The Best Car Loans Services

Sarah Badani

Having your own car is a liberating experience that everyone deserves to experience during their lifetime. But let’s face it, cars are expensive. And who can afford that kind of money upfront? Fortunately, with technology at your fingertips, you can get a new or used car loan in minutes today.

If you’re wondering how to get a car loan or maybe how to refinance car loans you already have, then this guide is just for you. 

You’ll learn about everything from car loan interest rates to the definition of terms like car loan amortization. 

So sit back, relax, and check out these reviews to help you find the best place to get a car loan in 2020.

Marketplace
Direct lender
Marketplace
Marketplace
Marketplace
Marketplace
Marketplace
Marketplace
Marketplace
Marketplace
Car loans, auto refinance, RV loans+
New car loans, used car loans+
New cars, used cars, car refinancing+
All types of car loans
Car loans, private party, lease buyout+
Bad credit car loans, no money down car loans
New car loan, used car loan+
All types of car loans, trade-ins+
New car loans, refinancing
New car loans, used car loans
From $7500-$300000
$5000-$100000
Varies based on lender
$1000-$35000
Minimum of $8000
Varies based on lender
Varies based on lender
$500-$100000
$2500-$100000
Up to $35000
12-72 months
24-84 months
Varies based on lender
61 days-72 months
24-72 months
36-72 months
Varies based on lender
90 days to 144 months
24 months-84 months
24-72 months
Starting at 3.90%
Average: 3.49% - 9.19%
Varies based on lender
5.99% - 35.99%
Average: 2.49% - 5.14%
Varies based on lender
Varies based on lender
3.99% - 35.99%
Refinancing as low as 1.99%
Varies based on lender
None
660
None
N/A
525+
None
None
Depends on lender
600
None
Comparing multiple lenders
People with good credit
People looking for a lot of options with poor credit
Small cash loans quickly
Quickly comparing multiple offers
People who can't afford a downpayment
Really low credit scores
People looking for reputable lenders
An easier borrowing process
Bad credit, fast lending time

The Best Car Loans Services - An In-Depth Look

  • 1

    LendingTree

    Industry-leader in auto loan comparisons
    LendingTree
    • Repayment terms12-72 months
    • APRStarting at 3.90%
    • Minimum credit scoreNone

    LendingTree is one of the most well-known comparison tools online today. It has been around for over 20 years, and in that time, it’s helped millions of comparisons and connections be made between borrowers and lenders across all fields, including home purchasing and refinancing, personal loans, credit cards, business loans, and of course, car loans. 

    With a large network of trusted lenders, LendingTree easily helps borrowers find competitive rates on their new and used car loans. By comparing offers side by side, consumers stand a better chance of getting the best car loan rates possible. LendingTree also has tremendous resources to help consumers through every step of the buying process. For example, you can see the current new car loan rates on specific types of cars. So, if you’re looking into something in particular, you’ll get a much clearer picture of what to expect.

    Pros
    • Great mobile app
    • Trusted name in the industry
    • Heavy on finance education
    Cons
    • Not giving you the money directly
    • Only available from within the US
    Read LendingTree Review
  • 2

    LightStream

    Quality service and competitive rates
    LightStream
    • Repayment terms24-84 months
    • APRAverage: 3.49% - 9.19%
    • Minimum credit score660

    LightStream is a division of SunTrust Bank, and it's also one of the most popular lenders in the country. That's because it offers a truly customer-centric experience, low-interest rates, and an easy online process. There are no fees and no prepayment penalties associated with these loans, either. What you see is what you get. 

    You can get same-day funding, direct deposit, and an easy smartphone application process. LightStream also has some great offers, including a low rate guarantee. If you find a lower rate anywhere else, LightStream will beat it. The lender also has a $100 loan experience guarantee. LightStream is so sure that you’ll have a positive experience, it will give you $100 without question if you are not completely satisfied with your experience.

    Pros
    • $100 loan experience guarantee
    • Price beat guarantee
    • No-fee loans available
    Cons
    • Only good for people with good credit
    • No autopay discount if paying manually
    Read LightStream Review
  • 3

    CarsDirect

    Bad credit car loans made easy
    CarsDirect
    • Repayment termsVaries based on lender
    • APRVaries based on lender
    • Minimum credit scoreNone

    CarsDirect is a new and used car loan marketplace that has been around since 1998. While anyone can get a loan through this service, CarsDirect is particularly well suited for bad credit or no credit car loans. With its flexible approval requirements, CarsDirect is an obvious choice for anyone who's had trouble getting the OK from other lending marketplaces.

    CarsDirect also differentiates itself from other lending portals by providing a more personal touch to the entire lending process. You'll get a designated trusted dealer to work with directly. And you can always come back to CarsDirect with any questions you might have, as well. The service is free, it partners with well known used and new car loan providers, and walks you through each and every step of the process from A to Z.

    Pros
    • Works with all types of credit
    • Has a network of trusted dealers
    • Works with trade-ins
    Cons
    • Not getting the loan directly from CarsDirect
    • May get a lot of upselling
    Read CarsDirect Review
  • 4

    5KFUNDS

    Fast, small cash auto loans
    5KFUNDS
    • Repayment terms61 days-72 months
    • APR5.99% - 35.99%
    • Minimum credit scoreN/A

    5KFunds is a great way to take out a small money loan to help you fund your next auto purchase. The network of lenders is tremendous, approximately 100 lenders in total, so there’s something for everyone in the mix. And you can get your money as soon as the next business day. So, 5KFunds is really about fast, easy, and convenient new car loans.

    5KFunds itself is a totally free service, so you have no commitment to stick with one of the suggested partner lenders. The repayment terms are extremely flexible, ranging from 61 days up to 72 months. The APRs also range considerably, though the majority of them are on the lower side. Last but not least, 5KFunds partners charge no prepayment penalty for early payments.

    Pros
    • Roughly 100 lenders in the network
    • Next-day funding
    • Lots of repayment options
    Cons
    • Small loan amounts
    • No guarantee on rates
    Read 5KFUNDS Review
  • 5

    MyAutoLoan

    Compare multiple loan offers instantly
    MyAutoLoan
    • Repayment terms24-72 months
    • APRAverage: 2.49% - 5.14%
    • Minimum credit score525+

    MyAutoloan is another auto loan marketplace that makes comparing loan offers easy and efficient. You can compare up to 4 offers simultaneously, and with the quick online process, you could have offers in just a few minutes. The service is free, as with all marketplaces, and the online form is totally secure. 

    myAutoloan has multiple financing options, including new and used car loans, private party loans, auto refinancing, and lease buyouts. What’s more, myAutoloan offers great freebies like its APR charts, car loan interest rates estimator, and payments calculator. Each tool helps you get real-time information that applies to your loan, and it helps you figure out how to get a car loan that you can handle.

    Pros
    • Lots of free tools and calculators
    • Easy and free online comparison tool
    • Low-interest rates
    Cons
    • Not a direct lender
    • Limited to the lenders within the network
    Read MyAutoLoan Review
  • 6

    AutoCreditExpress

    No money down car loans
    AutoCreditExpress
    • Repayment terms36-72 months
    • APRVaries based on lender
    • Minimum credit scoreNone

    Auto Credit Express is an auto loans provider marketplace that specializes in finding solutions for people with a weak credit history. This can include people with bad credit because of poor financial decisions made in the past or people who never built up their credit at all. Either way, if you are suffering from poor approval ratings due to your low credit score, Auto Credit Express is a good solution for you.

    With bad credit auto loans and no money down loan options, Auto Credit Express makes getting a car an affordable option for everyone. Around for more than 20 years, Auto Credit Express has a lot of experience working with people from all walks of life. So, it knows just how to pair up lenders and borrowers for the best results possible. Auto Credit Express also has car dealers within its network, so borrowers can get the best deals on the makes and models they’re interested in, as well.


    Pros
    • No money down loans
    • Works with bad and no credit
    • Lots of experience in the industry
    Cons
    • Not a direct lender, so can’t guarantee rates
    • May pay more for having a lower credit score
    Read AutoCreditExpress Review
  • 7

    car.loan.com

    Easy online comparison of top car loan providers
    car.loan.com
    • Repayment termsVaries based on lender
    • APRVaries based on lender
    • Minimum credit scoreNone

    CarLoan.com is a free service that allows you to find several auto loan rate quotes simultaneously, so you save time by filling out just one application form and money by getting the most competitive rates around. The application process takes a few seconds, and then you can expect to receive rate quotes within 48 hours, usually sooner. 

    You can use CarLoan.com's online car loan calculator to figure out exactly how much you can afford to pay each month for your car loan. You can also get a ballpark figure of how much you are likely to have to pay per month based on your credit score. This helps you set a budget and plan ahead. What's more, CarLoan.com partners work with everyone regardless of credit history. So, even if you have bad or no credit whatsoever, you can still get approved for a loan from one of the CarLoan.com partners.

    Pros
    • Useful online tools
    • Credit check won’t affect your credit
    • Works with all credit types
    Cons
    • Won’t get the money directly from this service
    • Site is outdated
    Read car.loan.com Review
  • 8
    Professionals handling your auto loan process
    Monevo
    • Repayment terms90 days to 144 months
    • APR3.99% - 35.99%
    • Minimum credit scoreDepends on lender

    Monevo is one of the most trusted names in the lending industry. It offers consumers a quick and easy way to get multiple offers from reputable lenders for everything from personal loans for a vacation to the Bahamas to home improvements, debt consolidation, and all sorts of other expenses. Monevo's auto loan products are just as flexible and trustworthy as the rest of the lot. 

    Monevo partners with huge names, including Earnest, LightStream, and Upstart, so consumers can rest assured that they are dealing with top-quality lenders. And with APRs starting at just 3.99%, Monevo is easily one of the best places to get a car loan quote. Monevo partners offer flexible repayment terms that range from 90 days to as much as 144 months. And with such an extensive network of lenders, Monevo has partners that will work with any type of credit.

    Pros
    • Funds as soon as the next day
    • Most trusted names in the industry
    • Low APRs every day
    Cons
    • Not getting the funds directly from Monevo
    • Not as much info on the site as others
    Read Monevo Review
  • 9

    AutoPay

    Easier auto loans for everyone
    AutoPay
    • Repayment terms24 months-84 months
    • APRRefinancing as low as 1.99%
    • Minimum credit score600

    AUTOPAY is all about the modern era attitude. It wants everyone’s auto loan experience to be fast, easy, and smooth. That’s why it has an entirely online application process, network of reliable lenders, and totally transparent terms policy. So, whoever you get paired up with, AUTOPAY has got your back.

    A digital marketplace that connects borrowers with potential lenders, AUTOPAY, makes it easy to find the most competitive rates for new car loans and car loan refinancing anywhere you are. Its core values are impact, optimism, honesty, and growth. AUTOPAY also offers some useful tools, including a blog loaded with helpful articles.

    Pros
    • Easy online process
    • Plenty of educational resources online
    • Straightforward and transparent process
    Cons
    • Only the marketplace, not the lender
    • No direct details
    Read AutoPay Review
  • 10

    First Choice Auto Loans

    Auto loan in minutes with First Choice Auto Loan
    First Choice Auto Loans
    • Repayment terms24-72 months
    • APRVaries based on lender
    • Minimum credit scoreNone

    First Choice Auto Loan is not just a name; it's a promise. This auto loan aggregator offers some of the fastest responses in the industry. You can get multiple rate quotes from professional lenders in less than 24 hours. Once you find an offer you like, First Choice Auto Loan will connect you directly with the lender, so you can finalize details and sign the deal. You could drive away with your new car in 48 hours. 

    First Choice Auto Loan has a large network of lenders, making it the perfect choice for people even with poor credit scores. You can get preapproved for a loan by filling out the short online application form from First Choice Auto Loan. Then, you can see what rates you can expect to get from direct lenders, approve the offers, and enjoy owning your own car.

    Pros
    • Works with all types of credit
    • Secure site for personal information transfer
    • Can get the money within 48 hours
    Cons
    • Very little info on the site
    • Transferred to a direct lender after initial process
    Read First Choice Auto Loans Review

What is a Car Loan?

Lenders help customers borrow money for a variety of purposes, and not surprisingly, one of these reasons is to buy a vehicle. If you're looking for a loan to buy a car online, you can approach a variety of lenders and receive different terms and rates. Dealers also offer loans, giving people with no other options a way to become mobile and steer their financial situation in the right direction. 

The Difference Between a Car Loan and Other Loan Types

What sets an auto loan apart from an all-purpose bank loan, a personal loan, or a line of credit?

Security: All auto loans are secured, meaning that the vehicle the loan is intended for also serves as the loan’s collateral. While failure to make payments could result in the lender repossessing the vehicle to cover the rest of the obligation, secured loans also result in more favorable interest rates and loan terms.

Low-Credit Friendly: Generally, because a vehicle represents a smaller investment than a house or small business, and because it is obtained via a secured loan, the bar is set much lower. If you have low or poor credit, you can still obtain a reasonable auto loan, whereas this may not be the case for other types of loans. Car loans are also comparatively short, lasting a maximum of around seven years, making them less risky and thus more favorable for customers.

Flexibility: If you want to purchase a car online, an auto loan is a great option because of the flexibility it offers. You can trade in old cars to reduce your obligations to a degree, pay on a more frequent schedule to speed up the loan repayment timeline, or even take a loan that allows you to replace your car mid-term for a different model.

Refinance Car Loan

Refinancing a current car loan is a smart choice for many car owners.  It could help you conceivably pay less over the lifetime of your loan because you’ll trade in your current loan for one with a lower interest rate. You may also be able to renegotiate your repayment terms, helping you spread out the payments for lower monthly payments or condense the payments to help finish off the loan faster.

While you can technically refinance your car loan whenever you want, If you want to get the most out of the deal, think before you leap. Before you refinance your car loan, just make sure of a few things:

  • It’s not best practice to try and refinance before 3 months have passed from the date when you originally took out the loan. Your credit score just took a slight dip from all the credit checking, etc. and you haven’t given yourself enough time to build it back up again or make any improvements. So, it’s not likely that you’ll get a better rate, and you may end up doing more damage than good to your credit score.
  • After 6 months is a much more advisable time to start considering refinancing car loans, and after a year is even more reasonable.
  • If this is the first time that you're buying a car, then definitely wait the full year before refinancing. This will give yourself a chance to prove your creditworthiness to lenders who will then be more likely to give you a much better interest rate the second time around.

Refinancing is also a good option if you are looking to either remove or add a cosigner on your current loan. If you couldn’t get approved for a loan on your own originally, you may have taken out the loan with a cosigner. But the cosigner doesn’t want to be tied to your loan for the entire lifespan of the loan. So, refinancing is an easy way for you and your cosigner to part ways. Additionally, getting rid of a cosigner will reflect better on your credit history.

Or you might want to add a co-borrower to your loan. This might be a business transaction, or it might be your way of dealing with the financial burden of a hefty auto loan. Either way, you can refinance to secure a place at the table for your new friend.

Car Loan Amortization

Car loan amortization is a scary-sounding term that isn’t really as scary as all that. In simple terms, car loan amortization is one type of paying off your auto loan. So, each month when you make a payment to your car loan provider, the payment gets divided into three sections:

  • Principal
  • Interest 
  • Fees

The principal is the actual loan amount that you borrowed to buy the car. The interest is the percentage that the lender charged you to provide you with their services, and the fees are any additional charges that might have come bundled with your loan.

The way car loan amortization works is that the amount of your payment that is allocated to each area is changed gradually over the course of your loan. So, at the beginning of your loan repayment, when the principal balance is still very high, they'll use more of your monthly payment to pay for the interest. As the principal balance gets less over time, the amount of your monthly payment allocated to interest goes down, and the amount allocated to the principal goes up.

How much of a down payment, your interest rate, and the length of your loan will all affect the amortization schedule.

How to Get the Best Car Loan

Optimize Credit: Before attempting to get an auto loan, make sure you know your credit score and thoroughly explore your credit report. By fixing erroneous entries on a credit report before applying for an auto loan, you can potentially save thousands of dollars over your repayment term.

Avoid Thinking Monthly: If you are shopping around online for a suitable loan to buy your car, it's best to think in terms of the total obligation and not just the monthly payment. While a monthly payment may be easier to consider, it does not account for maintenance, insurance, or other financial emergencies. Anyone can "afford" a new sports car in monthly payments, but this is unrealistic because usually, it's only affordable because the duration of the loan has been lengthened to the maximum amount of time available. This heightens the risk of having an underwater loan near the end of the term, where the remaining amount owed is worth more than the car itself, not to mention that by this time, the car is older and is likely to encounter more costs.

Deny the Dealer: Another tip is to use dealership loans as a last resort when making an online purchase. Dealers will grant almost anyone a loan and offer less than reasonable terms. In fact, most of the money that dealerships make off the sale of a car is not from the car itself, but rather the financing. For this reason, dealership loan offers should be avoided unless you're comparing it to a stack of other offers.

Finding the Best Lender for Your Loan Needs

When applying for loans from a variety of sources, it is very important to complete the applications within two weeks of one another. This is because each application is a credit inquiry, which temporarily lowers a credit score. By doing them together, they all count as only a single inquiry, keeping credit scores healthy.

Before buying a car through an online dealer, make sure to shop around for the best deals as well as the loan terms. This might include banks, online lenders, credit unions, peer-to-peer sources, or the dealership itself. 

Stir up the competition by getting proof of your pre-approval, which is basically a blank check from a single lender that illustrates how much it is willing to lend, and at which terms. Having these pre-approval papers handy when dealing with another lender will force it to match or eclipse the offer, or risk the potential borrower walking away. 

Things to Watch Out For

There are a few things to check for in the loan contract before it is finalized. First on the list is prepayment penalties, which restrict your ability to pay back the loan ahead of schedule. These are fees that lenders charge if you make extra payments to reduce the term on your loan, so make sure you know what to expect before signing any contract. 

Another potentially troublesome clause is mandatory binding arbitration, meaning that if you get into a dispute with the lender, it will be settled out of a court of law by an arbitrator. This puts you at a disadvantage.

Variable interest rates might also find their way into an auto loan agreement. These are not all bad but can mean higher interest payments over the life of the loan, depending on how rates evolve over time. Always calculate monthly payments based on the highest rate, if this is the case, or risk getting an unaffordable loan.

Last but not least, it is always important to make sure that any agreed-upon changes to the contract make it into the final version.

Before making any final decisions, take a moment to review the top auto lenders around and choose the one that will help you drive away with that car you’ve always wanted. 

Sarah Badani
Sarah Badani has extensive research and review experience in the finance industry. With a degree in psychology and education, she brings a level of depth and understanding to her writing along with her own flavor to spice up each topic in a unique and inviting way.