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      November 25, 2020

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CARCHEX vs Road Loans

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To help you find the Best Auto Loans, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of CARCHEX and Road Loans.

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Where can you get the best auto loans? You're right if you suspect that the answer to that question is "not necessarily at the dealership".

You might initially be lured in by a dealership's attractive 0% financing offers - but unless you've got extremely good credit, you're not going to qualify. And, in the excitement of getting your new (or new-to-you) car, you could wind up with interest rates on your car loan that are even higher than what you'd get elsewhere.

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2020

Auto Loan Reviews

3.5 stars
CARCHEX

CARCHEX

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BBB Rating:

A+, accredited since 2009

You've probably heard of CARCHEX as a source of vehicle protection plans, inspections, and even roadside assistance coverage. They also offer auto loans as a referral service, taking your application and passing it along to different lenders to give you financing.

Exceptional reputation

CARCHEX overall has an exceptional reputation, shown by their "A+" rating and more than 10 years of accreditation with the Better Business Bureau. They bring a strong service to compete for your business if you're looking to refinance your existing auto loan.

Some confusion

You may get a little confused when starting on their Auto Finance page. It appears that both new loans and refinance loans are available with CARCHEX in fact, they quote low rates for New Autos, Used Autos, and Refinance loans. Further down the page, they list some good points for obtaining a loan for a new or used car before you buy.

Refinance loans only

However, their loan application deals strictly with refinance loans. When filling out the online application, you need to provide the VIN number for the car you're interested in which you wouldn't have if you were seeking a pre-approval. Also, they ask you to Select your Loan Type on the application, but they only give you one option refinancing your current vehicle. In fact, they even refer to their online loan form as their "auto refi application".

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Nearly 100 lenders

Putting that aside, how does CARCHEX stack up when it comes to refinancing your auto loan? They actually do pretty well. After submitting your loan application, CARCHEX scours their database of nearly 100 lenders to find the best programs for your specific criteria. Within minutes, you'll be contacted with quotes from up to 4 different lenders. And if you have bad credit, it's not a problem they have both prime and subprime lenders in their network.

No obligation

Once you've received your loan offers, you'll need to compare the offers yourself and follow up with the lenders and loan offers that you like the best. The CARCHEX service is free, and you're not under any obligation to pursue any of the loan offers if you don't like them.

Can't predict your loan rate

What type of fees and loan rates can you expect? Since CARCHEX deals with so many different lenders, and accepts applications from all different credit types, it's impossible for them to give an expected rate until you apply yourself. At the time of our review, they posted rates as low as 1/99% for new, used, and refinance loans, but these rates may only apply to select borrowers with the highest of credit ratings.

Who are the lenders?

We tried to find a list of the lenders that CARCHEX works with, but came up empty. In this age of increasing identity theft, many customers hesitate to put their personal information out into the void (especially their SSN) without knowing anything about where it's going. We wish CARCHEX was a little more transparent about who they're working with.

Wealth of information

You will find a wealth of information on the site about how auto refinancing works, whether it affects your credit rating, and many other related topics. These are good resources to browse whether you decide to obtain a loan through CARCHEX or not.

Good choice for refinance-only loans

CARCHEX provides a strong peer-to-peer lending platform for auto refinance loans. We do wish they were a little more forthcoming on who their lending partners are. Also, if you're looking for a new or used car loan, you won't find it here. Still, if you're just looking to refinancing an existing car loan, CARCHEX has a solid reputation and provides a good service, for free.

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1.5 stars
Road Loans

ROAD LOANS

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BBB Rating:

No Rating, not accredited

RoadLoans has been around since the year 2000 and uses its network of more than 14,000 car dealerships to give customers a direct connection to both financing and vehicles. This service also works in partnership with well-known car-shopping sites like Autotrader and Cars, which can simplify the process of getting an auto loan and buying a new or used car.

Take it right to the dealership

This lending service works with people who have all types of credit, and it can be used both for buying a new car or refinancing a previously-purchased vehicle. There's a three-step process for securing financing with RoadLoans: apply online, get your results (usually within a minute!), and take your approved financing right to the dealership.

Almost instantaneous

A big perk with this service is that their decisions are almost instantaneous: there's no waiting for lending partners to call you back or send you an email requesting more information. And, there are no application fees for using the RoadLoans service; even if you've been approved for an auto loan, you're under no obligation to activate it. Your offer is valid for 30 days.

Eligibility requirements

Be aware that residents of Alaska, Mississippi, Nevada and New Hampshire aren't eligible to apply for an auto loan through RoadLoans. Additionally, you have to be at least 18 years old and have a minimum income of $1,800/month to qualify for a loan.

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Helpful calculators

We recommend that you read through RoadLoan's "Our Auto Loan Process" page. There, you'll find helpful calculators that can give you an estimate of how much you can afford to borrow, including extras like extended warranties and additional costs such as sales tax. It also explains some of the ins and outs of buying a car, from researching vehicles ahead of time to negotiating to get the best deal.

No rating

So far, this sounds like a great place to get an auto loan. Are you wondering why this lender isn't rated higher - and, in fact, dropped in our rankings since our last evaluation? RoadLoans is owned by Santander Consumer USA Inc., a consumer finance company focused on auto loans with more than 2.5 million customers nationwide. At the time of this review, Santander no longer had a rating from the Better Business Bureau, even though it had been an "A+" in the past.

Nearly 2,000 customer complaints

That's not necessarily a red flag, but we weren't encouraged by the descriptions of several government actions against the company over the years. Add that to the nearly 2,000 consumer complaints registered with the BBB during the last three years, and you'll see why RoadLoans fell towards the bottom of our rankings.

Unexpected redirection

There's obviously something going on with RoadLoans - because clicking on the "Apply Now" button gave us a redirect to Chrysler Capital, saying "We're improving this experience". Evidently, RoadLoans isn't actually funding any auto loans for the indefinite future, leaving you to work with Chrysler Capital. That's fine if you want a Dodge, Jeep, Ram or Chrysler, but there's nothing saying you can get a car loan for any of the other major manufacturers.

Better deals elsewhere

RoadLoans used to be a site we could recommend, but with so many issues - not only with the actual application process but also the slew of customer complaints after the fact - we have to think most car-buyers are going to get a better deal somewhere else.

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Continued from above

Savvy consumers know that the best way to get truly competitive rates on auto loans is by comparison shopping with online lenders. Even if you're just starting the research process, it only takes a few minutes to find out how much you're qualified to borrow and with what loan terms. With that information in hand, perhaps with a preapproval letter too, you'll be much more confident walking into the dealership and negotiating the best possible deal on the car itself.

Some providers of auto loans specialize in helping customers with less-than-perfect credit. These lenders can work with you to get a loan that you can afford, and they take into account your whole financial picture - not just your low credit score, previous late payments, or a bankruptcy in your past. Of course, if your credit history is excellent, shopping around for your auto loan online will likely turn up dozens of offers to choose from.

It's important to carefully consider several criteria when evaluating different online lenders. These factors include the following:

  • Reputation. A seemingly-great auto loan is a bad deal if the lender isn't trustworthy. What does the Better Business Bureau say about the company? Have other car shoppers had a good experience?
  • Functionality. How easy does the auto loan site make the borrowing process, from information-gathering to funding? Can you work through the steps of securing your loan quickly and intuitively?
  • Options. To whom does the lender cater (e.g. people with good/bad credit? New/used car shoppers?)? Do you have a wide range of loans to choose from, both with respect to interest rates and length of the loan period? Are there any perks or penalties in the fine print?

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best auto loan providers available today. We hope this information helps you get the right financing for your next vehicle purchase or refinance!

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