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The Best Auto Loan Companies

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.

Thursday, May 13th

2021 Auto Loan Company Reviews

TopConsumerReviews.com Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award Upstart Review 5 Star Rating

Upstart

5 Star Rating
  • BBB Rating: A+, accredited since 2015
TopConsumerReviews.com Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award

Taking out a loan shouldn't "break the bank" - your piggy bank or your lender's! Upstart works hard to bridge the gap between borrowers' needs and banks' risk aversion by using more criteria than credit scores to determine whether a loan should be funded. The company was started by former Google employees who wanted to get money into the hands of people who needed it, particularly young professionals and college graduates.

Expanded loan qualifications

How does Upstart do it? Simple: their application process takes into account your college degree and field of study, your work history, and the number of years of credit that you may already have on your record to consider you for a personal loan used to buy a car. It's easy to see how many borrowers who might be turned down by a traditional bank are able to qualify when using Upstart's expanded criteria.

New borrowers welcome

That's not to say that everyone can get a car loan with this platform. In general, your FICO or Vantage score will probably need to be at least 580 (or even 620, depending on the laws in your state). But, don't worry if your credit history isn't "old" enough to have a FICO score: Upstart will still let you apply and determine your eligibility based on the factors mentioned previously. Also, your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) will be factored in, and you won't be eligible if your credit report contains bankruptcies or any delinquent accounts.

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No impact on your credit

The application process is straightforward, taking most people between 5-10 minutes to enter details like name, address, and income, but also current employment and educational background. It won't impact your credit score when Upstart runs a "soft" credit check to verify the information you provided.

Loan offers within minutes

You could have loan offers within minutes of submitting your application. Once your auto loan is fully approved and you accept the terms, your funds may be in your bank account by the next business day - freeing you up to go negotiate on the car you've been dreaming of.

Nitty gritty details

Let's talk about the nitty-gritty details. Upstart loans are available in all states except West Virginia and Iowa. For borrowers in the other 48 states, loans can be made ranging from $1,000 to $50,000 - though your state may have minimum/maximum loan amounts that will affect what Upstart can offer. Your loan term will either be three or five years, and at the time of this review your APR will be somewhere between 8.13% and 35.99%. As of our most recent visit to Upstart's site, their average 3-year loan across all borrowers has an APR of 15%. Not only is that a decent interest rate for people who have a hard time getting a loan somewhere else, but their average has dropped from a previous average of 21%.

Other fees

You should also look on your loan details for any origination fees specific to your terms. Upstart charges anywhere from 0% to 8%, and the amount depends on what's allowed in your state of residence. Beyond that, the only other fees are if you make a late payment or bounce a check. On the opposite side, you can pay off your loan early and extra payments are always accepted.

Stellar reputation

Not many providers of auto loans have the stellar reputation that Upstart enjoys. Both "A+" rated and accredited by the Better Business Bureau, the company has very few complaints on the BBB site. The majority of the negative comments seem to come from people who didn't read the terms and conditions on their loan documents and had second thoughts after the fact.

Happy customers

Plus, in over 6,000 independently-verified reviews from Upstart borrowers, the lender had a near-flawless average of 4.9 out of 5 stars. Some of those ratings came from clients who have used Upstart more than once for the funding they needed, which is always a good sign. Funds are deposited quickly once the loan terms have been accepted by the borrower, and many people even complete the entire process on their smartphones.

Highest rating

Upstart is a trustworthy, reputable source of personal loans for buying a car - or just about any other purpose. They're definitely a lender to consider if you want your employment and educational history taken into account when determining if you're eligible for vehicle financing. This is our preferred provider of auto loans today.

LendingTree Review 4 Star Rating

LendingTree

4 Star Rating
  • 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.

My Auto Loan Review 3.5 Star Rating

My Auto Loan

3.5 Star Rating
  • BBB Rating: A+, accredited since 2003

My Auto Loan is a surprisingly good option for getting vehicle financing. Operated by Horizon Digital Finance, this service connects people who need to get or refinance an auto loan with up to four different vetted lenders in their network. Their online form only takes two minutes to complete, and you can get your funding within 24 hours - use it to go buy your car or pay off your current loan, the choice is yours.

Eligibility requirements

We had to do a little bit of digging to find My Auto Loan's eligibility requirements for their loan application. These apply only to their initial inquiry form; their partner lenders likely have further criteria that you'll need to meet. The guidelines include the following:

  • At least 18 years old
  • Minimum gross yearly income of $21,000 for a new auto loan; $18,000 for a refinance loan
  • Not a resident of Alaska or Hawaii
  • Vehicle must be 10 years old or newer, with fewer than 125,000 miles
  • Minimum loan amount of $8000 for a new car, $5000 for a refinance
  • FICO score of 575+

Helpful resources

There are some helpful resources on the main page, like an interest rate chart for the day's lowest APRs, an interest rate estimator based on your self-reported credit score, and a payment calculator. Those can give you a better idea of what the outcome will be when you move to the application process.

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Filling out the application

To get started, choose what kind of loan offer you need: new, used, refinance, private party sale, or lease buyout. From there, you'll fill in the standard details about yourself, your employment, and how much you're looking to borrow. You'll also have to provide specifics about the vehicle you're looking to buy, including the total estimated sales price, the requested term of the loan (24-84 months), and any cash down payment. Finally, you'll have to give My Auto Loan your Social Security number and date of birth to complete the pre-qualification application.

Quick turnaround

While most people get a list of loan offers right away, some lenders may need extra time to verify the information provided in the application. You'll be notified if that's the case. Otherwise, you could have several offers to choose from immediately, and the lender you ultimately select may be able to get your funds deposited within one business day.

Hundreds of satisfied customer reviews

My Auto Loan doesn't have as much customer feedback as some of their competitors, but everything we found is positive. The company has been accredited with the Better Business Bureau since 2003, with an "A+" rating there. We also found hundreds of five-star reviews from people who used this service to get their auto loan funded.

More transparency please

Where this service comes up a little short, especially when considering similar lender referral platforms, is transparency. Which four lenders do they use in their network? What are the average interest rates and fees? These are the kinds of questions that most of their rivals answer, so that prospective clients know what to expect from the beginning. My Auto Loan could perform higher in our rankings if they made that information readily available on their site.

Solid option

Those details are important because the complaints that we did find about this lending service are usually related to high interest rates, even for borrowers with very high credit scores. Everything else about using My Auto Loan is solid, from quick funding to honest customer service reps. Since there's no ding to your credit score, you might want to apply with My Auto Loan and compare your offers with one of the higher-ranked lending partners in our review.

Auto Credit Express Review 3.5 Star Rating

Auto Credit Express

3.5 Star Rating
  • BBB Rating: A+, accredited since 2004

If you're trying to buy a car and your credit history is less-than-perfect, you might want to check out Auto Credit Express. This service has a good reputation: an "A+" and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau, with very few complaints over more than 20 years in operation. In other words, if you've got bad credit, this is a good option to have!

Quick & easy application

The online application process only has a few steps: fill in your name, address, birthdate, living situation (rent, own, live with family) and monthly payments, employment information, Social Security number and contact information. Your application will be given to Auto Credit Express' network of dealerships for approval.

Car dealer partners

It's important to note that, if your auto loan is approved, it can only be used to buy a car from one of their "authorized licensed car dealer partners". At the time of our review, there were more than 1,000 active dealerships nationwide in their network; you can click on the big purple box towards the bottom of the page and browse them to see if there are any in your area. It will be the dealership that gives you the funding, not Auto Credit Express, so your credit report will not be checked when you fill in the application on this site.

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Specialize in bad credit

This service specializes in auto loans for people with bad credit, so there are some basic eligibility requirements you'll need to meet if this applies to you:

  • At least 18 years old
  • Minimum gross monthly income of $1500 if your credit score is less than 625
  • No auto loan repossessions within the last year (unless they were included as part of a bankruptcy)
  • Completed 341 meeting of creditors if there's a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
  • Authorization to Incur Debt required from trustee for a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Helpful information

You can also check out some of the resources at the bottom of the Auto Credit Express site. There, you'll find a car loan estimator and details on how to get your free credit score, as well as information on loan options like $500 down, military financing, and more.

Smooth transactions

We were pretty impressed with the number of recent customer reviews saying that they had an excellent experience using this service to get the auto loan they needed. People frequently mentioned low down payments, fantastic customer service at the partner dealerships, and a smooth transaction overall.

Solid track record

While you may have to give up some options if you get your auto loan with Auto Credit Express (because of the requirement to get the funding through one of their partner dealerships), it might be a good idea to see what they come up with - especially if your credit history is a little shaky. This lending referral service has a solid track record with thousands of satisfied car shoppers, earning them a better-than-average rating among sources of auto loans.

CARCHEX Review 3.5 Star Rating

CARCHEX

3.5 Star Rating
  • 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.

OneMain Financial Review 3 Star Rating

OneMain Financial

3 Star Rating
  • BBB Rating: A+, accredited since 1985

OneMain Financial is a lender with a very long history - more than 100 years! They have in-person branches in 1,500+ locations throughout the country offering personalized service.

Loans from $1,500 to $20,000

When it comes to financing, this company provides personal loans that can be used for whatever purpose you choose - including the purchase of a vehicle. Their loan amounts range from $1,500 to $20,000, so you might be out of luck if you're hoping for a brand-new Porsche or Tesla and need an auto loan to do it.

No risk

It's easy to see if you qualify to borrow money from OneMain. Start by entering the desired loan amount and click on "Check For Offers". On the next page, you'll fill out the usual details: name, contact information and address, last four digits of your SSN (to verify your identity), monthly net income and source, and if you currently own a vehicle. Checking for a pre-qualified offer won't affect your credit score, so there's no risk to seeing what OneMain has available for your auto loan.

Less convenient

Although we didn't find this information stated explicitly in the site's fine print, OneMain only provides auto loans in 44 states (according to the Better Business Bureau). Unfortunately, that may mean it's trial-and-error for you to determine if you live in one of the 6 states that isn't served by this company. You also have to go to a OneMain branch in person, if you decide to accept their loan offer. That makes this service a lot less convenient when compared with online-only auto loan providers.

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Where do you live?

Where you live may also impact the size of the auto loan you qualify for. You've got minimum loan sizes ranging from $2,100 to $3,100 in Alabama, California, Georgia, Ohio and Virginia. On the other end of the spectrum, unsecured loans have limits ranging from $7,500 to $14,000 in Florida, Iowa, Maine, Mississippi, North Carolina, New York, Texas and West Virginia.

Collateral needed for large loans

For the largest loans, you'll be required to provide collateral to secure them. OneMain will put a first lien on a car you already own: it has to be no more than 10 years old, meet certain value requirements, be titled in your name and have valid insurance. That could be a problem if the whole reason you need an auto loan is to get a car, let alone a second car. But, we appreciate that this lender is upfront with that kind of information: many of their rivals also have requirements and limits, but you'll have a hard time finding them until you're well into the application process.

Pay attention to your loan details

Speaking of disclosure, OneMain Financial charges origination fees that also depend on where you live. Expect to pay a flat fee ranging from $25 to $400, or a percentage of your total loan ranging from 1% to 10%. You'll find your specific fees on the Loan Agreement and Disclosure Statement. While your auto loan terms will vary, OneMain publishes that their APR typically ranges from 18.00% to 35.99%, with term lengths of 24, 36, 48 or 60 months. Those interest rates are really high, compared with some of the other companies in our review - if your credit history is good. Just be sure to read your disclosure statement very carefully, and don't be afraid to shop around to get a lower rate.

Customer complaints

As a big corporation with a history spanning a century, OneMain can be expected to have its fair share of customer complaints. We were a little surprised to see more than 700 on the BBB site alone, as well as over 1,300 customer reviews that were mostly negative. On the other hand, OneMain Financial has an "A+" rating and accreditation from the BBB, and you can read for yourself the responses to those complaints from company reps. That's a good sign when negative comments receive a prompt, professional reply, and it shows OneMain's commitment to their customers.

Thousands of 5-star ratings

You'll see that commitment and customer satisfaction reflected in reviews beyond the BBB site. We found more than 20,000 5-star ratings for OneMain from clients who praised this lender for being fast, fair, and easy to work with, particularly giving kudos to the people working in the branches where the auto loans are finalized.

Strong reputation

OneMain Financial has some things going for them with respect to auto loans. Their reputation is strong, they've been in business for a long time, and they go to great lengths to be transparent with the fees and interest rates borrows can expect. On the other hand, you may have more limits - geographic and financial - when trying to borrow money for your car here, and their interest rates aren't what we would call "competitive". If you get an initial auto loan quote from OneMain, we suggest making some comparisons with other options before signing on the dotted line at your local branch.

LendingClub Review 3 Star Rating

LendingClub

3 Star Rating
  • BBB Rating: No Rating, accredited since 2008

LendingClub takes care of financing the purchase of a car through personal loans up to $40,000 - in other words, once you get the money, you can use it however you like. This peer-to-peer lending platform has served more than three million customers, with over $50 billion borrowed since LendingClub got its start in 2007.

Browse the resources

If taking out a loan is new to you, it's a good idea to browse the Resources link on the LendingClub site. There, you'll find articles on borrowing, debt, and many other relevant subjects; calculators to help you determine your credit utilization; plus, you'll even get some guidance regarding leasing vs. buying your car.

Getting started

Let's say you decide to go for it and apply for a personal loan for your vehicle purchase. First, you'll enter the purpose of your loan and enter the amount you plan to borrow. You won't find "buy a car" on the list, so you might want to select "Buy something special". From there, you'll be asked to indicate if you're including a co-applicant, your birthdate, individual income, name, address, and phone number.

Won't impact your credit score

That information won't impact your credit score, but you'll have to enter your Social Security number if the details you gave aren't enough for LendingClub to find your credit report. Once you've finished answering these questions, you'll be able to see the loans being offered (if any). If you choose one and complete the loan acceptance process, you could have the money deposited to your bank account in as little as four days.

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Transparent fee disclosures

In the past, LendingClub had been taken to task for not openly disclosing their fees and interest rates. We were glad to see that's no longer the case: you can easily find that information on their site. At the time of this review, for example, their rates ranged from 10.68% to 35.89% APR, with one-time origination fees between 2-4% of your total loan amount. But, we did see two different ranges for those origination fees: 2-4% at the top of the site, and 1-6% further down in the FAQ. All loans through LendingClub have terms of at least 36 months, and in some states you'll have minimum/maximum loan requirements.

Refinancing requirements

If the purpose of your auto loan is to refinance your current terms, you'll find some slight differences. First, there's no origination fee charged by LendingClub. Second, unlike a personal loan used for buying a car, a refinance loan has some extra requirements; you may be asked to send in documents about your car. Finally, your current loan has to meet their eligibility requirements. These include an outstanding balance of $5,000 to $50,000 with at least 24 payments remaining, on a car that is for personal use only, 10 years old or newer and under 120,000 miles.

Pending government action

LendingClub has a "No Rating" status with the Better Business Bureau. Although this financial service has accreditation from the BBB, a pending government action (related to LendingClub's previous issues with not openly disclosing fees) keeps the company from having an actual rating there. We also weren't thrilled to read through some of the hundreds of complaints filed with the BBB, many of which had legitimate concerns about payments not being recorded properly (and the subsequent negative impact on borrowers' credit scores), inaccurate payoff information being given by LendingClub representatives, and so on.

Many happy customers

However, when we looked beyond the BBB site - since people rarely go there to leave compliments, right? - we found not just thousands but tens of thousands of reviews from very happy clients. Some of those customers have used this platform multiple times for loans and appreciate getting funding when other personal and auto loan companies have turned them down.

Caution advised

We would advise some caution when using LendingClub for your auto financing. It seems like when everything goes as expected, they're a great service - but when there are problems, customers often have a hard time getting a quick, complete resolution. There are other sources of auto loans out there that work similarly to LendingClub, so you might want to look there first before committing to this company.

Road Loans Review 1.5 Star Rating

Road Loans

1.5 Star Rating
  • 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.

Instant Car Loan Review 1 Star Rating

Instant Car Loan

1 Star Rating
  • BBB Rating: D-, not accredited

Instant Car Loan promises that you can request a car loan in seconds. In operation for more than 10 years, this auto loan referral service encourages customers of all credit types to apply, having worked with thousands of people who didn't have perfect credit histories.

Not so instant

To see if you qualify for an auto loan through Instant Car Loan, you start by entering your name, zip code and email address. In step two, you'll have to provide your detailed information: SSN, employer name and gross monthly income, and so on. Your application will be shared with up to five partner lenders, and those partners might run a credit report before contacting you. Instant Car Loan isn't so "instant": they don't fund anything themselves, but rather connect you with their network of auto loan providers.

Serious concerns

However, because of some serious concerns we had with this site, you may not feel comfortable going through the whole process of applying for an auto loan. Why? Here's what we found.

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D- rating

Would you entrust your finances to a lender whose parent company is called "Internet Brands"? That's who owns Instant Car Loan - along with Cars Direct, Groove Job, and several other businesses. Sure, that in itself might not be so bad, but when you consider that Internet Brands has a "D-" rating from the Better Business Bureau, it becomes obvious that you won't want to give this auto loan provider access to your personal information.

Is anyone there?

We came across one customer comment from over a year ago, asking if anyone is actually managing this business. No one ever responded. Plus, the Instant Car Loan site proudly claims an "A+' rating with the BBB: that is definitely not the case.

Cannot recommend

With all that said, we just don't feel that Instant Car Loan is a trustworthy source of funding for your auto loan. We cannot recommend strongly enough that you work with one of the higher-ranked lenders in our review.

Compare the Best Reviews

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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Auto Loan Company FAQ

Most auto loans are funded by smaller banks and credit unions. But, as you look for an affordable auto loan, you might see some familiar names like Capital One and Southeast Financial.
That depends on several factors, including your credit history and the amount you need to borrow. Searching for a car loan online gives you the advantage of comparison "shopping" for the best rate available to you.
No problem! There are many lenders that are willing to work with you even if your credit score isn't the best. You'll probably pay higher interest rates than a borrower with an 800+ credit score, but you'll still be able to get a loan.
When you request a rate quote online, most lenders perform a "soft pull" of your credit history: checking the information you provide against the credit bureaus' records to verify your identity. That doesn't affect your credit score. But, if you go through the entire process and actually submit a loan application, it'll temporarily lower your score.
You can get an auto loan without ever setting foot in a bank! Many of us have used a car dealer to obtain financing but, obtaining a car loan online is a smart and empowering option.
Auto loans are available in amounts ranging from $1000 to $100,000. To determine your eligibility for a loan, the lenders will take into account your credit history, current debts, and income.
Is 24 hours soon enough? While most auto loans take a few days to a week to be funded and deposited to your account, at least one lender has a one-day turnaround for most customers.
No, not when you choose a reputable provider! It's easy to find an auto loan from a lender with a strong reputation. Positive customer comments and a high rating from the Better Business Bureau are two indicators that the company is a trustworthy option for your loan.

What You Should Know Before Getting An Auto Loan

Buying a new vehicle can either be an exciting experience, or one that stresses you to the max. For some people, it can even be a combination of the two. Sometimes people get caught up in the excitement of buying another vehicle, and find themselves being talked into more than they can reasonably afford. And once the deal is done, it's hard to undo it.

Rushing into buying a new or used vehicle is never a good idea. Unlike other investments, such as real estate, vehicles are a very poor investment. They begin to depreciate in value the minute they are driven off the dealer's lot, and continue to lose value for every year of ownership. However, for most people, vehicles are a necessity in order to get to work and other places they need to go. If you are lucky enough to live in an area with stellar public transportation, a vehicle is something you likely can do without. But for anyone living outside the reach of decent public modes of transport, a vehicle is a necessary evil.

Before buying any vehicle, whether new or used, shoppers should consider a few things.

First and foremost is to determine affordability. How much vehicle can you reasonably afford to own without going broke in the process? As a general rule, buyers should not spend more than 20 percent of their monthly income after taxes on a vehicle. If you are spending more than that, you risk overextending yourself financially and running the risk of ruining your credit report.

To estimate how much of a monthly payment you can afford, be sure to look at more than the purchase price of the vehicle. You must also factor in the interest rate, maintenance fees and insurance for the vehicle. All of these things should be considered under the 20-percent umbrella rule.

Consumers also should do some hefty research on the best way to secure financing if they are unable to cover the full cost of the vehicle's purchase price in cash. One of the best places to look for an auto loan is through online auto loan companies. Some of these businesses have access to a large number of loan companies and can automatically compare their auto loan rates, delivering only the best ones to you.

Some websites also provide a valuable tool when researching loans and interest rates. Consumers are able to use prediction software to plug in their local zip code and generate a list of the going interest rates in their area. Some online calculators also will take all of the factors involved in owning a vehicle - purchase price, insurance, maintenance and financing - and generate a monthly cost for you. It's always good to make use of these kinds of resources to be certain you're not overextending yourself financially.

Another place to look for an auto loan is with your own financial institution. Having a solid financial history with a bank can help to secure a good deal. With longstanding customers, a bank may be able to negotiate a fair interest rate for you, and certainly better than what you could find through the car dealer.

Securing a loan through the auto dealer is usually not the best idea. It usually is the most expensive option when it comes to financing. While auto dealers may have a variety of financial institutions to tap in order to get a variety of interest rates and offers, they also are permitted to add up to a 3-percent fee on to the total in order to compensate themselves for securing the loan. So as a general rule, auto dealers should be the last place you look for a loan.

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