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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.
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.
Friday, September 17th
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 education, employment, 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. Although educational information is collected as part of Upstart's rate check process, neither Upstart nor its bank partners have a minimum educational attainment requirement in order to be eligible for a loan. 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 credit 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 very long - Upstart will still let you apply and determine your eligibility based on the factors mentioned previously. Also, you won't be eligible if your credit report contains bankruptcies or any delinquent accounts.
The application process is straightforward, taking most people between 5-10 minutes to enter details like name, address, income, current employment, and educational background. The initial (soft) inquiry will not affect your credit score. If you accept your rate and proceed with your application, they do another (hard) credit inquiry that will impact your credit score. If you take out a loan, repayment information will be reported to the credit bureaus. Of course, this is true whenever you take out a loan, regardless who it's from.
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. If you accept your loan by 5pm EST (not including weekends or holidays), you will receive your funds the next business day. Loans used to fund education related expenses are subject to a 3 business day wait period between loan acceptance and funding in accordance with federal law. All of this frees you up to go negotiate for the car you've been dreaming of
Nitty gritty details
Let's talk about the nitty-gritty details. Upstart loans are available from $1,000 to $50,000 - though your state may have minimum/maximum loan amounts that will affect what Upstart can offer. Your loan amount will be determined based on your credit, income, and certain other information provided in your loan application. Not all applicants will qualify for the full amount. Loans are not available in West Virginia or Iowa. The minimum loan amount in MA is $7,000. The minimum loan amount in Ohio is $6,000. The minimum loan amount in NM is $5100. The minimum loan amount in GA is $3,100. Your loan term will either be three or five years, and at the time of this review Upstart's rates were very competitive.
Loan terms and fees
Upstart advertises a range of interest rates, and we found them to be very competitive with other lenders in the industry. All loans funded through this service have repayment terms of either 3 or 5 years. Upstart charges anywhere from 0% to 8% as an origination fee. In other words, if you request a $10,000 personal loan and you're charged an origination fee of 3%, you'll get $9,700 deposited to your bank account. Beyond that, the only other fees are if you make a late payment or bounce a check. Of course, you can pay off your loan early and extra payments are always accepted.
Get your money fast
If your application is approved and you accept your loan terms, you could have your loan money deposited by the next business day. If you accept your loan by 5pm EST (not including weekends or holidays), you will receive your funds the next business day. Loans used to fund education related expenses are subject to a 3 business day wait period between loan acceptance and funding in accordance with federal law.
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.
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.
Upstart is a trustworthy, reputable source of personal loans for buying a car - or just about any other purpose. They're definitely a lending platform 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 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:
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.
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 very good rates 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.
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.
If you ever considered getting an auto loan with LendingClub in the past but were less-than-thrilled with their peer-to-peer lending format, it's time to give this company another look. Since our last review, LendingClub has done a major overhaul of their business model: they now operate like a traditional bank, with no need to rely on individuals and institutions to invest in each borrower. That makes the experience of getting an auto loan much more predictable here.
Straightforward application process
To apply for a car loan with LendingClub, you'll start by entering the amount of money you want to borrow and selecting "car financing" in the dropdown box. (All loans are structured as personal loans, but putting in the appropriate answer to "What's the money for?" can help LendingClub match you with any offers that might be specific to buying a vehicle.) You can borrow up to $40,000 through this service, but minimum loan amounts are determined by state laws. You'll provide your name, address, date of birth and total annual income, so that LendingClub can verify your credit report. If they can't match your information to your credit history, you'll be asked to enter your full Social Security Number.
You'll pay origination fees and get average interest rates
If LendingClub offers you an auto loan, your rates and terms will be largely affected by your specific situation: how much you want to borrow, your credit score, how much you earn, and so on. You'll find interest rates here that are on par with most personal loan-based funding. LendingClub also charges a one-time origination fee of 3-6%, but they don't specify in advance whether that fee is rolled into your monthly payments or taken out of your loan payout. The lender discloses that their average car loan comes with an origination fee of 5% and an APR of 15.95%. All LendingClub loans have a repayment term of at least three years.
BBB re-evaluation in progress
As mentioned earlier, LendingClub experienced a major shift over the last few years. At the time of this review, their listing with the Better Business Bureau was "NR" (Not Rated): it takes time for the BBB to gather information when such big changes happen. You can be reassured by the "A+" rating and accreditation of LendingClub's funding source, WebBank, in the meanwhile.
Recent customer feedback is overwhelmingly positive
LendingClub also offers live customer feedback on their website: over 57,000 reviews and counting. While there's no way to know which ones were used for auto loans, it's easy to see that people like what they get when using this company. The vast majority of LendingClub's most recent reviews are 4 and 5 stars, and quite a few of the clients leaving comments have used the service more than once. Regardless of the "NR" from the Better Business Bureau, there's plenty of evidence that LendingClub can be trusted with your car loan.
Better than many
Many happy customers
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.
All of LendingClub's changes add up to a new-and-improved ranking among providers of auto loans. We're confident that the BBB listing will soon match the positive recommendations from customer reviews elsewhere. As with any auto loan, we encourage you to read the fine print and understand the exact interest rates, fees and repayment terms you'll be getting. On the whole, though, there shouldn't be any nasty surprises here: LendingClub offers decent auto loans for most consumers.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
BlueSky Auto Finance got its start in 2004, with the goal of making it easier for working people to get loans for the cars they need. The company has helped more than a million customers with competitive rates for all credit types, through partnerships with a national network of both lenders and dealers. In other words, BlueSky doesn't fund your car loan but rather connects you to their vetted lending partners - which may include car dealerships as well as financial institutions.
Great for customers with credit problems
While anyone can apply for a car loan through BlueSky, they specialize in working with customers who have had credit problems in the past. As long as you have an income of at least $450 a week, you may be eligible to borrow up to $30,000 for a new or used car.
Can buy a car within 24-48 hours
After you fill in BlueSky's short online form, your details will be passed along for approval by the partners in their network. You may be contacted directly by a dealership in your area, as well as by several financial institutions interested in funding your vehicle purchase. It can take anywhere from 24-72 hours to get your loan offers, but you may be able to buy your car in as little as a day or two from the time your request is processed! That's great news if you already have a car in mind.
Not enough information provided
On the downside, BlueSky doesn't give away many details with respect to their lending partners. Who, exactly, will be getting your sensitive information? In the fine print of the application, we noticed that BlueSky works with some of the rival lenders we evaluated - so that's another hop-skip-and-jump your details will take (e.g. BlueSky to a third-party lending referral service and any of their lending partners).
Questionable application process
After we submitted our information, we were asked to click on a button to get a free credit score and then enter the percentage of our credit limit. However, that link takes you to yet another service; you can often get those details through services you're already using, such as your bank account or credit card provider. That will help you limit where your identifying information is being sent! Another oddity we found is that we could only enter last year as the most recent model we were looking to purchase.
Company still gets good feedback
Surprisingly, BlueSky performs well when it comes to reputation. We're impressed by their "A+' rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau, and with decent evaluations by other third-party sources. There are also several glowing customer testimonials on the BlueSky site - but we all know that those tend to be heavily curated by companies and may not reflect the full client experience.
May be worth it if other lenders don't work out
Still, there isn't much negative press to be found for BlueSky, and combined with the solid showing with the BBB, it's a sign that you can probably trust this service if you choose to use it to find an auto loan. Is it your best option? Not necessarily, especially if you want greater transparency and less pass-the-baton from one lending partner to another, but circle back to BlueSky if the higher-rated sources of car loans don't meet your needs.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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 very low rates 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 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.
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.
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.
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's published interest rates are really high, compared with some of the other companies in our review. Term lengths range from 24, 36, 48 or 60 months. Just be sure to read your disclosure statement very carefully, and don't be afraid to shop around to get a lower rate.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
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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