The bad news: your poor credit or lack of credit is making it tricky to find an auto loan. The good news: you may qualify for financing through RoadLoans.
RoadLoans is a direct-to-consumer online lender founded in 2000 by Triad Financial Corp. and is currently owned by Santander Consumer USA, the U.S. auto lending arm of the Spanish bank. While Santander primarily offers auto loans through dealerships, anyone may apply for a loan to buy a new or used vehicle or refinance an existing auto loan through RoadLoans. RoadLoans also works with CarMax and online car-buying sites such as Cars.com and Autotrader.
However, it is important to note that the state of California fined the company in 2018 for not disclosing those relationships, a violation of its financing law.
RoadLoans: At a glance
- Loan amounts between $5,000 and $75,000
- Terms from 12 to 84 months
- Buyers with bad credit, no credit or past bankruptcy may be considered.
RoadLoans offers financing for new and used cars as well as auto refinancing. The lender offers instant decisions after you fill out an online application. As one of the leading originators of nonprime auto loans, it may be possible to get an auto loan from RoadLoans with less-than-perfect credit. Though RoadLoans doesn’t list a minimum required credit score on its website, it says buyers with bad credit will be considered — “bad” in this case is a FICO score of about 600. Parent company Santander says applicants are scored by more than 30 factors including credit score, debt-to-income ratio and loan-to-value ratio.
Because RoadLoans considers a range of credit profiles, its rates may be higher than auto loans you could find through banks, credit unions or other online lenders — in fact, the average APR for Santander’s retail installment loans at the end of 2018 was about 17%. You could use an auto loan calculator to get an idea of what one of its auto loans may cost though you won’t know your exact APR or terms until you fill out an application. Not sure if you can afford the vehicle? Check out LendingTree’s auto affordability calculator. Using your RoadLoans pre-approved offer, you can shop at one of 14,000 dealerships across the country or any franchised dealer. You may not use a RoadLoans loan at an independent dealership unless it is part of Santander’s network.
How to apply for financing
The RoadLoans process is simple: Apply online where RoadLoans will ask what type of financing you’re seeking:
- Purchase from dealer
- Cashback refinance
Potential borrowers — and their co-signers, if you have one — will need to provide personal information such as address, phone number, email, birthday and Social Security number. This involves a hard credit pull which could affect your credit.
If approved, the offer is valid for 30 days. Applying for the loan is free, and the decision is instant. Once you’re approved, you can see the terms of the loan, along with a list of suggested dealerships, though you may take your pre-approved loan to another franchised dealer.
At the dealership — or before you go — contact Roadloans if you have questions by calling 888-222-4227 or by chatting online via its website.
The fine print
- Minimum loan amounts are higher in certain states: $6,000 in California, $6,001 in Massachusetts and $10,001 in Arizona.
- Vehicles must meet certain eligibility requirements:
- Financing: 9 years old or newer with fewer than 120,000 miles
- Refinancing: 7 years or newer with fewer than 105,000 miles
RoadLoans operates in all 50 states, but you’ll have to meet the higher minimums of Arizona, California and Massachusetts. If you’re interested in refinancing an auto loan through RoadLoans, you won’t be eligible for a cashback refinance if you live in Washington, D.C. or one of these 17 states: Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania or Virginia.
A cashback refinance is when you pay off your current auto loan with a new loan for more than you owe. Also called a cash-out auto refinance loan, the advantage is that you receive cash to use for other things or to pay down other types of debt. The disadvantage is that you could end up “underwater” on your car loan, owing more than it is worth.
Pros and cons of financing through RoadLoans
RoadLoans is one of many lenders that’s available to finance your vehicle, but it’s not the only lender offering auto loans, even for those with bad credit. It’s essential that you shop around before selecting your lender. No matter where you go, if you have a higher credit score, you’ll most likely receive better loan terms and have access to more lenders. If your score is lower, you will be more likely to be offered rates at the market average — or higher.
Your credit won’t be affected by applying to multiple lenders as long as you do all your shopping within a two-week span, so it’s a good idea to apply via RoadLoans and others during this period. You could fill out a single online form at LendingTree where you may be matched with up to five different loan offers from lenders, based on your creditworthiness.
Highlights of RoadLoans loan financing
- RoadLoans accepts borrowers with low credit scores, no credit and previous bankruptcies.
- Quick application — but it does involve a hard credit pull.
- No early payoff penalties
Lowlights of RoadLoans refinancing
- Interest rates may be higher than what you could find elsewhere, especially if you have good or better credit.
- RoadLoans limits you to its dealerships or franchised dealers. While there are thousands of dealers in the RoadLoans network, they may not have the vehicle you want, or there might not be a dealership in your area, which can translate to shipping fees.
- Minimum loan amounts are higher in certain states, which may limit your vehicle choices.
The bottom line
RoadLoans may be a good fit for those with little credit or no credit, or who have been turned down by other lenders. But those with good or better credit may find better rates elsewhere, particularly at credit unions, assuming you meet its membership criteria. If you’re interested in working with an online lender, other sites may be able to give you a rate quote without a hard credit check (so it won’t affect your credit score).
You may be a good fit for a RoadLoans auto loan if you:
- Have no credit or damaged credit.
- Are interested in an cash-out auto refinance — RoadLoans offers these to residents of certain states.
You may not be a good fit for a RoadLoans auto loan if you:
- Want to finance a motorcycle, commercial vehicle or RV — RoadLoans doesn’t offer financing for these types of vehicles.
The information in this article is accurate as of the date of publishing