Finding the best auto loans can be tricky. There is a sea of providers out there, and getting stuck with a bad car loan can mean years of debt. The difference between a good interest rate and a bad interest rate can add up to thousands of dollars after all is said and done.
When making this major financial decision, it’s important to compare your loan options. This list will point you to a number of reputable auto lenders to help you decide where to apply, whether you have excellent credit or not. We’ll also explain the application process as well as tips for how to get the lowest auto loan interest rates.
In this article:
- Best Auto Loans: 10 Top Providers
- Types Of Car Loans
- How To Apply For An Auto Loan
- Car Loan Rates By Credit Score
- How To Find The Best Auto Loan Rates
- FAQ: Best Auto Loans
Best Auto Loans: 10 Top Providers
There is no one best auto loan provider for everyone. While most people looking for loans will want to find a provider offering the lowest annual percentage rate (APR), the interest rate you receive depends on your credit history as well as a number of other factors. Different financial institutions may also offer different minimum and maximum loan amounts.
Finding the best provider also depends on which type of car loan you need: a new car loan, used car loan, or a refinancing loan. The table below shows some information for a few of the best auto loan providers for a variety of borrower types. Some of the providers listed below administer loans directly to customers, while others are brokers that match customers with loans. Both can be good places to start when looking for the best auto loans.
|Auto Loan |
|Loan Amount||Lowest APR Offered|
|610||$500 to $100,000||0.99%|
|Auto Approve||580||$5,000 to $85,000||2.25%|
|RateGenius||550||$10,000 to $90,000||2.39%|
|Autopay||630||$2,500 to $100,000||1.99%|
|Tresl||500||$5,000 to $100,000||2.49%|
|Bank of America||Not specified||$7,500 minimum||2.29%|
|LightStream||660||$5,000 to $100,000||3.99%* (with AutoPay and excellent credit)|
|Auto Credit |
|No minimum |
|Varies by lender||Varies by lender|
*Rates as of 4/18/2022
Based on the available information, we think some of the best auto loans can be found from the following companies:
- PenFed Credit Union: Lowest APR
- Auto Approve: Best for Refinancing
- Auto Credit Express: Best for Bad Credit
PenFed Credit Union: Lowest APR
PenFed Credit Union was initially started to serve military members and their families, but its services have since been made available to the general public. While not accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), PenFed Credit union has an A+ BBB score.
The credit requirements for a PenFed Credit Union car loan are higher than many other lenders, but it offers some of the lowest interest rates in the industry. PenFed also offers a car buying service, so you can shop for a vehicle and complete a loan application in one place.
PenFed does have a moderate customer review reputation online, though most complaints filed through the BBB regard PenFed home loans. Also, given the size of PenFed, the number of customer complaints is relatively low.
|PenFed Credit Union Pros||PenFed Credit Union Cons|
|Offers exceptionally low interest rates||Moderate customer service reputation|
|A+ rating from the BBB||Does not offer loans to drivers with poor credit|
|Customer reports describe a slow application process|
Auto Approve: Best For Refinancing
Auto Approve only offers car loan refinancing, not purchase loans. However, it does this well. While drivers with poor credit may not be eligible for an Auto Approve loan, those who are eligible may find interest rates as low as 2.25 percent.
Auto Approve holds BBB accreditation, an A+ rating, and a 4.7 out of 5.0-star customer review score based on about 400 reviews. As even a one-percent interest rate reduction could save you hundreds of dollars, there’s no reason not to see what refinancing offers you can find with Auto Approve.
|Auto Approve Pros||Auto Approve Cons|
|Low interest rates||Only offers loan refinancing, not purchase loans|
|Strong customer service reputation||Does not offer loans to drivers with very bad credit or no credit|
|Easy and fast application process|
Auto Credit Express: Best For Bad Credit
Auto Credit Express specializes in loans for customers with poor credit. The company even has representatives that can help loan seekers build their credit scores through their loan repayments.
Customer experiences with Auto Credit Express vary, but few loan providers look to work with customers who have especially bad credit. If you need a vehicle and are having difficulty securing a loan because of poor credit, Auto Credit Express can help. Even drivers going through a bankruptcy or repossession may be able to secure an auto loan from Auto Credit Express.
|Auto Credit Express Pros||Auto Credit Express Cons|
|Offers financing for customers with bad or no credit||Poor customer reviews|
|Pairs customers with loans based on credit profile|
|Offers special rates for military members|
Types Of Car Loans
In general, auto financing can be divided into two categories: purchase loans and refinance loans. A purchase loan is a loan taken out in order to purchase a new or used vehicle. Some lenders may work through dealerships to provide purchase loans, and others may offer to provide loans for private purchases as well.
There are also purchase loans for lease buyouts, in which drivers choose to purchase a vehicle after leasing it for an amount of time.
A refinancing loan is a second loan taken out to pay off an existing auto loan. The reason drivers may choose to refinance a loan is if the new loan offers a lower interest rate, meaning that they will pay a lower overall cost.
People whose credit score or income has recently changed may be interested in a refinancing loan. Or, if you feel that your original loan has particularly bad terms, refinancing your loan with a better lender can save you money.
How To Apply For An Auto Loan
Many lenders allow borrowers to apply for an auto loan through an online application. In some cases, borrowers can receive same-day financing. Typically, to apply for an auto loan you will need to supply the following information:
- Personal details such as name, address, and age
- Social security number
- Gross annual income information
- Vehicle information such as vehicle identification number (VIN), age, and mileage
You may also be required to show or submit a copy of the following documents:
- Driver’s license
- Pay stubs
When you apply for a loan, some companies may offer you the opportunity to have a cosigner, another person who will assume responsibility should you fail to make your loan payments. A cosigner may be required for people with exceptionally poor credit.
As with personal loans and other forms of credit, many auto lenders offer a pre-qualification process that doesn't ding your credit.
If you want to go into the negotiation with the upper hand, consider getting a pre-approval letter from a lender before you go to the dealership. With this, you can show the dealer you have full credit approval up to a certain amount, and that you're a serious buyer.
Car Loan Rates By Credit Score
Auto loan interest rates go up and down all the time. So, the best auto loans might have different rates during one period than another. Below, you can see average auto loan rates for new and used cars by credit score that apply in the second quarter of 2021. This information comes from Experian's State of the Automotive Finance Market (Q2 of 2021).
|Credit Score||Average New Car APR||Average Used Car APR|
|781 to 850||2.34%||3.66 %|
|661 to 780||3.48%||5.49%|
|601 to 660||6.61%||10.49%|
|501 to 600||11.03%||17.11%|
|300 to 500||14.59%||20.58%|
Of course, there is more to an interest rate than your credit score. You can find a lower rate if you are able to make a larger down payment, for example. This reduces the loan-to-value ratio and helps you find more competitive rates. Using an auto loan calculator can help you estimate your monthly payment and total loan ahead of time.
How To Find The Best Auto Loan Rates
When shopping for the best auto loans, you’ll get access to the lowest rates if you have a good credit score and financial history. The more money you have, the cheaper interest rate you will be offered. Customers with high credit scores, many assets (such as a house), and a high gross annual income will qualify for better rates.
If you are trying to improve your credit score, be sure to do the following:
- Pay your bills on time
- Pay off credit card bills in full each month
- Don’t take out many large loans
- Check your credit report and dispute any inaccuracies
- Pay down as much existing debt as possible
Building your credit score can take years, and many people may need an auto loan sooner than they can rebuild low credit. In the short term, you can find good loan terms by comparing offers from multiple lenders and by having someone with strong credit cosign your loan.
To start comparing the best auto loans, visit AutoApprove.com.
Disclaimer: Our research team aims to keep this information accurate and up to date, but you'll get the most recent information from financial institutions. Rates and terms vary according to applicant and market conditions. We do not offer warranties for any loan products or services discussed on the site, and we recommend you read through a financial institution’s terms and conditions carefully when making a decision on a loan product.