What to know about FHA cash-out refinance requirements and guidelines

You’ll need a significant amount of equity in your home to be able to qualify, but credit score requirements are low

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An FHA cash-out refinance allows you to tap the equity in your home with low credit score requirements. (Shutterstock)

If you have an FHA loan, you may be able to tap into your home equity by refinancing. This can give you the cash you need to renovate your home, consolidate debt, or help pay for a college education. Here’s a look at the FHA cash-out refinance program, including how it works and how you can qualify.

You won’t find rates for FHA cash-out refinances at Credible, but if you’re looking for a great cash-out refinance rate on a conventional loan, it only takes a few minutes to compare personalized, prequalified rates.

What is an FHA cash-out refinance and how does it work?

An FHA cash-out refinance allows you to take out a new FHA loan, insured by the Federal Housing Administration, that pays off and replaces your current one. Your new loan will be for a larger amount than you currently owe, with the difference coming to you as cash. 

You can use the money you receive from an FHA cash-out refinance for anything, but people often use the funds to pay off high-interest debt, or to pay for home improvements or large expenses like medical bills or tuition payments.

An FHA cash-out refinance is different from another common type of FHA loan refinance: the FHA Streamline Refinance. A streamline refinance doesn’t allow you to take cash out from your equity, but you benefit from a quicker and easier process. Streamline refinances don’t require a home appraisal, and you may not need to go through a credit check. With a cash-out refinance, you’ll need to do both.

How do you qualify for an FHA cash-out refinance?

FHA cash-out refinances have requirements similar to those of a traditional FHA loan, with some key differences. To be approved for an FHA cash-out refinance, you must have:

  • A credit score of at least 500
  • A debt-to-income ratio below 50%
  • At least 20% equity in your home after refinancing
  • Owned and lived in the home as your principal residence for the past 12 months
  • Made all mortgage payments within a month of their due date for the past 12 months

The amount of cash you’re able to take out depends on your home value and how much equity you have in the home. After your refinance is complete, you must still have 20% equity. 

For example, let’s say you have a home that’s worth $300,000 and you owe $200,000 on your current mortgage. You currently have about 33% equity in your home. 

In this situation, you could potentially take out up to $40,000 in cash through an FHA cash-out refinance loan worth $240,000. That would leave you with $60,000 in equity, or 20% of your home’s value. Lenders may have different requirements for an FHA cash-out refinance based on your credit score and other factors.


What does an FHA cash-out refinance cost?

You’ll need to pay closing costs when you complete an FHA cash-out refinance. These fees may range up to 3% to 4% of the amount of your loan. You may be able to finance some or all of your closing costs into your new loan. 

Common closing costs include:

  • Origination fee
  • Appraisal fee
  • Title fees
  • Attorney fees
  • Mortgage insurance premiums
  • Homeowners insurance premiums

All FHA loans require an upfront mortgage insurance premium that’s typically 1.75% of the loan amount. If your FHA cash-out refinance is within three years of your original FHA loan, you may be able to get a refund for a percentage of the upfront premium you paid. 

Credible can help you find a great refinance rate on a traditional cash-out refinance. Easily compare multiple lenders and see prequalified rates in a few minutes.

How to apply for an FHA cash-out refinance

Applying for an FHA cash-out refinance is a similar process to the one you used when you first bought your home. Contact your current lender for a rate quote, but also request quotes from several other lenders and see if you qualify. 

Different lenders may have different requirements for who can qualify for an FHA cash-out refinance and how much money you may be able to take out. By visiting the lender’s website, you may be able to prequalify for a loan by filling out a simple form and going through a quick credit check. Prequalifying for a loan may affect your credit score. However, credit bureaus treat credit checks from multiple lenders within 45 days as one inquiry, so you’re not penalized for shopping around and getting quotes from a variety of options.

Documents you’ll need for an FHA cash-out refinance

Once you’ve found a lender, your loan officer will give you instructions on how to proceed with a full loan application. You’ll need to provide financial documents, which may include:

  • Tax returns
  • W-2 forms
  • Pay stubs
  • Bank account statements

Other requirements for an FHA cash-out refinance

Your lender will also order an appraisal of your home to determine its value. This is key in determining how much equity you currently have, and thus how much cash you’ll be able to take out. You’ll also need to go through a thorough review of your credit history.

If you qualify for the loan based on the appraisal and underwriting, you’ll typically meet in person to sign the closing documents. Some lenders may offer an e-closing option, where this can be done virtually. If you’re refinancing with a different lender, be sure to continue paying your existing mortgage until you receive confirmation that it’s paid off.


Pros and cons of an FHA cash-out refinance

Like any financial transaction, an FHA cash-out refinance has its benefits and drawbacks. Here are a few to keep in mind before you make your decision:


  • Tap home equity without a second loan — A cash-out refinance allows you to take money out of your home equity without needing to take on another loan and monthly payment. You’ll simply have another first mortgage.
  • Low credit qualifying requirements — You may be able to qualify for an FHA cash-out refinance with a credit score as low as 500, much lower than what you’d need for other types of loans.
  • Low interest rates — FHA interest rates will generally be lower than what you’d find on other types of loans, like a credit card or personal loan. That’s because FHA loans are secured loans, using your home as collateral for the loan.


  • Higher monthly payments — Since you’re taking out a larger loan than what you currently owe, your monthly payments may be higher than what you’re currently paying. This may strain your budget.
  • Mortgage insurance required — FHA loans require mortgage insurance no matter how much equity you have in your home. You’ll pay an upfront mortgage insurance premium when you close on the loan, and annual mortgage premiums that may become part of your monthly payment. In some cases, you may be able to cancel FHA mortgage insurance payments, but no sooner than 11 years after you take out your loan. This is different from conventional loans, where you may be able to forego mortgage insurance if you have more than 20% equity in your home.
  • Risk of foreclosure — If you fail to make your payments on an FHA loan, you risk losing your home to foreclosure. If your new mortgage has significantly higher payments, this may increase your risk. You may be able to get the cash you need with an unsecured loan, like a personal loan, that doesn’t run the risk of losing your home.

​​Credible can help you compare conventional cash-out refinance rates from multiple lenders without affecting your credit score.