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      November 29, 2020

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LendingTree vs CARCHEX

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

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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

4 stars
Lending Tree

LENDINGTREE

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BBB Rating:

A+, accredited since 2019

LendingTree is an online loan marketplace for all kinds of borrowing needs: small business loans, credit cards, auto loans and more. They're also considered a pioneer in the peer-to-peer lending industry, having started matching borrowers and investor-lenders back in 1998 as an alternative to bank-only financing.

Multiple loan offers

When you apply for an auto loan using the LendingTree service, your application is used to generate multiple offers from numerous lenders in their network. LendingTree doesn't spell out how many partners they use - possibly because those relationships are constantly expanding - but we were able to find a long list in their Automotive Lender Reviews section. We love that you can read detailed information, ratings and customer feedback on all of them before you even fill out the online form.

Auto loan providers

Here's a sampling of the auto loan providers you could be matched with:

  • RefiJet
  • Capital One Auto Finance
  • Auto Approve
  • iLendingDirect
  • rateGenius
  • Gravity Lending
  • AUTOPAY
  • LightStream
  • Southeast Financial
  • Tresl

Both buying and refinancing

You've got options for both buying and refinancing a vehicle with LendingTree. You'll have to click on "More Loan Options" to get to the link specific to Auto Loans, and that's where you'll specify if it's a purchase, refinance or lease buy-out. Next, select your preferred loan term (1-7 years). Enter any down payment you'll be making (and, by the way, LendingTree says you'll get a better offer if you do!) and your requested loan amount. You're also asked to provide a tentative idea of the make of the vehicle you're buying, so that you can have manufacturer-specific financing offers too - but you're not locked into it.

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Standard information

The rest of the information is standard: your income, housing situation, address, and just the last four digits of your SSN to verify your identity before getting your list of loan offers.

Compare each loan offer

Once you have the offers in hand, you'll have to compare each auto loan and decide which lender and terms are the best fit. You're under no obligation to choose any of them, and if you allow more than 30 days to pass without selecting one, you'll have to apply again.

Fees and interest rates vary by lender

What about fees and APRs? Because those can vary so widely across LendingTree's partners, they only offer a frequently-updated average so that you can get a general idea. At the time of this review, their clients were seeing rates as low as 3.49% APR on a loan of $20,000 with a three-year term. Those clients usually had a credit score of at least 700, had no down payment, and were charged origination fees up to $100. If you'd like to see the most recent numbers, you'll find those on LendingTree's Disclosures page.

Thousands of 5-star reviews

This loan referral platform is "A+" rated and accredited with the Better Business Bureau, and the company has garnered thousands of five-star reviews from people who've successfully used it to get funding for various purposes. We found very recent comments from clients who got their auto loans through LendingTree and said that not only did they get the lowest rates, they also had their funds deposited the next day.

Few complaints

The only complaints we found described getting too many phone calls, texts and emails from lenders. That seems to be the case with most similar services - after all, you're providing your contact information so that lenders can contact you, and unfortunately they can sometimes be quite persistent.

More success with good credit

It's also important to point out that most LendingTree clients who wind up with funded loans tend to have higher-than-average credit scores. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try and get matched with an auto loan provider here if your credit history isn't the best, but keep in mind that you might need to work with one of the lending services in our review that specifically helps people in your situation.

One of the best

LendingTree is one of the industry's best options if you want competing offers on your auto loan. They give you lots of insight into the lenders in their network, and they make it a breeze to find multiple options with just one online form. All of these reasons have kept LendingTree towards the top of our rankings among providers of car financing.

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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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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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