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Best auto loans

Options for excellent, good, fair, and bad credit

You may be so excited about your new car that you sign the first loan given. However, you might be overpaying thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. Whether you’re buying a brand new ride, used, or refinancing an existing loan, taking time to find the best auto loans will help keep your monthly expenses down to spend more on what you really need.  

Auto loan refinancing

If your credit improved, you paid off debt, or you got a raise since you first financed your auto loan, you may be paying too much. Compare your current loan to refinancing options below to see if you can save money. 

LenderLoan typeAPR rangeMin requirements
New & Used 36-84 months3.34% – 27%Income $1800/month. 500 credit score

New & Used 0-84 months2.69% – 4.44%Open CCU account for the best rates

New & Used 12-84 months2.59% + 16.28%Credit score 560+

New & used 24 – 84 months 3.49% – 17.29%Credit score 660 + 

$1000 up to $35,0005.99% – 35.99%630 credit score
LenderAPR rangeMin requirements
 Lending Club - Denton Dental Solutions | Mount Juliet, TN4.75% – 24.99%Car 10 years old or newer, under 120,000 miles
 4.99% – 18.14%Income $1800/month. Credit score 500+
 4.50% – 8.99%No minimum credit score
4.25% – 24.9%Min 650 credit score. Min of $1,500/mo income
4.50% – 17.29%Credit score 660 + 
5.49% – 7.09%Open CCU account for the best rates

Auto loan rates by credit score

Here’s a rough guide to average auto loan rates for 2020. Your individual car loan rate will depend on your credit score, income level, and other factors.

Credit scoreNew car loanRefinance car loan
750 or higher4.97%4.31%
Source: MyAutoloan May 2020

Need cheaper car insurance?

How to apply for an auto loan  

Compare auto loans

Whether you go directly to a lender, like Consumer’s Credit Union, or use a marketplace site like My Auto Loan, spend some time shopping around for the best auto loans.

Complete online application

Be sure to complete all required fields and have personal information ready like your income, date of birth, social security number etc.


Based on the information you provide, the lender will do a soft credit pull, which won’t affect your credit rating like a hard credit pull to determine how much to loan you and under what terms and interest rate. 

Loan completion

Once your application has been pre-approved you will be put in touch directly with the lender who will need the following from you to finish your loan processing.

  • Driver’s license or passport
  • Proof of residence (utility bills, rent agreement, etc)
  • Paystub from work
  • Bank account information

Funds transfer

If you are refinancing your lender will pay off your old loan.

Tips to getting the best auto loans

Improve your credit score

Your credit score will be one of the biggest deciding factors in the auto loan rate that you get. Check your score before you apply for an auto loan.

If there’s room for improvement try to make those changes before you apply.

You generally need a score in the low to mid 500s to even get a car loan. If you’re hoping to get a good rate you’ll need a minimum score of 700 or above.

Here some ideas to raise your credit score fast.

Shop around for a good auto loan

Use a car loan marketplace like My Auto Loan. You input your information once, then the website does all the loan comparisons for you, matching you up with the best rates and loan types with credible lenders.

Don’t forget to check credit unions and traditional banks as well. And keep your eyes open for deals.

Don’t just shop for a good monthly rate

A low monthly rate may seem great, but be sure to calculate how much you’ll end up owing over the entire life of your auto loan.

Longer repayment schedules mean higher interest. You could end up paying a lot more for your car than you intended or can afford.

Limit your loan application activity to two weeks

When you apply for a loan there will be a hard pull on your credit.

But, fun fact, FICO credit score model’s allow for a two week window during which time each car loan application is counted as one inquiry. This means you’ll see a credit ding for the initial application but only the one.

Roost Tip! Auto loan pre-approvals do not do a hard credit pull and are generally valid from 30 – 60 days!

Read your auto loan terms

We know, we know, super boring stuff and you just want that car! But reading the fine-print is so important to make sure you don’t agree to a loan with expensive penalties and other hidden costs. Pay especially close attention to:

  • Prepayment penalties
  • Mandatory binding arbitration
  • Excessive loan processing costs

Once you sign on the dotted line it can be difficult to get out of a car loan.

Frequently asked questions

1. Is it better to finance a car through a bank or dealership? 

Car dealerships generally offer lower interest rates on car loans, especially if you wait until they are offering a promotion.

2. Is a credit union a good option for a car loan? 

Yes, credit unions are a great option. Credit unions are not-for-profit organizations that reinvest profits into their members.

Because of this, credit unions are often able to offer their members as much as 1-2% lower interest on loans than other lenders.  

3. Is a 72-month car loan bad?

A little, yes. It definitely shouldn’t be your first choice. You’ll pay higher interest rates for this loan than you would a three or five-year loan.

This is because the longer-term means the lender is at risk longer for loaning you the money before being paid back.

Even though your payment is lower the overall amount you pay is a lot more and you will likely have increasingly expensive repairs as the car ages.  

Here’s a comparison to show the difference in interest rates you’ll pay over the life of the loan.

Even though you might save $25 per month, the longer loan and higher interest rate amount to a whopping $4,000+ dollars more.  

4. Can you negotiate a lower interest rate on a car loan?

Yes, dealers have some discretion or a range they have to work within. They need to charge you more than the rate they receive from their lender, so you may be able to ask for better terms. 

5. How does a car loan impact my credit score? 

Car amount60 months
72 months
Mo. payment $472.01
Mo. payment $449.40

Payment history, including your car payment, makes up about 35% of your credit score. However, taking an auto loan can increase, decrease, or have no effect on your score.

As a general rule, when you first take the loan, prior to making payments, your score may decrease. As you make payments, your overall credit may increase.

The impact on your credit score is also influenced by what other loans you have, other debt you owe, if you have maxed out any credit cards and other hard credit pull loan inquiries within a two year period. 

6. What is an APR?

APR is an acronym for the annual percentage rate and is a better way to compare loans than interest alone because it also includes fees to tell you the total amount it will cost you per year. 

Roost Tip! Don’t confuse APR with taxes and registration fees. Prices vary by state but you’ll likely pay state and local sales tax, a documentation fee (which can vary widely) and registration costs to calculate your total “out of the door” price. You can search online or ask the dealer to estimate the total cost for your area.  

Final thoughts

Before getting a loan from any lender, it’s important to do your homework and compare a few different lenders.

Remember, pre-approval is not a guarantee of funds until you finish the funding process. It’s also important to make sure you are taking money from a lender with a good reputation and a solid financial foundation.

Check their online reviews, and Better Business Bureau and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for complaints and scams. 

Need cheaper car insurance?

Roost is a community for renters, not a direct lender! But because we share some info about loans, we need to include this fine print: Annual Percentage Rates (APR), loan term and monthly payments are estimated based on analysis of information provided by you, data provided by lenders, and publicly available information. All loan information is presented without warranty, and the estimated APR and other terms are not binding in any way. Lenders provide loans with a range of APRs depending on borrowers’ credit and other factors. Your actual APR will depend on factors like credit score, requested loan amount, loan term, and credit history. All loans are subject to credit review and approval. Done!
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Last Updated: February 9th, 2024