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      August 14, 2020

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LendingTree 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 LendingTree 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

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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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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