If you’re shopping for a new car, you’re probably browsing model reviews online, going on test drives, and consulting the resident car guy or gal in your friend group.
That’s the fun part.
The not-so-fun part is ensuring you get the best deal on insurance, negotiate the best price with dealers, and find the best rate for an auto loan. Not to fear; I’ve got you covered.
In this article, I’m going to help you find the best auto loan. Because the average auto loan is now over $31,000, finding the best lender for your specific situation could mean saving thousands over the loan’s lifetime.
Compare auto loan rates
Overview of the best auto loans for 2020
|LightStream||Borrowers who have a long credit history|
|Upstart||Those with no credit|
As the logo implies, LightStream is a division of SunTrust offering “loans for practically anything.” They’ll finance your engagement ring, app德扑圈官方网址home improvement project, and of course, your sweet new ride.
LightStream is like the VIP Lounge of personal loans. To get “in,” you need years of credit history, a credit score of 660 or higher, proof of liquid assets such as savings and stocks, and request a loan amount of at least $5,000.
Like a VIP Lounge, lending through LightStream comes with perks. If you find a better APR with another lender, they’ll beat it by 0.10%. They’ll knock 0.50% off of your rate if you set up automatic payments, and give you $100 cash if you’re dissatisfied with any part of the loan process. Lastly, they’ll plant a tree for every successfully funded loan.
LightStream is proudly online-only, so if you prefer face-to-face interaction with your loan provider, they probably aren’t a good fit. But if you have excellent credit with years of history and some liquidity, the VIP Lounge might be for you.
U.S. Securities and Exchange Committee (SEC). Though built upon a foundation of personal loans, LC now offers auto loan refinancing as well.
Lending Club is a broker, not a lender. Similar to how KAYAK shows you cheap flights, LC will show you options for refinancing your auto loan. Input some basic personal and geographic information on their site and they’ll show you ways to lower your monthly car payment by $80 on average (or so they claim).
Best of all, it’s a soft pull so you can shop around like without impacting your credit. Plus, Lending Club doesn’t charge a finder’s fee (to you, at least).
Prosper helped our very own David Weliver climb out of $80k of debt in his 20s. Like Lending Club, Prosper is a peer-to-peer lending platform where investors help consumers with modest loans or to pay off debts. They’re a broker, not a lender themselves.
While Lending Club will help you refinance your existing loan, Prosper will help you secure an initial loan. Because investors “bid” on your application, if you have high credit you might score a low interest rate. Note, however, that Prosper will take a ~2.4 – 5.0% origination fee.
Still, it’s a soft credit pull to see your options on Prosper, so it’s worth spending some time on their site to see if you can score a low rate on your auto loan.
If you’re concerned about your lack of credit history, Upstart may be the lender for you. Founded by ex-Googlers who struggled to get loans in their 20s (despite stable incomes), Upstart caters to young professionals who have good jobs and education, but little to no credit history.
Upstart is able to offer personal loans (including auto) by calculating creditworthiness. They factor in your college GPA, your job, even the security of your job in the current market. In lieu of your credit score, Upstart essentially estimates your dependability as a person on a deeper level.
Given their higher risk business model, Upstart is unable to compete with credit unions on numbers alone (interest rates can start around 5.74% with an origination fee as high as 8%). However, with little credit to your name, they may very well be your best option. Plus, as you’d expect from a gaggle of ex-Googlers, their site is exceptionally well-designed and easy to use.
You can learn more about Upstart in our full review here.
Summary of the best auto loans for 2020
|Lender||Rates||Loan maximum||Credit needed|
|LightStream||Check rates with LightStream||Up to $100,000||Good credit|
|LendingClub||Check rate with LendingClub||Up to $50,000||Average credit|
|Prosper||As low as 6.95% APR||Up to $35,000||Good credit|
|Upstart||Check rates with Upstart||Up to $50,000||No credit|
Don’t forget to check out big-name banks and credit unions
Credit unions typically have low fees, excellent service, and of course, amazing deals on auto loans. What enables them to be so generous?
Simply put, credit unions are not-for-profit organizations that don’t have to pay big executive salaries. That’s because they’re member-owned and operated. If you bank with a credit union, you become a part-owner.
While it may be easy to join a credit union, getting one of their sweet, low-interest auto loans is a bit tougher. Because they’re member-run and want to protect collective assets, credit unions generally require a credit of 640+ to apply for loans as low as 1.99%.
Other common drawbacks to working with credit unions include limited local branches, outdated online services, and limited financing options.
Still, it’s absolutely worth investigating your local credit union to see if you qualify for a good auto loan rate. Note, however, that applying for an auto loan through a credit union often involves a hard credit pull.
If you’re uncomfortable financing a hefty loan through a lesser-known institution, big banks like Chase and Capital One offer competitive auto loan programs as well.
Though they sometimes can’t compete with credit unions on interest rates, they offer smoother online services, 24/7 support, and welcome less-than-ideal credit.
Plus, big banks can generally pre-approve you in minutes using a soft credit pull, so you can easily shop around for low rates.
As a con, some big banks may have strict term limits. Chase, for example, offers an impressively low 2.38% interest for members with a personal checking account, but with a term limit minimum of 48 months (to collect more interest). Others may sneak in fees, so be sure to read the fine print.
What to look for in auto loans
Low interest rates
Naturally, the first thing you look for is a low interest rate. A variance of just a few percentage points could add up to thousands in savings.
However, just because a vendor offers a low interest rate doesn’t mean it’s always the best fit. Look at term limits, minimum credit thresholds, membership requirements, and other fine print that could affect your qualification for a loan.
Next, look at convenience. Your time is valuable, so we place weight on which lenders have smooth and streamlined processes, with fewer hoops to jump through for a quote.
Last but certainly not least, consider which lenders make hard versus soft pulls on your credit. Because hard pulls impact your credit score, consider soliciting quotes from hard pull vendors all at once so they collectively count as a single pull, minimizing impact.
While shopping for and securing an auto loan isn’t the most fun part of car buying, it can contribute to the most fun part. The only thing more satisfying than triumphantly driving app德扑圈官方网址home in your new car is driving app德扑圈官方网址home knowing that you’re going to save thousands on your auto loan because you took the time to research.
That being said, the best way to save on your auto loan is to buy a cheaper car, or perhaps not even purchase a car in the first place.