Best Auto Loan Companies
Auto & Finance Contributing Editor
Updated on 02/28/2018
The main factor that determines your eligibility for an auto loan is your credit score. Consumers with bad credit can still get an auto loan, but they should expect to pay higher interest rates.
Search around for an auto loan before you buy your vehicle. While dealerships offer financing, they don’t always have better rates than your local bank or credit union. It’s a good idea to have a few quotes from other lenders in hand when you walk into the dealership to buy your new car.
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Compare Reviews for Car Loan Companies
Read 279 Reviews
GM Financial offers financing to those purchasing autos at GM dealerships. The company is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas and offers financing to consumers in over 20 countries. It has roots going back to 1992.
|Toyota Financial Services|
Read 322 Reviews
Toyota began offering financing directly to consumers in 1983 through Toyota Financial Services (TFS). TFS offers special deals for certain groups, including recent college graduates and military service members.
|Honda Financial Services|
Read 190 Reviews
Honda Financial Services has provided financing for autos, motorcycles, power sport vehicles, marine engines and power equipment since 1980. Borrowers can calculate payments, apply for credit and manage their accounts online.
|Capital One Auto Financing|
Read 159 Reviews
Capital One Auto Financing offers online auto financing pre-approvals through its Auto Navigator service. Existing car owners can apply online through Capital One to lower monthly payments by refinancing a car loan.
|Wells Fargo Auto Loans|
Read 122 Reviews
Wells Fargo Auto Loans provides auto refinancing to customers wanting to lower their payments, as well as loans for people shopping for a new or used vehicle. Discounts are available for Wells Fargo checking customers.
Read 460 Reviews
Large national bank Chase offers a program where customers can get loans in order to purchase an automobile. The company, headquartered in New York City, NY, offers both auto loans and loan refinancing.
Read 223 Reviews
Chrysler Financial was establish in 2013 to offer financing to consumers shopping for vehicles at Chrysler dealerships. Consumers can apply online and shop for a vehicle the same day. Borrowers can manage their accounts online.
Read 22 Reviews
Mercedes-Benz Financial offers financial for customers of Mercedes-Benz dealers in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil. Consumers can apply for credit, compare purchasing options and estimate payments online.
|Lexus Financial Services|
Read 58 Reviews
Lexus offers auto financing to consumers through Lexus Financial Services. Consumers can use the lender to purchase or lease a new of used Lexus from a Lexus dealer. Interested consumers can apply for credit online.
Read 171 Reviews
RoadLoans.com offers car loans and auto refinancing loans for customers within a wide range of credit scores. Instant online decisions allow customers to get pre-approved before shopping for a new or used vehicle.
Considerations when getting an auto loan
When purchasing a vehicle, always know the total cost before seeking financing. This will help determine if the vehicle is affordable in your budget with your credit rating. Total cost is calculated by knowing the loan amount, interest rate and length of years.
- Trade-in value: This value an offer from the dealer, this price is typically less than you'd get in a private-party sale because the dealership must factor in the cost to recondition the vehicle and make a profit when it resells it. The plus for car shoppers is that trading in your car can be very convenient and you can take the equity from the trade-in toward your next auto. Basically, you want the car to be worth more than you owe on it. If you owe more than the vehicle is worth, then this is considered “upside down” and will make your payments higher.
- Down payment: Making a significant down payment on a loan can reduce the overall total cost of the loan. It's best to make a down payment of at least 15 percent of the total cost.
- Affording the vehicle: Your monthly income will impact your auto loan payment. A general guide is 20% of income. However, a conservative spender might base their calculation only on the extra income they may have every month, while a more aggressive spender might focus on current expenses.
Loan minimums and stipulations
Some auto-loan companies put restrictions on the amount of a loan that can be given or a vehicle that can be purchased.
- Minimum loan amount: There are car companies that require customers to borrow at least a certain amount of money, ensuring that they do not take out a loan that is too small.
- Income requirements: Many auto-loan companies require customers to have a certain steady monthly income in order to take out a loan. Proof of income will be required.
- Zero percent financing: Zero percent financing is sometimes available, however, 0% financing is almost impossible to get without excellent credit. The vehicle price may be inflated to make up for the loss in interest. Typically, other incentives and offers do not typically apply. Additionally, even if the dealership does not require any money down on the car itself, there will still be fees due up front to the state, as well as taxes and dealership fees. You should also check whether lack of a down payment impacts the interest rate or other terms of the loan.
Auto loan companies provide consumers with funds to purchase a new car, and they also negotiate the terms of the loan with financial institutions.
- Annual rate: Based on an applicant's credit history, financial background and other factors, loan companies will be able to offer different annual rates on loans.
- Monthly payments: Monthly payments can vary with each customer and company. Generally, when the monthly payment is higher, the customer can pay off the loan quicker. Loans can have varying term lengths, but most commonly people choose to pay off their loans in 36 months or 60 months, otherwise the interest fees can become very expensive. Down payments or cash paid in advance can lower your payments as well. There typically are no prepayment penalties, if you choose to pay off the loan quicker.
- Short term auto loans: Companies that offer short term auto loans give customers a maximum amount of weeks in which they can pay the loan. They often do not have fixed dates for repayment installments, simply a date by which the total must be re-payed.
- Total cost: A common mistake with car loans is to focus on the monthly cost of the car payment and lose sight of the overall total cost of the loan. Make sure you know the total you are willing to pay for the car before you focus on monthly rates. That will prevent you from spending more than you want, or worse, more than the car is worth.
Depending on where you live, it is a good idea to find an auto loan that has rates that are both locally competitive and competitive with the national average.
- Local banks: Big banks usually have very specific and conservative loan policies, and might only cater to those with better credit scores. They sometimes won't be able to offer loan rates that are as competitive as local banks that you already have a good relationship with. This also gives the advantage of being able to stop by a local bank office and talk with an actual person to improve your chances of securing a good deal on a loan.
- Local credit unions: Credit Unions only lend money to their members. They are non-profit, so they can have very competitive lending rates and it is always an advantage to have a personal relationship and history of being part of the credit union.
- Dealer Financing: Manufacturers may have their own credit companies or relationships with banks that can offer better rates. Make sure to compare all offers before deciding.
- Financing elsewhere: Financing can be offered by government offices, military banks and other outlets. If you have a relationship with these outlets, consult with them on car loans and special offers.
Depending on the company, it may have certain car dealerships that it works within order to secure loans.
- Large scale: Sometimes, car loan companies work with giant networks of dealerships to provide loans. With a large-scale network, the lender will work in conjunction with car retailers throughout the country to provide customers loans.
- Particular dealerships: Some car loan companies only work with a handful of very particular car dealerships to provide only their customers loans. Some car lots will even self-finance for customers with poor credit, however the interest rate will be very high.
Companies target different types of clients, so it's important for consumers to work with a company that caters to the type of loan they need. If you need to buy a car but have bad credit, don't worry. There are options out there for everyone.
- Poor credit: Some companies particularly target consumers with poor credit to help them get loans despite their credit history.
- No credit: Some companies work with clients who don't have a poor credit history but who simply haven't built a credit history yet because they haven't taken out credit cards or loans.
- Good credit: Some companies love working with clients with a high credit score, because they can negotiate lower interest rates and monthly payments for them.
- Consumer preference: There is no right answer here. You should get a loan wherever you find the best deal that suits your needs and comfort level. Some people prefer to shop online for a new auto loan. Others want to sit in front of a person—at a dealership, bank, or credit union—and negotiate. No matter where you prefer to get a loan, you should compare prices with different lenders, even if they're all local banks or all online lenders.
Types of auto loan companies
Poor credit specialists
Many auto-loan companies specialize in working with consumers with poor credit or those who have just gone through a bankruptcy. These companies can often help to negotiate loans and secure better terms rather than if consumers go straight through a car dealership.
Many banks and large financial institutions double as lenders and have specialists that work on auto loans. Instead of working with other lending institutions, these companies typically supply the loan money themselves.
Many auto-loan companies work with other lenders, refinancing those lenders' existing loans and taking on their debt for the benefit of interest and borrowers' payments. Refinancers can usually negotiate lower fees and better terms, which is beneficial to both the lender and the borrower.
Some companies partner with dealerships directly in order to connect with consumers, check lenders credit history and set them up with a new or used car and a special loan repayment schedule. These are different from companies that actually offer the loan money and approve it themselves, they actually work with dealerships to help consumers get approved for the loan, through the dealership.
A pre-computed loan
This is a basic principal and interest loan. The interest and principal payments are pre-calculated before a borrower and lender agree and sign the financial paperwork. A big disadvantage of this loan type is that you cannot make car-payments in advance and expect to forego interest payments.
A simple interest loan
This is similar to the pre-computed loan, but with one major difference. Interest is charged every day on the basis of the balance you currently owe. Therefore, the faster you pay the balance off, the less interest you'll pay overall. A simple interest loan with no prepayment penalties will be beneficial for those people who pay in advance.
A secured loan
A secured loan is a loan in which you offer collateral against the loan. The collateral is usually another vehicle or the house of the borrower. Note that if you don't pay off the loan, the lender can take possession of the property you put up as collateral.
Unsecured loans are usually the most preferred type of auto-loans. Here, the lender provides the loan on mere faith that you will keep your word. Given the risk involved, these loans are accompanied with high interest rates. A high credit rating will be required.
A lease buyout loan
A lease buyout loan is an option for borrowers who are not going to be able to buy out the remaining amount on their car lease. A commercial lender will pay out the remainder of the balance on their lease, and the borrower will need to make regular payments to the lender.
Car refinance loan
This type of loan can be considered as a loan upon a loan. It helps borrowers who cannot afford to pay the high installment loans amounts. Note that while a car refinance loan may lower the installment amount, the lender may slightly raise the borrower's interest rate and it will take longer to pay off the loan.
Who benefits from an auto loan?
Consumers with good credit
Consumers that have a high credit score and good credit history can benefit from taking out a loan with a very low APR and low monthly payments if they don't have the money to pay for the car up front.
Consumers with poor credit
Consumers with poor credit or who have recently gone through bankruptcy can work with certain auto loan companies to negotiate a loan, or the dealer directly. No matter how bad their credit is, some companies specialize in working with this specific group.
Many consumers are already making payments on a car, but want the option of refinancing in order to lower their monthly payments or negotiate a better rate on their loan. Consumers in need of refinancing help can often get free advice from auto loan companies or pay for their services in helping to renegotiate the terms of their existing loan.
Consumers who need advice
Many customers simply need to talk to loan specialists in order to figure out what their options are in terms of taking out a car loan as opposed to paying up front or finding another way of purchasing a new or used car from a dealer or private seller.
Car loan expert reviews
RoadLoans offers loans on new and used cars from dealers, as well as purchases from individuals. The company also offers cash-back refinancing options and specialize in providing great rates for customers with poor credit history. This online financing company works with online sales and offers pre-approved auto financing.
Chase is one of the leading providers of auto loans in the country. They provide loans at competitive interest rates for a variety of automobile purchases.
Auto Credit Express offers loans and dealer connections, and it caters particularly to borrowers with bad credit. The company works in both the U.S. and Canada. They also have special financing programs for people with credit problems.
CarsDirect has been in business since 1998 and has helped millions of customers get approved for car loans on new and used automobiles. The company also provides free advice to potential borrowers.
BlueSky Auto Finance is a lending and refinancing company that has been in business since 2004. They work with customers to help them understand their auto loan options and achieve the best available rates.
Wells Fargo is one of the most widely recognized names in the finance and lending world. They have been in business for over 20 years and have a large, nationwide team.
Capital One Bank is a well-known financial institution that provides auto loans and financing for new and used cars. The company was founded in Richmond, VA in 1988.
USAA Auto Circle Program is known financial institution that provides auto loans and financing for new and used cars. They are a bank and insurance company. They were founded in 1922, in San Antonio, Texas, when 25 Army officers come together and decide to insure each other's automobiles. USAA provides a full range of highly competitive financial products and services to the military community and their families. And our world-class employees are personally committed to delivering excellent service and great guidance,
- Low rates: USAA can provide low rates with no hidden fees. No prepayment penalties, no application fees, no hidden closing costs and no payments for up to 60 days.
- Apply online: Apply online in as little as 5 minutes. In most cases, you'll get your decision instantly. You can E-sign your approved loan immediately. They can even store your documents online for 24/7 access. You must be a member of USAA. Open to all branches of the military and their families who are currently enlisted or retired from all ranks.
- Resources: The Auto Circle program offer research information and a car buying service.
- Variety of loan options: The company provides a huge range of auto loan options, whether buyers are purchasing used vehicles, new vehicles or refinancing.
- Best for: Customers with a military relationship from all ranks, looking for discounts on autos, insurance and financing on auto loans.
PNC Auto Loans customized to suit your needs – they can help you shop for new or used cars with one of our auto loans. PNC Bank was founded in 1852, they are an American Financial corporation.
- Low rates: PNC offers competitive rates for loans between $7500 and up. Current customers of the bank can earn better rates.
- Apply online: PNC Check Ready Auto Loan can help you shop like a cash buyer, putting you in the driver seat. Get pre-approved in dealer, online or on app before you purchase.
- Resources: Back Seat Driver videos and research resources shows how much car you can afford by reviewing rates and estimating a monthly payment. They use the NADA guides to look up the value of new and used cars.
- Variety of loan options: The company provides a huge range of auto loan options, whether buyers are purchasing used vehicles, new vehicles or refinancing.
- Best for: Customers with good credit ratings who want the best deal on auto loans.
Founded in 1935, Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) is an American financial institution that operates in all fifty states and some international military bases. Along with other financial services, PenFed members can apply for new and used auto loans, auto refinancing, auto buying service, and Payment Saver loans for new and used vehicles.
Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.
Compare Reviews for Car Loan Companies
|PNC Auto Loans|
Read 14 Reviews
PNC Bank offers full service banking, including auto loans. Consumers can get auto loans for purchasing a new or used vehicles. They can also get loans to refinance an auto or buy out a lease. Applications can be completed online.
|Citizens Auto Finance|
Read 39 Reviews
Citizens Financial Group has roots going back to 1828, and is headquartered in Providence, R.I. It offers banking services to residential and businesses consumers in 11 states. Auto financing is available in additional markets.
|Professional Financial Services|
Read 24 Reviews
PFS has been in business for over 15 years and has offices throughout the Southeast and Midwest. They purchase finance contracts for used automobiles, trucks and motorcycles that originate from franchises or independent dealers.
|Pentagon Federal Credit Union Auto Loans|
Read 20 Reviews
PenFed Credit Union offers new and used auto loans, Payment Saver auto loans, refinancing and vehicle buying services. Get up to 110 percent financing on new and used vehicles, with terms ranging from 24 to 84 months.
|Coastal Credit||Read 27 Reviews|
Coastal Credit, LLC buys contracts from new and used car dealerships around the country. They focus on serving the secondary used car market, and they work with both military and civilian customers.
|Car Credit City|
Read 12 Reviews
Car Credit City is an auto dealer with locations in Missouri and Illinois. The dealer offers financing for customers without involving outside banks, which allows it to offer credit to customers turned down by other lenders.
|Mazda American Credit Vehicle Financing|
Read 11 Reviews
Mazda offers financing through Chase Bank. Consumers can apply for financing online, so they have a credit offer before they visit a Mazda dealer. Approved customers can use several online tools to manage their accounts.
|CashPoint Title Loans|
Read 17 Reviews
CashPoint offers car title loans to borrowers who own an automobile without a lien. Borrowers can be approved and get cash very quickly. CashPoint serves consumers in Virginia and surrounding areas.
|Delaware Title Loans||Read 15 Reviews|
Delaware Title Loans is a car title lender. Interested borrowers can apply in stores or online and receive immediate approvals. Loans are available up to the amount of $15,000. The company has locations across Delaware.
|USAA Auto Circle Program||Read Expert Review|
USAA offers insurance to veterans and current military personnel. It has been in business since 1922 and strives to give military personnel and families loans to meet their special needs.
|PNC||Read Expert Review|
PNC Bank offers banking, investing and borrowing options to individuals and businesses. Their Virtual Wallet tool lets users keep track of their financial situation more easily by giving you an instant snapshot of your accounts.
|Auto Credit Express||Read Reviews|
Auto Credit Express is an auto-loan company that offers customers with good or bad credit the ability to get pre-qualified for an auto loan. Special financing for the military and people with bad credit histories is available.
Read 11 Reviews
CarsDirect provides auto loans for people with bad credit, no credit or who have filed for bankruptcy. Applications are processed within minutes, and CarsDirect partners with auto dealers to provide online auto browsing.
|BlueSky Auto Finance||Read Reviews|
By partnering with select lenders and auto dealers, BlueSky Auto Finance provides auto financing to people with less-than-perfect credit. Online approvals are completed within minutes, and auto refinancing is available.
|National Auto Finance||Read 11 Reviews||Out of Business|
This company has gone out of business.