% discount for qualifying customers
  • Flexibility of a home equity loan/HELOC hybrid
Cons
  • Only one product offered
  • Limited price transparency
  • Potentially high origination fee
The Bottom Line

At only three years old, Figure uses a unique combination of technology and banking to provide customers in 41 states with HELOCs. Though officially called a home equity line of credit, Figure’s HELOC product has characteristics of both a traditional HELOC and a home equity loan. Borrowers will withdraw the full line amount (minus the origination fee) at the time of origination. Once they repay the initial balance at a fixed rate, they will be able to make additional draws over a specified draw period. Available line amounts range from $15,000 to $400,000.

A HELOC with Figure has no closing costs, but the borrower will be responsible for an origination fee of up to 4.99% of the initial draw, depending on the state the property is located in and the borrower’s credit profile. You may also have to pay a recording fee if your county requires it. Borrowers may receive a rate discount of up to 0.75%; 0.50% for opting into a credit union membership and 0.25% for enrolling in autopay. 

You can apply for a Figure HELOC 100% online, in only a few minutes, according to the website. You’ll be prompted to fill out some basic personal information, but you may have to wait for your application to be reviewed before you can continue with the application process.

Figure’s main draws are its fast funding — it advertises funding in as few as 5 days — and easy-to-navigate website with an accompanying chatbot. However, its downsides include the fact that you can only fill out the first part of the application before you’re told you must wait for your information to be reviewed before you can continue. In addition, Figure only offers a single product which might not be right for everyone. If you don’t want a unique HELOC/home equity loan hybrid and want to go with a traditional HELOC or home equity loan, you’ll need to find another lender. 

Good for borrowers outside the continental U.S.
PenFed Credit Union
PenFed Credit Union
Good for borrowers outside the continental U.S.
PenFed Credit Union
  • Products offered:
    HELOC, interest-only HELOC, rate-lock HELOC
  • Home equity loan terms:
    N/A
  • HELOC terms:
    10-year draw period, 20-year repayment period
  • Maximum LTV:
    90%

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Offered in all 50 states as well as Guam, Puerto Rico, and Okinawa
  • Flexible HELOC product offerings
  • Credit union membership easy to obtain
Cons
  • No online application
  • Poor price transparency
  • Does not offer home equity loans
The Bottom Line

Established in 1935, Pentagon Federal Credit Union (widely known as PenFed) offers HELOCs in all 50 states as well as Guam, Puerto Rico, and Okinawa. PenFed is a credit union so its products are only available to members, but you can easily become a member by opening a PenFed savings account and funding it with at least $5. With PenFed, you’ll have the flexibility to choose between a standard, interest only, or rate lock HELOC with line amounts ranging from $25,000 to $1,000,000. But, the lender does not offer home equity loans at all.  

HELOCs with PenFed will have an annual fee of $99 unless you have paid $99 in interest during the preceding year. PenFed will pay most closing costs, but for credit lines greater than $500,000, the borrower will likely be responsible for closing costs. No rate discounts are specified. 

If you’re interested in applying for a HELOC with PenFed, you’ll have to request a callback over the phone or online. This feature may be a major drawback for customers who prefer online services and applications.

While PenFed may be a good option for borrowers in U.S. territories who don’t have many other alternatives when it comes to home equity lenders, the lender’s lack of an online application and lack of price transparency earned it a low score in our ratings. If you prefer communication via telephone, however, PenFed may be a good option for you.

How We Chose These Lenders

Our Methodology

NextAdvisor developed a framework to evaluate home equity lenders using a weighted average score between 1 and 5 based on the following criteria. A higher weight was given to the criteria we determined to be most important:

  1. Nationwide availability: We rated lenders on a scale of 1 to 5 based on how many states their home equity products were offered in. For lenders that only offered either home equity loans or HELOCs, we looked at how many states offered that specific product. For lenders that offered both home equity loans and HELOCs, we looked at how many states each individual product was offered in, and then took the average. A lender scored a 5 if it offered home equity products in at least 45 states which equates to 90% of U.S. states. Nationwide availability counted for 10% of the composite score. We eliminated any lender from this list that does not offer a home equity product in Illinois.
  2. Online user experience: We rated lenders on a scale of 1 to 5 based on the user experience of their online application process. A 5 was given to lenders who had a clear, easy-to-navigate online application process with no technical issues or confusing instructions. A score of 1 was given to lenders who did not offer an online application at all, instead requiring customers to apply in person at a branch or over the phone. Online user experience counted for 20% of the composite score.
  3. Products offered: We rated lenders on a scale of 1 to 5 based on how many types of home equity products they offered. Product offerings were categorized into the following types: home equity loans; standard variable-rate, interest-and-principal HELOCs, interest-only HELOCs, HELOCs with fixed-rate or rate-lock options, and miscellaneous products that did not fall into any of the previous categories. Lenders who offered at least 4 types of products received a 5. Products offered counted for 20% of the composite score.
  4. Price transparency: We rated lenders on a scale of 1 to 5 based on their price transparency, which we defined as how much information you could get about rates and fees without a hard credit check. Comparing rates and fees from multiple lenders is one of the best ways to ensure you’re getting the best deal, and we gave high scores to lenders who made it easy to do so. On the other hand, lenders who kept detailed rate and fee information behind a hard credit check — which can slightly lower your credit score and should only be done when you’re serious about moving forward with a particular lender — scored lower. Lenders who provided personalized quotes for rates, fees, and important loan information with only basic information (and no hard credit check) required received a 5. Price transparency counted for 30% of the composite score.
  5. Customer service options: We rated lenders on a scale of 1 to 5 based on how many different customer service options were available to consumers needing help with their loan application or loan servicing. Examples of customer service options we counted included, but were not limited to, online live chat, phone, email, visiting an in-person branch, in-person or virtual appointments with dedicated loan officers, and social media direct messaging. Lenders who had five or more customer service options received a 5. For each option that was available only to existing customers (and thus would not be available to new customers needing help with the application process), we deducted 0.5 from the score. For any lender that had a 24/7 customer service option, regardless of what form that option took, we added 1 to the score. We did not evaluate the quality of the customer service itself, as that can be subjective and highly dependent on the specific customer service representative a borrower is working with. Customer service options counted for 20% of the composite score.

Local Illinois Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) and Home Equity Loan Lenders 

Illinois Bank & Trust

Illinois Bank & Trust is a subsidiary of HTLF Bank, a financial services company that owns local community banks in multiple states across the country. Illinois Bank & Trust offers personal and business banking products, including deposit accounts, mortgages and refinancing, personal loans, small business loans, credit cards, home equity loans, and HELOCs. 

Illinois Bank & Trust’s HELOCs come with a 6-month introductory rate and an additional rate discount based on how much you have in eligible deposits at the bank. There is no origination fee and the bank will pay up to $500 of closing costs, but there is a $50 annual fee. The bank’s home equity loan offering comes in a 15-year term and is advertised toward those wanting to use a home equity loan to refinance their mortgage, although the website does not state that the loan funds must be used for that purpose. You can apply for a home equity loan or HELOC online or at a branch. You can also contact a loan officer directly via phone or email. If you live more than 60 miles from one of Illinois Bank & Trust’s banking centers, your application may not be considered. 

Great Lakes Credit Union

Great Lakes Credit Union was founded in Lake County in 1938. Today, the credit union serves more than 80,000 members in Chicagoland and surrounding areas. As a not-for-profit institution, the profits from Great Lakes go back to its members in the form of new products, services, and more competitive rates on deposit accounts and loans. Membership is open to consumers who live or work in an eligible county in Illinois or Wisconsin, federal government employees, active military personnel, members of select local organizations, and relatives of those who meet the above membership requirements.

The credit union offers a variety of products for its members, including deposit accounts, mortgages, personal loans, student loans, and more. As part of its home equity offerings, members can choose from a home equity loan, HELOC, or an interest-only HELOC. Home equity loans come in terms of five to 20 years, while HELOCs have draw periods ranging from five to 10 years and repayment periods ranging from 10 to 20 years. Closing costs are waived (up to $500) on home equity products, but HELOCs come with a $50 annual fee. Information about rates can be found on the credit union’s website. Applications can be submitted online or at a branch. 

How to Find the Best Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) or Home Equity Loan Rate in Illinois 

If you’re an Illinois homeowner, shopping rates with multiple lenders is a must if you’re trying to find the best HELOC or home equity loan rate. Rates can change often and lenders can sometimes offer temporary rate discounts or incentives, so be sure to check back frequently until you’ve finalized your application. Also pay attention to the loan terms and fees, both of which can affect the total cost of borrowing. 

Here are a few additional items to consider:

Rate and Fee Transparency

When shopping rates with lenders, be cautious with companies who do not publish rate or fee information publicly on their websites. Some may require a hard credit pull, a loan application to be submitted, or a phone call with a loan officer to get any of this information. Check user reviews to see what others say about the lender’s responsiveness, level of expertise, and transparency. 

Be sure to ask about fees as well as rates. Some lenders may have lower rates than competitors, but charge high fees or closing costs. By using a loan calculator, you can determine how much money the lower rate will save you over the life of the loan, and decide if it’s worth a higher upfront cost.

Products Offered 

While HELOCs and home equity loans can both be used to tap into one’s home equity, they each have their own unique features, and choosing the wrong one for your needs can end up costing you. 

Home equity loans are good for one-time expenses where you know upfront how much cash you need. You’ll receive the entire loan amount in a lump sum at the beginning of the loan. If you need additional cash in the future, you would need to apply for another home equity loan, potentially at a higher interest rate. These loans also typically have a fixed interest rate, so the monthly payments will not change. 

HELOCs allow you to continuously draw cash as needed, up to a specified credit limit. This can be a good choice if you’re uncertain of how much cash you’ll need, or prefer the flexibility of accessing more cash in the future without having to re-apply for another loan. HELOCs typically have a variable interest rate, which means your interest rate — and by extension, monthly payment — could change if the prime rate changes. But, many lenders offer the ability to lock in a portion of the loan at a fixed rate (sometimes for a fee). Some lenders also allow interest-only payments during the draw period (followed by full principal-and-interest payments during the repayment period), but know that this option could mean a higher monthly payment during the repayment period and more interest paid over the life of the loan. 

Shop Around With Multiple Lenders 

To get the best deal on a home equity loan or HELOC, it’s important to shop around with multiple lenders. Doing this will help give you an idea of what most lenders are offering in terms of rates, fees, and loan terms. 

When comparing lenders, rates and fees can often take the spotlight. But don’t forget about the terms of the loan either. The length of the loan term will affect your monthly payment and total interest paid. Choosing a HELOC comes with additional considerations, such as whether you want the ability to lock in a portion of the balance at a fixed interest rate, or the option to make interest-only minimum payments during the draw period. Other things that could add to your costs include early closure fees, minimum draw amounts, prepayment penalties, and account inactivity fees. 

Only Borrow What You Need 

Taking out a home equity loan or HELOC is not something to be taken lightly. The loan is secured by your house, which means the lender can foreclose on your home if you miss enough payments and default on the loan. Before getting any loan, you should review your budget to make sure you can afford the monthly payments. A thorough analysis should include not only your current monthly expenses and debt obligations, but also the stability of your income and your ability to handle any financial emergencies that might arise.   

The other thing you should consider before taking out a loan is how you plan to use the loan funds and how much money you need to borrow. Even if you can afford the monthly payments, you shouldn’t borrow more than you need. A larger loan amount means you’ll pay more in interest in the long run, have a higher monthly payment, and be at greater risk of being unable to make your loan payments if your financial situation changes unexpectedly. 

Improve Your Credit Score

Most lenders have minimum credit score requirements you must meet in order to get a loan at all. If you qualify for a loan, the rate you get will also largely be determined by your credit score. Borrowers with higher credit scores are less likely to miss payments, and lenders reward these lower-risk borrowers with more competitive rates. 

Credit scores are calculated based on five major categories: your payment history, balances owed and credit utilization, how long you’ve had credit, the types of credit you’ve had experience with, and recent credit activity (such as newly opened accounts or applications for credit). 

Here are some tips to boost your credit score:

  • Keep applications for new credit to a minimum in the months leading up to your loan application 
  • Keep your credit utilization ratio below 30% 
  • Always pay your bills on time and in full, and set up autopay to avoid missing payments accidentally

How to Get a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) or Home Equity Loan in Illinois 

Getting a HELOC or home equity in Illinois doesn’t have to be complicated — as long as you do your research. While each lender can have slightly different procedures, the major steps are typically the same regardless of which bank you end up using:

  • Decide if you want a home equity loan or HELOC, and choose a lender that offers the product you need at the best rate.
  • Submit an application online or by working with a loan officer at a branch (if that option is available).
  • Sign preliminary disclosures.
  • Provide any requested documentation to the lender. This might include pay stubs, tax returns, mortgage statements, and more.
  • Order and schedule any required home appraisals. Not all lenders will require an appraisal.
  • Provide any additional documentation requested by the lender’s underwriting department for full approval.
  • Upon receiving a full approval and clear to close from the lender, schedule a notary to sign final loan documents. 
  • Once final loan documents are signed and reviewed by the lender, funds are disbursed and typically available for use within 24 hours. If you’re taking out a home equity loan, the entire loan amount will be disbursed after you close the loan. If you’re taking out a HELOC, your line of credit will be activated at loan closing and you can choose to draw from it at any time.