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The Facts You Need to Know When Choosing a Car Loan 

These are the top car loan providers on the market today. Read on for in-depth details on features, plans, and pricing. 


  • All types of credit get approved

  • Multiple loan offers simultaneously

  • Works with major financial backers

  • Online loan tools

Looking to buy a car? Then, LendingTree is a great place for you to start. A popular auto loan broker, LendingTree hooks you up with multiple lenders in a fast, easy, and convenient process that takes no time at all and generates the most competitive rates around. You start out by filling out a simple online form. From there, LendingTree sends out your application form to several lenders at once. Since it works with a large network of lenders, you are more likely to find a competitive offer than if you’d gone to each one individually. What’s more, LendingTree works with some huge loan providers like Wells Fargo and Chase, so you know your money is coming from a reliable financial source.

LendingTree provides convenient online tools like its online auto loan calculator. This tool will help you see how much you could end up paying each month with your theoretical auto loan. This is useful if you're trying to calculate how much you can afford. LendingTree is not a direct lender, so it sets no limitations on what type of car you can purchase with your auto loan, how much you can borrow, and who you can buy your car from.

We like that LendingTree has an FAQ section and articles to help borrowers understand more about the lending process and financing in general. This section even has helpful ideas about buying cars that you might not know about. 

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  • Works with cosigners

  • Wide range of loan types available

  • Wide range of loan amount options

  • Same day funding in some instances

LightStream is a well-known financial body that has a reputation for fair and reasonable financing options. Its flexible, varied, and competitively-priced auto loans certainly testify to these claims. For one thing, you can get an auto loan of anywhere from $5,000 up to $100,000, so there’s plenty of wiggle room for any type of buyer. LightStream also has amazing flexibility in terms. You can sign up for anywhere from two to seven years of repayment plans, so you can decide if you want a longer contract with smaller monthly payments or a shorter contract with larger ones.

Qualifying for an auto loan is a lot simpler with LightStream too, since it doesn’t specify any particular minimum income or debt to income ratio requirements. The typical APR offers range from as low as 3.59% to 14.74%. Plus, you can pay even less if you set up autopay.

Responsible and inexpensive!

What’s even more appealing about an auto loan from LightStream, is the method for qualifying and determining your APRs.  You see, unlike most lenders, LightStream realizes that a borrower taking out a loan to pay off overwhelming credit card debt is a much bigger risk investment than a borrower looking to buy a car with the loan money. As such, the lower risk borrower is more likely to get approved for the loan and will probably receive a significantly lower APR, too. 

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  • Tech-based lending portal for faster, easier results

  • Totally digital application process

  • Online loan calculator tool

  • Available for all 50 states

AutoGravity is not your mama’s auto loan provider. No, it’s an auto loan app that helps you apply for a loan, compare offers, and sign off on the best deal possible – all from your mobile device. Available for both iOS and Android devices, the AutoGravity app is the next generation in auto loan convenience. And in case you thought technology cuts out on reliability, AutoGravity is backed by huge names like Volkswagen, Daimler, and Hyundai.

Since everything is done on your cell phone, you can be finished in minutes. Once AutoGravity has your information, it sends it out to various lenders, maximizing your potential options. You save a boatload of time not running from one lender to the next; in fact, you don’t have to go anywhere at all! And since AutoGravity is a mobile app, it’s available across the entire US.

The AutoGravity app also has convenient tools to make the buying process smoother. The loan calculator is more involved than most you’ll find online. It shows you important details like monthly payments, variations in APR, down payment amounts, taxes, any trade-in value where it applies. Another useful tool is the car finder feature. The AutoGravity app has every car make and model on the market today. It will show you the closest dealership to you that has the car you're looking for, helps you find used and new cars, and lets you search via certain criteria like the number of miles on the car. 

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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 7 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.

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 2 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 a 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. 

* LightStream Terms and Conditions: Rates shown with AutoPay. Rates under the invoicing option are 0.50% higher. Payment example: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan at 3.09% APR with a term of 3 years would result in 36 monthly payments of $291.21.

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