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LightStream Auto Loan Review
Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.
A LightStream auto loan offers few restrictions and low rates starting at 5.49% for customers with strong credit scores who enroll in AutoPay. All of LightStream’s auto loans are unsecured, which means more flexibility for borrowers. If you’re not satisfied with the experience, the online lender may pay you $100, though conditions apply.
LightStream auto loans at a glance
LightStream offers unsecured financing for new and used cars, as well as auto refinancing and lease buyout loans to borrowers in all 50 states. You may use one of its auto loans at the dealership or to buy a car from a private seller. LightStream also offers specialty vehicle financing for almost anything with an engine, from a motorcycle to an RV to a boat or classic car. This means no mileage, make or model restrictions.
|LightStream Auto Loans|
|APR range||5.49% to 10.99%* (with AutoPay)|
|Terms||24 to 84 months*|
|Amounts||$5,000 to $100,000|
|Requirements||Good credit, though they don’t specify a minimum credit score requirement|
* Payment example: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan at 5.49% APR with a term of 3 years would result in 36 monthly payments of $301.91.
To qualify for the lowest APRs, you’ll have to have excellent credit and make payments with AutoPay. Without AutoPay, your rate will go up by 0.5 percentage points. The good news is that if you qualify for the lowest rate, it’s possible to apply it to a new or used auto loan.
Is a LightStream auto loan worth it?
Yes, LightStream is worth an application if you have a strong FICO credit score. While you may find lower rates with other lenders, LightStream’s APR range is competitive. They offer unsecured car loans, which many lenders don’t, and they don’t place restrictions on vehicle age, mileage, make or model.
Don’t rely on a dealership to find the best APR for you. When you apply for car financing through a dealership, dealers may raise your APR by as much as two percentage points. Get a preapproval or, if you already know the vehicle or amount you want to borrow, a loan offer directly from a few lenders. See what your own bank or local credit union offers, look at other auto loan reviews, and don’t be afraid to apply to more one than one lender, as long as you complete all applications within a two-week window.
Pros and cons of a LightStream auto loan
LightStream offers some great options for auto loans, but it’s important to understand both the benefits and drawbacks before submitting an application.
LightStream auto loan pros
Wide range of car loans: Buy from a dealer, private seller or lease provider with a LightStream auto loan. LightStream also offers refinance loans.
Competitive rates: Even without the AutoPay discount, LightStream offers low rates. It’s one of our best auto lenders thanks to some of the lowest average APRs among mid-prime borrowers on the LendingTree platform.
No fees or prepayment penalties
Same-day funding available (conditions apply): You may be able to get a deposit in your bank account on the same day you apply for the loan, provided your loan is accepted, verified and signed before 2:30 p.m. EST.
Satisfaction guarantee: If you’re not satisfied with your experience in getting a LightStream loan, notify the company, fill out a survey and potentially receive $100. LightStream auto loan reviews are generally positive — out of 12 recent complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, one involved an auto loan.
LightStream auto loan cons
Good credit required: LightStream looks for borrowers with good credit scores, though other criteria are taken into consideration. While they don’t specify a minimum required score, those with poor credit should look elsewhere.
Good credit history preferred: If you’re just beginning to build credit, it’s possible to have a good score without a lot of credit history to back it up. LightStream favors applicants with a credit history that includes successfully paid-off car loans or other installment contracts. Here’s a first-time car-buyer guide.
Lower rates possible elsewhere: LightStream only offers unsecured auto loans, essentially personal loans, which makes sense given it is an online lender and cannot inspect the vehicles. That means you may be able to find lower financing rates, particularly for new cars, from a lender that offers secured loans.
No preapprovals: To get any type of quote or approval, you’ll need to apply by listing the exact amount you want to borrow. However, you’re under no obligation to accept the loan even if you’re accepted.
Online or phone service only: LightStream is the online division of Truist, the bank created by the merger of BB&T and SunTrust Bank. Despite it being a subsidiary, you can’t go into a Truist branch and talk to someone about your LightStream loan. You can reach LightStream through its online form, and once you’ve applied, LightStream will provide a phone number for future contact. A SunTrust auto loan application online leads back to LightStream, but it may be possible to apply in person at a BB&T branch.
How to apply for LightStream car financing
If you decided you’d like to take LightStream for a test drive, go to the LightStream website where you’ll be asked to provide:
- Loan type, amount and preferred term.
- Personal information, including address, Social Security number and the last four digits of your driver’s license.
- Employment, income and asset information, including how much you have in bank deposits, stocks and bonds, and retirement assets.
If you accept a LightStream auto loan offer, you will receive the car’s title once the loan is approved and the financing will show up on your credit report as a personal loan. This is different from most auto loans, which are examples of secured financing, in which the lender keeps the title and the loan shows specifically as an “auto loan” on your credit history.
What else does LightStream look for in an application?
Besides good credit, LightStream is also looking for:
Low debt-to-income ratio: Lenders want to see that you’ll be able to pay back the loan without a problem. Your debt-to-income ratio shows how much income you have versus how much you pay in debt obligations each month. You have to have income sufficient to pay back the loan comfortably, on top of any other obligations, such as rent or mortgage.
Good set of assets. A healthy savings account shows you’re fiscally responsible. If you’ve saved money for a rainy day, the lender doesn’t have to worry so much about getting paid if an emergency happens. For example, if you have a large medical expense one month that you didn’t expect, you’ll still be able to pay your car loan because you saved money.
*Your loan terms, including APR, may differ based on loan purpose, amount, term length, and your credit profile. Excellent credit is required to qualify for lowest rates. Rate is quoted with AutoPay discount. AutoPay discount is only available prior to loan funding. Rates without AutoPay are 0.50% points higher. Subject to credit approval. Conditions and limitations apply. Advertised rates and terms are subject to change without notice. Payment example: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan at 5.49% APR with a term of 3 years would result in 36 monthly payments of $301.91. © 2022 Truist Financial Corporation. Truist, LightStream, and the LightStream logo are service marks of Truist Financial Corporation. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Lending services provided by Truist Bank.