Auto Loans

Where to Get the Best Auto Loan Rates

To save you some time and effort finding the best auto loan rates, we did the legwork for you. We crunched more than 900,000 loan applications and sorted the most frequently chosen lenders by average APR received, according to credit score. We compared those rates with the lenders’ current advertised offers and those of competitors. That left us with five top lenders for 2020: two federal credit unions, one national bank and two online lenders.

Best Auto Loan Rates
Starting APR* Terms (in months) Amounts Best For
Consumers Credit Union 2.99% 0 – 84 Up to $100,000 Lowest average APR given
LightStream 3.49% 24 – 84 $5,000 – $100,000 Midprime credit
Capital One 3.39% 36 – 84 Starting at $4,000 Prime and subprime credit
Navy Federal 1.79% 12 – 96 $250 min., no max. Military affiliation

*May include autopay discounts.

How to get the lowest rate on your auto loan

Auto loan rates are lower now than they were at the same time last year but with car prices on the rise, it’s just as important as ever to save on financing. Dealers often can and do raise customer APRs to increase their own profits. The easiest way to get the lowest rate on your auto loan is to get preapproved by a couple lenders of your choosing and then ask the dealership to beat your lowest preapproval offer. For more on that, here are four reasons to get an auto loan preapproval.

It’s important to remember that the lowest starting rates tend to go those with the best credit. For an idea of an auto loan rate you could expect, here is a table of the average car loan rates by credit score. You could get a higher or lower rate depending on other factors, such as the car you want to buy and your debt-to-income ratio.

Auto loan calculator

Once you know your credit score and basic information about the car or car payment you prefer, plug those numbers into an auto calculator and take the mystery out of car buying. LendingTree offers three types of auto loan calculators: an auto affordability calculator, an auto payment calculator and an auto refinance calculator.

Consumers Credit Union: Best rates overall

The effort of joining a credit union might seem like an extra hurdle between you and an auto loan, but it could pay off. Average APRs offered by Consumers Credit Union were among the lowest offered to borrowers of all credit levels on the LendingTree platform.

  • Terms up to 84 months
  • Amounts up to $100,000
  • New car APRs start at 2.99% with the autopay option

What we like

To become a member of Consumers Credit Union, you only need to make a one-time payment of $5 to the Consumer Cooperative Association. You do not need to live in a specific geographic area or work for a certain employer. The credit union offers auto loan preapprovals and additional membership benefits such as educational seminars on personal finance.

Where it may fall short

To get the full autopay discount, you need to make automatic payments from a Consumers Credit Union account. If you want to make automatic payments from an account at another financial institution, the discount is halved by 0.25%. You could check out more credit union auto loans here.

How to apply

You could apply on the Consumers Credit Union website or by calling 877.275.2228

LightStream: Best rates for midprime credit

For borrowers toward the top of half of the credit tier, LightStream was the most popular lender by far. Specifically for the midprime credit tier (620-679), it provided the lowest average APR for new and used auto loans. Here is an in-depth review on LightStream.

  • Terms range from 24 to 84 months
  • Amounts range from $5,000 to $100,000
  • New and used car auto loan APRs start at 3.49% with the autopay option

What we like 

LightStream specializes in non-mortgage loans and is transparent about its rates and terms. It offers the same starting rate for new, used and refinance car loans and its website features a large, easy-to-read chart with terms and APRs for all the types of loans it offers. There are no restrictions based on vehicle age, mileage, make or model. LightStream is the online arm of SunTrust Bank, which recently merged with BB&T to become Truist.

  • Rate beat program. LightStream says it will beat any qualified rate by 0.10%.
  • Customer service. LightStream guarantees customers the best loan process or it’ll send you $100, though terms apply.

Where it may fall short

LightStream doesn’t offer preapprovals, which means you have to know the car you want before you apply. Its cutoff credit score is 660, and it heavily prefers borrowers with low debt-to-income.

How to apply

Go to LightStream.com and hit the apply button.

Capital One: Best rates for prime and subprime credit

Capital One emerged as a favorite for people on both ends of the credit tiers, including those with subprime credit as well as prime. It offered the lowest average APR to both sets of applicants. Read our in-depth review of Capital One.

  • Terms range from 36 to 84 months
  • Amounts starting at $4,000
  • New car APRs start at 3.39%

What we like

More than a credit card provider, Capital One is one of the largest banks in the U.S. and offers rates that are competitive with other national lenders. Capital One works with more than 13,000 dealerships and offers prequalification through its Auto Navigator feature.

Where it may fall short

Capital One doesn’t offer financing for cars other than those bought from the network of approved dealers we mentioned earlier. That means private sellers are off-limits. Other national lenders, like Bank of America, allow for private-party loans and have lower rates, but also stricter loan requirements. And, finally, while Capital One offers a prequalification, which can give you a ballpark estimate of what your auto loan may be, it doesn’t offer a preapproval, which would give you a more solid idea.

How to apply 

You could submit a Capital One auto loan prequalification. Auto Navigator also offers a place to  shop around for the vehicle you want or find a participating dealer.

Based on advertised auto loan rates among the largest financial institutions that focus on serving members of the U.S. military and their families, Navy Federal offers the lowest available APR on standard new and used auto loans.

  • Terms range from 12 to 96 months
  • Amounts range from $250 and up
  • New and used car auto loan APRs start at 1.79%

What we like 

Navy Federal offers a 0.25% APR discount off its lowest rate for active-duty and retired military members with direct deposit on a new auto loan, which could bring the starting 1.79% APR to 2.24%. Its prices for auto loan add-ons, such as GAP insurance, are also low. If you’re eligible, you only have to open a Navy Federal savings account with a deposit of $5 to become a member.

Where it may fall short

To join Navy Federal, you must have ties to the U.S. military. It has stricter eligibility requirements than other military-focused financial institutions like Pentagon Federal Credit Union, which also offers a deep loan discount when you use its car-buying service.

How to apply

Once you are a member or have applied to be a member, you can apply for an auto loan. It’s possible to apply online, in person or by calling Navy Federal at 888-842-6328.

Carvana: Best rates for a completely online experience

Across the top two credit tiers (prime and midprime), Carvana was a popular choice among LendingTree borrowers. Note that it only finances the used cars that it sells, yet its inventory is quite large. Though there are competitors, it’s one of the few places offering a completely online car-buying experience. Here is an in-depth review on Carvana.

You don’t have to use a Carvana loan to buy one of its cars, but if you do, beware that Carvana doesn’t advertise its lowest rates or the range of the terms and amounts it offers. Average APRs obtained by good-credit borrowers on the LendingTree platform were higher than other lenders, but it could be worth the convenience to shop for, buy and finance a car in the same place, online.

What we like

Besides convenience, Carvana also gives a lot of information about its cars on its website. It also has a nifty auto payment calculator featured on each vehicle page.

Where it may fall short

Other lenders offer lower average APRs. Plus, getting your car might be inconvenient or expensive if you live outside Carvana’s free delivery radius or far from one of its centers.

How to apply

The first step is to pick a vehicle on Carvana. Off that vehicle’s information page, you can click “get started” on the top, right-hand corner or at bottom of the payment calculator lower down on the page to start the financing process.

Methodology

We examined LendingTree auto loan data including more than 900,000 successful applications with 26 different auto lenders and sorted them by credit score. We wanted to know: 1) which lenders consumers chose most often, and 2) which offered the lowest average APR over the course of a six-month period.

To find the best rates for those with military connections, we looked at rates offered by USAA Bank, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pentagon Federal Credit Union and Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union, and chose the one with the lowest advertised APR for a traditional new car loan.

 

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