The mortgage world can be a confusing place. Every mortgage has variables that determine how much a borrower ends up paying, and technical jargon can make it tough to understand what you're getting into.

Most shoppers simply want a good deal on a loan. Making apples-to-apples comparisons can be difficult, but a little education can go a long way toward landing the right mortgage at a great price.

Bankrate offers many tools to help you find the best mortgage. You can search for top mortgage rates or use an online mortgage calculator to weigh options and compare costs.

But before you begin, take a look at the different types of loans available today and who is most likely to benefit from using them.

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30-year fixed-rate mortgage

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What is it? This mortgage combines a stable, fixed interest rate with a long loan term that helps create manageable payments for millions of American families. During the years leading up to the current mortgage crisis, many homebuyers strayed from this time-tested formula in search of exotic loans with lower interest costs. Today, many borrowers are returning to the 30-year fixed-rate fold.

Best for: Borrowers who plan to remain in their homes for a long time and/or who want the security of knowing their monthly payment will never change.

30-year jumbo mortgage

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What is it? Jumbo mortgage loans are 30-year fixed-rate loans too big to be bought and repackaged by mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae for resale to investors. Banks that issue jumbo mortgages have to hold onto the debt themselves, thus incurring more risk, which is compounded further by the large amount of money at stake.

As a result, jumbo borrowers can expect not only a higher interest rate on their loan, but also more difficulty finding a lender.

Best for: Buyers of large, expensive or midrange homes in areas of the country where housing is more costly.

One-year ARM

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What is it? ARM stands for adjustable-rate mortgage. Unlike fixed-rate mortgages, these loans don't have a rate guaranteed to remain stable for the length of the term. The introductory rates on these loans, which last only for the first year, often are significantly lower than rates on fixed-rate loans. The term for these loans is typically 30 years.

After one year, the interest rate on this ARM (and the resulting monthly payment) adjusts periodically based on a mortgage index such as the Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate) or COFI (11th District Cost of Funds Index). In a falling-rate environment, that's a good thing, as it results in lower payments. However, if rates increase, you'll be stuck with higher payments.

Best for: Buyers who do not plan to stay in their homes very long and who are looking for lower borrowing costs. Also, borrowers with enough cushion in their income to cover higher payments should rates increase.