To decide between a refinance and a second mortgage, compare your mortgage interest rate with current market rates. If you're paying more than what's available, a refinance will lower your overall interest costs. If you're paying less, a second mortgage might be the better option. When the two rates are roughly comparable, many borrowers prefer the efficiency of a refinance-one loan, one monthly payment. It's also worth noting that refinance loans generally carry lower interest rates than second mortgages.
You cannot, unfortunately, take your new debt for a test drive before signing up. Therein lies the importance of making informed decisions; refinancing your mortgage every year, after all, can get expensive. That leads us to the next topic: closing costs.