Ask a mortgage shopper if he or she plans to pay points and you’re likely to get one of two reactions: a puzzled look or a snort of dismissal.

But in today’s market conditions, paying points is worth serious consideration. It doesn’t make sense to take out a new mortgage unless you plan to keep it for a number of years, perhaps long enough to make points pay.

But it depends on individual circumstances. Sometimes paying one point makes no sense while paying two or three does. Other times, it works the other way: paying one point brings a nice savings, but paying two or three doesn’t. It all depends on the figures you put into the calculation.

Each point is an upfront interest payment equal to 1% of the loan amount. Paying points gets you a lower interest rate on the loan, reducing your monthly payment. If you keep the mortgage long enough for those payment savings to offset the cost of the points, the points save you money. The BankingMyWay.com Mortgage Points Calculator figures how long it would take for points to pay.

Many borrowers who understand the potential benefits of points pass up the opportunity because they feel it’s easier to pay a little more each month than to come up with a big lump sum at closing. After all, three points on a $300,000 loans is $9,000, which can be a lot of money to fork over on top of all the other closing costs.Also, most borrowers aren’t really sure they’ll keep their mortgages long enough for points to produce real savings, so it’s easy to dismiss the idea.